So picture this: you just got your brand spanking new Apple iPhone 5 in the mail and you're scheduled to fly to Utah in the next few days to bomb a few downhill runs. What do you do?
Well if you're me, you hope like hell your Otterbox demo kit shows up before you head to the airport. As it turns out, it was already in the mail and actually arrived the day before my flight! Talk about cutting it close!
When I was first contacted about testing a protective phone cases for the iPhone 5, I was pretty stoked because I was the tester who got to flaunt the Element Comp case for the iPhone 4. This time around it was Otterbox who had stepped up to send in the gear. Now I'll be honest, prior to this unit, it had been a while since I've used an Otterbox. I believe the last one was for the Android HTC Incredible 2 and while it definitely provided maximum protection, I remember that it turned my wafer thin smartphone in to a solid block reminiscent of the old brick phones Zack Morris might have used to order Slater a pizza with the hottest peppers you can find; Would the new iPhone 5 case prove similarly effective at protection at the cost of portability? With mere hours before heading to Utah, I had no time for deliberation.
As I said, the demo kit arrived the night before my flight and when I opened the box I was very pleasantly surprised. The kit contained both the Defender as well as the Commuter; both of which had a slim profile that brought the already slim iPhone 5 to a thickness not much larger than the iPhone 4 it replaced in a standard slim case. Score!
Both Otterbox cases offer 2 layer protections with a soft silicone wrap as well as a hard shell overlay. The Defender actually steps this up by incorporating raised rails around the scree, which itself benefits from a built-in screen protector. The Commuter does things a bit differently by including a protective film that applies directly to the phone screen. The Defender also comes equipped with a holster, which is nice for those of us who like to keep our phones clipped to our belt.
Since this flatlander was planning on bombing down the sides of mountains for the first time, I selected the slightly beefier Defender to accompany the iPhone 5 and I to Utah. While the belt clip holster worked out really well for cruising around town, it did prove a bit bulky for air travel. On the trails I found myself tossing the holster clip in favor of simply dropping the phone in a backpack or pocket, trusting that the case has the phone protected from whatever abuses it may be subjected to there. This probably sounds like I'm exaggerating but the Defender is so overbuilt that I began to fear a fall on that side would damage my body! Yea the phone would survive such a fall, your hip probably won't. How's that for a well-protected phone?
After returning home from the trip I decided to swap back out to the Commuter case and was pleased to discover that while it didn't offer quite as much screen protection, it still kept all the ports covered and sported a slightly slimmer profile.
Both cases are solid deals with only the types of drawbacks one can expect from learning to live with any new case. Both offer excellent drop, smash, impact, and dust protection. Neither one is listed as waterproof.
Otterbox has earned a reputation for offering quality products with spectacular protection abilities at good prices and the Defender and Commuter continue in this tradition for Apple's iPhone 5. These make for excellent gift ideas.
What: Otterbox Defender
Cost: About $50.00
Pros: Excellent protection, belt clip holster, built-in screen protector, built for abuse
Cons: A little bulky in comparison to its younger brother, not waterproof
What: Otterbox Commuter
Cost: About $35.00
Pros: A little thinner than big brother Defender, peel and stick screen cover, great protection for everyday use
Cons: Not waterproof, no holster, not designed to withstand full body hits