What would your ultimate iPhone case offer? Extra battery life? Rugged design? Would it make your iPhone waterproof? If you said yes to any or all of those you might like to meet the Snow Lizard SLXtreme 5. It looks like something Bear Grylls would strap to his waistband, dangling while he throws himself off the nearest waterfall. In short, it’s possibly something you’d want with you, along with your iPhone 5 or 5S, if you were in a survival situation but it’s also one of the most extreme iPhone cases ever made.
It’s clearly designed to protect your Apple device from the odd drop or scrape – the side cushions are rubber and there’s a good deal of plastic between your phone and the outside world. However, you’ve also probably noticed it’s rather large too.
There’s a good reason for this – actually several reasons; not only is your iPhone completely waterproof once inside, but the SLXtreme 5 has a built-in 2500mAh battery (enough to charge an iPhone 5 from flat about one and a half times), that can be activated to charge your phone when its battery is low.
It doesn’t stop there, though, as the SLXtreme 5 has a large solar panel on the rear that can top-up the battery if you’re away from mains power for long periods – such as being marooned on a desert island. So that’s waterproof, an extended battery and solar-powered charging in a case that’s nearly bomb-proof.
A closer look reveals just how the waterproofing works, with channels around the end cap, sealed by a rubber insert and a large pull-down lever on the side to apply enough force to keep water out, at least up to a depth of 2m/6.6ft.
The front section has small outlets for the speakers and a working home button – this can be used under water, although as I found, the screen stops working once completely submerged. Thankfully the side buttons are fully-functional too so taking pictures under water is possible.
The base of the device also opens up, revealing a plug for the headphone port, a standard micro-USB charging port and a locking ring to secure the base closed. The charging port is inaccessible while the base is closed for obvious reasons but the included headphone extension cable appears to be able to seal off the port so you can connect a 3.5mm minijack to the end while the device is submerged.
Also included is a neck band and carabiner clip, although attaching the latter means you can’t open the base. There’s plenty of scope for using your iPhone as an underwater torch too, as the rear lens and LED section is exposed.
The rear of the SLXtreme 5 features a solar cell with 10 segments, a battery charge indicator and battery toggle button that you can use to activate the battery to charge the phone. By default, on plugging the SLXtreme 5 into a USB port, your phone will be charged first, then the SLXtreme 5′s internal battery.
The charge level indicator LEDs have four levels, with the final LED also twilighting as a solar power indicator, flashing when there’s enough light to begin charging the internal battery. It will likely take days to charge the battery, even in direct sunlight – we managed to obtain enough power for an 7% iPhone battery boost in several hours in direct sunlight and Snow Lizard claims roughly 10-15 minutes of talktime per hour of peak charging – clearly your shouldn’t rely on this as a regular source of power but it’s potentially useful in specific scenarios.
Finally the leak test. Whether its watching an episode of something on Netflix in the bath or leaping from the nearest waterfall while listening to an appropriate sound track, the SLXtreme 5 is most definitely a waterproof housing for your iPhone 5/5S – no leaks to report here. Is it an every day case though? Sadly not. It’s bulky, measuring 25mm thick and 15cm tall and also adds 150g to the weight of your phone. You also need to open the base to use the USB port, the screen often isn’t quite as responsive as using the iPhone on its own and the speakers are muffled by the case too.
However, if you’re accident-prone or just prone to throwing yourself down hills and through mud on your bike, camping in damp places, swimming, surfing, otherwise going places that can see your gear covered in muck and soaked, then this is the perfect weekend iPhone case.
It’s also great for streaming video in places a little closer to home such as pools and bath tubs – places that have no doubt killed more smartphones than your average bike trail or waterfall. There’s also a chest mount for GoPro-like movie recording and a soon-to-be-released mounting bike mount too. Whether it’s worth the $150 asking price will likely depend how at risk your iPhone is though. In any event, you can check out Snow Lizard’s website here and let me know what you think in the comments.