Showdown: Best Waterproof, Protective Cases for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

 Best Waterproof, Protective Cases for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

All of the outstanding protective iPhone 6s cases included in this head-to-head battle have to meet a minimum criteria; and therefore, they all have the following core features in common. They are all waterproof to a depth of at least six feet for a minimum of half an hour and they are all drop-proof from a height of at least six feet. Additionally, these cases can all be considered full-time-use cases, which means that they allow full access to all of the iPhone's ports, controls, and features, without ever having to remove the case itself. Read on to see which of these quality cases—the Lifeproof Nüüd, the Catalyst, or the Punkcase Spikestar—is the best rugged waterproof iPhone 6s case.

Lifeproof Nüüd

(Starting at $71.99)

I love this case, and when it comes to waterproof cases, my affections are hard to win. But the Nüüd has stolen my heart with Lifeproof's attention to detail and adherence to the highest production standards. The Nüüd offers reliable protection for your iPhone while allowing you completely unfettered access to your iPhone's touchscreen. Of course, if you like, you can install the included stick-on plastic screen protector for an added layer of protection from incidental scratches, which is what I do when using the Nüüd. Personally I don't feel a plastic screen protector detracts from my experience with the iPhone's touchscreen (assuming I can overcome the daunting task of getting it down with no bubbles or lint particles trapped under it!) and as someone who repairs cracked screens, I also appreciate the extra confidence it gives me in terms of the safety of my iPhone's screen.

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The Nüüd is also an attractive case, complementing the iPhone's design. It's an extremely thin and svelte waterproof case, especially when taking into consideration that it does not have a screen protector, but instead relies on a gasket seal, which necessitates a higher bezel around the touchscreen.

Pros:

  • Although it's a little stiff to get on, the little bit of extra effort it takes to install this protective case is well worth it. Once it's on, you can be fairly certain your iPhone is going to be safe in the conditions Lifeproof prescribes.
  • Improved Lightning port hinged plastic cover.
  • Exceptionally clear audio quality when using the speakers or microphone of the iPhone.
  • A large, clear panel on the rear of the phone lets you appreciate the beauty of your iPhone even with this extreme-duty case installed.

Cons:

  • A little too slick for my liking. Thanks to the large, clear plastic back panel, your iPhone won't have much "grippiness" despite having decent traction on the edges of the case. A necessary trade off perhaps, for having so much of your iPhone either exposed, or at least visible.
  • A place to attach a wrist strap would have been appreciated, especially for the larger, heavier iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus.
  • Although it's available for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, if you are looking for the Lifeproof Nüüd specifically for your new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you'll have a little bit of a wait. The Nüüd isn't expected to arrive on store shelves until early 2016. Out of all the cases featured here the Nüüd is the only one that is not already available for the iPhone 6d series. I'll be sure to update this article in a few weeks whe the Nüüd for the 6s series does hit the market.

Punkcase Spikestar

($35.98)

When it comes to the best waterproof iPhone cases it's hard to beat the value of the PunkCase Spikestar. The Spikestar delivers amazing protection for your iPhone, at a totally bargain price. In terms of quality, the Spikestar compares favorably with the best of the waterproof and rugged protective cases on the market.

I'm extremely impressed with the integrity and overall design of the Spikestar. It closely resembles the popular Lifeproof Frē and for anyone interested in a less expensive option than the Frē I can heartily recommend the Spikestar.

Pros:

  • Along, with a headphone jack adaptor, the Spikestar includes an attachable wrist strap for added security, which is especially importantwhen using your iPhone in wet or treacherous environments.
  • While this isn't a pro for everyone, since a screw-in plug like the Lifeproof Nüüd has technically offers a higher level of waterproof reliability, the rubber plug that the Spikestar has is actually easier to open, which for some could be seen as advantageous.

Cons:

  • I experienced a slight buzzy sound when using the Spikestar; and though it was easily remedied by opening the Lightning port cover to improve the flow of sound waves (something I typically do, whenever using any airtight iPhone case, when audio quality is a priority), it's still something to consider. I suspect it has something to do with the large area devoted to the microphone's audio reception (see above image), which incorporates a relatively large flap of ultra-thin, non-permeable, waterproof material, which may have the tendency to vibrate when the iPhone's speakers cause air to move.

Catalyst Rescue Ranger 

(Starting at $69.99)

This impressive heavy-duty, waterproof iPhone case is easy to install and easy to keep a grip on. The Catalyst has been one of my favorite iPhone cases for years now. And notice how I didn't specify waterproof or rugged or everyday conventional cases. That's because, if ever there was a case that looked stylish without detracting from the iPhone's own glamor and delivered the highest level of protection at the same time, it would be the Catalyst.

For anyone looking for a case that is deceptively durable and also minimal in its design, the Catalyst might be your best option. Like the above-mentioned Lifeproof Nüüd, the Catalyst has very little traction on its front and backside (in fact, its entire backside is transparent, which I actually think looks quite nice), however it does have an extra grippy rubber texture on its sides, making it more tenable, particularly in wet and wild situations.

Pros:

  • Has the most impressive protective stat out of all three cases. It is drop-proof to approximately 6 feet and remarkably, waterproof to a depth of around 15 feet!
  • Includes a wrist strap for convenience and security.
  • If you appreciate the refined aesthetics of your iPhone, this may be the ideal rugged and waterproof case for you, as it reveals more of your iPhone's natural elegance than any other case on this list. It's also convenient if you are the type who might like to tuck an image inside the case on the back of your iPhone.

Cons:

  • The material making up the headphone jack plug and Lightning port cover felt somewhat flimsy to me, but it is replaceable. However, of greater significance to me was the fact that by design, if you want to open the Lightning port cover you have no choice but to also open the headphone cover first. In many of the adventurous circumstances that I can envision this case being utilized, more unnecessarily open ports equal more chances for debris, dust, or liquid to get at your iPhone.
  • Unlike the other two entries featured here, the Catalyst does not come with a headphone jack extender, so any headphone jack other than Apple's is not guaranteed to work. If you dofeel the need for a headphone jack extender, Catalyst sells them for $14.99; something to keep in mind when ordering.

 

And the Winner Is...

Obviously these are all exceptional iPhone cases; fashionable, rugged, and durable. Whether you want a slim case that is sure to keep your iPhone safe in everyday circumstances, or a full-time use case that's ideal for the most extreme and harrowing conditions you'd likely want to take an iPhone into, it's safe to say you can't go wrong with any of these cases. That said, only one can be the champion.

The winner of our showdown for best extreme-duty, waterproof case is...

The Lifeproof Nüüd.

With a style and grace and ease of use that is second to none and unobstructed access the iPhone's responsive touchscreen, the well-made Nüüd is the winner (albeit by a fine margin.) Having no significant shortcomings and being made with the attention to quality and detail that Lifeproof is known for, the Nüüd is the best waterproof case for Apple's iPhone 6 and 6s series.
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Dig Om's picture

As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech