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Otterbox Defender iPad Case and Otterbox Commuter iPad Case

Editor's rating, Defender (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star
Editor's rating, Commuter (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
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Reviewed September, 2010 by Tom Slayton


The Otterbox Defender for iPad

For those who take their iPad to work in the field, the new Otterbox Defender case for the iPad is exactly what you will need for max protection. From our various case tests, the Otterbox Defender is, by far, the best protection you can (currently) find that still allows you to actually use your iPad. It’s true that it adds significantly to the size of your iPad, but if you need the protection, a little extra size/weight is a small price to pay.

Otterbox Defender iPad case

Size and Fit

The Otterbox Defender Series case fits like a glove. Actually, it’s more of a gauntlet than a glove. The hard plastic shell snaps together cleanly and the silicone covers it perfectly. The only challenge you might find is getting the tabs on the silicone cover to fit completely into their associated slots in the plastic cover. If you encounter this issue, just run your fingers around the bezel firmly for the first few days to help them work all the way in. Ultimately, it settled into a perfect fit.

Otterbox Defender iPad case

Features and Quality

The Defender does not simply achieve its level of protection through brute force. It is also extremely well-made with high quality materials. The plastic shell is rigid and sturdy while the silicone cover is thick and generous. All of the buttons are accessible through the cover while the headphone port is covered by a flap. The most innovative feature of this case is the presence of a slide-out panel at the base of the unit. While in place, the docking port is completely protected (although there are holes for the speaker grills). Slide it out, however, and you not only have instant access to the port, but also enough room on the bottom to dock it with Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock and other iPad accessories that use the dock connector. If you like to use a stand for your iPad, like me, fear not. The Defender is not so large that it won’t fit on my much-loved Griffin A-Frame. While it is common for manufacturers to design their products to accommodate their own accessories, Otterbox deserves special kudos for going the extra mile to bring a product to market that works with as many accessories as possible.

Otterbox Defender iPad case

Deals and Shopping

Lastly, the case not only comes with a silicone screen protector, but also a highly innovative, hard plastic screen cover. Now I can just snap on the cover and leave my dorky neoprene netbook sleeve at home. This, however, is not the innovative part. Hidden inside the screen cover is an iPad stand that pops seemingly out of nowhere. It’s stable and very functional, right down to the little rubber feet on the outside that you don’t even notice until you realize that your iPad is not sliding around your desk while using it.


At first glance, you might think that Otterbox has sacrificed style for functionality. However, after spending some time with it, you will realize that rugged is its own style, and in Otterbox’s ultra-protective tradition. There are some nice touches in this otherwise very rugged-looking case. For instance, there is a round cutout on the back of the unit so the Apple logo is clearly visible. More importantly, though, this cutout is covered by a thick piece of clear plastic, which tells its users that the Defender Series cases do not sacrifice functionality for style. We would love to see the option to purchase different colored silicone covers, however.  


Otterbox Defender iPad case


Otterbox’s Defender iPad case is THE case to use if you need real protection for your iPad. The combination of plastic and silicone, the snap-on screen cover with built-in stand, and all the thoughtful design decisions make this a first-rate product, and the first iPad cover that I truly love. While it will add some size and weight to your iPad, that is simply the tradeoff for real protection.

Pro: This case is TOUGH! Finally, you can whip your iPad out just about anywhere (except underwater) and be confident that it’s well protected. The easily removable front cover also doubles as a stand (complete with little rubber feet). Full access to buttons and headphone jack. A slide-out panel at the bottom gives you access to your docking port only when you need it. Did I mention that this case is tough?

Con: This case is HEFTY. It will add significantly to the size/weight of your iPad.

Price: $89.95

Web site:


The Otterbox Commuter for iPad

Otterbox’s new iPad Commuter Series Case provides substantial protection without adding a lot to the iPad’s size and weight. The silicone portion of the case provides good shock absorption, while the ballistic portion will guard against bumps, scratches, and scrapes. The inclusion of an electrostatic screen protector is a nice bonus if you’re into them, but the design decision to put the silicone on the inside and the plastic on the outside makes my hand sweat just thinking about it.

Size and Fit

The Commuter Case fits the iPad perfectly, as you would expect from Otterbox. Considering how much protection it provides, it’s surprising that it doesn’t add a great deal of size or weight to the iPad. They seem to be going for that sweet spot between protection and style (partially plagiarized from the description on the box) and for the vast majority of iPad users, they have succeeded.

Otterbox Commuter iPad case
Deals and Shopping

Features and Quality

The Otterbox Commuter Series case is a high quality, no-nonsense iPad case. As the name implies, Commuter Series cases are targeting those who stuff their iPads into backpacks and/or briefcases on a daily basis, yet aren’t likely to expose it to truly adverse conditions such as using it in construction sites, factory floors or even a war zone.

This case, along with the included electrostatic screen cover, will most likely provide you with all the protection you need without turning your iDevice into a brick. As with the Defender Case, Otterbox Commuter case has included a handy slide-out panel on the lower rear portion of the case that gives you full access to the docking port. A VERY nice feature, if you are tired of taking it in and out of the case to use the dock connector. The volume buttons and the power switch are fully covered by the silicone; however the headphone jack and the orientation lock are not. Keep this in mind as you subject your iPad to various forms of inclement weather. The only thing we didn’t like about this case was the fact that the silicone cover is installed underneath the hard plastic shell. This design decision makes the iPad slippery, a major inconvenience for those who use their iPad on the go.

Otterbox Commuter iPad case


The Otterbox Commuter Series case is a no-nonsense case. If you have ever used an Otterbox case before, you should know by now that their obvious first priority is to protect your gear, seeking style only when it does not compromise their desired level of protection. And for those who need serious protection for their gear as most Otterbox users do, this is a good thing. The Commuter looks simple and slim by Otterbox case standards, and it looks well built. Like with the Defender series cases, we wish there were more color options.


Otterbox’s Commuter case is great for almost everybody who hauls their iPad to work. It provides real protection for your device without adding a significant amount of size and weight. The choice to put the ballistic plastic on the outside makes it more precarious to hold, but it also dresses the case up a bit. While the level of protection that the Commuter provides is unlikely to cause you to toss your iPad across the room, it will give you the confidence to actually use it in a real-world setting without holding it like it’s laced with nitroglycerin.

Pro: Seeks to straddle the line between style and protection; and for the most part, succeeds. A nifty slide-out panel allows the iPad to use Apple’s Keyboard Dock, among others, without removing the case. A combination of silicone and ballistic plastic means you’re better protected than most. Doesn’t add a great deal of bulk to your iPad.

What’s Not: The silicone part of the cover fits inside the plastic part, not the other way around.

Price: $64.95

Web site:



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