Lifeproof NËXT iPhone XS case review: Clear protection

Lifeproof NËXT

Lifeproof is a trusted brand for fully protective heavy-duty smartphone cases. My daughter's fiancé accidentally dropped his iPhone out of a second story window; his Lifeproof case allowed the phone to survive without a scratch. He won't buy any other case brand. Lifeproof NËXT offers the protection we've come to expect while the clear back lets the color and the beauty of your iPhone shine through.

The Good

  • Six-foot drop protection
  • Dirtproof
  • Not too bulky
  • Clear back

The Bad

  • Pricey
  • Potential seal issue

Ultra protective

Lifeproof NËXT: Features

Lifeproof next iPhone case

Lifeproof NËXT is a heavy-duty, extreme protection case. It's been drop-tested up to two meters, which is over six feet. Lifeproof calls this case, "Dropproof, Dirtproof, Snowproof." It has an IP rating of 5X, which means it is dust protected. The "5" in this rating indicates that nothing larger than 1mm can penetrate it, at least not enough to interfere with its operation in any way. The "X" in this rating means that the case does not offer any waterproof protection. The latest iPhones have an IP68 rating, meaning they have their own dustproof and waterproof capabilities anyway.

You'll need to use the plastic key included with your Lifeproof NËXT in order to open the case to put it on and take it off your phone. Once on, the case looks and feels solid, with a thick bumper and substantially raised lip around the edge of the screen. Still, it doesn't interfere with my screen protector.

The volume up and down buttons are covered by raised and satisfyingly clicky button covers. There is a small lever next to those buttons that operate the Ring/Silent switch. On the other side of the case, the Sleep/Wake button is covered with the same kind of clicky button cover as the volume buttons.

The Lifeproof NËXT's clever design offers full protection while letting your iPhone shine through.

The bottom of the case has two cutouts for the speakers with a micro-mesh cover to protect the speaker holes. The speakers are still fully functional. The Lightning port is covered with a plug that can easily be pulled up when you need to plug in your Lightning cord. Wireless charging does work fine with this case on your phone.

While the back of the case is clear on every Lifeproof NËXT, the bumper comes in various colors. You can find the iPhone X/XS case on Amazon in Clear, Black Crystal, Cactus Rose, and Seaside. If you want the other new sizes, you'll need to go to LifeProof's website.

Solid but clear protection

Lifeproof NËXT: What I like

I always choose my iPhone's colors carefully, and I love the beautifully sophisticated shimmery taupe gold of my iPhone XS. I don't want to cover it up with an opaque case. Most heavy-duty phone cases are opaque, so it's nice to find one that lets you see more than just a hint of your phone's color.

Though I did not toss my iPhone out any windows to test this case, I trust that it would protect it as well as or better than any case out there.

Lifeproof next iPhone case

A potential longevity issue

Lifeproof NËXT: What I don't like

I'm more of a minimal case girl in my everyday life, only pulling out the heavy-duty cases when my iPhone is going to be in a higher risk situation. Additionally, I am always trying out new cases to review for iMore. So I didn't use this case all day, every day for months. But I noticed that a number of Amazon reviewers who did so came across a specific issue: the tight rubber seal around the edge of the case loosened or fell off. That indicates a major flaw in the case, though it's not an issue I ran into myself. I manhandled the Lifeproof NËXT quite a bit, pulled at the seal, twisted the case, threw it hard against the ground many times, and I could not replicate this issue at all. So I can't say for sure that the case has a longevity issue, but too many users had the problem to ignore the possibiility. Lifeproof does offer a warranty, so be sure to keep the box and proof of purchase.

It's a little annoying that you have to use a key to open this case. But if you lost the included key you could use a credit card or other rigid, flat plastic item to unlock it. Finally, while Amazon usually offers this case at a discounted price, it retails for substantially more on Lifeproof's site.

Heavy-duty, clear protection

Lifeproof NËXT: Bottom line

The Lifeproof NËXT is a fully-featured seriously protective phone. Its IP5X rating means it will keep dust and debris from getting into your phone and damaging it. Even though it's a heavy-duty case, it's not terribly bulky and it doesn't interfere with any of the phone's functionality. The clear back allows the beautiful iPhone to show through. While many Amazon users had a problem with the longevity of the case's rubber seal, I did not experience that nor could I replicate the issue in my testing.

See at Amazon

Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, CNET, AppAdvice, and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.