Otterbox Defender Case for iPhone 4 - first look

We're planning something really fun for later in the summer and Otterbox was kind enough to send us out some Otterbox Defender Cases for iPhone 4 so we could start the prep work. If you've used an Otterbox Defender on previous iPhones, you know what you need to know. Same great protection, all new form factor. If you haven't used one before, this is basically the full plate armor of iPhone protection in AD&D parlance. You have the hard plastic inner shell for structural support, the soft silicone outer skin for grip and scuff proofing, and a holster to keep it loaded and ready to go on your hip.

They're just starting to come out, so if you absolutely have to have it as soon as possible, head on over to the TiPb iPhone 4 accessory store and place your <a href=""">pre-order.

Pictures after the break and much more to come!

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Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Otterbox Defender Case for iPhone 4 - first look


Way to big. And Rene do you like seeing yourself in these videos of yours? It seems that every video you make your always looking at yourself. Back to the box and it's a very big box(case).

why do you face the camera towards you ? We are not interested in looking at you just the products! Makes you hold the cases up in the air and unnatraul in you hands plus the lighting sucks! Angle the camera down and put case on the desk and keep your face out of the camera view!

I can see this being used for people on constructions sites and suck. Not practical for pocket use.

Have not used this one. How is the clip? That is usually the weakest point on most belt clip style cases. It is fairly big.

Geez, Folks! Otterbox cases were never intended to be things of beauty. They were intended to protect your iPhone under extreme conditions, such as construction sites or camping/hiking. From those I've talked to that have Otterboxes, they perform admirably. Otter is also very good at replacing lost or broken pieces.
Why does everyone always feel the need to pile on Rene!?! The video was a review of the Otterbox...not Rene. Did he get his point across? If so, job well done.

If it wasn't intended for beauty, then WHY is there always a big circle cut out on the back of their cases, it drives me mad to see cases with the circle cut out

Matlin gets it.
This thing is for hardcore support, not for accessorizing. If it were going out of its way to be ugly, that would be one thing. As it stands, it's about fulfilling a function: protection.
Hopefully, it does that well enough to warrant the size, weight, and style. I don't own an iPhone, but I am thinking about getting one for my iPad on days that I am biking ... or for when I want to hand it to a child without worrying about her destroying it. shudder

I wished people would just STFU when it comes to comments on what the editors write or do. If u dont like what they do go somewhere else. Its that simple.

We're going to be testing its durability to say the least. And yeah, we'll film the full review in glorious Canon DSLR HD video, okay?
Quick looks are just that -- quickly look at something just when they come in. If we did full on studio for them, they'd be sloooooooow looks.

I had been waiting for this to come out, now it seems like a waste of time. It has to be what, 2-3 times bigger than the phone?? I know Otter provides great protection, but come on. Did they rush this out?? Take a nice and sleek phone and turn it into a brick? The first pics they had on their site showed a nice, trim looking case, and they end up with this? And what is up with the back? It looks like a sponge. The only good thing I can see is that they changed the way it is held in the clip. The 3G style would not hold the phone very well. How long for the commuter series to come out?

AMEN Rene. Thanks for the exclusive review of the newest case from the best protecting case manufacturer around before anyone else. I appreciate it. Now I KNOW!!!

I sell wireless accessories and, while it's not the prettiest thing in the world, it is the BEST case for your iPhone. I have one on my 3Gs and I have tossed it on the tile floor over 300 times to prove how durable it is to customers. The iPhone works perfectly. Can't wait to get my Otter for the 4 next week. I'm carrying it around like a dozen eggs right now. And, for the record, I keep mine in my pocket.

And to think I was banned from this site bcuz of my so called rudeness. These filthy creatures take the cake. Anyways I dig the case if I was to get the i4 I would get this case

Hey JimS, I really like Rene's reviews and I am saying nothing bad about them. And I REALLY disagree, you don't have to create an ugly case to make it effective. If you have an 700-800 dollar device wouln't you want to make it look good too?
And Matt whats with the "this case is meant for construction guys"? Are they blind or they don't like nice things? I know a couple of construction guys and believe me they can distinguish something ugly and something nice.

The one thing I've encountered with Otterbox cases is they can insulate the phone so well (electrically) that the touch screen becomes less sensitive.
Capacitive discharge screens need a local ground to some other portion of the phone, especially with dry environment.

Bottom line the case does its job. It protects the hell out of the phone and its not the best looking case but it looks fine for what it is, would you rather they made garbage trucks look sexy...hell no so stop mine today and feel a lot more secure now that if I happen to drop my phone off of mars and it won't shatter.

Rene you don't have to use a Canon DSLR for HD video. Just use an iPhone4 ;) I don't think anyone was being rude...the points about shooting down on a table instead of straight at you are very valid. It's distracting. Shooting down shouldn't take any longer and will still allow you to do "quick looks."

As in more interesting, do you mean a dunk test? The only thing I care about is if it will protect my iPhone from water during a canoe trip. I'd like to see a video of the Otterbox tested with the iPhone removed and all the ports closed. Dunk it in a clear bowl and see how long it takes for water to start leaking into the case. Nuff said.

