Is there anything new with this case? Find out in our Otterbox Defender Review for the iPhone 6
During our testing period for the iPhone 6 Otterbox Defender Review, we discovered a couple of issues with accessing your iPhone inside the case, it really bulky but offers decent access to your iPhone when it’s installed in the case.
We do have to give Otterbox props though as our cases were at our desks a couple of days before the iPhone 6 went on sale so if you were proactive enough, you could have picked up a Otterbox Symmetry, Commuter or Defender. I will give you guys a quick comparison between these three Otterbox cases after we go through the guts of our Defender review.
Based on our time with this case, we gave it a score of 3.4 Eh’s out of 5. The Otterbox Defender is an average protective iPhone 6 case.
- Offers decent access to your iPhone 6
- Offers better protection than the Otterbox Symmetry and Commuter
- Feels well-built (*see potential problems)
- Dust/Debris protection isn't great
- Buttons on iPhone 6 are hard to get at
- Slightly more complicated to install than other cases
- Adds quite a bit of bulk to the iPhone 6
- Rubber covering may stretch over time. We've seen this happen on our iPad mini and iPhone 5/5S cases
- No seals/membranes around the camera areas mean that dust/debris can be trapped between the case and iPhone resulting in a little bit of damage
- Otterbox Defender will more than double the thickness of your iPhone 6
Ease of installation (3.5/5):
- Taking the case apart is a hassle. We recommend that you don't cut your finger nails before trying to uninstall the case
- Comes in three parts
Build Quality (5/5):
- The materials of the Defender do feel top notch
- The rubbered shell reduces the chance that the case is going to slip out of your hand - Screen protector doesn't get scratched up from general usage
- The case feels well built BUT Defenders are known to stretch out over time
Shock Protection (2.5/5):
- Otterbox doesn't explicitly state that what the drop rating is on this case whereas everybody else does
- We are assuming a 6.6 ft drop rating
- Water/Dust Protection (1.5/5):
- The Otterbox Defender is not waterproof
- Doesn't protect the sound ports/headphone jack from dust
- Doesn't prevent dust from entering camera cutouts on the front/back of the case
- Lightning port is fully protected
- Screen Protection (4/5):
- Thick plastic screen protector
- Substantial edge (1/4 inch) provides decent clearance for the iPhone touchscreen
iPhone Functionality (4/5):
- Power and volume buttons are difficult to get to
- Easy access to hardware ports
- Sound is not effected by the Otterbox Defender
- Touch ID membrane works
- No noticeable iPhone signal loss
- Screen Usability (3.5/5):
- A small gap between the screen protector and touchscreen
- Reduces the sensitivity of the screen a little bit
- Plastic edge around the Touch ID sensor may get in the way of accessing your control panel
- Screen Viewability (4/5):
- Screen protector doesn't sit flush on the screen which results in a increase in glare and multiple reflections
- Small dots are noticeable on the screen protector if you look hard enough
Design – Yep, we’ve definitely seen this case before
In terms of design, the Otterbox Defender is a fairly bulky case especially when compared to the slimness of the iPhone 6. Using the iPhone 6 with one hand has become difficult to the increase in size but with Otterbox Defender installed, its close to becoming impossible. On the flip side, if you drop it, the Otterbox Defender will protect your iPhone 6.
Installation of the case requires you to snap two polycarbonate pieces together and pack the rubber shell into a ridge on the front housing. Installation isn’t a big hassle but taking the case apart will require the use of your uncut fingernail to easily pry the rubber shell out of the ridge.
In terms of build quality, the Defender for the iPhone 6 feels like a well-built product. It feels very solid but from our experience with the Defender for other devices, we know that the rubber shell will stretch out over time and the port covers may break off after extended use.
Protection – Your iPhone 6 in a Defender isn’t going to fair much better than a naked iPhone 6 against water and dust
In terms of protection, the Otterbox Defender will perform poorly in terms of water/dust protection. There are no seals or membranes to keep out water/dust so the Defender basically offers the same amount of water/dust protection is a naked iPhone 6. We will note that dust/debris can be easily trapped between the case and iPhone so if you’re not diligent in cleaning out the case regularly, your iPhone might become damaged.
For shock protection, Otterbox doesn’t tell us if the Defender is rated to any Mil-Spec so we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it will protect your iPhone from 6.6 ft drops. The Defender offers two layers of protection for your iPhone so it will definitely protect it from every day bumps and drops.
The screen protector on the Otterbox Defender feel fairly thick and if its similar to the screen protector on the iPhone 5/5S cases, it will provide decent screen protection.
Functionality – Getting to your iPhone 6 through the Otterbox Defender isn’t a problem
The biggest complaint about the case in our Otterbox Defender review involves with how tough it is to access the volume and power buttons on your iPhone 6 through the defender. From our review period, we found that it required quite a bit of effort to press the buttons especially when holding the iPhone 6 in one hand.
Other than that, getting to the hardware ports is pretty simple with the defender, sound isn’t muted (since they’re not covered with anything), the Touch ID membrane is pretty decent and our cell signal wasn’t affected.
For the screen usability, there is tiny gap so it does reduce the sensitivity of the touchscreen a bit. For most people, this shouldn’t be a problem but the edges right below the bottom of the iPhone’s touchscreen did get in the way of accessing the control panel every once in a while.
The screen protector on the Defender doesn’t sit quite flush on your iPhones screen so there is a tendency for reflected objects to have two reflections which adds to the minimal glare that comes off the screen. This will hamper the use of your iPhone 6 in the sun.
All in all, the Otterbox Defender is an average tough/protective case for your iPhone 6. It will protect your iPhone 6 from daily bumps and drops but don’t forget to clean it every once in a while.
Between the Symmetry, Commuter and Defender, we like the Symmetry the most. It’s the best built case out of the three but is a bit bulky for our liking as a slim case. The Otterbox Commuter is a poorly built case that we wouldn’t recommend to anybody. Between the Symmetry and Defender, you’re getting almost as much protection with the Symmetry (with screen protector installed) when compared to the Defender and it will wear better over time.
I’m a little annoyed with the Otterbox Defender because it is literally a direct copy of the Defender for the 5/5S that’s fitted to the 6. With every iteration of a product, a company has the opportunity to innovate/improve on their products. With the Defenders, nothing has changed. It’s still provides poor water/dust protection when compared to other cases and the rubber shell will mostly like stretch out over time.