Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

September 1, 2010 • Reviews

iPhone 4 Case Review: OtterBox Commuter

OtterBox is probably best known for their highly protective case, the Defender.  The Defender packs as much shock and impact defense for your iPhone 4 as any case on the market.  However, all that protection doesn’t come without a price.  The Defender can at times be bulky and because of this OtterBox realizes it’s not for everyone.  It’s for this reason that, starting with the iPhone 3G/3Gs, the company began offering a slimmed down version of the Defender.  The Commuter Series case offers the same level of quality that its big brother, the Defender, does, in a sleeker package.

The Commuter Case comes along with an OtterBox “goodie-pack” that includes a crystal clear screen shield, installation card and cleaning cloth.

The case itself consists of two pieces which in turn offer two layer and two types of protection.  The silicone inner layer helps protect your phone from shock and impact while the outer plastic shield deflects possible scratches and harder drops.

Installation of the case is a two step process.  Your first place your phone into the silicone layer.  This is done easily, just like you’re installing your phone in any all-silicone style case.

The next step is a little more challenging and involves wrapping the plastic shield over the silicone layer.  The two lock together with a sort of tongue and grove type system.  There are notches on the sides of the plastic piece which correspond to cutouts on the sides of the silicone layer.

It just takes a little patience to line everything up and to make sure both sides lock into place.  Once you have the case all together the result is a tight fit but one you’ll probably not want to remove often due to the somewhat challenging install process.

The case features a built in 30-pin dock connector cutout out and individual cutouts for the speaker and microphone.  The flap locks nicely into place keeping your 30-pin connector port fully protected.  If you rely on a dock you may run into some issues using it in conjunction with this case.  The flap which covers the 30-pin connector seems to get in the way of docking, even when it’s stuck back out the way.

The iPhone’s volume buttons are covered by the silicone layer but still retain a good amount of feedback when you press them.  The cutout for the vibrate switch is large enough that you shouldn’t have any issues accessing the switch.

Along the top, the headset jack features a built in cover that has a small cutout for the iPhone’s secondary microphone.  Like the volume buttons, the sleep/awake button also gets covered by the silicone layer and it too retains a good amount of feedback.

The case features a good deal of “lay-on-the-table” design so you needn’t worry when placing your phone screen side down onto any flat surface.

On the back you’ll notice one large cutout for the iPhone’s camera and flash and a circular cutout which exposes the Apple logo.  One thing to take note here.  The cutout for the Apple logo is a true cutout.  Unlike the Defender which adds a clear screen protector to this cutout the Commuter Series keeps it clear.  If you’re worries about scratches to your Apple logo I suggest protecting it with a piece of clear screen shield or a skin (as I’ve done in the pictures) before using this case.

Not everyone needs the amount of protection that OtterBox’s Defender case offers.  That however, does not mean that those people do not get to enjoy the quality that an OtterBox case provides.  The Commuter Series Case for the iPhone 4 offers a mid-level amount of protection while not sacrificing too much of the iPhone’s 4 sleek design.

I was a big fan of the Commuter Series case for the iPhone 3G/3Gs but for some odd reason I always seemed to have an issue with it bubbling my screen shields.  I did not have any such issue with the iPhone 4 version of the case, even with a back skin installed.  I’m glad to see whatever issue existed has been completely corrected.  The result is a perfect fitting iPhone 4 case which provides a great amount of shock and impact protection in a conservative looking package.

You can learn more about the OtterBox Commuter Series Case for the iPhone 4 and order yourself up one here.

M.S.R.P. – $34.95

What I like – Slim, great fitting, works with full body skins, good amount of protection without being huge.

What I don’t like – Apple logo cut out not protected, can be challenging to get on.

2 Responses to " iPhone 4 Case Review: OtterBox Commuter "

  1. iPhone 4 Case Review: OtterBox Commuter | Gear Diary: The Defender packs as much shock and impact defense for your…

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