Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.
Water and the iPhone have never gotten along well. With all of the sensitive electronics packed inside there, not to mention those bothersome moisture sensors that can give away even the slightest exposure to moisture and void your warranty, it’s no wonder that most of us don’t want to take our iPhones to the beach or poolside or even anywhere too humid.
That’s the problem that the RainBallet case from The Joy Factory is aiming to solve. It’s a waterproof case for the iPhone that protects it from elemental damage while keeping it (mostly) useful.
The Joy Factory makes some bold claims in the description of the RainBallet case, stating that it is waterproof and rugged, while maintaining the usability by keeping the camera, microphone and speaker as unobsctructed as possible. The site is careful to note that the case is IPX5 rated. This means that it is water resistant enough to use the term waterproof but that it is really made to resist “jets of water” and is not aimed at being a truly submersible option.
The construction of the RainBallet is commendably solid and beautiful. Waterproof cases have a tendeny to look pretty terrible and be pretty bulky. The RainBallet is neither, with its pleasant smoky translucence and red accents. The detailing is nice as well, with grippy panels that make it easy to hold on to and a rubberized front finish. It even comes with a pleasant looking cinchable wrist strap that has a badge that doubles as a locking tool for the case’s clasps.
The interior of the case features several rubber pads that keep the phone from rubbing up against the plastic and provide shock absorbance. The water-resistance is ensured by an overlapping edge design that features a healthy silicone washer. Once you close the case, you’re presented with three locking clamps that pull the two halves together. It’s all very well done and reminiscent of the underwater housings I have had for my cameras.
Because the top and sides of the case have no access to buttons, you’re not going to be able to use the mute switch, power button or volume buttons. This may limit how long you’re able to keep the case on without getting annoyed. Just make sure to set a short timeout on your auto-lock and you’ll probably be ok.
The screen is covered by a plastic pane which allows touch sensitivity throuh it. The touch works fine, although you have to get a bit stabby and insistent with your fingers. It’s not going to be great for touch gaming or anything but you should be able to shoot pictures and answer phone calls just fine.
There isn’t a lot of overlap on the edges though, which can tend to make one nervous. I would have much rather seen a double walled chamber that would force any water to go around the seal, up, back down and past the seal again to get inside. Regardless, however, the case worked like a charm.
I put it through mostly casual testing in the pool by submerging it and holding it at the bottom of the pool for a while, which goes above and beyond its classification of ‘splash protection’. I let other people play with the phone in the RainBallet while splashing around in the pool and shot some video and still images while I was at it.
Never did even a drop make it past the seal, altogether very solid performance.
Another thing that The Joy Factory touts about the RainBallet is the performance of the camera and microphones while inside the case, something that is normally a major issue with housings. The video and still images I shot through the case had superb image quality, making it almost impossible to tell that you’re shooting from inside a case.
Despite the thin membranes that the RainBallet features, the sound was still relatively muffled, at least coming in. I was able to hear callers through the case fairly easily although they had issues hearing me. The sound on the video I shot, which you can see above, is fairly decent.
Overall I found the construction of the RainBallet to be solid and not incredibly bulky. It’s an excellent case to take to the pool or beach and would make a good option for anyone looking to protect their phone without having to shove it into a large, ugly case. The lack of access to the power button is a bit of a bummer and makes this a bit less of a general purpose case and more of a ‘special occasions’ offering.
You can snag the RainBallet case direct from The Joy Factory for $49.95.
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