The most memorable demo here at Launch was for a product category which you might not think could inspire a memorable demo: a new iPhone case. A guy in a magician-like tux strode on stage to the strains of classical music, took an iPhone that belonged to a judge, put it in a case from a startup called LifeProof, dropped it repeatedly, squirted it with ketchup and mustard, doused it in dirt, then dumped it into an aquarium. Thanks to the case, the phone appeared to take the licking and keep on ticking. The presentation also included a video clip shot by an iPhone 4–an iPhone 4 that was being used underwater.
Durable phone cases are nothing new–hello, OtterBox!–but I don’t know of another one which resists shock, water, and other hazards while looking pretty much like a nicely-designed-but-otherwise-garden-variety iPhone case. (The most noticeable signs that LifeProof atypical: There’s a little plug that protects the headphone jack, and a flip-down cover on the dock connector.) LifeProof is thin, weighs an ounce, and lets you use the iPhone without removing it from the case or otherwise going through a bit of hassle.
The company is also doing an iPad case and one for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and says that it’s working on versions for Android and BlackBerry phones.
I like the LifeProof concept–I’m enough of a butterfingers that I’d consider using one simply to protect my phone from Diet Coke spills, tumbles onto the pavement outside my car, and other hazards of suburban life. The price, however, feels a tad steep: The iPhone 4 version goes for $69.95, or roughly $40 more than a plain-vanilla iPhone case. (Then again, I’ve spent $50 on protective computer cases that are nowhere near as protective as LifeProof.) Are you tempted?