I hate the screen protector too. I punch it out and put a nice screen protector on the phone. No stupid static bubbles. I'm not going swimming with mine, so I don't care about the seal.

@ Raul L
I don't know about others, but I do quite a bit of rough outdoor activities. No, I would not necessarily get this case for using every day. I too LOVE the look of my iPhone 4, and want to see it. However, when I am camping and hiking, I am more concerned with preserving those looks than being able to see them. Then, when I get home, I can put my clear CaseMate Gelli on and admire the phone.

Thats a good point, not having it as an everyday case but for some very specific days you want to protect your iPhone 4. And all other days you can just enjoy your good looking phone, that makes sense.

The TiPb store pays so that we can all enjoy this fine blog and forums, I think putting up a link to Amazon is not very sensible of you. Please use your common sense.

Raul L, thank, Dad. So much for helping fellow people who read this forum. Go to Otterbox's site and pay full price. Happy now, Raul L?

I have this case and for some reason there are no bubbles or oil slick. Mabye they reengineered this screen protector or something.
I pretty much rent these phones for a year and when I go to resell it it has to be in mint condition.
I love this case.

Well if you feel the urge of acting like a teenager you can call me Paps. You can forget the phrase "common sense" I can see is way over your head, and I am happy regardless of your existence, everything's good. You can relax.

I've been waiting for this case. I had the Defender for my 3GS. It is a very ugly beast of a case but I work construction and it serves it's purpose very well. I was a little bumme seeing their renderings on their site and their finished product but I'll just have to see until mine arrives. Can't wait to see the abuse you guys out the case through keep up the good work.

You guys say this case is ugly? Just wait until you drop your iPhone 4 on a really hard surface without it - then you're really gonna see ugly.

Best CASE EVER dont be afraid of bulkyness, if your a guy, youll love this case! Once you feel how confortable and secure it is in the case, you wont be confident in any other case. This case provides you with security from every single angle posible, it even comes with a screen protection, i mean this: one day i was playing with my baby nephews and a baby pool, so my father throwed me a bowl of water in my clothes, i screamed MY IPHONE!!!!! and even when it DOESNT protect against water infiltration, my phone DIDNT got a single water drop to inside the case, after that, 24/7 protection was my choice,

Oh, and after you take it off like in about a year, like i did now with my 3gs to resell it, i remains like Freaking new!

The people who don't like the Defender case because it's too bulky, etc. don't understand the purpose of it. The case isn't for the average person who wants simple baseline protection. It's designed to take some serious abuse.
I work in a dusty environment. My 3gs charging port was heavily caked in dust and dirt within a year. Having plugs for all of the ports is what turned me on to this case. I keep my iPhone 4 in my pocket at work, which is dangerous because if the side of my leg where the pocket is presses up against machinery, I run the risk of breaking the screen.
Also, I LIKE the built in screen protector, but ONLY when I'm using a case. I don't like using the stick on kinds. I like my phone naked. However, even when I keep my phone in my pocket with nothing else in it, it still scratches a lot. So, for work, the screen protector is a must. Then, when I'm not at work I can take the case off and use my phone naked, which I prefer.
Thanks for the first look, Rene.
What's up with all of the assholes here? If you don't like the site or the people, then why are you here?

this not only looks ugly but totally blows the point of the iPhone being small. Apple changed the design (put the antenna out so that the bigger battery can fit in the smaller body) and kept the price the same. Now we have to pay $30+ for a bulky and fugly case to protect it?
I had a plastic case on for 3gs and after about a year, the iPhone also remained freaking new ;)

@eisform: STFU. We like the site and that's why we're here. We're free to COMMENT and voice our opinions. We understand the purpose of the case but excuse me, does design and functionality have to REPLACE one another?
Plus Otterbox probably got their cases done in China for probably less than $2/case. Silicone inside, plastic outside, another small layer as screen protector. It aint rocket science. Why can't they just make the outside look better?

@OkNext i really doubt that the case does cost 2 dollars, once you have the case, you can really see how exactly fit in the inside, excellent engineering and performance, you wont hate it for everyday use, remember going to the beach, and not worrying to those small sand that came around my hand, because it even protect your inside with like some kind of cotton. Just 10/10, it looks good, believe me. The only problem would be the hard to take in/out of the pocket but i think that's what the holder is included

Why would you point the camera towards any type of light?
Or maybe you can clean your lens before you post a video. dumb boy

@OkNext. Obviously this case isn't for you.
Why are you getting so bent out of shape over a case? WOW! You're incredible! Listen to yourself!

I don't take off the silicone off o my deeicvs. I love my otter box for my iPhone 4 and iPad2. I mean I know price is a little pricey but I'd rather it them protected than not be. You feel me !!!! Great video my dude.

I wasn't talking about the COMMENTS about the case. I was referring to the rude COMMENTS about Rene's video review. As he stated, it's a "first look", not a professional, official review (which he said he will do in the future). That's all.

I love this case. Just got it today and its actually more form fitting than the Otterbox Defender for 3GS. I do like the slimmer cases, but this thing is worth the trade off.

