Apple did pocket-scarce users a service with the iPhone, combining your iPod and your mobile phone into one handy device that’s perfect for those who would rather carry neither. iPhone-wielding sportsmen may want to consider H2O Audio’s iFR Sport Combo for iPhone for their hardcore athletic needs. The iFR is a hard-shell, shock-resistant covering for the iPhone that include a velcro-secured armband for transporting the case during exercise.
The iFR is no OtterBox Armor–neither waterproof (unlike H2O Audio’s other products) nor as tough–but it is a formidable, sturdy shield from the dangers of rugged adventures. The case is secured with a tiny lock screw at the bottom, and a thick plastic lid folds down to protect the phone’s screen. That protection, though, prevents you from actually using the controls; to remedy this, you’re able to swivel the lid and secure it behind the case, giving you full access to the iPhone’s screen and Home button. A removable, rubber cover protects the iPhone’s headphone jack, but removing and replacing it is as much of a nuisance as the cover is protective–most users will probably opt to just remove the cover permanently. At the top of the case is a tiny button to trigger the iPhone’s Sleep/Wake switch–so tiny, in fact, it was hard for me to press, and doing so is probably even more difficult for those with bigger fingers.
Aside from these few annoyances, the iFR itself is a solid case. Where it fails, however, is with the included armband. The case adds considerable bulk to the already-large iPhone, and the armband makes you feel like you’re running with a brick strapped your arm, limiting the benefits of the iFR to serious athletes who need the extra protection. In addition, the shell fits clumsily into the armband’s rubber holder–you have to really force it in and out, and the rubber warps and bends around the shell as if there wasn’t much effort put into its design. It’s also relatively difficult to hit the volume buttons and Ring/Silent switch when your iPhone is in the armband, forcing you to feel around, or even visually search, to find the buttons.
Ultimately, the iFR may be a good choice for rugged sports enthusiasts who constantly put themselves–and their poor iPhones–in harm’s way. But if all you want is a simple armband case for your daily jog and gym routine, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. –Dan Pourhadi