I took my iPhone snorkelling

Please note: At the time of writing this item was branded FRIEQ. It has since been rebranded JOTO. Everything written below applies to both brands as they are identical. All the links will now take you to the JOTO brand on Amazon

Deliberately immersing my iPhone into saltwater might sound like a crazy thing to do. Electronics, even Apple’s beautifully engineered electronics, and saltwater do not mix. If you do think I am crazy, you are not the only one… My wife thought so too.

It would be wonderful to say that I risked my iPhone as a service to you, my readers, who expect me to test everything thoroughly. The truth, however, is less noble. I was testing a piece of kit but had no intention of submerging my iPhone when I started out.

Let’s start at the beginning. I am often on, in or beside water in my travelling and that’s before I get rained on. I was happy therefore to test and review the FRIEQ® Universal Waterproof Case (£) for, among other smartphones, the Apple iPhone 5S that I own. I was heading off to France for an extended trip which would include snorkelling and other activities beside water. Just prior to going to France I would also be kayaking in Southampton Water.

The FRIEQ Universal Waterproof Case
The FRIEQ Universal Waterproof Case

The FRIEQ® Universal Waterproof Case (£) arrived and before putting it to the test with my precious iPhone I gave it the once over. The case was made of flexible plastic and was clear both back and front with black welded plastic around the edge. It came with a lanyard that was attached to the case at the top.

Sealing the case was by means of compressing the open end of the plastic case between two strips of hard plastic and rubber. This produces a watertight seal certified to a depth of 30m. I found the Snap and Lock system very fiddly but the locking felt satisfyingly tight.

As suggested I tested the empty FRIEQ Universal Waterproof Case in a sink full of water. There was no sign of water inside the case. Just before heading off to France I was out kayaking on Southampton Water so decided to take the iPhone in the waterproof case for its protection. It got splashed a little and was more than adequate protection for the iPhone and even on shore prevented me from worrying overly much about the sand and saltwater.

In France I put the iPhone in the case anytime we were going near water or sand including poolside at the campsite. The clear plastic enabled me to see the screen easily although in bright sunlight the screen became difficult to see. This however is a problem with most smartphones and tablets in or out of protective cases.

The FRIEQ® Universal Waterproof Case (£) does keep a certain amount of air in the case which causes it to float if dropped in water. This did make it a little difficult to operate the touchscreen when the iPhone was in the case. However it was only a slight inconvenience and once I had gotten use to it was able to use the touch screen for most things. Swiping and gestures proved difficult but not impossible. This was mostly due to my fingers not sliding well on the plastic window. I was easily able to operate the camera which brings me to the taking the FRIEQ Universal Waterproof Case, with iPhone inside, snorkelling.

The touch screen is operable when in the waterproof case both above and below the water
The touch screen is operable when in the waterproof case both above and below the water

It was getting near the end of the holiday and we had been snorkelling several times using a GoPro camera. Above water it was fine but beneath the surface the results were disappointing. Another disadvantage was there is no screen on my model of the GoPro so I had to wait till we were back at our accommodation to see what we had captured (there was no way I was opening the GoPro’s waterproof case on a sandy beach and plugging it into an iPad). I wanted to see the results immediately and make any adjustments to technique to get a better shot.

There was my iPhone, inside it’s waterproof case. I picked it up and reasoned that the waterproof case was certified to 30m and at most I would be at a depth of 2m. At the water’s edge I sat down to pull on my fins. The iPhone round my neck was repeatedly splashed by the incoming waves small though they were. After a quick look to confirm water was not getting in with the iPhone I swam off from the beach.

The case floated which meant that should it detach from the lanyard (or be dropped from a canoe/boat in another scenario) it would not sink to the bottom. I switched on the camera and the screen came to life. The touch screen continues to be operable underwater and I was able to make out roughly what I was photographing or filming. All the camera’s functions were operable and being able to see the subject made it much easier to judge what I was filming.

FRIEQ Universal Waterproof Case and fish
Fish feeding below me. Taken with my iPhone in its protective FRIEQ Universal Waterproof Case

Back on the beach I was able to look at what I had shot but not the quality of the photographs. That would have to wait until I could rinse and dry the waterproof case. It is not advisable to open it on a sandy beach when the case and myself were still wet with saltwater.

Once I had rinsed and dried the case and reviewed my work I was moderately pleased with the results. It’s not going to win any underwater photography awards and I will have to improve my technique and perhaps take a class in underwater photography. Then perhaps I will purchase a camera designed for underwater photography. The video below is the results of my underwater foray with my iPhone

Testing the waterproof case for my iPhone while snorkelling. from Gordon Lethbridge on Vimeo.

The FRIEQ® Universal Waterproof Case (£) proved it was up to the task of protecting my iPhone throughout my time beside the sea. With the right precautions it was more than unto the job of keeping out sand and water on the beach and beside the sea. It even lived up to the ultimate test of being submerged deliberately in saltwater. It’s not something I would want to rely on as the plastic does not look that durable and I suspect with wear and tear it might soon lose it’s waterproof integrity.

Yes, it was a crazy idea but now I am hooked on the idea of underwater photography. Snorkelling is not enough; it’s off to learn to dive now and then a course in underwater photography.

As the name suggests it is a waterproof case that will take other smartphones. I just happen to own an iPhone. It will also accommodate most smartphones with a 5.3″ screen or less. It is available to purchase on Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the links in the review or the display box below.

If the worse happens and the watertight integrity fails or you simply drop an unprotected phone into water then the Save-A-Phone Drying Bag (£) is a handy pack to have around; one you hope never to use.

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