Today we are looking at the “Defender Series” case for the iPhone 4.
NOTE: My appologies for the iPhone 2G in the shots with the iPhone 4 case, I didn’t have an iPhone 4 on hand at the time these shots were grabbed.
The Defender Series case is OtterBox’s most rugged case for the iPhone 4. OtterBox does make a mid-range/mid-profile case called the Commuter and a slim-profile minimal protection case called the Impact.
The Defender Series case specs are as follows:
- COLORS: Black
- WEIGHT: 2.08 oz / 59.00 g
- DIMENSIONS: 4.85 in x 2.67 in x 0.66 in
- 123.23 mm x 67.85 mm x 16.77 mm
If you would like the quick overview of the case and don’t want to read anymore, you can check out our preview of it here:
If you would like more detail about the case, please keep reading.
The case is intended for rugged-use scenarios like construction work, field work, factory work or any scenario where you might be concerned with getting the phone banged up, dirty or wed.
The case is not waterproof, but by virtue of it being a full-enclosure (plastic shell with clear plastic windowing on front and back) it will protect from light weather that would otherwise be hitting your iPhone 4 head-on.
The case itself feels good-sized in your hand, it will more or less double the width of your iPhone 4. Around the edges it only adds about 1/8th of an inch on all edges. That being said, I have normal sized hands and had no qualms with the size after the case was on it given the protection the case provides.
The weight of the case is negligible, as any case should be. For a rugged case, I would say it is on the lighter side of the scale though. It is a rugged case and weighs a few ounces, but if you are in a rugged environment and need to protect your expensive iPhone 4, the last thing you’ll notice is the weight of this case.
The size of the belt-clip portion of the case is definitely “large”. It is a plastic platform piece that the case itself snaps into (you can see it better in the overview video above).
If you are used to a very low-profile or small belt clip, this might take some getting used to. To imagine it, it is essentially the size of your iPhone 4, with an extra 0.2″ inches on each edge that will be clipped to your belt. If you normally wear your phone in front, then bending down over the phone will probably feel uncomfortable, but then again the form factor of a “slab” phone like this is much bigger than a flip phone anyway.
The back clip does twist a full 360 degrees for easier positioning if you like to thumb the release latch on the side straight down instead of out and want to position the phone horizontally across your belt line instead of straight up and down.
The construction of the case is a thin, but solid plastic shell that is covered in textured soft foam/rubber feeling material. There foam is not a totally sticky/rubberized foam, so if you didn’t like the belt clip and wanted to “pocket” the phone just with the case, that would be possible without it sticking to the fabric of your pockets making it impossible to get in an out.
That being said, the rubbery foam is just sticky enough that it does give you an improved sense of grip on the device, especially with a device like the iPhone 4 that is 85% polished glass; in sweaty hands dropping a device like that can become much more of a problem.
There are little foam “doors” that pull open around each of the plugs or switches (e.g. mute) on the iPhone 4. The volume buttons get their own dedicated foam overlay buttons as well as the “Home” button on the face of the phone at the bottom.
There is a foam trap-door at the bottom of the case that flips open when you are plugging it in to a doc, otherwise the bottom base is mostly sealed with two square holes on the left and right (right at the base, on either side of the sync plug) to allow the speaker phone and mic to operate interrupted.
The back-camera as well as the entire front of the case (except for the ear-speaker) are encased by a very thing, clear and very shiny plastic shield, keeping concerns about scratching your camera lens or the front screen down to a minimum. This is one of the things we really liked about the Defender Series, it isn’t just a “rugged” case because it provides more rubber around the edges or more rubber around the front like some of the cheaper “rugged” cases do, it actually encloses the entire phone in a protective shielding.
Conclusion [8.5 out of 10]
We really liked the OtterBox iPhone 4 Defender Series case. It has a solid feel to it, encloses the phone completely in a thin-profile plastic shell that is itself coated in a rubberized foam for easier grip and impact-protection and looks pretty sharp in the process.
What would have made us love this case is a slightly smaller width so it didn’t double the size of the iPhone 4 and possibly seen either a secondary/alternative rubber casing that could be slipped on the outside or alternative material used for the inner hard case for the $50 MSPR.
For anyone working in an environment where device-protection is paramount, the Defender Series Case for the iPhone 4 is an easy recommendation. If the price is of any concern to you, picking it up on sale is the way to go and an even easier recommendation.
UPDATE: The Defender Series has an MSRP of $49.95, but Amazon has it on sale for $29.99 with free shipping if you are interested in this case.