The biggest problem with waterproofed, “tough as nails” smartphone enclosures is that they’re too large — they won’t fit in a pocket which is where a phone is normally kept. So I thought the PhotoProX iPhone Photography case would take a double hit by not just being a protective and waterproofed case for an iPhone 5, but also having to increase its dimensions to accommodate its use for attaching multiple lenses to change the camera’s point-of-view. Wrong. The PhotoProX manages to keep its appearance svelte while doing all of the above with precision and efficiency. My biggest complaint with these cases has always had to do with the time it took to get the iPhone into the case. The PhotoProX speeds the process by just having a single latching lever at its back; there’s no special rubber rings or gaskets to worry about inserting.
That doesn’t mean the iPhone just slides right into the case — it has to be inserted into a sled first that holds it secure and then both are slid into the case at the top, which is where the locking lever operates the hinged top. The iPhone is now secure and the screen accessed in the normal manner (it helps to “burp” out the air when inserting the sled to get the phone’s screen right up against the case’s front), but if you want to access anything other than the side volume controls or the screen through the touch-sensitive front, the bottom section must be disengaged and pulled back on its hinge. This allows the Lighting connector, headphone socket and speakers to be gotten to. But since this exposes the bottom of the iPhone, doing this obviates the waterproofing. This is also true of leaving off one of the four glass lenses, which screw into a hole at the top backside of the case. A thin rubber “O” ring must be dropped into the hole first so as to create a seal between the case and lens — otherwise water can enter and reach the iPhone. The instructions note that the case should be placed underwater for a half hour beforehand to verify its waterproofing nature, but again if there’s no lens attached there’s just a big hole for the water to come through. The only thing troubling is that a lot of “O” rings are included, which made me think less of their getting damaged in use and more of my losing them when switching lenses ( I did lose one when I switched from the fisheye to the macro while out biking).
The PhotoProX comes with three glass lenses: a fisheye, a macro and a 2X telephoto. A fourth lens is included that is just clear glass — its purpose is to let you use the iPhone’s lens “as is” while still giving you something to screw into the case. The lenses screw into threads on the case until finger-tight and are removed by reversing the procedure. They’re all waterproof but doubtful if they are as impact resistant as the case. So while I had no issue with dropping the case 4 feet onto a tile floor to see it remain intact, I wouldn’t try it with a lens attached on the chance it fell so as to hit the lens. A hard case is included to house the lenses when they’re not being used, but this adds to the weight as it means another thing to have to carry around. But I wouldn’t advise tossing the lenses into a pocket. Also their fronts don’t seem to have any capability for screwing in a filter which could be used for additional front protection. The iPhone’s camera mechanism had no problems with the varying perspectives that the lenses provided — the macro really pushed how close to an object one could get and the fisheye took it in the other direction to create an enormous, if distorted at the edges, wide angle view.
The lens I used the least was the telephoto — its 2X view akin to me as having taken a dozen steps or so towards what is to be shot. But I grant its use being superior to that of digital zooming since it retains all of the optical resolution. The pictures taken also showed the quality of the lenses — no cheap plastic these, but professional optics as good as that of the iPhone’s own lens. Bottom line: The PhotoProX iPhone Photography Case provides a safe environment for an iPhone 5 against the elements (including swimming pools and underwater venues), and allows the use of interchangeable lenses to compliment the one built into the phone. The selling price of $149.95 is well worth it.
Waterproof/Shockproof to 33/30 feet, Accessory back connect
Must carry additional lenses separately
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.