I’m kind of picky about how I protect my iPhone. There’s a fine line between too much and too little when it comes to protective cases, skins, sleeves and the like. On the one hand, you risk getting too bulky, and on the other, you’re risking the vital safety of that technological marvel which you hold dear.
The problem with cases for the iPhone is that while consumers choose the iPhone for what it can do, they also choose it for its aesthetics. So when you wrap two pounds of plastic or rubber around an iPhone, you’re kind of missing the point.
After trying a range of Otter Box’s new line of iPhone cases, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a case that will not only protect my device but do so with impressive economy, durability and style. I tried three different cases that ranged from a little protection (think everyday use) to rugged protection from the elements (think taking your iPhone on a bear hunt in Alaska). I don’t actually hunt bears, but I’m pretty sure my iPhone would survive such an endeavor should I choose to take it into the outback ensconced in Otter Box’s triple-layer Defender Series case.
For this review, I’ll cover the two ends of the use spectrum, the Commuter and the Defender. On the one hand, the Commuter TL enlists the help of a thin rubber sleeve, which is then clamped into place by a hard outer shell of plastic. Plugs are designed into the rubber cover that conveniently lock into all open interfaces, including the headphone jack and proprietary port at the bottom of the device. It sounds like a lot, but in the end, my iPhone felt pretty much the way it should. Otter Box has even left a clear hard plastic porthole so I can still see that gleaming Apple logo on the back of my phone. It looks good and still fits neatly into my front pocket.
The Defender is like the bullet proof vest for the iPhone. While it’s complicated enough to install (Otter Box actually directs you to a video on their Web site for instructions), it’s exactly the kind of dressing you want when there’s a good chance your iPhone is going to get wet, and or filled with sand, dirt and grime. Once you’ve snapped it into this beast, your iPhone works just the same, but it feels a little bit like the iPhone has put on some weight.
The Commuter TL runs $29.95 and the Defender goes for $49.95, which considering the quality of the Otter Box products, is right in line, if not lower, than some of the off-brand cases on the market. Otter Box also makes cases for handsets from a variety of different manufacturers.