Another from the company that likes diacritics in its product names: the fré fits the mini, mini 2 and mini 3 and makes ’em waterproof, dirt proof, snow-proof and shock proof. It has buttons where your buttons are and an anti-reflective-coated window for the camera, a rubbery push-in cover for the earbud port and a closable flap for the charge port.
What’s more – and I’m kinda upset about this – it has a strap. Why should I be upset? Because this is a brilliant idea, if I say so myself, since I had it about four years ago and approached Moshi and STM with the idea to make an iPad (and an iPhone) case with straps and neither of them were interested. I’ve long thought that a strap on an iPad case makes perfect sense – I realised when I attended some lectures and used an iPad to take notes on. It seemed silly to have to put it in a bag when it was about satchel-sized already.
Like the aforementioned (and reviewed) Nüüd iPhone 6s case, this job totally seals your iPad against dirt, snow, ice; it has drop protection to 1,2 metres to the Military Standard 810G-516.6, which I think is Student Demonstration rather than Civil War (sorry, I am being facetious) and it;s fully submersible to 2 metres!
Install — Like the Nüüd case, you clean your iPad with the cloth supplied, place it in the back trap and then snap the front part to it, which takes a little effort to get a tight seal all the way round. The procedure is clean, insert the iPad into the case back, snap the front on and close the charge port door and headphone jack cover. Easy. This case does have an actual cover for the screen. It’s a slightly loose fit as it presses down rather than getting applied to make a bond, so you have to watch you don’t get an air-bubble-pattern-thing under it which can be annoying, at least when the screen isn’t glowing since when it does, you won’t notice it.
But with your iPad all sealed in, it’s not exactly easy to get it out again. Luckily Lifeproof has included a little triangular piece of strong plastic, like a large guitar pick. This fits into slots either side at the bottom; open the charge port door first, insert the bevelled edges of the plastic tool and twist and then it’s fairly easy to pop the case apart.
The strap — This is in the box in a long black cardboard box of its own – don’t overlook it. It’s a fairly rugged, standard sort of strap, with the triangular ends you see a lot these days, and it’s adjustable. However, it attaches with slender nylon thread to the attachment points on the car itself. It’s a bit tricky to thread these through – I picked up the ends of the loops with a skewer. This in turn goes back onto the strap-end and it help quite securely by a moulded tongue. It’s effective but not possible to work out how long they might last. I mean, this might be super-tough hi-tech twine, but it’s still thin and has to carry the weight and the stresses of daily wear and tear.
Conclusion — It’s actually fairly light and stable-feeling. I’ve had heavier cases that haven’t been anywhere near as rugged. It’s also not that imposing and clunky. If you used your iPad in the field, you’d be pretty happy with this. I love the strap – it’s not just easy to sling on your shoulder or where you will, it also makes it easy to grab from the couch or table.
What’s great — Light and strong, seals an iPad mini to keep it safe, clean and dry. The strap!
What’s not — I’m not convinced the way the strap attaches will last that long, but I guess we’ll see.
Needs — Students, nurses, doctors, those who take notes/record/enter data in the field.
What — Lifeproof fré case for iPad mini, mini 2 and mini 3, RRP NZ$159.99
System — iPad mini, mini 2, mini 3 (another fits iPad mini 4)
Available from — Some electronics stores including Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman.
More information — Lifeproof.