LifeProof iPhone Armband/Swimband review: LifeProof iPhone Armband/Swimband

The band fits well and the accompanying LifeProof case even lets you take your phone swimming, but this Armband/Swimband could weigh you down.

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Kent German
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Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

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These days even iPhone accessories come with accessories.

LifeProof iPhone Armband/ Swimband
7.5

LifeProof iPhone Armband/Swimband

The Good

The <b>LifeProof Armband/Swimband</b> has an extremely comfortable fit and the case will keep your phone safe and dry.

The Bad

The Armband is heavy, the case's headphone jack requires an adapter, and with the case the Armband costs a pricey $130.

The Bottom Line

It's comfortable and built to last, but think carefully about the LifeProof Armband/Swimband's heft and prohibitively high cost.

I know that concept may sound ridiculous, but that's exactly what the LifeProof Armband/Swimband is. Designed as a companion product to the LifeProof iPhone case, the armband lets you take your phone when you're out for a run, swimming laps in the pool, or sweating it out in the gym. The durable design will protect your phone from any torture, but the trade-off is a bulky and heavy design. What's more, the arm band will cost you $49.99 on top of the $79.99 that you're shelling out for the case.

Design
Before I begin, I've just a few words about the LifeProof case. CNET's David Carnoy reviewed it last month, so I won't repeat everything he said here except that it provides maximum protection for your phone while remaining as slim as possible (so, the very opposite of the Tech21 Submariner). When your handset is inside you can throw it on the floor, in a snowbank, or even in the water without any damage.

Diving into the LifeProof Armband/Swimband (pictures)

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Keeping with the rugged theme, the Armband also is built to last. The frame that secures your phone/case apparatus is plastic, but it has a thick, sturdy construction and the spring-loaded latch on top wasn't loose. Similarly, the Lycra ArmBand was both stiff and stretchy and the Velcro latch stayed secure on my arm. LifeProof says its product will fit biceps from 10 to 15.3 inches in circumference and you can adjust it within that range by sliding the band through the rings.

On the go
Preparing for your workout takes a couple of steps. First, you have to insert your phone in the case and then you can snap the case into the Armband. It's an easy process even if it takes a few seconds longer than you might expect. Then, I slipped the whole thing onto my arm and I was off on my way. Immediately, I noticed just how comfortable the Armband feels. The thick padding made for a soft cushion against my skin and I liked how the silicone bumps on the inside of the strap kept the Armband from slipping. The fabric is also easy to clean, so go ahead and drag it through the mud (the case will protect your phone from the elements at the same time).

Since both the Armband and case are waterproof, you can sweat as much as you like or even cool off in a sprinkler without damaging your phone. Likewise, if you're skiing and not very good (like I am), you don't have to fear multiple falls. The Lycra dried quickly and the small holes in the strap keep the fabric breathable.

The LifeProof case snaps into the Armband's frame. Josh Miller/CNET

As comfortable as the Armband is, though, it's also quite heavy. And that became distracting after about a half hour. Though it measures only 2.1 inches by itself, it weighs over half a pound (9.28 ounces) when you snap in the case and phone. That's a lot to carry on one side of your body, particularly when you're going a few miles. It's not that it slowed me down or made me feel lopsided, but I wouldn't wear it if I were intent on making a fast time. What's more, I can't imagine swimming for exercise with something measuring 5.4 inches long by 3 inches wide hanging off my arm.

Keep in mind that because the Armband's frame is designed specifically for the case there's no way to lighten the load by using just the phone (if you try it, your handset will just fall out of the frame). Music lovers also need to consider the the LifeProof case's unique headphones arrangement. As David said in his review, you have to use the included adapter with your headphones to keep the case secure and watertight. Not only does that give you another thing to keep track of, but the adapter adds another 7 inches of cord to your headphones.

Conclusion
Though I understand the benefits of taking your phone on a run -- you can listen to music and or use a GPS run tracker -- I usually leave my phone at home because I don't want to deal with it. Yet, if I were to take my mobile along I'd more likely opt for something smaller and lighter, even if it's not completely watertight. Granted, you may feel differently or you just may get used to it after a while. I'm certain that the LifeProof Armband/Swimband would last me forever, but by then I might be too tired to care.