Earlier this year I was introduced to some rugged phone and iPad cases made by Snow Lizard. The cases are ruggedized, waterproof, and best of all have a battery built into the case! Below I have described my experience with using their iPhone 4S case and an iPad 4th Generation case.
SLXtreme 4/4S iPhone Case
For the last few months I have been enjoying the use of a terrific case for my iPhone 4S made by Snow Lizard. The case is ruggedized, water proof, has a solar panel, and a battery built into the case.
I frequently work in areas with poor cell service, which can quickly drain my cell phone’s battery. Often this includes conditions that are very unfriendly to electronics – rain, snow, and a wide range of temperatures. I have found that the Snow Lizard case easily handles every situation I have subjected it to.
The Snow Lizard cases are bulky. Consequently, I use the case only when I need the extra protection and extended battery life. However, it is really quick to insert and remove the phone by opening the top. Just slide the phone in and out.
Once inside the case you can still use your phone as you normally would. However, I have found that the sound quality is not great. When talking on the phone I can still make myself understood and can hear well enough for a short phone conversation. However, talking to someone that sounds like they are at the bottom of a deep well is not great for an extended phone conversation.
The battery built into the case more than doubles the time that the phone will operate. With poor cell service and/or cold weather I have found I don’t have any difficulty keeping the phone functioning throughout the day – without the extra battery in the Snow Lizard case I would never make it through the day in these conditions. The battery can be charged via a USB cable or with the solar panel on the back of the phone. For every hour of sunlight you get about 10 minutes of talk time.
SLXtreme iPad 4th Generation Case
I really like the iPhone case but it is the case for the iPad 4 that is really intriguing. I have been using an iPad for forestry fieldwork for more than four years. Harsh environment protection has been available for a few years now from manufacturers such as Lifeproof and Griffin. However, battery life has always been a challenge. The Snow Lizard case for the iPad 4 addresses this with a built in battery that almost doubles run time of the iPad.
The concept for the iPad case is the same as with the phone – ruggedized, waterproof and an integrated battery. The case also has four pre-drilled threaded holes on the back that are compatible with the VESA Mount System. This allows the iPad to be mounted with systems such as those provided by Ram Mounts. This will allow the case to be mounted on boats and a variety of vehicles such as Skidoos, All Terrain Vehicles, Trucks, etc.
The case adds weight and bulk to the iPad but it is comfortable to hold. I found that I had access to all of the buttons and switches required. There is no access to the to the toggle switch next to the volume rocker switch. However, I did not find this to be a problem as this functionality is available with on screen commands. The camera works very well with a clear covering over the camera lenses. Charging of the battery in the case is via USB. The case battery can also be used to charge other devices via USB cable.
One of the questions I have frequently had is:
“Can an iPad work below freezing?”
I have had several people tell me that they can continue to use an iPad down to about -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). To do so they are often keep the iPad screen on so that the iPad generates enough heat to keep warm enough to prevent the screen from freezing. I thought I should see if the Snow Lizard case would be able to help keep an iPad 4 operating at low temperatures.
I put the iPad 4 in the Snow Lizard Case and set the battery in the case to charge the iPad battery – this generates some heat as well. To keep the screen on I played a movie on it. Then it was into a deep freeze with a temperature of -27 Celsius (-17 Fahrenheit).
I was surprised to find that the iPad continued to function while the movie played. However, when the movie stopped and the screen switched off, the iPad froze within a few minutes. It would be interesting to test this in the real world with the iPad mounted on a snowmobile. However, this quick test certainly indicates that the Snow Lizard cases may be able to extend the cold weather operation of an iPad.
Snow Lizard currently has a few iPhone compatible cases and one Samsung Galaxy phone case shown on their website ($59.99 to $149.99 US). At present the only tablet case available is for the iPad 4th generation ($199.99 US).
The combination of excellent harsh environment protection and built in battery make these terrific cases for work or play in the outdoors, provided you don’t mind the extra bulk and weight added by the cases. The extra battery allows the mobile device to be run continuously which has great potential to extend the cold weather operation of mobile devices (more testing required).