Review: OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone

Many iPhone cases on the market offer fairly simple protection that serve more for an iPhone owner's peace of mind than offering extreme protection. The OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone ($49.95), however, is one of the few cases that carefully map and design their product to ensure superb protection.

How does the Otterbox perform? Is it as secure and successful as the case suggests? Or is it just another case in the iPhone pipeline? Could it all be just a gimmick?

Read on for the rest of the review!


From a quick glance, the Otterbox Defender doesn’t look much different than any other case. Upon closer inspection however, you begin to notice the well-thought design and construction. Though it adds a considerable amount of thickness to the iPhone, it feels great and solid in hand.

The Otterbox Defender comes in four separate pieces: a front and back hard shell, a silicone sleeve, and a belt clip. The Otterbox Defender includes a protective plastic cover for the screen and an exposed plastic to show the Apple logo—I mean you still have to know it’s an iPhone right?

The camera is also protected by a thin sheet of plastic and the headphone jack and docking port are protected via rubber caps. The speakers and microphone have a very thin sheet of protection on it. The volume, lock, and home controls are also protected by rubber buttons with the silent/ringer switch is completely inaccessible.

Overall, the design of the Otterbox Defender is extremely sturdy and solid. The choice to use a combination of a plastic hard shell with a silicone rubber skin is great because it combines the protection of a hard shell with the overall feel of rubber.


With such an intricate design for a case, it is obviously going to take time to apply and remove the Otterbox Defender to the iPhone. There are a lot of clips that need to be snapped together and rubber that needs to fit in specific holes, but after you get through that process, make no doubt about it, your iPhone feels as protected as can be. The silicone rubber skin is of great quality and feels great in hand.

All the buttons—volume, lock, home—are equally as responsive with the rubber covering them. Amazingly, the plastic screen that protects the actual iPhone touch screen does not inhibit the sensitivity. I was very impressed by how responsive the iPhone’s touch screen was under that layer of plastic. The only problem with the plastic screen is that if pressed with any amount of force, it would occasionally create unsightly air bubbles. There didn’t seem to be anyway around it.

The included belt clip is made from the same tough plastic as the hard shell and it locks the iPhone into it quite well. In fact, I often times had trouble pulling the iPhone out of the clip—the fit was that secure. The belt clip is able to rotate 360 degrees and the iPhone can be placed either be open faced or face backwards. My problem with the belt clip is that the home button is not easily accessible and it is too tough to remove for easy access.

I have very few complaints about the Otterbox Defender for iPhone because it offers as close to complete protection and coverage of every part of the iPhone. Plus, it gives off a secure and solid look and also feels wonderful. If you’re looking for protection or live an outdoor lifestyle, this case is truly one of the best available and the price can easily be rationalized to be ‘worth it’.

Final Thoughts

I’m very impressed with the Otterbox Defender for the iPhone because of its thoughtful design and excellent execution. I loved the feel of the case because it not only felt sturdy and solid but it also added grip to an obviously slick iPhone. It definitely feels like OtterBox didn’t cut any corners with this case.

Unfortunately, it does come with a fairly high price. But compared with other cases priced near the Defender, the Defender offers an infinite amount more protection. Though it does add considerable amount of thickness, if you’re looking for a case that protects your iPhone from the elements—thickness should be expected.

Also, it cannot be fully submerged under water, a definite shortcoming considering its target market. However, with all things considered, the Otterbox Defender for iPhone is great implementation of protection without compromise. Almost all the iPhone’s features are present with an unparalleled level of protection. I would consider this a buy for anyone who’s lifestyle is rugged, planning an outdoor trip, or is looking for the ultimate protection for their iPhone.


  • Protects Your iPhone in Every Imaginable Way
  • Feels Great in Hand
  • All Buttons, Most Features Easily Accessible
  • Solid Build Quality


  • Adds Considerable Thickness
  • Occasionally Leaves Air Bubbles Behind Plastic Screen Cover
  • Pricey
  • Belt Clip is a Tight Fit and Gives No Access to Home Button