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LifeProof Fre for Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus: Form fitting rugged protection for outdoor adventures

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One of reasons I hesitated in purchasing a Google Pixel XL was the lack of water and dust resistance while being priced the same as the iPhone 7 Plus. I enjoy capturing photos while I am in the rivers fly fishing, cycling the trails in the rain, running through the woods, and making snowmen at the base of Mt Rainier.

For the last couple of months I’ve been using my iPhone 7 Plus in those environments since it has an IP67 dust and water resistant rating. However, did you know that water damage is actually not covered by the default warranty so while the device is water resistant, you really should avoid ever subjecting it to water unless you paid for the Apple Care+ Protection plan. I didn’t, so I had to look elsewhere for serious protection.

The latest LifeProof Fre cases solve my problem with the Google Pixel XL and also make sure my iPhone 7 Plus is safe from water damage. Let’s take a closer look at these two cases.

LifeProof Fre for the Google Pixel XL

The new LifeProof Fre for the Google Pixel XL was recently released and as a previous owner of LifeProof cases it was the one I have been waiting to test out before risking my Pixel XL in outside environments. It is available now in one color, asphalt black, for $89.99.

The LifeProof Fre for the Google Pixel XL is waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof, and drop proof. It is designed to survive submersion in up to two meters of water for one hour (IP68 rated) and drop from up to two meters in height. It has an integrated screen protector on the front, as well as clear covers for the camera, flash, fingerprint scanner, and other openings.

The case comes in two pieces that snap together with applied pressure. While I always looked for coins in the past to pry open these types of cases, LifeProof now includes a case key to help you remove your device from the case.

You are directed to first test out the seals of the case prior to actually using it with your expensive phone. While the directions show you how to carry out this test, I also like to throw in a Kleenex tissue to help me see if any water leaked through during the test.

I snapped on the case last weekend when I went fly fishing, which also happened to be in an area of snow, so I was able to test out the case in a couple actual environments. It performed well with the rear fingerprint scanner functioning as if it wasn’t in the case. The buttons were easy to press and the display looked and functioned well too. There is a bit of texture/graininess to the display when certain color backgrounds are present, but for the protection I am willing to give up a bit of clarity in the outdoors.

At first, the camera kept experiencing focus issues so I was having trouble capturing good quality photos. I removed the phone, wiped off the entire back again and made sure the case was pressed tightly against the camera lens so then after that the camera worked well. You may need to check the rear panel over the camera lens if you experience focusing issues since it seems the clear plastic cover could impact the ability for autofocus.

One aspect I particularly like about the LifeProof Fre case is that it is not that bulky so my phone still fits into my coat pockets and gear bag. It weighs in at only 49.9 grams with dimensions of 170 x 90 x 15 mm.

The Google Pixel XL still has a headphone jack up top so there is a screw-in port cover. You also get one of these 3.5mm headset jack adapters, but I just skip that and use Bluetooth headphones with the case as that offers more protection as well. There is a large door on the bottom for the USB Type-C port so you can still charge up with virtually any of your cables.

LifeProof Fre for the iPhone 7 Plus

The Apple iPhone 7 Plus has the new dual camera setup on the rear so LifeProof had to release a new case to support this design. The LifeProof Fre for the iPhone 7 Plus is also priced at $89.99, but comes in five color options as well.

It’s design is similar to the Google Pixel XL with full 360 protection provided by clear plastic protectors, port covers, and raised buttons. The front fingerprint scanner worked every time for me so far. The only adjustment I’ve had to make with this new iPhone case is that I need to speak a bit louder for Siri to “hear” my commands.

There is a vanity clear window on the back for the Apple logo, which is a nice touch. There is no headset jack on the iPhone 7 Plus so there is no adapter in the box either. The Lightning port opening is large enough for virtually all Lightning cables too.

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