Friday, September 09, 2011

Hardware Review: Otterbox Reflex Case




Although I’m usually a huge fan of Otterbox products, the current iteration for the iPhone 4 has been disappointing. The new “Reflex” case for the iPhone 4 leaves me bored and unimpressed.


The Reflex offers slightly more protection (and a slightly higher price) than the Commuter line in some areas. Similar to the Commuter, it’s a hard shell bumper case combined with some silicone to help with grip and to add some style. Instead of an integrated screen protector, both the Commuter and Reflex use screen overlays. I personally hate those as they almost always show bubbles for me. These bubbles are a greater risk with the Reflex, though, because the case didn’t fit right over the iPhone unless you place the screen protector absolutely perfectly.


Unlike the Commuter or Defender, the Reflex case offers no port protection. The headphone and dock connectors are completely exposed. That is a disappointing and annoying modification to a very important aspect of protection. Both those areas include a moisture sensor that can easily get tripped.


The Reflex’s namesake is a design that absorbs shock along the corners of the case resulting in a slight bounce when dropped. That’s cool and in my brief testing, the case nicely bounced when dropped on those corners. How often does the iPhone drop perfectly along one of those corners? Not very often from what I could see.


Another feature of the Reflex is easy separation and removal of the case. One problem with iPhone cases is that they get in the way of docking station solutions. The Reflex allows you to remove the bottom portion of the case to insure compatibility with devices that use the dock port. This was a handy feature, but I’ve been using a dockstubz to solve that problem. Occasionally as I pulled the Reflex out of my pocket, the case inadvertently separated which kind of defeats the purpose of having a case.


Overall this case offered a few gimmicks that might appeal to some iPhone 4 users, but overall the Commuter or Defender offer better value and protection.


Pros: Nice bounce on the corners, separation of case makes for easier docking
Cons: Difficult to use screen protector, case separates unexpectedly, no port protection


3 out of 10