Lifeproof, the fast-growing San Diego company that makes the highly rated waterproof/shockproof cases for the iPhone 4/4S, didn't quite make the launch window for the iPhone 5, but it's now starting to ship its new Fre iPhone 5 case to eager customers who preordered it.
I got my hands on an early review sample -- it comes in black and white -- and had our photographer, Sarah Tew, snap some shots of it.
A couple of things to note about the new version. For starters it's a bit trimmer than the Lifeproof for the iPhone 4/4S. But because the iPhone 5 is longer than the iPhone 4S (and the case is, too, obviously), it ends up weighing the same.
While there are some other small design improvements, the biggest change is the translucent plastic window on the back that allows users to show off the Apple logo.
"We got feedback from folks and many wanted to be able to show they had an Apple product," says Jonathan Wegner, Lifeproof's director of communications. "This is particularly true in the Chinese market. They don't want the logo hidden."
Since the iPhone 5 is so thin, many owners want slim cases that offer just enough protection without adding any unnecessary bulk. But a certain segment still wants a very tough case with full protection, and Wegner says demand has been very high for the company's iPhone 5 case despite its lofty $79.99 price tag.
He says Lifeproof had "tens of thousands" of inquiries once it announced an iPhone 5 case was in the works, and so far it's only been able to ship the product to a fraction of customers who preordered it.
According to Wegner, inventory will remain tight for the next few weeks as the company ships out remaining pre-orders and also gets stock to Best Buy, which initially has an exclusive on the product (you can also order directly through Lifeproof). However, come December, there should be plenty of Fre cases to go around for those who want to shell out the $80.
When will Lifeproof make a case for the Samsung Galaxy S3? Wegner wouldn't say exactly, but it's "coming soon." Hopefully it'll arrive before the Galaxy S4 does.