HitCase protects iPhone from 35 mph drop

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/ Updated: 19 March 2013 5:19 pm GMT
HitCase for iPhone 4/4S
The HitCase holds an iPhone 4/4S to work as an action camera. We mounted it to a car and drove hard. Josh Miller/CNET

The HitCase for iPhone 4/4S boasts of being shockproof and waterproof, but it's not the kind of thing you want to use for your phone from day to day. That is, unless you are an Antarctic explorer.

The black plastic of the HitCase adds considerable bulk to an iPhone 4/4S and somewhat hampers usability. Its angular protuberances make it look lie something that should be hanging from Batman's utility belt.

Industrial metal studs stick out of the sides, letting you push the volume and power buttons.

The HitCase is designed to turn an iPhone into an action camera, making it suitable to stick on your car's fender and record hot laps or strap to your chest and ski black diamond slopes.

To really put the HitCase through its paces, I knew I would have to stick it to a car and drive really fast.

The case features a rubber-lined interior, transparent front film, and three plastic flaps that clamp the case closed. An iPhone 4/4S fits snugly inside, a port for the camera lens lined up for interference-free video.

Full control
With case and phone assembled, I was able to use all the phone's controls, such as the home button, but I had to take the phone out of the case to connect a white 30-pin cable. The transparent front film made it possible to use the iPhone's touch screen, but I had to press a little harder than with the bare phone.

The HitCase comes with a mounting bracket that can screw on to a typical GoPro suction-cup mount, or you can buy the SuckR suction-cup mount, which HitCase sourced from Ram Mount. This mount includes to ball joints and a very strong suction cup, which did not fall off once during my testing.

The HitCase slides and locks onto its mounting bracket, which proved very stable and was not at all prone to loosening under pressure.

Further complementing the HitCase is the Vidometer app for iPhone. This free video recorder app overlays speed, elevation, and g-forces on the display, garnered from the iPhone's accelerometer.

Immediately after using the app and mount, I could not find the test footage in the iPhone's video library. Instead, I had to export the videos from the app, which gave me the choice whether to include the data overlay in the videos.

Play

On a twisty mountain road, I tried mounting the HitCase on its SuckR suction cup inside the car and also on the front fender. Given the encased iPhone's display, it was easy to frame the shot. When I turned the whole mount upside down, the Vidometer app flipped itself so the image and overlays were right side up.

I drove quickly through a series of tight corners and saw that neither the mount nor the case were disturbed at all by the speed and g-forces. However, the phone did move slightly within the case. Reviewing the footage afterward, the video jarred in the turns and the audio track caught the sound of the phone hitting the inside of the case.

As the mount was not about to let go of the car, I determined to perform a shock test by dropping the case out of the moving car's window. Holding the case outside the window, with the Vidometer app recording, I got the car up to about 35 mph, and then let go.

Picking up the HitCase afterward, I found that not only was the iPhone I was using completely unharmed, it had continued to record video throughout its entire tumbling journey.

The HitCase did not fare so well.

One of the flaps used to clamp it closed popped off during the fall. The other flaps kept the HitCase closed, still protecting the phone. The flap itself did not appear to be broken, and could be popped back onto the case, so no real damage done. However, if more of the flaps had come off, it might have led to the case opening and exposing the phone.

Not so economical
With its protection and sturdy mounting, the HitCase looks like a way to make your iPhone do double-duty as an action camera. The associated Vidometer app's ability to overlay telemetry data is a nice addition, and something we have only seen from the Contour +2 action camera.

Compared with dedicated action cameras, an iPhone lacks the wide-angle lens and video quality, making for inferior footage. The slight rattle of the iPhone in the HitCase was also a problem, as was the clamp failure during my test.

A further strike against using the HitCase and an iPhone as an action camera substitute is price. By itself, the HitCase for iPhone 4/4S goes for $89, with the SuckR mount costing an additional $50. A ContourRoam dedicated action camera can be had for $120, while Sony's Action Cam comes in at under $200.

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HitCase for iPhone 4/4S

Part Number: HC11000
Pricing is currently unavailable.

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  • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

  • Color black