Otterbox Commuter Case for iPhone 3GS strikes the perfect balance between convenience and protection. If you're rocking Apple's other big smartphone release this year, the $99 iPhone 3GS (or the unlocked iPhone 3GS, depending on where you live), or still lucky enough to have a 16GB or 32GB iPhone 3GS from last year, this case should be on your radar. (It also fits the iPhone 3G.)
Confession: I thought I'd hate it when it first arrived. I don't know why exactly, maybe it was fear of layers bulk, uncertainty about dual color schemes, dunno, but I was not looking forward to testing out the Otterbox Commuter. Then I put it on.
AD&D analogy time -- If skins are the chainmail of the case world and the Otterbox Defender is the full plate armor (yes, even the pink one), the Commuter is the in-between, plate-mail option. It's strong but still a but flexible, solid and secure but still snug and light.
Like plate-mail it comes in two layers, the silicone that you slip on first, and that has covers for the 3.5mm headset jack and 30-pin dock connector, and the plastic shell that goes over it. Together they provide protection against scrapes and scuffs and minor impacts.
The Otterbox Commuter also comes in a ton of colors -- yellow, white, blue, green, brown, burgundy, and black. (Yes, I'll spare you the strained surcoat analogy).
Again, not as big as the Defender, not as thin as a skin, I found myself leaving it on even after my typical week-long review period was over. Since I've been carrying an iPhone 4 around as well, maybe I was a little more concerned about my iPhone 3GS getting damaged, maybe I started to like the look, or maybe I wanted my fellow SPE editors to think I had an imaginary, super-secret iPhone 5 prototype hidden in a fancy camo case (I'll never tell!)
If in previous years you found yourself thinking Otterbox's tank-style Defender was too much armor, and their Impact just not quite tank-like enough, at CES 2010 they showed TiPb a middle-ground that some of you might find just right -- the Commuter series.
In both regular and TL (translucent, a reference to the clear strip across the back) versions, they're aiming it squarely at the urban warrior who wants as much protection as possible while still maintaining a slim, pocketable profile.