I’ve been a big supporter of Otterbox for over a year now. I had one on my 3GS (& still do.) And it has “saved my life” on multiple occasions. When Best Buy received them today, I immediately grabbed one off the shelf and bought it. Looking at it, I realized it added some great features, but it also seemed to retrograde other features.

 

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Some of the cool “added feature” via the Otterbox website:

– Coating on outside of touch screen membrane resists finger prints
– Fine interior texturing of touch screen membrane eliminates static, bubbles and “oil slick” appearance
– Inner felt liner cushions your device
– Textured silicone exterior for improved grip
– Included holster holds device face in or face out
– Completely re-designed holster for stronger hold on device
– Holster doubles as a stand for hands-free media viewing
– Case accommodates most 3rd party chargers

While these feature are great, I feel that this version of the Otterbox has retrograded compared to the defender case for the iPhone 3G & 3GS.

The Protection

One of my favorite things about the Otterbox defender 3GS case, is the fact that it literally seals in the iPhone into the case and helps prevent liquid damage (I’ve dropped it in a puddle, spilled diet coke on it, etc.) The only place it isn’t sealed off – is at the speakers. However, there are foam rings around the ports to prevent debris from getting into the inside of the case.

On the new iPhone4 case, this isn’t the case, actually far from it. Is still has the plastic screen protector & the Apple-logo plastic protector. However above the screen protector, are 3 holes for the speaker, the sensors, & the front-facing camera. The sensors & the camera have plastic protectors covering them, but the speaker is not? I don’t understand this at all. Why even have the covers on the nearby sensors?
On the iPhone 3GS case, it has a type of tough paper over it that allows sound to get though, but keeps splashes from getting in. It’d make sense if they added the foam ring around it, but there’s nothing.

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Looking at the bottom of the case, you can see where the speakers go, but on this case, they do not have foam rings around them. To make things worse, when removing the Sync/power port cover, you”ll notice that this is one large hole in the bottom of the case. I believe they did this in order to allow for 3rd party adapters to fit, but to me, this is a big “no no” in protecting my iPhone4

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On the back of the iPhone4, both the holes in the case for the light & the camera do not have protective plastic covers. I can understand this for the light as it could cause a reflection back into the lens of the camera, but the camera? Come on! Every camera I have has some sort of protective lens on it.

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Lastly, but not least, on the top of the case, where the headphone jack is, there is a silicone plug, but it has a hole it WTH? Seriously? WHY EVEN PUT A RUBBER PLUG HERE?!? I realize the hole is for the noise canceling feature on the iPhone4. I really feel like I’d be funneling dirt & debris into the inside of the case. I mean, I could just pop open the silicon plug to use that feature if I wanted to…

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One of the reasons I initially got the Otterbox was because I wanted to keep from splashing water in the headphone jack (I used to use a trimmed down foam ear plug), but now it seems they have somewhat done away with it, this is super frustrating to me!

On the inside of the case, namely the back side, it is lined in a felt-like fabric to help protect the back of your iPhone4 from being scratched (honestly I recommend adding a ZAG protector to all the sides of your iPhone, except the screen (mainly because I don’t like the feel of it on my screen when it’s in it’s birthday suite.)

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Holster

The holster has greatly improved in this model (thank God for something improving…) Also they redesigned it so that you can natively have the case in the horizontal position, unlike the 3GS case, which sits natively in the vertically position. Also it seems that it has a really good grip on the iPhone4 whether it is facing inwards (my preference) or outwards.

Just like in the other iPhone cases, the holster can also act as a stand, just much better so in the horizontal position (much sturdier on it’s side in this version)

Some people might remember when the iPhone 3GS Otterbox case first came out, it created a bubble/oil-like look on the screen unless you added an anti-glare screen protector to your iPhone, well this seems to have been taken care of in this version. (Yay!)

Weight

I had heard that the case was “sleeker & lightweight” compared to its predecessor. This is true, but I think they have greatly sacrificed some of the protection for the weight on the case. The silicone sleeve is dramatically thinner around the ports, however around the rest of the case it is the same as before. The thicker port covers were nice as the sealed easily even if they were partly pushed in. On this new case, the silicon is much thinner and quite hard to push into the ports for a good seal.

The “Feel”

Overall the feel of the silicone sleeve has been textured for better grip. I really like this. It’s not too much that it sticks to the inside of your pants pocket, but it feels good in your hand and gives me a little more confidence that I won’t accidentally chunk it across the room.

Overall

Even with all of these issues, I’m still slightly confident that this case can protect the iPhone4 from the occasional drop, for the clumsy, people that have need for the protection – film sets, construction sites,fire fighters, etc, this still seems to be the best case for you. I just hope they make another “more protective” case. Mind you I paid less than the retail cost (which is $49.95) for this case & I’m bummed about it. That’s not good. Not good at all.

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I remember checking their site a few months ago to see if they were going to have a case for the iPhone4 and a “Coming Soon” note stated something like ‘Great cases take time to design & create’- this is true. I just wish they had taken longer… I would have expected these features on the commuter case series, but the defender? Not at all, I’m not impressed. I literally looked back at the packaging to make sure I didn’t pick up the wrong case in my haste. I’m rather bummed about this case. I could be proven wrong. I guess time will tell. :-(