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OtterBox iPhone 5s Case Review: Defender Series



The OtterBox iPhone 5s case is brand new for the iPhone 5s to support the Touch ID fingerprint sensor as well as the new gestures in iOS 7. Even if you have the iPhone 5, I recommend buying the iPhone 5s OtterBox case for the best iOS 7 ready rugged case.

There are many OtterBox iPhone 5s cases, but today we will look at the top end, Defender Series which offers the most protection and includes a belt clip holster option for users who need to carry the iPhone 5s on a belt, bag or securely in a pocket.

Read: Best iPhone 5s Cases

The Defender Series OtterBox iPhone 5s case delivers multiple layers of protection while still leaving access to the features iPhone owners want to use while keeping their device safe.

The OtterBox iPhone 5s case.

The OtterBox iPhone 5s case is designed to work with Touch ID.

The OtterBox iPhone 5s case includes a polycarbonate inner layer with a padded interior that clasps into place on the iPhone 5s. This includes a built-in screen protector that does not need applied with any solutions and does not impact the usability of the display. Next up is a silicone band that covers the back, edged and adds a bumper to the front to protect against drops. Users can then clip this into a belt holster if desired.

A small opening on the OtterBox iPhone 5s case lets users log in.

A small opening on the OtterBox iPhone 5s case lets users log in.

The iPhone 5 case fits the iPhone 5s, but it covers the home button, rendering Touch ID useless. The new OtterBox iPhone 5s case features a cutout for the home button, which allows users to maintain full use of the new iPhone. During my time using the new OtterBox iPhone 5s case this cutout works great for allowing access to the fingerprint unlock feature and it is much easier to use the Control Center on iOS 7.

Notice the new OtterBox iPhone 5s case features an open button design, compared to the iPhone 5 case.

Notice the new OtterBox iPhone 5s case features an open button design, compared to the iPhone 5 case.

OtterBox offers a lot of color choices for the iPhone 5s Defender Series case with eight outer color options and nine inner layer options ranging from black, white and gray to pink, blue, orange and yellow.

The OtterBox iPhone 5s case about doubles the thickness of the device, but it is still pocketable, and the added thickness does help prevent damage from drops and scratches from daily use. Small silicone flaps cover the Lightning port, headphone port and mute switch. They are easy to open for use, but some “L” shaped headphone connections will not fit in the small opening. Apple’s headphones and most with a straight connection fit fine.

OtterBox iPhone 5s Case Review - 4

I initially had a small gap on the iPhone 5s OtterBox Defender Series, down near the home button, but after massaging the silicone part into the inner part correctly it now offers a tight fit without any gap.

The speakers, sensors and microphones are not covered by the case in any way, so making calls, listening to music and taking photos or videos and similar activities are not affected.

Overall the OtterBox iPhone 5s case is one of the best rugged iPhone 5s case options available, and perhaps the only one that works with Touch ID at this point. Competing cases designed for the iPhone 5 still cover the home button, which removes one of the best iPhone 5s features.

OtterBox iPhone 5s Case Review - 1

The OtterBox iPhone 5s case Defender Series starts at $49.99 from OtterBox. Add $10 for color options. Many third-party retailers don’t sell the OtterBox iPhone 5s case yet, so if you order online or by locally, look for one with an opening on the home button.



  1. James

    09/23/2013 at 11:42 am

    The screen looks really bad! Built in screen protector no thanks.

    • Katie

      10/08/2013 at 9:43 pm

      No, my sister has that case and the screen looks fine. I think he just set down the lighting so he could focus more on the case.

  2. justabrake

    09/23/2013 at 12:02 pm

    Are you saying by using a 5 case on the 5s it’ll be harder to bring up the control center ?

    • Tyler

      09/24/2013 at 1:52 pm

      He’s saying the fingerprint sensor won’t work, but everything else is the same as the 5 in comparison to the 5s, so control center is the same.

    • Nick

      10/23/2013 at 7:15 am

      He means when you double click the home button, it bring up the control center. Because it’s cutout and there is no rubber covering, it is more sensitive and easier to double-click to bring it up.

  3. Rob

    09/23/2013 at 2:31 pm

    I will use my ibillfold2 credit card case and the wallet that goes with it thank you.

  4. sleepymu1

    10/15/2013 at 2:44 pm

    one question anyone pls? otterbox defender for the iphone 5. does it fit the new 5s an do i have to use the touch ID or can i use as i am now on iphone 5 please.

    no one seems to be able to answer straight this simple question. :) heeeeellllllllppppppp thankyou lol

    • Erick

      10/17/2013 at 7:19 am

      On iphone 5s you can turn it off or use passcode to unlock. It will fit the iphone 5s. The phone is the same size

  5. Michael

    10/25/2013 at 6:30 am

    Excellent review on iPhone 5s and Otterbox Defender case.


  6. Antonio Amadeo

    11/09/2013 at 4:17 pm

    The Defender for 5s is a total pain to get out of the case, and you can even get hurt trying to get it off the polycarbonte case. Not an easy taking out once is in the case. Do not recommend it for that reason.

  7. Guy Melanson

    02/18/2016 at 11:20 am

    The polycarbonte clip on my 5s case just broke only 6 months old. Had the clip replace twice on my series 4!
    Too bad the case is not the same quality of the original case of the series 4..

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