Review: Ruggedize your iPhone 4 with the OtterBox Defender Series

The OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 4 is a must-have for your rugged and not so rugged lifestyle
Written by Joel Evans, Contributor
I have written in the past about other OtterBox offerings, but this time around, I think I found one case that beats the rest: the iPhone 4 Defender Series. If you're not familiar with OtterBox, they make cases for pretty much any device. What sets them apart, though, is that they also make cases that make it nearly impossible to harm your gadget. When I was writing for Geek.com, I covered the Impact Series case, which allowed my wife's iPhone to go on a 55 MPH joy ride, unscathed. After that experience, I upgraded her to the Defender Series for her phone, to make sure that nothing would ever happen to her iPhone. Fast forward to the introduction of the iPhone 4. I wanted to upgrade her from the iPhone 3G since she takes a lot of pictures of the kids. Also, with the iPhone 4, she could now shoot 720p HD video from the same device. Before clicking the order button, though, I had to think about which case would be best, given her history of death defying rides with gadgets. Unfortunately, the OtterBox Defender was not yet shipping, and Apple's own bumper (now free) didn't look like it was going to offer protection--little did I know that it would someday save my own iPhone 4. So, I ordered the iPhone 4 without a case and then iPhone 4 delivery day arrives. The iPhone 4 then sits for almost two weeks while I wait for the OtterBox Defender case to arrive--how's that for brand devotion? Finally, it shows up and I get to setting it up on her iPhone 4. Setup Putting the OtterBox Defender case onto the phone is pretty straight forward. It has a few different parts, but for the most part, you put the iPhone 4 in, snap the case parts together, put some nice silicon around the case, and you're done. See the video below for a demonstration. Look and Feel Unlike its predecessor, the OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 4 is slim and pretty decent looking. While it's not going to win any beauty pageants, it's functional and definitely gets job number one accomplished. The best selling feature, though, is that it not only protects the body of the iPhone 4, but also its glass screen. It does this by including a piece of plastic or "touch screen membrane" that fits perfectly on top of the iPhone--no need for any additional screen protectors. Thankfully, the iPhone 4 has a great Retina Display, so even though there's plastic on top of it, the screen still looks great. Also, if you don't mind looking geeky, the case comes with a holster that has been re-designed to hold the device even stronger than its predecessor. Since this was for my wife, the holster stayed in the box.

Caught in the wild So far I've only found a couple of negatives with the case. The first one is that it makes it almost impossible for me to use my favorite accessory cradles. For example, we keep a Griffin charger dock on our kitchen counter, and since we both use iPhones, it was common to just slap in the iPhone. With the case, though, my wife now has to connect directly to the iPhone sync cable for charging. The other issue is with the silicon. There have been times when it has come undone from the top part of the case. This could be due to it being a sample, so I'm not sure if this happens to other users. Also, it doesn't happen often, so it's a small price to pay for protection. Otherwise, the iPhone 4 Defender case is the best way to protect your iPhone 4. What it lacks in looks (it's actually not that bad looking), it makes up for in utility. If you are concerned about your iPhone 4 getting damaged, or happen to have a job or hobby that involves you using your iPhone in rugged situations, this is a must purchase for only $49.95.
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