Otterbox Defender Case for iPhone Review: A great heavy-duty case

When you mention cases that offer serious heavy duty protection, the name synonymous amongst many iPhone users has been Otterbox. In our comprehensive Otterbox Defender case for iPhone review, we test how it performs in everyday duty. With a new iPhone, comes a new case from their Defender series. Does it live up to the heritage of being a case that is built to endure the worst of conditions? Let’s see!

At first glance, you might wonder how this all gets assembled to create a single case. If your Defender case came as one piece, you can use a fingernail to peal back the silicone layer. Actually, during my time with this case I found that trying pull upward works best.

otterbox defender case for iphone review

The Otterbox Defender is composed of two main parts. The iPhone 5 sits in a hard plastic shell. The back of your iPhone rests comfortably against a soft form insert that is glued to the inside backing of the plastic. Otterbox has a transparent circle that leaves the Apple logo permanently on display. The parts by themselves are somewhat flexible. Make no mistake, this is some serious hard plastic. If this were the only layer of defense, it would still be impressive.

Otterbox skeleton

The display is covered by hard plastic. You place the iPhone 5 face down, with the other half snapping on using two big clips and three other smaller clips. Once clipped together, it’s rather solid, but that’s only half of the case. Completing the Defender case is a flexible, yet very thick silicone layer that gets draped around the hard plastic component.

The silicone portion wraps neatly around the edges by pressing along the sides of the iPhone. Having used a number of cases that require assembly, this one ranks up among the very best. As mentioned earlier in the review, the resulting final product makes it difficult to discern that it is indeed comprised of two parts, a result of very good design and manufacturing.

Otterbox case review

Having all of these parts creates the sum that is excellent protection for your iPhone 5 against just about anything. It’s certainly not indestructible and isn’t waterproof like the Lifeproof. All of the ports are sealed including the Lightning, ringer switch and headphone jack. There are exposed openings for the speaker and the camera.

When making or receiving calls, I had no problems hearing callers, nor did they have an issue with hearing me. To access the Lightning and headphone jack, you have to pull back the silicone. Due to the thickness of the case, I had issues with two 3.5mm headphone cables used to connect my iPhone to my car. If you plan on picking up this case, be forewarned that not all audio cables will play nice with the Otterbox.

Otterbox side view

The plastic that covers the screen had very little, if any gap between the case and the display. Comparing to the Otterbox Defender for iPod touch 5G, the iPhone version wins hands-down. I didn’t experience any usability issues, though at times screen was tougher to see in bright sunlight, depending upon the angle of the iPhone.

Otterbox Defender Case for iPhone Review: Pros & Cons


  • Heavy duty protection
  • Great fit
  • High quality materials throughout
  • Excellent price to value ratio


  • Adds a fair amount of bulk
  • Not compatible with some aftermarket headphone adapters

If you work in an environment that is tough on phones or maybe you have little ones at home, a case offering heavy duty protection can save you from having to spend hundreds repairing a cracked screen. If you don’t mind the added bulk, the Otterbox Defender for iPhone 5 offers superior protection and offers tremendous value for around $30.

The OtterBox Defender for iPhone can be found at Amazon with prices starting at around $28.

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