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
Readers: do you have an app that you'd like to see us review? Developers: do you want us to take a look at your app? Send your suggestions to our Tips email.