I have the Defender for my iPhone 3G. It's bulky and not beautiful but it IS tough as nails. The main issues I've had with it is that the docking port flap got ripped off at one point and the silence port flap has been half-ripped for six months or more ...but to its credit has refused to get torn off all the way.
The Otterbox cases just have to be seen to be believed. Mine routinely travels in my bag with my keys, Benchmade mini Griptillian, loose change, work ID badge, etc. and there is, of course, not a scratch on the case. Even the screen protector hasn't hardly shown any scratches in nearly two years of use. It's gotten wet (recently when I was hiking for three hours in a downpour (I kept the iPhone upright so water wasn't going right into the exposed dock port)), frozen (I live in Poland - it got down as low as -6F here last winter), baked at 115 F and obviously dropped on a number of occasions. My iPhone and the Defender case, minus the docking port flap, have come through just fine so I will definitely be buying another Defender case when I pick up my next iPhone.
PS: I like how the Defender cases look but this latest one nonetheless definitely looks better than the old cases for the 3G and 3GS.

I got mine yesterday. Installation was easy. It is bulky compared to other hard cases, but it's for protecting the phone and not for aesthetics reason. Its my first otterbox and I have to say that I am pleased with it. I've always used Seidio, but they are taking too long releasing a compatible case and it seems they are blocking out the apple logo this time around and I hate that.

Does this new otter box have the "bubbling" issue that the previous one for 3GS had where an additional screen protector is needed

@yeah right
Why wear a condom when you're about to boink an hot chick you just met at a club?
No bubbling issues noticed on this case so far. When the screen is off and you look at it from an angle you do see these rainbow like streaks that are not noticeable when the screen in on.

It doesn't make a very good "everyday" case. I only recommend purchasing it if you're an avid outdoorsman. For everyday use, find another case. lol

If it covers the headphone jack does it also cover the noise cancelling microphone? Will that effect sound quality?

I've been an Otterbox user since the days of my 3G iPhone.
The only issue I ever cared about with it was the screen bubbling, which has clearly
been fixed. Its the best product out there for your phone. IMHO, if you invest your money in an
expensive product, the aesthetics should matter, but Functionality (protection) is bottom line.
Either way, I find the case both aesthetic and functional, in a class of its own.
Out of a group of 6 friends, all iPhone users, who do you think is the only one who never had
any damage to his/her phone? and its not like I didn't drop it either. Pays for itself.

Just got one of these for my IPhone 4. Great product. It is very robust and the fit is tight, unlike some of the other products I’ve tried. There is no oil smear and I am surprised how the screen does not affect the touch at all. The only thing I’m not quite so pleased with is the belt holster. I’m use to a BB and the ease of taking the BB out of it’s holster was great. I find I have to use both hands to get my IPhone out of this one’s grip. Otherwise, I like it a lot.

I got the 2010 Otterbox Defender for my iphone 4 even before I received the phone and it worth every penny. You don't buy very high cost cellphone just to show its design or to show the world you got the fanciest gadget in the world but for all its quality features and you'd better protect it properly. I use my phone intensively, for personal and business purposes and this case is to me the best one I've ever had.

I forgot to mention that the only problem I have is to find a dock that fits this case and if anyone has a solution, I will be very grateful to know.

Hi all. I had a 3G with the defender case and it was great. I was a little bulky but protected the phone as i work out on the road in the motor vehicle industry. I know have an iPhone 4 and the defender case to go with it. I have to say i'm a little disappointed with it. The screen fix they did it great, but the rubber that goes around the case is softer and after about a month comes away from the case easy when you pull it out of my pocket. The cover for the charger seems not to close and click in properly as same as the headphone socket. I've had a couple of these comments from customers as well. It's either Otterbox have used a different type of rubber or cause it's thinner. Be interested in hearing if other people have issues. Cheers Marty

I went from an iPhone 3G to a iPhone 4 and had an otterbox since the day I owned my phone. My old phone looked brand new when I took it out of the case and it was over 2 years old. The otterbox is even is new condition. Well worth the investment especially if you have children!! I do love that the screen doesn't bubble & I agree with @Marty Trow but I also have another issue :
iPhone has the feature in which you screen shuts off while you are on the phone to prevent you from dialing or hanging up on your call while talking. Well when I put my otterbox on my phone, it prevents my iPhone from shutting off so I am always hanging up on people accidentally. I thought maybe it was just my phone so I took it out of the case again and made a call and my screen shut off like it was suppose to. This is very frustrating especially since I need my otterbox (& it is a defender if you are wondering) but I can't keep holding my phone away from my ear or put people on speaker just to talk to them.....

DO NOT BUY FROM THIS COMPANY!!! I purchased a case for $49.90 (a lttile stupid I know), I was expecting a really nice case. However, what I got was a cheap plastic case with crystals glued on it. A lot of the crystals fell off after a week of use. The company is in Hong Kong, and there is no customer service number. If you are unhappy with the item that is purchased you have 3 DAYS to return it. BEWARE!!! The cases look very cool online, but I would not trust the company.