Otterbox Defender – review

By on January 7, 2014

A little over a year ago I got a Samsung S3 along with a clip on holster that the phone would slip into when not in use.  I really like the phone but always thought it was a little difficult to hold onto as it’s so thin and slick.  Actually after holding it for a while my would begin to cramp up.  With the holster the phone had no protection when it was removed  After a year of daily use the holster finally started to come apart.  The belt clip was starting to pull out of the back of the holster.

Otterbox Defender case

Otterbox Defender case

My son had an Otterbox Defender series case for his S3 and it seemed really nice.  He has the orange and camo one, but I had to go a little more subdued since I’d be wearing it to work.  I got the basic black with an outline of green, in the hopes it would be easier to find if dropped.

I like the level of protection the case provides the phone.  I don’t like the belt holster/clip mechanism.  For hiking this is okay, because I can’t were the phone on my belt when I hike as it interferes with my hip belt on the backpack.  I’ll usually hike with it in a leg pocket on my hiking pants, without the belt clip.

The Otterbox Defender series comes with an integrated screen protector which I think is great.  I’ve never been able to get those cling ones to attach without a nasty bubble under them.  I thought this one may reduce the sensitivity of the screen, but if it does, it’s not really noticeable

The extra bulk of the protector around the phone does help make it easier to hold onto, and easier on the hand for when it’s being held for an extended period of time.  I’d recommend visiting the Otterbox website for full details of the various pieces of the Ottorbox defender series.

This extra bulk, largely the sides that make the screen more recessed, cause some difficulty in pressing some of the buttons.  The two android buttons at the bottom of the phone aren’t too bad, although if you have larger fingers they may be difficult.  The most difficult thing I’ve found to try to hit is the little letters on the right hand side for jumping to a letter in the contact list.  They are a little tricky.

The Otterbox Defender case does work to protect the phone.  I’ve dropped the phone more times in the month that I’ve had the case than the entire year before.  Unfortunately the drops are because of the case, not an inherent over confidence on my part.  It’s actually mostly with the belt clip and they way I tend to wear it.  If you’ve read any reviews on this case you’ve probably read about the cheap plastic belt clip.  Mine hasn’t broken yet or anything so I wont call it cheap, maybe just poorly designed.

I can no longer wear the phone horizontally, I need to wear it vertically or slightly askew.  When the Otterbox Defender is horizontal it tends to stick out too far from my hip and get caught in my sweatshirts.  This will lead to it getting pulled off of my belt, sometimes I catch it while it’s tangled in my sweatshirt, other times it falls.

I’ve also had issues with the belt clip getting locked open into the kickstand position.  This makes it stick out even further and more likely to come off the belt.  If this continues to happen I may make some modifications to the clip in that I’ll break off the catch for kickstand position, can’t see that I’ll ever use it (course as soon as I do that I’ll have to need to).

I also think the belt that the clip is used on may play into some of the issues I’m having.  My belt that I wear for casual tends to be a thicker leather belt so the little tab on the bottom of the clip is less likely to catch the belt.  Keep in mind that this casuals scenario is when I’m wearing a sweatshirt,(see previous comment).  My thinner work belts seem to handle it a little better.

Since my Otterbox Defender case is still very new I haven’t experienced this, but I have seen at least one instance of it.  The external silicone layer stretches and no longer hugs the case tightly.  I can see how this would happen over time with opening and closing the port covers.

Would I recommend the Otterbox Defender series to a friend:  No, probably not.  I wouldn’t try to dissuade them too much if that is what they wanted, but I’d suggest trying some other options.  I don’t totally hate mine, I could have returned it, but didn’t.  I just think there are possibly some better options out there.  I would recommend staying away from the ultra cheap ones though, my son initially got one of them and the belt clip lasted something like a week.

I do understand that the extra protection the Otterbox Defender provides is going to make the phone larger, but would still hope to see it stay on the belt a little better.

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