Review: Dry Corp DryCASE Waterproof Phone & MP3 Case + DryCASE Tablet Waterproof Case
While waterproof cases are not uncommon, Dry Corp's DryCASE Waterproof Phone & MP3 Case ($40) and DryCASE Tablet Waterproof Case ($60) are a little bit different than most. The cases each use a vacuum seal to keep the enclosed device protected; unusually, that vacuum is created by removing the air from the sleeve with an included pump. Dry Case claims the process leaves the multitouch display fully usable, and an included pass through port allows for headphone use -- although the connection is on the right hand side, while all iPhones and iPads have headphone ports on the left. Because these cases are not made specifically for iPhones or iPads there is extra room in both, but the vacuum seal ensures they stay in place. Also included with both versions are a lanyard with a clip and a neoprene armband/handle which can be strung through the back of the sleeve.
In testing, both versions of DryCase performed in very much the same way. Because of the position of the headphone plug, it took a little bit of maneuvering to get the devices situated properly—in fact, the iPad only fit when pushed all the way up against the left hand side of the bag. Clips at the top ensured an airtight seal. Once everything was in place we used the pump to remove the air, while making sure that the plastic case was flat to avoid unevenness on the screen. As per the instructions, we let the units sit for ten minutes to ensure there was no air leakage—a step that needn’t be taken with other waterproof cases we’ve tested in the past.
Our first test involved standard usage under running water for five minutes for each case. On both units, the touch screen was still somewhat usable, but running water actually activated the multitouch display, causing scrolling, typing, and other unintended actions. In addition, the physical buttons were a little more difficult to use because of the vacuum-sealed fit. Using a pair of waterproof headphones from H2O Audio, we found that passed-through sound output worked just fine. Cellular data and Wi-Fi also worked without any issues. Once the cases were removed, we found the devices inside to be completely free of moisture.
Our second test, full submersion, showed very different results. While the iPad stayed dry, the touch screen became completely unusable and was being inadvertently set off by the water. We removed DryCASE from the water and resubmerged it several times, each time getting the same result. In other words, DryCASE can be used to keep your device safe when submerged in water—Dry Corp. claims up to 100 feet of submersion—but usability is profoundly compromised.
While not made to custom fit either device and exhibiting major issues with touch control, both of Dry Corp’s offerings did keep our iPhone 4 and iPad dry when placed underwater. Moreover, they provide amongst the least expensive waterproof protectors we’ve tested with integrated headphone port pass-thoughs, a factor weighing in favor of a positive recommendation. The complete loss of screen control in moderate to heavy water exposure, however, significantly lessens the value of DryCASE relative to some of the other waterproof solutions we’ve tested for other devices in the past, which some users would call D- or F-worthy performance. Our compromise overall rating of C splits the difference between its performance in two usage scenarios. Both models would be improved by a reengineering of the plastic to prevent unintended control manipulation from water—something that H2O Audio cases for past iPods and iPhones have been able to avoid. For those simply looking to keep an iPad, iPhone, or iPod dry in intermittently wet environments, DryCASE is an option worth considering, but those looking to actually use their devices underwater shouldn’t have it on their lists.