When I attended the CTIA Wireless convention two months ago, I saw a product demonstration for the DryCASE, a bag in which you seal your iPhone (they also have a model for the iPad) to make it waterproof. The booth featured an aquarium with an iPhone underwater and a counter to show how long it had been there:
After I wrote about it in late May, the company sent me a free review sample of both the DryCASE for iPhone and the company's DryBUDS waterproof earbuds. I've been trying out the products for the last few weeks and I'm impressed. This is a great way to protect your iPhone when you are in the great outdoors.
The DryCASE is a bag that is much larger than the iPhone. The DryCASE comes with a removable black strap with velcro that you can use to attach the DryCASE to your arm. There is a cord that you attach to the headphone jack of your iPhone, and the other end is exposed (but waterproof) at the bottom of the bag so that you can plug in a pair of headphones while the iPhone is in the DryCASE.
Don't put your iPhone all the way at the bottom of the bag because then the arm-strap will block the camera. Just put it sort of close to the top as shown below, and then use the included white pump to remove all of the air from inside of the DryCASE. (I apologize for the quality of the next two photos; my iPhone 4S is in the DryCASE and the only other camera I have with me right now is the one on my old iPhone 3G. Boy has the iPhone camera improved over the years!)
Once the air is removed, you can attach your headphones. If you want to use waterproof headphones, the company sells both regular DryBUDS for $30 and the DryBUDS SPORT, which includes a microphone, for $40. The company sent me the DryBUDS SPORT model, and you can see the small microphone on the cord near the top of the picture just above the legal pad.
Even though I had seen the impressive demonstration at CTIA, I was still a little nervous at first to get my iPhone 4S wet, so I first tried out the DryCASE with my old iPhone 3G in a swimming pool. I attached the DryBUDS and took a few laps. The DryCASE was completely underwater for most of the time, and the iPhone 3G was completely protected from the water. The sound quality of the DryBUDS was perfectly fine — I'm sure not as good as high end earphones, but it's not like you would notice that anyway while you are swimming. And I have to admit, it was quite peaceful to swim laps in the pool while I listened to my favorite songs.
When the DryCASE is completely underwater, I could not get the iPhone to recognize my finger touching it. But when I brought it above the water line, I could touch the iPhone through the clear plastic of the DryCASE. It was not quite as responsive as touching the iPhone without the DryCASE, but it worked.
I also tested the DryCASE with my iPhone 4S when I went to the beach. I loved that when my iPhone 4S was in the DryCASE and it was with me on a beach chair, the iPhone was completely protected from not only water but also sand. In the past I have always been nervous about taking my iPhone down to a beach, but with the DryCASE I had no concerns at all. Note that when the iPhone rings, the ringing noise is somewhat muffled in the DryCASE, but it is still loud enough to hear a ring (and if you have vibrations turned on, you will still feel that). If you are using the DryBUDS SPORT when the phone rings, it will also ring in the headphones so you'll have no trouble noticing an incoming call. The sound quality of a phone call using the DryCASE and DryBUDS SPORT was fine.
I do wish that the microphone on the DryBUDS SPORT included a button. That would make it much easier to answer and end a call, change music tracks, use the camera, etc.
Speaking of the camera, it is nice that you can still use the iPhone's camera even when it is in the DryCASE. You do pay a slight price in picture quality; the pictures are softer and somewhat out of focus. For example, this first picture was taken when my iPhone 4S was in the DryCASE, and the second one is just a normal picture taken by the iPhone 4S. (Click to see full size picture.)
Here are two more examples. Again, the first was taken in the DryCASE:
It is a shame that you lose a little something when you take a picture when the iPhone 4S in the DryCASE, but on the other hand, it's nice that you can still take pictures. The following picture that I took at the beach might have been better without the DryCASE, but I probably wouldn't have even had my iPhone with me at the beach but for the DryCASE so the DryCASE gets full credit for the picture existing in the first place:
If you take a video, there is also a slight decrease in quality, but frankly it is much harder to notice a difference in picture quality. Sound quality does suffer, however, with the iPhone in the sealed DryCASE.
Even though in my tests the DryCASE was completely waterproof even when underwater, and the DryCASE website shows people scuba diving with the DryCASE, I must admit being somewhat nervous about doing so. I didn't do enough tests to be able to report on how the DryCASE works when used underwater repeatedly over many months. But what I really love about the DryCASE is that it gives you protection even when you are not completely underwater. So as noted above, I felt very comfortable taking my iPhone to the beach with the DryCASE, unconcerned about sand and occasional water. The website shows people skiing with a DryCASE, and I could see the DryCASE being valuable if you are jogging outside with your iPhone and it starts to rain. And because the DryCASE bag is much larger than the iPhone, you can use it with any model iPhone or iPod touch, which is nice because when Apple comes out with the 2012 version of the iPhone later this year, it may be a different size than the iPhone 4 / 4S and therefore won't work with cases that are specific to that model design. The website says that you can also use the DryCASE with a camera, but I didn't test that because I use a Nikon SLR that is much too big for the DryCASE.
If you are looking to protect your iPhone from the elements, the DryCASE is an excellent solution. The retail price of the DryCASE is $39.99, the version for the iPad is $59.99, and the regular DryBUDS are $29.99, but the prices are substantially lower if you buy them from Amazon using the following links. The DryBUDS SPORT (the version with the microphone) retails for $39.99, but I don't see it on Amazon Prime nor is it discounted very much on Amazon, so you might as well just buy it directly from the manufacturer. Or if you don't plan to go underwater, you can use your regular headphones with the DryCASE.
Click here to get DryBUDS SPORT from the manufacturer for $39.99.