Review: OtterBox iPhone 3G / 3GS Defender Case

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“The OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 3G / 3GS offers stylish and sophisticated protection in 3 layers. First, a thin, clear membrane covers your Touch Screen to help prevent scratches and dings. Second is a hard, strong Polycarbonate skeleton that surrounds your device. Wrapped around all of this is a Silicone skin that absorbs bump and shock. Included with the case is a ClipStand holster. This case will not fit the 1st Generation iPhone.” –OttberBox

Peace of Mind Thanks to OtterBox, I had a chance to protect my iPhone 3G with the Defender Case. I used my protected iPhone for a week to see how it felt. I’ll share with you my conclusion right away: The iPhone 3G / 3GS Defender Case from OtterBox gives you a sense of peace because it does the  job of protecting your iPhone from drops, bumps and scratches very well. When my youngest (1 1/2 years old) was playing with my protected iPhone I wasn’t too worried even though he has a penchant for throwing things.

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The Defender Case protects your iPhone by using three components. The picture you see above shows you my iPhone 3G placed in the front half of the polycarbonate skeleton, which is very sturdy. There is a clear cover that is integrated into the skeleton for the LCD portion of your iPhone.

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The next layer of protection is the silicone skin that surrounds the polycarbonate skeleton. The fit is very tight and because of that the rubbery skin does not move around at all when you’re using your protected iPhone.

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Completely Covered The 30-pin dock connector is covered and protected very well. The two holes on either side allow the speaker and mic to function without any deterioration in functionality. Calls came through just as well as a bare iPhone. The speakerphone worked without a hitch as well. The volume up/down, ring/silent, sleep/wake and home buttons and levers were all covered and worked well. With one exception: the ring/silent lever is very well covered and will require sticking a smallish finger in there to make sure you set the lever. Strong fingernails help.

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Lint The accelerometer, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor are all exposed and worked without any problems. I did not experience lowered volume levels either. The only concern I had was the accumulated lint in these two cavities. I only used it for one week and saw enough lint in them for me to wonder what it would look like a month from now.

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Not Flush As you can see from the picture above the screen integrated into the polycarbonate skeleton is not flush with the LCD on the iPhone. This makes for an interesting experience. First the bad part. Because of what you see above, the visual experience of using my protected iPhone was not so great. I could see most everything but there was some visual distractions as you can expect. One the other hand, because of the slight elevated screen there was a physical component (haptic) to using the touch screen and that felt oddly good. After looking at some reviews on Amazon there is the mention of this problem and the solution is to rub your hand over the iPhone’s screen before protecting it. I’m not sure if that will work but OtterBox is working on a solution on future models. The screen is surrounded by the polycarbonate bezel and for some big-fingered users getting to the left-most and right-most letters on the keyboard may require a bit more precision than you’re used to.

Rugged But Not Perfect The iPhone 3G / 3GS Defender Case from OtterBox has a MSRP of US$49.95. It sounds expensive until you get a scratch or a dent on your iPhone. If you work or play primarily outdoors and require sturdy protection for your iPhone the Defender Case from OtterBox might be a good choice, as long as you’re okay with the problem mentioned above. Amazon sells the case for just $28.99 with free shipping.

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