Monday, September 03, 2012

Product Review: Otterbox Defender cases

Hey there, Dear Reader, apologies (again) for the lack of updates recently. The last couple of weeks have been fairly busy, which is good, but then I go ahead and do something stupid and break my BlackBerry phone.

That's the 3rd one this year.

Anyway, I went and replaced it with a second-hand one (same model) and also got myself a second-hand BB PlayBook (32GB): both the phone and tablet cost me about half the price of a new phone by itself so am feeling somewhat pleased with myself.

And the first thing I did is order an Otterbox Defender case for each, hence this review.

So what do I think?

Firstly, the Otterbox Defender for PlayBook is a very different beast to the Otterbox Defender for BlackBerry Bold 9700, however they do share some similarities in construction, if not in form.

The short story is that the Defender series of cases offers multi-layered protection against the usual culprits of drops and scratches. They contain a polycarbonate inner shell, a rubber exterior, and a screen protector.

Access to all ports is still retained through plugs that can be moved aside.

Now, without actually throwing my phone and PlayBook around to see for myself, I'll just have to take it for granted that the shock protection is all that it is claimed to be. I'll certainly update this review if some time in the future (it's virtually guaranteed to happen) I drop either, or both, and the cases fail to deliver.

So my capsule review:

The Good

  • Solidity. At least in the case of the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the case feels robust enough to do as it claims. 
  • Functionality. Good design factor to allow access to all ports, and the cover to the PlayBook doubles as a stand.
The Bad

  • Accessibility. The edges of the case intrude a bit on the keyboard of the BlackBerry Bold, making the keys on the sides a bit tricky to use if you have big thumbs or fingers like me.
  • Gaps. Annoyingly, dust gets in and is trapped under the protective screen for the BB Bold. Mind you, I'm not using the clear plastic cover for the keyboard (having problems getting it on) so there is a slight gap.
The Indifferent

  • Bulk. No it isn't of concern to me but apparantly some users don't like the added bulk from the cases (why even bother getting a case then, I have to ask?) The phone is probably about twice as thick as it was without the case, the PlayBook less so.
I purchased mine directly from Otterbox but note that I could have purchased them for less through Amazon. Having said that, my order was processed on a Friday and I received them on Monday morning. Not bad considering it was an international delivery!

Why did I choose Otterbox? No real reason, actually. They pretty much were the first company that came up when I googled protective cases for the BlackBerry products I had. Obviously they also make cases for a range of other phones and tablets.

Overall Verdict

Pending a 'field test' (ie I drop either my phone or PlayBook), I give the Defender case an A- (for the BB Bold) and a solid A for the PlayBook.


  1. Have you ever considered switching to the Motorola Defy? It's intended to be water resistant, dust and shock proof? I appreciate it doesn't have quite the same business features as a Blackberry, and naturally lacks Blackberry Messenger, but it couldn't be slightly more forgiving of a rougher lifestyle.

    1. I don't use BB messenger as no-one else I know has a BlackBerry, so that never was a selling point, but I do like the push email and other features.

      I've looked at the Motorola Defy and see that it is IP67 certified (the '6' means it is dust protected, the '7' means it can withstand immersion up to 1m) so it would appear that it is a reasonably durable handset.

      However, if I were to get specifically rugged phones, I's look into the range from Sonim.