Review: Naztech Vault+ for iPhone 5/5s
Vault+ for iPhone 5/5s ($70) is more than just a simple revision to Naztech's earlier Vault. It's actually a rather significant redesign, with a number of added features. Still waterproof, the case offers complete coverage for the iPhone, and now supports the Touch ID feature found on the 5s. It does have a few issues though, including with the flash, which we found problematic last time as well. Vault+ is currently available in black, blue, pink, and white.
The case still splits into two separate pieces: a full plastic back, which now feels more substantial, and a rubber front frame with built-in screen protection. To install the iPhone, you first snap it into the back, and then wrap the front piece around it, ensuring its flexible borders form a proper seal. Full, clicky button protection is molded into the rubber, as are protectors for the Lightning and headphone ports. Expect to only be able to use Apple’s connectors, as the openings are extremely narrow. Inaccessible on the prior on the version, the side switch can now be controlled with a plastic knob sticking out of the side of the case. Our water submersion tests showed the case works as advertised in keeping liquid out.
It’s worth taking some more time to discuss those port protectors, as they have a significant impact on call quality. In our testing, callers commented on the significant degradation of voice quality when the protectors were in place, calling it some of the worst they’ve ever heard. At times, our voice was simply unintelligible. Opening them up proved to make a difference though, described as “night and day.” With the ports open, even though the mic isn’t directly exposed, call quality rises to an acceptable level.
Vault+‘s front is made up of clear and colored segments in a somewhat strange pattern. Despite looking like it’s fully covered with plastic, the earpiece works just fine. Down below, a clear, thin plastic film allows the Touch ID fingerprint reader to do its job without issue. It feels like it might rip easily, although we didn’t actually experience any issues in our testing. Then, in the middle, there’s a clear protector over the screen. Unlike the best films though, it doesn’t lie totally flat, meaning there’s a bit of air between it and the display. You may have to press a little bit harder at times to get your touches to register than you would on a bare screen, but we didn’t have any issues accessing Notification or Control Centers.
The opaque plastic back has a small circle exposing the Apple logo, but thankfully, there’s a clear window protecting the metal underneath. It doesn’t look great, but at least it doesn’t interrupt the protection. A kickstand folds out from the back when needed, holding the iPhone at a 56 degree angle in landscape orientation. Unfortunately, as with the first Vault, there are still issues with the camera and flash. The very borders of the lens are covered, which doesn’t affect most shots. But the flash is also partially covered, which can have a negative impact on photos.
While Vault+ is an improvement over its predecessor, it still has issues of its own, and a higher price tag as well. While $50 was a particularly low price for a waterproof case, $70 is more in line with the rest of the market. The quality of the case certainly doesn’t match up to the competition from LifeProof, Incipio, and others. It’s usable, sure, but not terribly impressive, and not strong enough to earn our recommendation. While we appreciate that it’s further along than before, the attention to detail and overall user experience simply isn’t where it needs to be.