Model: Hitcase Pro
Price: $130 (+$50)
Compatible: iPhone 5
Hitcase Hitcase Pro for iPhone 5
Hitcase Pro ($130), from Hitcase, is the latest super-tough case designed to turn your iPhone 5 into a GoPro-competitive action video camera. Its large size makes the case something that most users likely won't want to carry around on a daily basis, but it allows almost full access to the iPhone's functions. The "Pro" in the title refers to the built-in wide angle lens, which doubles the field of view of the iSight camera by creating a fisheye effect. Like others before it, an ecosystem of accessories is available in addition to the case itself. Suckr suction cup mount ($50) and Chestr chest mount ($50) are available separately; Suckr lets you attach the Hitcase Pro to a car interior's flat surface, while Chestr places the case at chest level for video recordings during action sports.
Unlike other heavy duty cases that split into two distinct pieces, Hitcase Pro is a single hinged polycarbonate case, covered in a soft touch coating. A rear plate is permanently attached to a front holder, with snaps along the top, bottom and right edges of the iPhone holding it all shut. Inside, there’s soft foam padding and a rubber bumper with a permanent screen protector built-in. At 5.5 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and a little over half an inch thick, it’s not the kind of case most people are going to want to carry around in their pants pockets. Instead, we see it as something that users will snap on when they need to record, and maybe leave it on for the day, but take off afterward.
Size concerns aside, you can use Hitcase Pro without hindering most of the iPhone’s functionality. Raised, swirled metal buttons rise over the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons, the latter of which gives a bit more resistance than we would’ve liked if it’s not installed properly. The Home button, on the other hand, is protected by rubber, and maintains full tactility. In music playback and phone call tests, audio quality is noticeably lower than that of a bare iPhone 5, but not unacceptably so. The speakers and microphone are protected from water, which is a good thing for the kind of rough environments in which the case may be used.
Access to the ports is rather limited. With Hitcase Pro installed, the Lightning port is completely blocked. The headphone port is protected by a rubber stopper. By default, it rests under the bottom latch, completely sealing the port, although you can unsnap the latch, lift the protector away, and connect narrow plugs. As for the screen, it’s protected, but not limited. The clear plastic rests right against the display, and doesn’t hinder the touch controls in any way. It’s also perfectly clear. Other than the Lightning port, the only thing totally blocked is the side switch.
Hitcase Pro’s extended wide angle lens is permanently attached; we at first thought it might be removable or swappable. As noted, it creates a fisheye effect that allows a greater field of view; HitCase says it’s 170°. This is a benefit for capturing more action, but some may not like the distortion it creates.
This case ships with its own tripod and GoPro system mounting solutions, plus a wrist strap. It slides in and out of accessories with a rail along the bottom right edge snapping into place and holding securely. With the Stickr that’s included, it can be attached to a helmet or other surface, thanks to a slight curve in the material. Suckr is a fully positionable arm on a suction cup, and can raise your iPhone up to seven inches off the ground. Chestr, on the other hand, is a neoprene mount that you literally strap around your chest. It allows HitCase Pro to record the action from your desired point of view, and there’s a pocket on the backside.
At $130, HitCase Pro is $70 less than the cheapest GoPro camera, and our tests indicate it’ll keep your iPhone quite safe from the elements, including water submersion. At the same time, it’s $30 more than OtterBox’s Armor Series Case, which is arguably better looking but about the same size and with complete access to every feature. From a financial point of view, it makes sense to choose this option as a standalone camera. As a case, its bulk is a turnoff, but we appreciate that it still offers nearly complete access to the phone’s features. The accessory ecosystem, and the ability to connect to GoPro’s, is appreciated. HitCase Pro earns our general recommendation.