Ok, let’s face it, you have hundreds of choices for a case for your iPhone. Even though the late Steve Jobs said he carried his without a case, we’d recommend that you get a case for yours, especially since your replacement plan probably isn’t as good as the one Steve had.
We can’t sit here and say which is the absolute best case for iPhone. Some people like thin cases that are barely there, or certain colors or certain textures but we feel that overall, Otterbox makes some of the best iPhone (and Android) cases out there. The best of the bunch, in our view, is the Otterbox Defender series.
It’s maximum protection for the phone, though it won’t do much if you get it wet. But for $49.95, you get some pretty heavy duty protection, plus a big plastic belt clip. The case also includes a plastic shell that includes a screen protector and then a silicone covering that goes around it.
Basically, you fit the phone into the shell. Then you wrap the silicone around everything. It’s a very similar idea to the GumDrop iPad case that we loved so much (and still use).
The screen protector allows you to forgo trying to add those stick-on screen covers that always seem to bubble-up and peel over time (we recommend using those kiosks in the mall for better fit and finish). It also doesn’t interfere in the least with the operation of the phone. Keep the Otterbox Defender screen clean and you’ll forget it’s there.
The feel of the case is great and the “grippy” ridges along the backside — with clear openings for the camera and the Apple logo — make the Defender easy to grab and comfortable to hold. The parts of the phone that are visible, like the front and back cameras, are recessed deep into the case, so they are not affected by drops. You have to pull back a tab to access the headphone jack. We wish there was an opening there, but the home button and wake/lock button on top of the phone are both permanently covered and operable.
The speakers on the bottom are not covered but recessed and the area where you connect iPhone to the power adapter, the 30-pin connector, has a pull back cover. It’s a little tricky to figure out how to attach at first, however. You slide it in, with a slight downward push. Then it fits great and does its job well although that area, which is part of the home button covering, seems to pull away a little after a few weeks/months with the unit.
That’s pretty much our only complaint. The fit isn’t always as snug, especially if you remove it a few times.
Also, the included belt clip is a little thick and awkward. If you like belt clips, it’ll more than do the job. For us, the phone slides so well into the pocket with the case on, we never bothered much with it.
Now let’s talk about the size. This is a big, thick case. You’ll probably take it out the box, look at your thin, sleek iPhone and go, “No way.”
At first, we were thinking the Defender case was too thick, but over time, it felt more and more comfortable. And in reality, it doesn’t add tons of girth to the device and some users with larger hands may actually like the iPhone-in-a-case thing better than the iPhone-in-the-naked-hand thing.
And this is for sure: the case “felt” really good when we accidentally knocked over a brand new iPhone 4S from a counter to the floor on Christmas morning. Everyone in the room squirmed and grimaced, but the phone was just fine. And after heaving a sigh of great relief, everyone resumed opening their presents.
If we were giving this phone to a teen or a pre-teen, it would definitely be wrapped in the Otterbox Defender. Even better, Otterbox has added some snazzy new color schemes, including a cool gray and white case that looks quite good with the new white model.
Our grade? It’s a solid A.
Go get it.
Now a little from the manufacturer
The iPhone 4S is everything we were hoping for and more! The Assistant “Siri” alone is totally worth protecting. Thank goodness OtterBox has an iPhone 4S Case in our Defender Series ready to keep her safe. This rugged iPhone 4S case provides heavy duty protection from rough treatment in the worst environments. Our Defender Series iPhone 4S Case defends against drops, dust and damage without taking away from the interaction of the iPhone’s features. The iPhone 4S Defender Series Case offers triple-layer protection and is built from a high-impact polycarbonate shell, durable silicone and a built-in screen protector, making it one of the toughest iPhone 4S Cases out there. Why else do you think we called it the Defender? Be sure to check out all our color options for stylish protection that are bound to make your friends jealous.