Outdoors Magazine

Gear Closet: AxisGo Water Housing for iPhone Review

Posted on the 19 February 2019 by Kungfujedi @Kungfujedi

One of the best things about using an iPhone as my smartphone of choice is that it gets lots of options when it comes to accessories. While some phone manufacturers struggle to even get quality cases made for their devices, Apple's ecosystem is filled with unique, weird, and wonderful add-ons. Case in point, the AxisGo from AquaTech, a company that specializes in making underwater camera housings and other imaging products.

The AxisGo is a water housing designed specifically for the iPhone, which also happens to be the world's most popular camera, at least in terms of the number of photos taken. Because any underwater housing has to be completely waterproof, the AxisGo has been built to conform tightly to the exact dimensions of the iPhone. Because of this, several models are available supporting the iPhone 7 and 8, as well as the Plus size versions of those phones. You'll also find versions for the iPhone X, XS Max, and XR too. Sorry Samsung, Pixel, and Motorola users, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Essentially, the AxisGo is built to allow scuba divers and snorkelers to take photos using their iPhones while in and around the water. The case requires a bit of set-up ahead of time, but really only takes a few minutes to get it prepared. That process can include the installation of an optional grip, which we'll get into shortly, but suffice is to say is a pretty valuable add on.

The basic AxisGo housing is made from polycarbonate plastics and are extremely durable. In fact, when I first took the case out of the box I was surprised at how heavy and tough it felt in hand. Of course, that's exactly what you want out of a product designed to keep your expensive smartphone safe from damage and well protected from water. The case also features stainless steel volume buttons that allow the user to adjust those settings without having to take the phone out. Why would you want to be able to adjust your volume while underwater? Well, those same buttons double as a camera control when the iOS camera app is activated, so essentially you're able to snap photos using these physical buttons as needed.

AquaTech outfitted the AxisGo with a very durable and well designed locking mechanism that completely seals off the inside of the case once it is snapped into place. That lock feels very satisfying in hand and is easy to operate, providing a nice sense of security when it comes to protecting the device inside. It also provides the ability to keep the iPhone safe down to depths of 33 feet (10 meters), which far outstrips the 1 meter depth that Apple certifies it for.

One of the key elements of the case is that it also allows the user to swap out lenses too. These lenses were made for taking underwater photos and the AxisGo actually ships with a standard model that is designed for underwater photography. Other lenses are available and can change the nature of the images taken. For instance, I swapped mine out with the AxisGo Ultra Wide Lens Port, which provided a very different performance from the standard model. Both offered clean, clear photos, but as its name implies, the Wide Lens Port gave a more expansive view of the setting.

The other must-have accessory for the AxisGo is without a doubt the Pistol Grip handle. Not only does this product allow the user to keep a better grip on the housing and smartphone inside, but it also features an integrated trigger for snapping photos. To capture an underwater image you simply aim and shoot, and the AxisGo and iPhone take care of all of the rest.

The back of the case features a touch-compatible window that allows the user to interact with the phone even while it's inside the AxisGo. Thanks to the thick plastic protecting the screen however, those interactions aren't always easy to pull off, even while on dry land. It took a little practice before I got use to applying the correct pressure and knowing how to set up the camera app ahead of time, but once you've used the AxisGo a few times, you quickly get the hang of it.

The AxisGo provides a number of handy features for those who use their iPhones around the water on a regular basis. Aside from the aforementioned increase in protection down to 10 meters, the case makes it much easier to hang on to your device, especially if you have the handle installed. As you would expect from the iPhone, image quality is quite good and the ability to swap out lenses brings a nice level of versatility to the system.

Obviously the AxisGo isn't necessarily aimed at professional underwater photographers who already have thousands of dollars invested in their equipment. Still, those individuals will find this to be an affordable way to protect their smartphones, which some pro photogs have been using as a back-up option or more convenient tool at certain times. But for the rest of us, this is a very affordable way to get into underwater photography. Scuba divers and snorkelers will love that they can use their existing smartphone to capture their underwater adventures without fear of damaging their device. And AquaTech has priced the AxisGo at an approachable point with the basic case starting at $199. Add on accessories, such as the Pistol Grip and Wide Lens cost extra of course, with those two items running $99 and $199 respectively.

The AxisGo isn't a product that every photographer or smartphone owner needs. That said, if you spend a lot of time around water -- including kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding - this is nice case to have at your disposal. And if you happen to dive or snorkel regularly, it is an essential piece of gear for sure. You can find out more about the entire AxisGo system by visiting the AquaTech website.


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