There are plenty of waterproof iPhone cases on the market, there’s no doubt about that. One thing most of the cases have in common is that the phone is completely surrounded on all sides by the casing and the screen of the phone is covered with a plastic, touch sensitive film. The downside to this style of case is that you lose some of the sensitivity to the touch screen. Dog & Bone was aware of this when they came up with their Wetsuit waterproof case for the iPhone 5 and designed it to allow you to directly touch the phone’s screen without the need for a film.
The Wetsuit case comes assembled around a block that is the same size as the iPhone 5. This block is to be used to test for leaks in the case prior to placing it on your phone. The instructions for how to test are conveniently placed right on the block. When I submerged the case for testing, the block came out dry where the case had been. That is a good start! Once you’ve tested the case, it’s time to take it apart and place it on your phone. This is done by opening the bottom hinge and using a quarter on the bottom right colored corner to pop the two halves apart.There are three different pieces that assemble together to make up the Wetsuit case. A rubbery inner case houses the phone itself, and the two outer pieces snap together.First, you insert the phone from the top end, and pull the rubbery layer over the bottom part of your phone. The rubber is very tactile, so it is easy to slip it over your phone.
Next, you snap the two halves of the outer casing on the phone while making sure everything is completely together. Then you flip up the hinged piece that protects your phone’s ports and snap it into place. Once correctly inserted into the case, the phone should be sealed and all but the glass screen of the phone should be protected from getting wet or dirty.
With the hinge up on the case, you can still hear the audio from the phone, but it definitely sounds muffled. Opening the hinge up helps reduce the muffled sound, but it still doesn’t sound as good as without the case on.
Opening up the hinge allows you to access the headphone and Lightning ports. It would be nice if they would make the holes a little bigger for each of these, as anything bigger than the standard Apple plugs for both headphones and Lightning cables will not fit.
Update (09/28/13): I received the latest model, and they modified the charging and headphone ports to make them bigger. My Yurbuds now fit, but the Bose earbuds still do not. They also added in a rubber cover over the charging and headphone ports to allow one side to still be waterproof while the other is in use. Both changes are an improvement in my opinion.
The wake/sleep buttons, volume buttons, and mute switch are all able to be used with the case on. The buttons work great and are very easy to press down and use. The mute switch, however, is a little bit harder to use, since there is a thin piece of rubber you are trying to manipulate up or down to find the switch underneath. There are clear plastic areas on the phone for the Apple logo, back camera and flash, and front camera. Pictures taken with the case on looked the same as those taken without the case.
One question you may have: How does the case stay waterproof with the screen exposed? The reason it is waterproof is because the screen itself is made of glass, which is waterproof already. The case seals the edges of the screen so that water is only allowed on the screen itself. Due to this, using a screen protector with this case is not recommended since this is made to seal the phone without any protectors.
Having an exposed screen with a thick case did cause the corners of the screen to harbor dirt, since it is hard to clean the corners without removing the case and the specs of dirt get pushed there with use. The thickness of the case also was annoying when using swiping motions or trying to touch areas near the edge of the screen. I used my phone in the rain with this case on and once dry, you couldn’t tell the screen had been wet. The case is also very protective and rugged, so if you drop your phone there’s little worry that it will break.
If you are someone who goes to the beach often, skiing/snowboarding, or does activities regularly that may risk your phone getting wet and damaged, then this case might be good for you. I can see this working extremely well for those who carry their phone up the slopes with them. For people who are wanting to use this for regular day-to-day casual use though, especially if you listen to music with your phone, I wouldn’t recommend this case. Having it as an alternate case for when you are at the beach may work, but for the price, it is better suited for those who use their phones in extreme conditions often.