Otterbox Defender for iPhone 5 review

OtterBox is one of the leading brands when it comes to reliable protection for iPhones and iPads, so it comes at no surprise that the OtterBox Defender for the iPhone 5 offers phenomenal, high-quality protection to your precious device. If you live a rugged lifestyle that frequently puts your iPhone 5 in danger, you're definitely going to want to give the OtterBox Defender a look.

OtterBox offers many different cases for the iPhone 5 (and other devices), but the Defender Series is the most robust of them all. OtterBox claims that the Defender protects your iPhone against drops, shocks, dust, and scratches with its three layers of protection and built-in screen protector.

Because of the complexity of this case, putting on the OtterBox Defender is a bit of a chore. I struggle most with opening the case since it has at least six different clasps to lock the case in place. But once you get through that, putting on the case is pretty easy.

Since the screen protector is built into the case, you'll want to make sure that the inside of it is dust and lint free. If it is, the fit is so perfect that you won't even notice that there's a screen protector. This is a lot coming from someone who's very anti-screen-protectors. I hate them and they way they feel, but the built-in protector in OtterBox Defender is completely invisible and feels like glass. I'm seriously impressed.

Although the OtterBox Defender for iPhone 5 is very protective, it does not protect against everything, namely water. It will definitely keep your phone protected from splashes or quick phone calls in the rain, but don't expect to be able to retrieve an undamaged iPhone that's been dropped in the lake... or toilet.

The areas of the iPhone 5 that are not protected by the OtterBox defender are the speaker, mic, and camera. The volume switch, lightning connector, and headphone jack all feature flaps of rubber that provide protection when not in use, yet give easy access when it's time to use them. It will appear that the Apple symbol on the back of the iPhone 5 also isn't protected, but it is; there is a cutout in the case, but it is covered with the same invisible material used for the screen protector.

One of the downsides of super protective cases is that they add a considerable amount of bulk and the OtterBox Defender is no exception. But if your iPhone 5 is at risk of experiencing long falls and drops, the extra bulk is a necessary trade-off. I'd much rather have a bulky phone that worked, than a thin one with a shattered screen. I can say from experience that the OtterBox will protect your phone against all sort of gadget-enemies including toddlers, toy boxes, and baby drool.

The good

  • 3 layers of protection
  • Flaps to cover all the ports
  • Only leaves mic, speaker, and camera unprotected (for good reason)
  • Lots of colors to choose from

The bad

  • Apple symbol cutout isn't perfectly centered
  • Extremely difficult to take off (tip: start at the bottom of the iPhone)
  • Adds a lot of bulk

The conclusion

If you're in the market for a super durable case for your new iPhone 5, the OtterBox Defender is an excellent choice. It may be a little more bulky than your average case, but for people with dirty, dangerous, or labor intensive jobs... or small children, the extra protection is priceless. The OtterBox Defender comes in eight different colors as well, so there's sure to be one that fits your style and personality.

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.