iphone 3G Otter Box review

The new iphone 3G is a pretty heavy piece of kit, I guess that’s because of the metal in the back which doubles as an antenna. It’s not a bad weight, actually it has quite a nice weight to it, like it was a quality piece of engineering, which I suppose it is.

Having dropped a few blackberries, which survived but came up looking pretty scratched and horrible, there was no way I wanted the new phone to look like that! I expect it would be a pretty ugly sight after skating a meter across concrete – that shiny metal/plastic/ceramic or whatever it is back wouldn’t look too flash, and that’s assuming the screen wouldn’t break, which is it likely too.

My phones usually get a beating and it’s a difficult pick between style and function. The overriding factor for the iphone is that it’s $1200 worth of phone and I tend to be a bit rough on them, experience has shown it’s a total pain in the ass being without your own phone while it’s being fixed.

I looked at a lot, and there is a bit around for the iphone, from film, light plastic, rubber through to leather. I got a plastic case but it just clipped on and didn’t really offer a lot of protection, it was really little more than a scratch guard against normal wear and tear, and it didn’t protect the screen.

Any case that is going to offer reasonable protection is going to bulk the phone up, so your iphone will go from looking sleek and cool, too looking, well, bulky and big – it is actually quite a big phone, it’s just the design that makes it look smaller than it is.

I discovered a few weeks ago that Otter Box were going to put out an iphone 3G cover – the ‘Defender’, so put my name down for updates and when it became available last week I ordered one. There was a bit of a problem with my credit card and address on the web ordering system (this is from the USA, not expansys) but the staff were really helpful and seemed to be up at all hours and sorted the order out and it arrived today.

The Otter Box comes in two parts, a hard plastic inner with a rubber ‘shell’. You peel the rubber off the inner case, clip it open, slip the iphone inside, clip it back together and pull the rubber outer back over.

The case is not water proof, it looks like it would be fine if it got splashed or rained on, but there’s no doubt if you dropped in down the toilet or in the river, it’d be goneski. It has dust guards on the ear piece and speakers, and flick up rubber covers for all the ports and the mute switch. There is a clear plastic cover and the screen works fine under it, although it seems to stick to the screen in spots which is a bit annoying and is my only gripe about the case. There may be some simple solution to this as it may be static or something.

The case itself has a seperate belt clip that is slots into (like the old 7290 series Blackberries had) so if you want to look like you have a massive PDA clipped onto your belt (which isn’t cool) you won’t be using that, unless you happen to be a cop or someone who already has a belt with gear on it, in which case this might be pretty trendy.

In a nod to people who feel the need to show other people they have an iphone, Otter Box have provided a window on the back so everyone can see the Apple logo, there is also a window next to it for the camera.

There’s no escaping that this case makes the phone bulky, but it isn’t any worse than my wallet. It has the look and feel of a ‘milspec’ case and while I’m not going to start throwing the phone around to test it, I’m sure if I drop the phone, it will survive in one piece. It’s not a major hassle to remove the case if you’re not going to need this level of protection.

In my opinion there’s nothing else like this on the market for the 3G iphone, and it’s no bulkier than some of the leather cases I looked at, but offers far more protection.

It will be available out in NZ at some point, but if you can’t be bothered waiting you can buy direct USD49.95 plus USD26 for freight to NZ from the USA.

Click here to buy one.

UPDATE, Well its still a damn good case, in fact, I haven’t taken it off. There’s only one gripe, I cannot get the earphone jack out without using something to pry it out. If you pull it out using the cord sooner or later it will break the wires, but I’ve found the car keys work just fine and you can flick it out with the end. This is probably partly to do with the fact that the plug is actually difficult to get out anyway, but the Otterbox has a small ‘rail’ that provides a surround for the rubber plug, and this makes it difficult to get a fingernail into the gap… maybe something that can be rectified in the next model? In the mean time the care keys are fine and it’s still the best case on the market!

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  1. Thanks for the review! Glad you’re enjoying the new iPhone 3G case. We will also be announcing a slim-fit, skin-like case for the 3G known as the Impact(TM) Series, coming soon!

    -Kristin Golliher
    PR Executive
    OtterBox

    • tf
    • September 15th, 2008

    “…I guess that’s because of the metal back which doubles as an antenna…”
    “…that shiny metal back wouldn’t look too flash…”

    Obviously you don’t own an iPhone 3G. Have you even seen one? The backs are clearly either white or black plastic.

  2. Hi TF,

    Yeah, I’m wrong I assumed it was metal because it felt like it, it’s get very cold from the airconditioning in the car in the cradle and I had read the antenna is part of the back of the phone. I had also seen that you can get the back coated in a harder material so I thought it meant it was metal, but as you have pointed it out I had a look, and it looks like there is a lot of debate about what it’s made of, but it’s not metal… so I was wrong. I should have clicked because I saw the blender thing well before I got the phone.

    • Dennis Mendiola
    • September 16th, 2008

    guys, i have had this case for a while. it really is perfect. i don’t mind the bulk because i am in the outdoors a lot and really can appreciate the protection it affords. one note, guys: many of you might see annoying air bubbles appear on the thin membrane cover. experts have suggested that you rub the iphone surface with the palm of your hand before installing, as this puts a thin layer of oil between the iphone screen and otterbox membrane cover. well, this is not a fix all solution. i installed a power support anti-glare screen protector on my iphone 3g, not for anything, but simpy so that i have the flexibility of using my iphone off the otterbox case and stil have some degree of protection. guess what? no more bubbles when i put it back in the otterbox case with the anti-glare screen attached. this one really works and makes the overall package look classy.

    • George
    • September 18th, 2008

    I also have this case. This is the best case for the iPhone bar none. It does an excellent job of protecting the iPhone. Their customer service is the best in industry.

    George

  3. We agree the OtterBox Cases are the best out there. My husband just got to try one of these out and really enjoys it. He always been into the techy things in life but never found a case that really protected his precious iphone until now. 🙂 Great Review
    Stop by and let us know what you think of his. 🙂

  4. I like the case EXCEPT for 2 issues;

    NO MATER WHAT I TRY I CANNOT GET RID OF THE AIR BUBBLES AND I DID PUT ON A SECONDARY ANTI GLARE SCREEN PROTECTOR AND THAT ONLY MADE IT WORSE.

    THE PHONE IS NOT HELD IN VERY WELL IN THE BELT CASE, IN FACT IT IS A VERY WEAK AND IT WOULD NOT TAKE VERY MUCH TO KNOCK IT OUT AND THEN YOUR IPHONE IS GONE. ONE CAN TAKE A HEAT GUN TO HEAT UP THE 2 PLASTIC WINGS THAT HOLD THE PHONE IN – PINCH THEM IN AND LET IT COOL. THAT DOES WORK TO INCREASE THE TENSION BUT ONE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT.

    OTHER WISE IT IS A FANTASTIC DESIGN BUT HOW DOES ONE RESOLVE THE ABOVE MENTION ISSUES WHICH TO ME ARE SIGNIFICANT.

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