Otterbox Commuter for iPhone 3GS - accessory review

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!)

But leave it on I did.

If you're looking for a combination of protection and convenience, something strong but still light, check out the Otterbox Commuter Case for iPhone 3GS available now from the TiPb iPhone 3GS accessory store.


  • Good level of protection, including minor impact
  • Covers headset jack and dock port
  • Includes screen protector


  • Dual layers means slightly more bulk
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I had the commuter on my 3GS since the day I bought it and loved it. Now I have an iphone4 and am waiting ever so anxiously for it to come out for this model. It can't come soon enough.
    Anyone with inside info on when we can expect to see this?
  • I am really looking forward to a commuter series for my iPhone 4 as well. I know a lot of people with defenders for their 3G, but I don't want that much bulk.
  • i think you mean scalemail or chainmail, not "plate-mail", which i don't recall ever existing in D&D : ]
  • @Striatic
    Platemail would be the plastic while chainmail would be the silicone.
  • I found this just too bulky for everyday use.
    The under layer of silicone followed by the hard shell does seem to offer good protection but the phone became just too thick.
    The high edges around the screen made it seem like the screen was in a well and made touch targets near screen edge tricky to get to.
    I still use it occasionally.
  • @striatic: Plate mail was in DnD. 3rd edition and ADnD too.
  • Huh, nothing like reviewing accessories that are 2 years old.
  • @Xenofire85
    I spoke to OtterBox myself, and I was told at least a couple of months. How accurate that is? Waits to be seen!
  • Hmmm I had an OtterBox Commuter Series case on my 3GS (Green/Black) and I never had issues of it being to bulky or difficult in touching targets near the edge. Now the Defender on the other hand, is a beast!
  • Guys, I'm a medieval buff but lets just give the guy a break. While it might not be a 100% accurate analogy or terminology, I got the idea and a "lol" as well. I like the thinking Rene!
  • @Ahah...FYI, the Commuter series ISN'T 2 years old, so maybe you should do some research before shooting off at the mouth the next time, mmkay? The line was released in October or November of '09, so they haven't been out even a year yet. Sounds like you've got a bad case of iPhone 4 superiority-complex and are looking down on the lowly 3GS owners. I, for one, hope karma bites you in the rear end and you drop your iP4 on concrete today.
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  • I love this otterbox review I have used them for my smartphones. Thanks.