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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Hands On: OtterBox Defender Series case for iPhone 6/6s

Hands On: OtterBox Defender Series case for iPhone 6/6s
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MacNN Staff
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Jun 9, 2016, 05:36 PM
We belong in the camp that says the best iPhone case is the AppleCare insurance program. For we love the feel of the phone without anything getting in the way. Unfortunately, whatever you may feel about cases, there are jobs where they are a practical necessity. If you have a job in, say, construction -- or maybe you spend your day running around a hospital, then the OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 6/6s is startlingly strong, and surprisingly cheap.

You can certainly get cheaper: this costs $45. We're just not sure you can get stronger protection, short of always leaving your iPhone back in your house. It's not to our taste, but we've got to acknowledge the strength.

Listen, the way we see it, Apple spends so much time -- and then we spend so much money -- buying gorgeous devices only to immediately cover them up. Sometimes it's like leaving the plastic covering on the couch: it might be a protective film, but it makes the couch uncomfortable, and it looks terrible. You're protecting something that is useful and looks great by covering it up in such a way that it's no longer useful, and looks dreadful.

Most iPhone cases try to be like the film: they want to protect your phone, but also be unobtrusive. Often that means they're flimsy enough to not be any use, and it always means that their protection is limited. The OtterBox Defender, to its credit, really eschews all attempts to be unobtrusive. This is for protection. No messing.

Seriously no messing. We had to watch three YouTube videos to see how you get the empty case open. It requires you applying the right amount of pressure to the specific best point on the case (down by the Lightning port, since you ask) and then rather peeling the rubber back to let you pop in your iPhone.

When it's in, the rubber closes back around it, and the entire screen is protected by a transparent plastic cover. It does definitely reduce the sensitivity of the iPhone screen, but since that is the most vulnerable part of the device, it's a compromise to live with if you want this protection.

As we say, and also keep alluding to, we don't want that amount of protection. However, we do rather want one extra thing that this device provides: it's got a belt clip. You can slip your phone onto the side your jeans or a belt, then take it of as you need. There is an especially strong grip to allow that -- and the same grip can be used to make a tiny pop-up stand for the phone, so you can place it on a desk and watch videos.

We almost never do that. We almost never do any kind of manual work, so the degree of protection this offers isn't appealing to us. However, the fact that it's not even bothering to appear sleeker than it is makes us like it.

OtterBox Defender Series for iPhone 6/6s costs $45 from Amazon. We tried out the one in black, but there are other colors and also versions for the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus.

Who is OtterBox Defender for:
Serious travellers, workers who are always outside, workers who run heavy machinery, klutzes who drop stuff a lot.

Who is OtterBox Defender not for:
If you're torn between this and a Hello Kitty case for your iPhone, you probably don't need OtterBox Defender.

-- William Gallagher (@WGallagher)

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( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jun 9, 2016 at 08:05 PM. )
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Jun 9, 2016, 06:26 PM
Glad you mentioned that belt clip. It's my favorite feature, particularly how easily an iPhone can be detached from it. I'm hoping they'd extend their module-friendly uniVERSE case to Defender cases.
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Jun 13, 2016, 08:12 AM
You didn't mention the cases from Lunatik. The TAKTIK extreme provides unparalleled protection for the iPhone and is used by everyone from federal law enforcement to active duty military. It looks like it could literally 'stop a bullet' and is an all metal 2 (well 3 really) parts that hermetically seals your phone inside where it's suspended in a rubberized 'truss' holder that provides insane shock protection. The Corning Gorilla glass not only protects the front of the phone but provides virtually no loss in sensitivity. All the connector's are covered by water resistant flip open covers and the whole 'sandwich' ( front, back and the phone suspended in the rubberized holder are secured together with 6 heavy duty screw sealing your phone from the elements or abuse. This was originally a Kickstarter project back in the iPhone 4 days and the product line has expanded to handle all the new models. I recently removed a 'several years old' iPhone 4s to change the battery and the phone looked as new as the day it was unboxed. Definitely a 'you get what you pay for' case. Their customer service basically sucks but the product itself is without a doubt the best protection in the market for your iPhone. I've dropped it (onto concrete), has it fall into a 6 inch deep puddle of water and generally had it banged up pretty good over the years. As an early adopter of almost everything and someone who literally has a box full of cases, I'm confident there's nothing on the market that can provide better protection for your iPhone. Note: despite it being aluminum and sealing the case completely, I haven't noticed any signal degradation at all. [Note, the. 'TAKTIK Extreme", their top of the line model will not allow the use, of Touch ID since there's a integral button cover built in that prevents that but they do have a slight less expensive model with all the,drop proof/shock proof feathered but without the gorilla glass or button cover for a few bucks less]. The screw down pressure seals around the edge of the screen and exposes the phones glass but still keeps the case sealed and the floating truss holding the phone still provides shock protection. Likewise, the main button is exposed so Touch ID works fine. You give up the glass protection and I would imagine some of the water resistance but go ahead and drop it - your screen won't crack. Can't say enough good things about this case. >> Note - I had a screw come loose and go missing - 3 years after I got the case and when I contacted Lunatik for a replacement they were adamant that they were going to charge me $5. For a 2 cent screw. It took me re-sending my request for a replacement screw 11 times before someone mailed me a set of 6 screws and a torx driver for free (persistence pays off). I put a drop of blue locktite on all the screws and I don't expect they will shake loose and go missing again. Like I said, their customer service sucks but their products can't be beat.
( Last edited by Solardave; Jun 13, 2016 at 08:43 AM. Reason: Grammar)
Mike Wuerthele
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Jun 13, 2016, 09:04 AM
Nor should we have, necessarily. This was a review of the Otterbox, and not a universal rugged case evaluation.
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Jun 13, 2016, 09:58 AM
Fair enough. But when you say "You can certainly get cheaper: this costs $45. We're just not sure you can get stronger protection", you're implying comparisons to other cases opening up the whole field for comparison. You certainly can get stronger protection, and it' will only cost you $49.95. It's that statement that prompted my comment. For 5 bucks more, you get twice the case. I have both the Otterbox and the TAKTIK. Not even close in terms of protection. And, if you're willing to give up the Gorilla glass, the cover for the button and the inherent water resistant coverage you can get their TAKTIK Stike for $35.95, so a definitively better case than the Otterbox and for less money as well.
( Last edited by Solardave; Jun 13, 2016 at 10:21 AM. Reason: Grammar, punctuation)
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