Hands-on review: OtterBox cases for iPhone 4, BlackBerry Bold 9700 series

OtterBox brought a showcase of new protective smartphone cases to CTIA Wireless in March. Some of them are starting to roll out this month, and here's a hands-on review of the Commuter for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 series and the Reflex case for the iPhone 4.

OtterBox brought a showcase of new protective smartphone cases to CTIA Wireless in March. Some of them are starting to roll out this month, and here's a hands-on review of the Commuter for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 series and the Reflex case for the iPhone 4.

COMMUTER SERIES for BLACKBERRY BOLD 9700

Fitted for the Bold 9700 and 9780, I sampled the Commuter case on the former option. The very solid accessory comes with a self-adhering clear screen protector, and the protective case slips onto the BlackBerry Bold quite easily.

This durable, polycarbonate shell is dressed in pink and white as 10% of the purchase price is donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Accessing all of the buttons on the top and sides are about the same, and I didn't really have to press harder to activate any of them. The ports are covered with silicone plugs. I found this to be the biggest design flaw. The plugs don't really stay inward and can get caught easily, thus they probably won't keep much dirt out if this smartphone is being tossed around in a purse or backpack. Honestly, it might be easier just to cut them off and leave the ports open.

Another design issued I had which really doesn't have anything to do with actual protection for the smartphone is the giant OtterBox logo on the reverse side. I hate looking like a billboard, and this logo is so big that it's rather annoying. However, I don't usually look at the back side of a smartphone that often, so I could probably get past it.

REFLEX SERIES for iPHONE 4

Dubbed as "revolutionary" and "rule-defying," the Reflex Series is a very lightweight yet durable product. The shell is made from polycarbonate molded with TPE rubber and it comes with a self-adhering clear screen protector.

However, if you have your own screen protector (or even this one) pressed to the display before you slip on the Reflex case, then watch out.

The Reflex is designed as two parts that snap together when they slide on to the iPhone. Once snapped, the parts really do stay together.But when I slipped on the bottom half to my iPhone 4, the screen protector came off, and I'm stuck with a bunch of air bubbles I can't seem to get rid of now.

Also note that I tested the Reflex out with AT&T's iPhone 4, but OtterBox reps say that the accessory is compatible with Verizon's model too.

AVAILABILITY

Both OtterBox cases are available for purchase now. The Commuter Series retails for $34.95, and there is a similar Commuter Series case available in all black and black/white for the same price.

The Reflex Series costs a bit more at $44.95, and it is available in four color palettes: all black, black/pink, black/blue and black/camouflage green.

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