Atlas ID, a waterproof iPhone case

As I was planning my next vacation, I started worrying about the safety of my precious iPhone 5s: “What if I dropped it in the sand of a Greek beach”, “what if my canoe tipped over a lake in Finland ?”, and “what if I went for a swim and it left me without any other option than leaving my valuable phone on the beach ?”

A few years back, it wasn’t a problem since I used to travel without a phone but since then these small devices have become a travel essential that can be used as computers, GPS, camera and even allow me to call my family back in Canada for free. But these little things don’t come cheap, it can become quite stressful to use a gadget worth more than 700€ on a sandy and humid holiday.

IPH-1157-BLK_e

I’ve searched around the internet for reviews about waterproof iPhone cases but as always, it is difficult to find a good balance between price and quality. I finally chose to buy the Atlas ID from Incipio because its price was less than 80€ ($89,99 USD) but also because the brand is known for the quality of their cases. A few websites sell the Atlas ID for less but I chose to buy it directly from the official website because it is said that there a few lesser quality copies being sold and I did not want to risk my phone to gain a few Euros. The delivery was free and I received my package within four days.

Installing the waterproof case

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When I took the case out of the box, I was confused to find it closed with the instructions shut inside. It is not easy to open, I had to search for a video online in order to open it without risking to break it. The exterior plastic is solid and mat while the interior is made of rubber to absorb shocks and there is glass to protect the screen. It feels and looks as a good quality case.

Once I was able to open the Atlas case, I stuffed it with absorbing paper and immersed it in large bowl of water in order to make sure that the case was indeed waterproof. The case passed the test and reassured me in regards to the door holes that are sealed by silicon joints. The insides being dry, I removed the screen protector from my iPhone and installed it in the waterproof case.

Even though I watch the instruction videos a few times, I have not been able to install the silence switch correctly. It did not matter much to me as the volume buttons still worked correctly.

Using the Atlas ID

At first, I wanted to put my phone in the waterproof case and leave it inside all through the month of August. I quickly realised that even though it was great at keeping my phone from being damaged by water, it had two problems.

The first being the sound quality, while speaking on the phone I could not be heard clearly. I had to use my headphones to have a normal conversation but it meant having to open the door, plug the headphone adapter in and finding the headphone themselves … that’s a lot to do when you have only a few seconds to answer a call!

The second point being that I bought my iPhone 5s in part because of its great camera and the Atlas ID degrades the image quality. Somehow, Incipio decided to put a nice glass over the screen but decided to put plastic over the camera lens. You can see for yourself how the case influences the quality of pictures

Photo iPhone avec case Atlas id
Picture with the Atlas Id on (details on the right)
Picture with the Atlas Id off (details on the right)
Picture with the Atlas Id off (details on the right)

 

Even with those problems, I found the case useful when I went swimming alone and I did not feel like leaving my phone on the beach. Especially because that when I am alone, I prefer to have my phone close to me rather than leaving it in the car or my hotel room. I tried to take a few photos underwater but not much came out of it.

The case remained waterproof even though I removed and put back my phone quite a few times. I found the Atlas ID practical during my holidays but I would not use it everyday.

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The good:

  • The most important: It keeps it waterproof promise, no sand or water got in!
  • It works well with the Touch ID system
  • The door gives easy access to the headphone plug and the charger port
  • I felt that my phone was well protected against shocks
  • The touchscreen remains usable even underwater

The bad:

  • There is no place to attach a cord to the case, if you drop it in water it will sink to the bottom
  • The touchscreen is less sensitive, I often had to repeat a few times my touch
  • Picture quality is decreased (the plastic over the lens has small scratches)
  • You cannot afford to loose your headphones or else you’ll have a hard time receiving or making calls
  • It is impossible to install the silence button correctly

Atlas Waterproof cases for other phones

Currently, Incipio sells waterproof cases for the iPhones 5 and 5s and also for the Samsung Galaxy 4. I’ve read on some blogs that we should expect soon the Atlas for iPhone 6.

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A not so flattering selfie 😉
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