Case Study: Otterbox Defender Series For iPhone 4


Categories: Geotools Otterbox Reviews


I will never be an extreme geocacher but chances are I’ll always be a clumsy one.  So when it came to buying a case for my new iPhone 4, there was really one option – Otterbox’s Defender Series.

My brother has long been a fan of the trademark yellow and black Otterbox case  that adorns his beloved Blackberry smartphone so the American company’s wares were high on my shopping list from the start.

In the interests of fairness, price and style, though, I investigated further – discovering, then eliminating Speck’s ToughShell for iPhone 4 and Pelican’s i1015 iPhone case among dozens of  lesser options.

But what really cemented my decision was a short video on Otterbox’s website showing a rock climber ‘accidentally’ drop his Defender Series-clad iPhone as he scaled a vertical cliff-face. It bounced repeatedly on the way down but upon being retrieved by the owner, worked immediately and had no visible damage.


According to the company’s PR material, the Defender Series is its most popular and rugged case line, offering three layers of protection. “First, a built-in screen protector guards against scratches to the interactive multi-touch display. Next, a hi-impact polycarbonate shell surrounds the iPhone 4, followed by a tough silicone jacket to help dissipate bumps and shock away from the device.

“All buttons are covered and ports are protected by silicone plugs to help keep out dust and dirt, all without interfering with the functionality of the device. A holster-style swivel belt clip is also included for easy carrying.”

The Colorado firm re-released its patented iPhone 4 cover in eight “vibrant, new colours” last year, though for me it was only ever a toss-up between basic black or red with black trim. Peter made up my mind by pointing out “red goes faster” and that I would never lose it in the bush.

Any purchase also had to be mooted by my muggle spouse who will inherit the iPhone when I upgrade to version 5 in the next few months but one look at the promotional video and he too was convinced. Even I couldn’t break it with such protection, he wagered.

All that was left to do at this point was decide how to part with my cash. Several New Zealand retailers stock Otterbox’s Defender Series case for iPhone 4 but none had it available in red, so I opted to deal directly with the manufacturer. After shipping fees and a 10 per cent discount coupon I’d found online were applied, my purchase cost US$59.69 – more than NZ$10 cheaper than if I’d jumped in the car and driven to my closest Dick Smith store.

Four days later, FedEx was knocking on the door with my package, beating the four to eight days’ delivery promised by local webstore Fishpond.

That was a week ago, and while I haven’t been brave enough to drop my now ‘indestructable’ iPhone from a great height, I am extremely pleased with my choice.

The case isn’t without its flaws, most notably that its bulk means the iPhone no longer fits in the dashboard mount of my cache mobile, and the style clashes with most of my formal evening wear. Nor does it offer any protection from water damage, unlike other generic Otterbox or Pelican designs.

Asembling the unit is also a little complicated so thankfully a video is provided (confession time: it wasn’t until I began writing this review that I realised I’d had my holster clip on the wrong way).


But these factors are a small price to pay for the peace of mind that the Otterbox brings. If only the company made a product I could encase myself in for future geo-missions.




*Technical specifications for Otterbox’s Defender Series case for iPhone 4 are available here. NB: Product is NOT suitable for Apple’s white iPhone 4.





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