Review: LifeProof Nüüd Case + Accessories for iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
Nüüd ($100) is LifeProof's waterproof, snowproof, dirtproof and shockproof case for second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPads. Based on the design of the LifeProof for iPhone 4/4S, this case is about as heavy-duty as they come. It sandwiches your iPad between two hard plastic halves, using O-rings to create an airtight seal. We were surprised to find that Nüüd doesn't cover the touchscreen element of the tablet, though, and instead leaves it exposed to scratches and bumps.
Naturally, this case adds more bulk than the average model would. It’s almost a full inch taller and wider, and a little more than double the bare iPad’s thickness; this is what you’ll feel the most. Nüüd also adds 48% more weight. The body is mostly plastic, with rubberized black material around the rear edges and a clear window to the back. Snapping it in place takes some effort, as you have to ensure the two hooks at the bottom of the front piece connect properly to the back, and that the O-rings stay in place, before snapping the halves together all along the perimeter. A latch over the Dock Connector/Lightning port snaps shut to hold the case together.
Our initial thought was that the included piece of clear, stickered plastic was some sort of screen protector, but on closer inspection, this turned out not to be the case. It’s actually a module used in waterproof testing. Before you use Nüüd, LifeProof says you must test it to ensure a proper watertight seal. If no water has gotten in after half an hour of submersion with the plastic insert inside, you’re good to go. The plastic is then set aside, to be used if and when further testing is necessary. This means that the iPad’s Home Button and part of its bezel are protected, but the glass screen is not. LifeProof calls this a benefit, as there’s nothing between you and the screen, but the company assumes that your screen is uncracked and that you don’t mind getting water, snow, or dirt on the glass. We’d prefer a well-executed screen cover to none at all, particularly at this price level, but at least there’s a thick lip protecting the display against drops.
As it must to live up to all its claims of “life-proofing” your iPad, Nüüd offers complete button and port protection. The buttons are accessible through the case, with the Sleep/Wake button maintaing more tactility than the volume buttons; the Home Button also feels good. Clear glass covers the rear iSight camera, while both the speaker and microphone are protected by a special mesh. If you hold the case with your hands pressing against the clear plastic, you may hear distortion in the audio leaving the tablet, but it otherwise comes through fine. Noise input through the microphone seemed to be a bit more muffled, but is also acceptable. We appreciate that thought was put into how to protect the side switch, with a fan-shaped slider that moves up and down to toggle positions. Finally there’s the headphone port, which is covered by a screw-in protector. LifeProof includes an adapter to make the port easier to access with any headphones.
The company also offers a number of accessories to complement the case, including LifeJacket ($60), a large foam bumper that makes Nüüd float and adds extra shock protection, and Cover/Stand ($20), a plastic lid that can also double as a way to prop the iPad up. There’s also a Strap Accessory Pack ($35) to add shoulder and hand straps, and LifeProof Dock Connector ($30), an adapter that allows you to access the Dock Connector port on your iPad 2 or third-generation iPad through the thick case.
While we don’t love the idea of leaving the screen exposed, everything else about Nüüd makes it worthy of consideration for those who need serious iPad body protection. It’s more attractively designed than comparable cases from Griffin and OtterBox, while offering the full waterproofing that those models are missing, though at a higher price. Unfortunately, that price is restrictive, and because it doesn’t offer screen protection, Nüüd doesn’t trump its less expensive competitors in all regards—it’s just a better, though not ideal, submersible option. Overall, it’s worthy of our general recommendation. Consider it if you need a waterproof iPad case, and aren’t concerned about damage to the iPad’s screen.