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Otterbox Defender for iPhone 4

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What's hot:Great protection, ports and controls accessible, and has a built-in stand.

What's not: Adds a significant amount of weight and size.  


Reviewed October, 2010 by Tom Slayton

Most phone cases favor form over substance, and are therefore, only useful for protecting your precious electronics from scratches, scrapes, and the occasional harsh language. In my line of work, I have no choice but to wear my phone in a holster on my hip where it is more than likely to be sent spinning to the ground now and then. Thankfully, Otterbox has heard my plea and has responded with their new and improved Defender case. The new version provides the same great protection as previous Defender models while substantially improving some key features. If you need a tough case, this one is worth a look.

otterbox defender iPhone 4 case

Size and Fit

The Defender, as expected, fits the iPhone 4 like a glove. The hard plastic case snaps-on tight, while the soft rubber portion secures firmly to it through a series of tabs and grooves. The end result is a very sturdy case that absolutely won’t open unless you want it to, and is unlikely to slip out of your hand. The production standards are extremely high with the Defender case for the iPhone 4, with every button, port, tab, and groove, lining up perfectly. It’s big, though, nearly doubling the thickness of the phone. For those who find the iPhone 4 to be a bit too diminutive, and a difficult thing to hold onto, this case adds enough bulk to fix that problem.

Features and Quality

The Defender case, while maintaining the same durability standards of previous versions, has improved substantially in a few key areas. As with last year’s model for the iPhone 3GS, all ports, buttons, and switches, are protected by the thick rubber cover, with the docking port and headphone jack receiving nice snug-fitting flaps. However, the current iteration has improved somewhat on the docking port cover by enlarging the accessible area to allow a greater variety of docking cables to fit. Previously, if you weren’t using an Apple cable, there was a pretty good chance it wasn’t going to fit.

otterbox defender iPhone 4 case

The second improvement is in the holster, and this one almost made me weep for joy. The 3GS version "secured" the phone with two small tabs that wore down each time you inserted/removed the phone. This meant that after the first week or so, the phone could be dislodged by a light breeze or even a stern look. The new holster, however, has a VERY sturdy retention system. It also sports a rotating belt clip so you can wear it horizontally. As an added benefit, the holster allows you to insert the phone facing out, and doubles as a hands-free stand for your iPhone.

Deals and Shopping:

Lastly, the Defender has a built-in screen protector. Being an avid gamer, I am generally quite suspicious of cases with screen protectors as I don’t like anything to get between my fingers and my phone. However, this one works very well. One word of advice, though; If you install the phone in the case and find that the screen appears to be plagued by oily patches where the protective cover comes in contact with the screen, try passing your Defender case through a puff of talcum powder or two before installation. I found this to completely resolve the issue. On a side-note, if you happen to own an Otterbox armband, this case will still work with it.



The Defender has a rugged, professional, all black appearance. While this is likely to please the largest number of buyers, I do miss the yellow/black case I had for my 3GS. The back of the case is nicely textured, and features cutouts for the camera, flash, and Apple logo (all protected by a clear plastic film, of course), while the front has a hard plastic bezel that provides great protection, but doesn’t get in your way if you are navigating toward the edges of your screen.


Otterbox’ Defender case for iPhone 4 provides excellent protection, and is packed with thoughtful design features. From the large cutout for the docking port to the highly versatile and secure holster, this case represents a significant leap forward from the 3GS model (which was already very good). I can personally attest that this case will protect your phone from short drops (Thanks to my son) as well as light moisture. If you need a rugged case, the Defender is hard to beat.

Pro: Hard case surrounded by rubber provides great protection from scuffs, scratches, light moisture, and short drops. Full access to ports and controls. Built-in screen protector. Sturdy holster holds phone securely, rotates, and functions as stand for hands-free viewing.

Con: Adds bulk and weight.

Price: $49.95

Web site:

otterbox defender iPhone 4 case



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