Admittedly, we were a little confused when first approached by Urban Armor Gear to review one of their “military-grade” smartphone cases. “You understand that we’re a jet ski magazine, right?” we replied to the original proposal. “Yes. We liked your LifeProof case review and thought our product might be a good fit for one of your reviews.” Taking a moment to look through UAG’s product catalog we wrote back, “None of your cases are waterproof. Being a jet ski magazine, that’s probably going to work against you.”
So if there was any question in your mind prior to reading this review, the answer is no. The UAG Outland case offers zero water protection, which may be a deal breaker from the get-go. Yet, after using the Urban Armor Gear Outland iPhone 5S case for over a month now, we’ve come to like it nonetheless. Urban Armor Gear prides themselves on meeting all military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6), and the hard outer shell has a neat ammo box design replete with faux Allen screw fasteners.
UAG’s patented composite design fuses the tough case with a soft, impact-resistant core that features a honeycombed rubber design helping to insulate your phone from shock and impact. The outer shell also features some very nice over-sized tactile buttons making use easy, and large ports that don’t interfere with your battery cable or headphone plugs, as well as “un-compromised audio” meaning the case doesn’t muffle your iPhone’s already paltry speakers.
Another nice touch is the incorporation of an engineered rubberized camera lens bezel that works to deflect unwanted flash interference and glare. The case is lightweight but durable, and the screen is surrounded by a soft rubberized lip and rear skid pads that provide 360-degree protection from scratches and abrasions. We even purposely dropped our phone more than a few times to watch it safely bounce once and come to a stop without jarring our phone too badly.
Apart from its complete lack of environmental protection (sand, water, dirt, etc.), our only other complaint was the “crystal clear HD screen guard” that never fully adhered to our phone’s touchscreen despite properly cleaning prior to installation. One edge never stuck while bubbles were persistent throughout the surface. When it finally started to interfere with our interaction with the touchscreen, we finally peeled the plastic film off and threw it away.
While we like the UAG case itself and find it to be a great source of protection from drops and impact, it’s total absence of any resistance to debris or moisture makes it an unsuitable choice for the avid personal watercraft enthusiast, or even the truly active outdoorsman. Accidents happen and nobody means to get their phone wet, and the added insurance that your phone is protected is just too valuable to ignore.