OtterBox iPhone case protects like no other

Gary Hsu

Your phone has to survive the daily punishment of not only continuous usage but also the occasional drop. The iPhone 4 may have one of the most beautiful designs on the market, but its glass panels on the front and back of the phone can shatter when dropped. OtterBox, a cell phone case manufacturer known for making some of the best protective cases, has created a special case for the fragile iPhone 4. For those who want the most protection for their iPhone, OtterBox offers the Defender Series. The cases are marketed as offering “practically indestructible protection.”

With hundreds of cases on the market specifically built for the iPhone 4, does this case stand out when it comes to protection?

The Defender Series comes in two parts: The inner part is made from high-impact polycarbonate and the outer part of the case is silicone. The case itself wraps around the entire phone and even has a thick, built-in screen protector. The case is meant to protect against everything from shock, drop and even dust intrusion, but it is not water resistant.

While the iPhone by itself is only .37 inches thick, with the case, the thickness of the device jumps to .66 inches — making the case noticeably thicker and heavier. It takes a while to get used to holding the phone with the case on. The case covers up all of the ports, but all of the buttons are still easily accessible.

With the case on, the phone is practically indestructible.

After doing some drop tests, both intentional and unintentional, the iPhone and the case didn’t get a scratch.

Only when a pair of scissors was dropped on the case did the screen protector get scratched. The phone operates normally with the case on. Since the microphones and the speakers are not covered by the case, sound was not distorted. Even with the screen protector on, the iPhone was still very responsive. The screen does look a bit washed out with the screen protector on, however, and it makes viewing the iPhone screen a bit challenging when it is very bright outside. Also, because the case has a silicone backing, the phone does not slide when put on a slanted surface.

The case is built like a tank: It’s thick, it’s bulky, but it protects the iPhone like no other case. While it isn’t the most stylish case, it does come in numerous color combinations. At $49.95 however, this type of protection does not come cheap. But compared to having to pay Apple $99 dollars to replace the front glass plate and $29 to replace the back glass plate on the iPhone, the Defender Series case may actually be a cheaper option. For those who want the most protection when it comes to the iPhone 4, or for those who are very clumsy, OtterBox’s Defender Series case is your best option.

Printed on Wednesday, October 4, 2011 as: Otterbox Defender Series case protects iPhone 4