Review: OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 3G

If you don’t know OtterBox, you should. They make high-quality, high-grade cases for the iPhone 3G that offer first-class protection. The OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 3G ($49.95) is one of the most comprehensive cases ever designed for the iPhone 3G.

We had already taken a look at the OtterBox Defender Series for the Original iPhone, how does the updated version for the iPhone 3G hold up? Does it offer great protection? Is it just another case?

Read on for the rest of the review!


The OtterBox comes in 4 different parts—each serving a purpose to cradle and protect the iPhone 3G. The base layer is a hard plastic shell (front and back). The second layer is a thick yet still soft layer of silicone that wraps around the aforementioned hard plastic shell. And finally, the last piece is a plastic cradle that adds another layer of protection but also doubles as a belt clip.

A thin sheet of plastic protects the screen, camera port, and Apple Logo while the headphone port, volume buttons, and sleep/wake ringer switch are protected via rubber caps. A thin cloth also covers the speakers.

Overall, the design of the OtterBox is carefully thought out and provides a perfect fit for every little nook, switch, and button on the iPhone 3G. Using a hard shell base layer with a silicone skin offers great protection while providing for even greater textile feel.


Obviously, the OtterBox Defender Series serves to a specific niche and those who have no need for such a rugged case would assume the case is in excess. But judging it from a pure protective stance—there are few options better. I have full confidence that the OtterBox case will protect my iPhone 3G in almost any likely scenario—a fall down the stairs, skidding across a hiking trail, and even a drop on concrete.

But because of its intricate design, care and exactness is needed when applying the case. The OtterBox is not an ordinary case that can be easily slipped off and on, you’ll have to fix the silicone to wrap around the intricacies of the plastic shell. Furthermore, the plastic shell seems to have a lot of clips and snaps that need to be put together. It’s a process to be sure, but after you’re done, this is protection at its finest.

Even more amazing is how the OtterBox maintains the iPhone 3G’s sensitivity and allows access to all its ports, buttons, and features. The touchscreen maintains the same sensitivity, I had absolutely no problem playing games and surfing the web with the OtterBox applied.

The buttons can be easily pressed except for the Home button. For some reason OtterBox decided to make a Home Button that cuts off the top of the circle. The plastic cover for the touchscreen can also get problematic if you leave some air space between it and the iPhone’s screen. Unsightly air bubbles would appear but I found this to be hit or miss and not particularly damaging.

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.

OtterBox has certainly improved on the deficiencies in the original iPhone, namely two issues that I had problems with are now fixed. The ringer switch is now accessible and the home button can be pressed when inserted into the belt clip. Bravo to OtterBox for listening to my complaints!

In all, the OtterBox offers as close to complete protection and coverage of every part of the iPhone. If you’re looking for superb protection or live an outdoor lifestyle, this case is truly one of the best available.

Final Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of OtterBox products because they put care into their design and they execute extremely well. The silicone seems to be of higher grade than basic silicone cases—offering better texture, thicker protection, and doesn’t seem to stretch as much. I definitely feel like OtterBox succeeded in creating a case that can offer maximum protection without sacrificing usability.

The one downfall is obviously price. At $49.95 it is a fairly steep cost to pay for an iPhone case. 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 3G is great implementation of protection without compromise. All of 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.


  • Superb Protection
  • Soft Silicone Feel
  • Everything Protected, Every Feature Still Usable


  • Bulky
  • Pricey