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Aquapac's Small Bike-Mounted Waterproof Phone Case will appeal to those who regularly use their smartphone for navigational purposes on the bike – if you can afford the bar space and swallow the cost of the mount.
Keeping a phone safely out of the rain when it's in a bag or the like can be as straightforward as popping it into a freezer bag, but that's not going to cut it when it's out there in the weather no matter what. Aquapac are well known for creating fully submersible protective bags for gadgets and tech, and we've tested some of their 'weatherproof' rather than fully waterproof cases before. The catchily named Small Bike-Mounted Waterproof Phone Case is designed to be fully waterproof and is suitable for most medium sized smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S1 to S5 and the Motorola Droid Turbo. All Apple iPhones except the 6 Plus fit in too, but the Mini case is a better size.
It's a straightforward setup with a handlebar mount into which the case clips, and the case itself is made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), which allows the use of touchscreen technology and the front-facing camera. The seams are 'high frequency' welded (using electromagnetics to melt and fuse the two parts together) to create a sturdy seal, while the opening at the bottom seals watertight with an easy-to-use two-lever design patented by the manufacturers.
The bike mount itself is slightly bulky, though, not ideal if you're already short of space on your handlebar. And considering it's the primary difference between Aquapac's non-bike-mounted case and this one, the not-inconsiderable increase of £30 seems a bit steep. The case clips easily to the mount, though the small clip-in portion feels slightly flimsy.
The case itself secured the phone neatly inside, even though it was quite roomy for my iPhone 5S (a Mini would have been more snug), and it stuck well to the screen with static to make using the touchscreen easy. You can't use fingerprint recognition through it, so iPhone users will have to type in their pass code.
I'm not sure how useful being able to use the front-facing camera is – close up bike selfies anyone? – but it was easy enough and the result was pretty clear for both photos and video. The rear camera was obscured by the handlebar mount, but you can set the mount up so the phone faces forward, for videoing your ride. You'd have to use the volume buttons on an iPhone to access video on and off, so it would need to be set up in advance as you can't access any of the other controls when it's facing away from you.
Footage using the forward-facing video facility was not as stable for me as that suggested by the video on the Aquapac website, admittedly not helped by my phone's ability to move within the case. Clarity isn't bad considering the case in front of the lens, but the nature of iPhone video means there are frequent 'ripples' in the video stream anyway.
Since the case has little in the way of rigidity other than the mounting plate, it doesn't give much in the way of impact protection, so an additional hard shell type phone case of some sort isn't a bad idea for prolonged on-bike use.
Off the bike, it was reassuring to know that my phone was fully protected from the elements, but an extra £30 for this case over the non-bike-mounting version seems excessive. Perhaps if you're a hardcore bike messenger or delivery person you'd be able to justify it. I, for one, would want a less bulky handlebar attachment taking up less of my precious bar space.
Works, but expensive considering it's £30 more than the non-bike-mounted version
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Make and model: aquapac Bike-Mounted Waterproof Case
Size tested: grey
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at those who like to use their smartphone for on-bike navigation or videoing and want waterproof protection for it.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made from TPU with patented 2 lever seals at the top to keep it watertight.
TPU allows touchscreen to be used (but not fingerprint recognition) and front facing video/camera to be used.
Bike mount is straightforward design requiring no tools.
Construction of the case itself is excellent. Very high quality materials and easy to use both touchscreen and camera through the TPU, but the bike mount is bulky.
Kept the phone perfectly dry and the touchscreen was easy to use.
Case is incredibly durable (including seals).
Case not a bad weight, bike mount bulky and a bit heavy, without feeling bomb-proof to make up for it.
When compared with Aquapac's own waterproof case without a bike mount at £20, the extra £30 for a handlebar mount looks like a lot of money, even for those who use their smartphone for on-bike navigation regularly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Kept the phone dry and made using it on the bike easy - performed fine.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Thoroughly waterproof, easy to use seals, touchscreen still easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Bike mount was bulky and the price too high, particularly compared with the same company's non-bike-mounted product.
Did you enjoy using the product? It was OK
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not. Would probably stick to the non-bike mounted waterproof case or a different bike-mounted product for navigation use.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
Well specced waterproof protection but overpriced for the inclusion of a less than perfect bike mount.
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.