14 June 2013

REVIEW: Otterbox Defender

Tough case to crack.

Ask anyone what their most treasured possession is - the thing they would least want to be damaged or destroyed - and the chances are they would say their smart phone. Lets face it, mobile devices have overtaken computers as our most prized gizmos. All the photos, videos, emails and texts make them little repositories of memories and significance and therefore not the kind of thing we can afford to be careless with.

And so we wrap our precious slabs of glass and silicon in cases and wallets, skins and covers in the hope that should the worse happen (your toddler gets your phone and decides to post through the letter box) it will be protected. So if you're searching for the case that will provide your phone with unparalleled protection, you should head to the riverbank and find an otter.

Otterbox have been producing high quality cases for mobile devices for many years now, with most popular models having had a case designed for them. Our first experience with Otterbox was always to see them on Amazon and dream of being able to afford one for our phones - they tend to be a tad pricey. That's why we jumped at the chance to test out their latest series, the Defender range, if only to see what all the hype was about.

The phone we were using at the time of testing was the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, probably the largest phone currently on the market, and therefore the Otterbox Defender we were sent was also pretty huge. There are a lot of other cases available for this phone, but the Defender got us really excited.

The case has four components (which fortunately slip easily out of the packaging) that when combined in encasing the handset offer total protection. There are two plastic elements, front and back, which close around the phone and clip together. The front piece has a built-in transparent window which becomes the screen protector. Then there is a thick rubber jacket which wraps the plastic up, almost completely hiding it all. The result is a very solid and secure case. The fourth element is the optional belt clip which secures the whole package to you hip. We tried wearing the phone like this for about 30 minutes then realised we looked like idiots. Pack in the pocket the phone went, and back in the box went the clip.

In our hands the Note 2, wrapped in the Defender, is now the largest thing we've ever held. Seriously, what is already a beefy mobile suddenly becomes akin to carrying around a tablet in your pocket. As you can see from the pictures the case adds another half-centimetre to the overall thinkness of the phone. We assume a similar level of bulk increase to other models as well.

Some people might instantly dislike that. The Otterbox Defender certainly makes you aware of it's presence and serves to conceal any distinguishing features of the protected phone. Of course all access ports were served by the Defender, in our case that included the headphone and USB ports (which were covered by part of the rubber shield when not needed) as well as the S Pen stylus. The sleep/wake button and the volume rocker were both also covered but still responsive.

So far so good, and even the bulky shape soon seemed normal after just a few hours of use. One thing that soon became an annoyance however was that built-in screen protector. As it is connected to the case and not directly stuck to the screen (as with most other protectors) we found that dirt and dust could get easily under it through the slight opening by the Note 2's physical home button. This might only be an issue for phones with home buttons such as the iPhone, but it was annoying having to remove the case at least once a day to get at the trapped fluff.

That aside the case itself was incredibly resilient to knocks and scratches. Handling modern phones with soft curves and smooth featureless bodies can often be a tricky old game. Having the Otterbox Defender on our Note 2 certainly helped our grip and, therefore, our confidence.

Certainly not to everyone's liking, the Otterbox Defender is a solid, rugged and extremely thorough case. We loved the total no-nonsense approach to design, with heavy rubber exterior and tight fitting plastic interior, but did not like the fixed screen protector that attracted and trapped our pocket fluff.

If you spend your days grinding away on a skateboard or jumping out of planes (we assume to get better 4G reception) then this is the case for you.


Available from www.mobilefun.co.uk
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