OtterBox iPhone 5 Defender Case Review

The OtterBox iPhone 5 case turns the easy to scratch iPhone 5 into a smartphone capable of holding up to drops and abuse.

The OtterBox Defender iPhone 5 case adds bulk to the slim iPhone 5 design, but for users takin the iPhone into construction sites, on duty as a police officer, or for camping or extreme sports, it’s the most protective iPhone 5 case available today.

OtterBox offers several iPhone 5 cases, the Defender is the toughest of the OtterBox iPhone 5 cases with two layers of protection and a built-in screen protector.

Read: Best iPhone 5 Cases

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The OtterBox Defender iPhone 5 case offers multiple layers of protection.

The outer silicon layer absorbs shock, while the in we hard plastic layer provides protection from drops. OtterBox claims the outer layer is stronger, so it will hold its shape over time.

Once in the case, the iPhone 5 becomes part of a larger protective case. The great build quality delivers a solid feel, as if the iPhone 5 becomes part of the case.

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The outer portion of the OtterBox iPhone 5 case is grip-able and includes a cutout for the Apple logo.

The rubber cover provides very good grip, allowing me to hold the iPhone 5 with one hand and still reach all corners of the screen. Some cases that add bulk to the iPhone 5, without adding grip, make it difficult to hang on to the phone while reaching the opposite corner.

The built-in screen protector keeps dust, dirt and debris from marring or scratching the iPhone 5’s display. This screen protector is attached to the case, so users don’t need to attempt a tricky install process. The screen protector left no bubbles, and it did not affect using the iPhone 5’s display.

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This iPhone 5 case includes a built-in screen protector.

The front of the includes a raised lip, to protect the phone if it is dropped without the optional holster in place, but the edges are slanted to provide access to the edges of the display. While typing in portrait or landscape, the space bar and other keys are easy to hit with the case on.

The OtterBox Defender iPhone 5 case is not waterproof, but there are port covers to keep dust and moisture out of the iPhone 5 connections. The mute switch is covered in a port cover as well.

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OtterBox iPhone 5 Defender case with port covers open.

OtterBox leaves a large opening for the iPhone 5’s cameras and for the new array of microphones. This allows construction workers, Police officers and other in the field workers to document and share conditions without pulling off a camera cover. The new microphone array allows Siri to function better in noisy environments, so users in the field can use Siri while keeping the iPhone 5 protected.

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The OtterBox iPhone 5 Defender case leaves openings for the camera, speakers and mics.

Even though the iPhone 5 is a slim 7.6mm, the resulting package is not thin. The iPhone 5 in the OtterBox Defender is twice as thick as the phone without a case, and the holster adds extra thickness. Because of the bulk, not everyone will want to use the OtterBox Defender as a daily iPhone 5 case, but users that plan to take the iPhone into harsh conditions know the added bulk is a small sacrifice for protection.

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The OtterBox iPhone 5 Defender Series includes a holster.

The included holster clips the iPhone 5 to a belt or pocket and offers added protection for the screen. The holster accepts the iPhone 5 in any direction, so there’s no fumbling with inserting the iPhone in the right direction. When placed on a table, the holster acts as a kickstand, propping the iPhone up in landscape mode for watching a video or making a FaceTime call.

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The OtterBox iPhone 5 Defender holster doubles as a kickstand.

Users looking for OtterBox protection in a slimmer package should check out the other OtterBox iPhone 5 cases, including the Commuter, Reflex and Prefix series.

The OtterBox Defender for iPhone 5 retails for $49.99 and is available at Verizon, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Amazon and direct from OtterBox. The case comes in a variety of colors from the black case reviewed to brighter pinks, purples, blues and greens. OtterBox also offers RealTree Camo iPhone 5 cases in pink and orange for $59.95.

OtterBox offers a one year warranty on cases. This doesn’t cover the iPhone inside, but if the OtterBox case or screen protector is damaged while protecting the iPhone, OtterBox will replace the case.