I take my phone everywhere. During work and everyday life I don’t worry much about it; I work in an office and live in suburban New Jersey. It’s not really a rough life for a smartphone. I do, however, take it when I go hiking, biking and running as a GPS tracker, plus it rides along in my pocket when I walk the dog, rain or shine. So I’m always on the lookout for a solid case that can protect my phone during outdoors-y times, and still look good for everyday use. Needless to say, I was VERY excited when Otterbox announced their Commuter Case for the Droid.
The big challenge for Otterbox was how to adequately protect the Droid and still allow access to the slide out keyboard. Like many Droid cases, the Otterbox is in two parts to cover the screen and the back cover easily. Otterbox also includes a very nice screen protector, along with a silicon lining to go between the bottom half of the shell and the Droid itself. The whole package adds a small amount of bulk but doesn’t feel terribly thick or uncomfortable.
One of the benefits of the silicon layer is that Otterbox is able to plug the headphone and microUSB ports with built-in rubber stoppers. While the whole case is not waterproof, it does provide a small layer of protection against rain, dirt, etc. If you’ve ever had to fish lint out of your headphone jack or charge port, you’ll appreciate this feature. In addition, the silicon creates a “bumper” around the outside of the phone that gives it slightly more protection against banging around in a bag or pocket. The silicon also covers the power button, volume keys, and camera shutter button. These are all a bit narrow, so the silicon adds a nice bit of traction and thickness to them. It’s a little thing, but it makes the volume keys especially much easier to use!
Otterbox also included a very nice screen protector. It was a snap to install it! I usually mess up 2 screen protectors for every one I manage to install, and this one fit perfectly on the first try. Which is good, since they only included one! The texture of it is smooth, and it actually feels nicer than the plain glass. I always appreciate when companies include screen protectors, and it’s great to see Otterbox didn’t cheap out with it!
The top layer of the Otterbox case is a pretty simple plastic shell. It’s thinner than the bottom half, and there’s no silicon for it. Part of that is a design issue; the Droid needs clearance to let the keyboard slide, and there needs to be enough room to be able to type on the keyboard. While this limits case manufacturers, Otterbox did a nice job with it. Unlike the Verizon shell/holster I reviewed, the Otterbox case sits tightly enough that the act of sliding doesn’t cause the case to bite into the Droid itself. In fact, it fits nice and tight with zero give. Getting it off is a bit of a wrestling match, so this is very much a case you’d want to keep on all the time, rather than popping it on and off.
Overall, the Otterbox case is very solid. It feels great in your hands, it doesn’t interfere with using the Droid at all, and in fact the added thickness makes it easier to hold and type in landscape mode. The bezel on the outside of the upper shell is thin enough that it doesn’t interfere with the soft keyboard, but raised enough to offer a small amount of protection. This case isn’t on the level of an Otterbox Defender Case, where it can withstand a truly rugged experience, but it is more than adequate for day-to-day life with a bit of action thrown in.
The Otterbox Commuter Case for the Motorola Droid is available directly from the manufacturer.
What I Like: Silicon layer creates a bumper around the device; Top shell does not interfere with the slide-out keyboard; Feels solid; Plugs exposed ports
What Needs Improvement: Adds bulk; Large Otterbox logo on the back; Top shell fits so tight it is tough to remove