This review covers the Otterbox Defender for iPhone 3G and 3GS. iPhone 4 owners, see the product listing for the Otterbox Defender iPhone 4.
Otterbox recently sent me their iPhone Defender case for review, and let me say right off the bat that this case is solid. The iPhone Defender case protects your iPhone with two layers: a strong plastic case and a rubber enclosure that holds it together.
The Defender also features:
- a plastic screen that shields your iPhone’s glass
- rubber flaps that cover iPhone’s buttons, openings and switches
- foam rings that cushion the iPhone’s speaker and microphone without muffling them.
If you want to insure your investment, the Otterbox Defender case is the ultimate protection for your iPhone.
If, on the other hand, you just want to prevent keys and coins from damaging the delicate plastic on the back of your iPhone, and you’re confident that you won’t ever crack the glass and ruin your phone, a mistake that could cost you up to $250, then just buy a protective skin.
Yes, the Defender case is great for peace of mind. But it does have some downsides.
This is what I’ve noticed after nearly a month of using the iPhone Defender case.
- The Defender is not the most sleek or glamorous case on the block. A couple of people have even told me I “look like a construction worker” with it. Actually, the Defender is the perfect case for construction workers, because it protects your iPhone from both shock and debris. But I don’t see the Otterbox Defender being featured on Gray’s Anatomy or The Hills any time soon, if you catch my drift.
- The bulk makes it impossible to use the Defender case with my iPhone Xtand or the factory iPhone dock.
- The screen protector is prone to air bubbles when you press on it.
I contacted the friendly folks at Otterbox and they suggested a couple of fixes:
“We have found that applying the adhesive screen from the Impact Series helps eliminate the air bubbles.” – Otterbox
I didn’t get an Impact Series adhesive screen because I think this case should work on its own, without having to buy an additional product, but I did have another plastic film screen that I tested with the Defender, and it did not ameliorate the air bubbles.
“We also suggest using the natural oils from your skin. Take the phone out of the case. You’ll want your hands to be clean, but not just washed. You want to take the palm of your hand (or you can also use your cheek) and press it lightly on the front panel of the OtterBox (the part that would touch the phone screen). It might seem like there will be finger prints that would show on the screen of the phone, but they do not. The natural oils of your skin should help with the oil/bubble look on your screen.” – Otterbox
Surprisingly, the oils from my palm prevented bubbles to a large extent. The solution isn’t perfect, since it still produces some air pockets, but the bubbles were reduced by 95 percent.
- The inner plastic case is tough to open without long nails. But hey, at least you know your case isn’t going to pop open if you drop it, considering the strength of the plastic clips and the rubber that keeps the plastic intact. Hint: Try using a dime or other small coin to pry the case open.
- The exposed plastic on the back of the case causes the iPhone to vibrate louder. This is a downside for me, since it can be a nuisance in class or during meetings, but it could be an upside for you if you think the iPhone’s vibration is too weak.
If damaging your iPhone is a concern for you, and you’re not too worried about glamour, then the Otterbox Defender case for iPhone is a great investment. Maybe you work, play or exercise outdoors. The Defender lets you go wild without worrying about your iPhone.
The truth is, though, that sometimes I just want to set my iPhone free and use it as Apple intended. The bulk is not always practical or pleasing to the eye.
Nevertheless, whenever a friend would comment on my bulky iPhone case, I would drop my iPhone on the ground. “They call it the Defender for a reason.”
Have you used the Otterbox Defender?
Do you use the iPhone Defender or some other iPhone case? Or is a bare naked iPhone worth the risk to you? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.