The Commuter case from OtterBox is a slimed-down version of the hefty but quite rugged Defender, which I reviewed back in September. I concluded that the Defender case was indeed rugged but had a problem with the integrated screen not being flush with the iPhone and creating an oily thing and taking away from the visual experience of using the iPhone. The Commuter case doesn’t have an integrate screen so it doesn’t have that oily problem. It is also much more slender but still provides a lot of protection all around.
The Commuter comes in two parts: the soft rubber that encloses the iPhone 3G or 3GS and the hard outer shell made of polycarbonate. As you can see from the picture above, the rubber shell has dustproof coverings for the buttons. There is also a cutout for the Apple logo. The one thing that I did not like about the rubber shell was that it attracted lint from inside my jean pocket. But I don’t think you can get away from attracting lint if you’re thinking of giving your iPhone some rubber protection.
The polycarbonate shell is tough and provides solid protection without adding a lot of heft. As you can see the mid-section hugs the rubber shell and tightly protects the iPhone. Putting the rubber and polycarbonate shell on the iPhone was very easy and took just about a minute.
Once covered the iPhone is solidly protected. The polycarbonate shell wraps around the top, botton, left and right sides of the iPhone giving it a solid feel. The sound/buzz rocker is the only switch that is exposed but the rest of the plugs and buttons are protected from dust. While using the Commuter-protected iPhone 3G for about a week I did not find it difficult at all to use the buttons or take it out of my jean pocket. I wear my jeans loose but those who wear tight jeans may have to see if the additional bulge is acceptable.
There are cutouts on the bottom for the speaker and microphone. There were no complaints about my voice on the other side and I didn’t have any problems having a conversation over the speakerphone. Now the charge connection cover did require a bit more dexterity to make it fit just so. And you’ll need to peel it way back before you plug in the charge connection since it tends to get in the way.
The Commuter case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS from OtterBox is a solid case that uses two shells, one rubber and one polycarbonate, to effectively protect your phone but doesn’t add much bulk. The retail price of the Commuter case is US$34.95 and Amazon has it for about $23.