Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hardware Review: Otterbox Defender iPhone case for the 3G

Otterbox Defender iPhone case for the 3G

Otterbox iPhone Defender Case Review

When I had a bit of an accident with my last iPhone a month after purchase, I was determined to find the ultimate case. I wanted a case that was comfortable and functional yet protected my iPhone as much as possible. A quest! A quest not with trusty steed and map, but with my trusty Macbook and search engine. I wrote a list of exactly what I wanted: protect every single exposed port, silicone on the outside to prevent slippage, hard shell protection in case of impact, protect the screen without reducing the ability to tap, and finally still fit in my pocket and iPhone accessories. That case is the Otterbox Defender.

What is an Otterbox Defender? I remember seeing something about them at the MacWorld press room, but if you've seen one iPhone case you'e seen them all. Boy was I wrong! My quest came to an end once I installed the Otterbox Defender. This is clearly the 800 pound gorilla of iPhone protection and function. The Otterbox Defender consists of two main parts. First is the silicone overshell that protects ALL the ports, and I mean all: the volume, the headphone jack, the docking port, the ring silencer; everything. When the silicone shell is on, not a single port of your iPhone is exposed, though it's very easy to operate the buttons through the silicone (or to flip open the protector.).

The other part of the Otterbox Defender is a hard shell case underneath the easily removable silicone. The hard shell includes a screen protector built in, so you don't have to worry about those annoying bubbles underneath those stick-on screen protectors. The shell even covers the speakers at the bottom and the front with a slight bit of cloth (remember none of the iPhone case is exposed). Honestly, I noticed maybe a 5% reduction in sound quality when it is in the hard case. However, the slight sacrifice in sound quality is far outweighed by knowing my $300 investment is protected. The camera shutter also has a plastic overlay to protect it while still allowing you to take pictures. The pictures are every so slightly less clear with the plastic overlay, however cleanup in iPhoto restored them to near perfect quality and people couldn't tell the difference between photos were taken with the case on and with the case off.

I used the case for over a month now, trying to weigh the pros and cons of the case. Besides a slight reduction in voice and picture quality, the case is just about perfect and I'm hard pressed to find any cons. Sure maybe maybe a transparent aluminum or the ability of the iPhone to accept a Shields Up voice command would clearly be the ideal solution, but in the 21st century the Otterbox is the best balance of protection and function on the market.

Finally, the Otterbox staff was an absolutely a pleasure to deal with. When I had a delivery problem, I didn't have the run around typically found with large companies. Otterbox is based in Fort Collins, Colorado and is neighbors with one of the world's greatest microbreweries, Coopersmiths, and gosh darn it, I think that just makes them happier people! I'm biased though.

The Otterbox Defender is available for $49.95 retail at and is hands down the ultimate iPhone case.

Pros: Protects every single nook and cranny of your iPhone and provides the best of hard shell and silicone protection, while leaving all functions of your iPhone intact
Cons: Slightly noticeable reduction in voice and picture quality

Five out of Five dogcows.

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right