Maximum Protection: The Otterbox Defender & Armor case REVIEW

I’m a big fan of keeping my items in mint condition. Since youth, I’ve always have kept my LP collection in near perfect condition with slipcases and dust jackets. While I can’t stuff 11,000 albums on my iPod – they barely fit in my garage – I should keep the 11,000 songs on my iPod protected with a heavy-duty case.

Today, I’m going to take a look at two specialty iPod cases by Otterbox. They include the iPod Classic Defender™ Series and the iPod Classic Armor™ Series for the iPod and iPod touch.


We’ve reviewed several previous cases here at GearDiary before: They include the 7000 Series Laptop Case, the Defender for the iPhone, and Palm Treo.

First up is the iPod Classic Defender™ Series. It’s quite simple to put together as illustrated in the 4-color instruction sheet.


What is unique about this case is the three layers of protection offered. The first layer is a clear polycarbonate sheet that is form fitted into the molding of the case for the screen and click wheel. There’s a optional padded foam insert to snug up the iPod depending on what model you are using. After placing the iPod in the bottom case, the top locks in with the four tabs on both sides and the top tab as well.


The case itself is a hi-impact polycarbonate skeleton.


By the way, I look up “polycarbonate” and it’s a tough plastic that is used for bulletproof windows, eyeglasses to compact disks. Ever try to break a CD in half? The impact resistance property of polycarbonate over glass or acrylic lends itself to multiple uses.


The final layer is a premium silicone skin that wraps the shell like a extra tight pair of Spandex pants and provides protection against drops and bumps for your iPod. I’ve seen some tabbed cases pop apart after a drop; so having this silicone skin is a big plus.

The case for the iPod touch works in the same fashion.


Part of the craftsmanship includes the notching of the skin underneath the shell to keep the skin shifting ever so slightly from side to side.


There are silicone skin casings available on the market without the casing; the only problem with them is the buildup of fine grit that gets trapped between the back of the player and the skin, which causes internal scratching. I would stay away from a silicone only case.

With all of this protection, it doesn’t bulk up the iPod or add much weight either at 1.75 oz.


There are silicone plugs that give access to the headphone jack, dock connector, and the hold button.


The clear polycarbonate sheet is full length covering the entire surface and a covering for the Apple logo porthole on the backside. The sheet is thin enough to operate the touch controls as usual without additional pressure.

While Otterbox is known for building waterproof cases, this particular flavor is not fully waterproof. Otterbox states, “This case will protect against light rain and precipitation, but is not meant for full submersion.”

If you’re prone to dropping your iPod – accidentally of course (oops!) – in three feet of water, then the iPod Classic Armor™ Series is your solution.

Here’s the Armor case minus the iPod.


The case opens up at the top hinge points…


The iPod slides into the Armor case with the headphone jack in place.


Notice the inside rubber casing that cradles the iPod; there’s a gasket seal that clamps on the ridges that run around the casing when shut.


The final step is locking the case in place with the hinged lock.


Looking at this side view, you can see how much protection encompasses the iPod.


It works the same way with the iPod touch version as well.


Here’s the back side… the hard rubber casing secures the headphone jack.


The only part that I struggled with the touch version is the orientation of the dock and headphone jack. Once the iPod touch was inserted, it seemed like it was upside down. If I were using the belt clip, then the screen would be upside down, although looking at it clipped on my belt then at least I could see what I was looking at. Also the headphone jack is on the top side.

Surely this must have been a matter of debate at the Otterbox design department; however, from a functional standpoint it worked out in an ingenious way!


The only hiccup is that the case has to be opened to use the on/off switch on the iPod touch version. The player has to be removed for syncing or charging, which can be a nuisance and removes the around the clock protection of having a case. Considering that the Armor Series offers maximum protection when in use, it’s a bit of a very minor tradeoff. I just prefer having my iPod smudged and scratch free.


The removable belt has accommodation for cable management for your headphones.


It also includes a removable neck lanyard.

The weight of the case by itself is 4 oz. for the iPod version and 4.25 oz. for the touch version.

Depending on your particular lifestyle use, the Otterbox cases excel in protection.

For general use, the Otterbox Defender Cases are solidly built with great fit and finish in craftsmanship. Compared to a lot of other cases in the marketplace, they offer a much higher level of protection. At $29.95, it is affordable and a must have case considering the investment of the iPod and iPod touch.

The Defender™ Series OtterBox for Apple iPod Classic

MRSP: Black/Black $29.95 and Black/Clear $29.95

The OtterBox for iPod Touch Defender™ Series

MRSP: Black/Black $29.95

If you’re the outdoor type working in landscaping or cleaning pools, then the Otterbox Armor is the perfect choice for you. Keep in mind I was not willing to dunk my wife’s iPod touch or my own iPod in the bathtub to test the claim of being waterproof up to 3 feet deep. However, I was pretty happy to wear the case on my belt running for cover in a torrential rainstorm. For $49.95, I can’t imagine any case that offers the level of protection that the Otterbox Armor offers.

The OtterBox for iPod Touch Armor™ Series

MRSP: $49.95

The OtterBox for iPod Classic Armor™ Series

MRSP: $49.95

What I Like: Rugged construction, fit and finish on all of the models; great protection for the price points on both styles.

What Needs Improvement: I was disoriented by the position on the iPod touch version of the Armor case, however it was not a big deal.

If you want to see how people are using their Otterbox, check out Planet Otterbox to see photos and videos.

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About the Author

Gear Diary Staff
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