Get Ultimate iPhone 4 Protection With OtterBox Defender [Review]

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If you’re a rugged, outdoorsy type — or just really careless — you’ve undoubtedly been looking for the toughest case ever for the iPhone 4.

OtterBox has been the go-to company for this sort of iPhone protection. And while it’s taken them some time to come up with something for the iPhone 4, the company has finally released something in its tough-as-nails Defender line.

OtterBox offers three levels of case protection. There’s the Impact, which is designed for everyday casual protection; the Commuter, for people who are looking for a little more; and the bulk-be-damned Defender series, for those who want the absolute most protection money can buy.

How does it measure up?

The Defender is a very substantial, multi-layered case. At the heart of it is a thick plastic and textured silicone case. There are the usual holes for all of the iPhone’s microphones and speakers. It has a membrane to cover the screen and a protected opening on the back to proudly display the Apple logo. There is also a cutaway for the camera lens and flash. The Defender also comes with a rather large and very sturdy plastic clip-in holster that can be oriented to any angle you choose. You can also orient your device face down to give the screen more protection while you’re not using it. The holster doubles as a stand to view media. This will be a very useful feature to use to stave off insanity while you’re stranded in the woods waiting for the rescue crews to find you.

The Defender is designed for protection against bump, shock, dust and dropping. I wearingly did several drop tests with my own iPhone 4 onto a wooden floor and my asphalt driveway from heights as high as my head. Neither the iPhone or the case suffered any damage. I felt totally confident riding my bike around the city streets with my iPhone riding along in the hip holster.

Of course, the Defender doesn’t make your iPhone invincible. It does not protect against water and the screen is only covered by a thin membrane if it’s not flipped face down in the holster.

It’s also huge.

It looks much more elegant than I was expecting it to be — but it is a very bulky item, especially with the holster attached. Sans holster, it did fit in my jeans pocket but I could always feel it there pressing against my leg. What I could not feel was the vibration of my phone receiving a call or text message. There’s just too much silicone there.

One other downside is the screen-protection membrane. You can always see where it’s touching the screen and occasionally made the screen appear to be a bit wavy. See the shot above.

As you would expect, this is not a cheap case at $49.95. If you’re like me, and use your iPhone running and on a bicycle on a regular basis, it may be worth it to you. However, for the average user, this is not a case you’ll want on your phone every day and is something that you’ll just break out for special occasions. If you want something that’s very sturdy and still easy to use every day, the OtterBox Commuter or Impact may be a better choice.