iPhone 5(s) and SE

Otterbox Preserver Case for iPhone 5S


The Otterbox Preserver case for the iPhone 5S is a pretty good case. If you’re looking for a case that provides shock and water protection on a day to day basis, doesn’t diminish the quality of your iPhone screen and allows you to use your Touch ID sensor without any issues, than the Otterbox Preserver is for you.

So the Otterbox Preserver case for the iPhone 5S is one of the first few cases on the market that offers full rugged protection that allows access to the Touch ID sensor of the iPhone 5S. This is our second Touch ID enabled case that we’ve reviewed with the first one being the LifeProof Fre. Given that Otterbox owns LifeProof, we were wondering if Otterbox was just going to re-label the Fre’s as Otterbox cases. To our relief, they did not.

However, our first Otterbox Preserver case for iPhone 5S, we’ve discovered a fatal flaw with the sound coming from the ear piece speaker. The case severely mutes the sound making it hard to hear incoming calls. Even with this sound issue we give this case a score of 4.1 Eh’s? out of 5

UPDATE: The Otterbox Manufacturer has send us a replacement case. We must give praise to the Customer Service department, as the entire interaction was great, pleasant and very quick. Our new case arrived 2 days after our conversation with Otterbox. The new score is 4.2 Eh’s? out of 5 and we are happy to say that the Otterbox Preserver waterproof iPhone 5S case is one of the best rugged cases that is Touch ID compatible.


Otterbox is a company that makes a lot of accessories for mobile devices. We’ve done several reviews of cases and they don’t always come out on top. Our Otterbox Armor for the iPhone 5 was a bit of a train wreck but the Otterbox Defender for the iPhone 5S did very well so we didn’t have huge expectations for the Otterbox Preserver.

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According to Otterbox manufacturer, this case is submersible to 6.6ft (for 30 mins), drop proof from 6.6ft. The case is made from a polycarbonate shell, cushioning foam and overmolded synthetic rubber. It is not a bulky case, tapered back element creates the feel of a slim design when case held in hand. The case included a wrist strap that can be attached to the case.

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Our Eh? Rating system comprises of three categories which are Design, Protection and Functionality. These categories basically answer the questions:

– Does the iPhone case look ok?
– Will it keep my iPhone safe?
– Can I use you iPhone in the case?

For more Otterbox iPhone 5S cases – Click Here:  Otterbox iPhone 5S Cases

The Design Category comprises of three scores which are weight/bulk, ease of installation and build quality.

In terms of weight and bulk, the Otterbox Preserver case for iPhone 5S is lighter than it looks. Putting the tough case beside the iPhone 5S and you’ll notice that it’s more than twice as thick as the iPhone. However, this thickness is not constant through the entire case as the majority of the back is tapered so you don’t really notice that extra thickness.

Protect your smartphone with an OtterBox!

Installation of the case is fairly simple. There is a notch in the top right corner of the case that you pry back with your finger or with a coin. Once the case is apart, you put your iPhone into the front of the case and snap the front and back of the cases together. The back of the case has six contact points and Otterbox says that proper installation requires that the bottom points be snapped first, followed by the top and then the ones in the middle.

As with any waterproof case installation, make sure you normalize the pressure between the inside and outside of the case. This is needed to ensure that all the features of the case have the proper contact with the iPhone.

We were very impressed with the build quality of the case. The shape of the case didn’t deform through the various installs/uninstalls that we’ve done and the drop tests didn’t scar the case much. With the Preserver case for the iPhone 5S, Otterbox has found the perfect blend of rubbery/grippy parts to ensure that you can easily slide the case into a pocket easily without having it being caught on anything.

Cell Phone accessories 80%

In order to test the protection of this case, we have to put one of our iPhones into harms way and we do this because we can’t justify recommending a product that we haven’t personally tried to break.

For protection, we did a drop test and a water test. For the drop test, we “accidentally” dropped our Otterbox Preserver case from 3 ft, 5 ft and 6ft and the case stayed together. There was no visible damage to the iPhone.

Otterbox Preserver Case with Touch ID – Drop Test – iPhone Cases

We took it one step further and decided to pit the rugged iPhone case against concrete, ice, a railroad track and a snow pack in a drop test that resembled more like a person skipping a rock into a lake. We will mention that the case that come apart but it didn’t let the iPhone out.

In terms of water protection, we took the Otterbox Preserver for the iPhone 5S snorkelling. The case is only waterproof to 6.6 ft for 30 mins so we didn’t try to go down as far as we could but the iPhone did sit in the case for a good hour while we filmed this turtle that decided to take a leisurely swim in the area that we were snorkelling in.

Otterbox Preserver Case with Touch ID – Water Test – iPhone Cases 

In terms of screen protection, between the drop test and wateriest, we didn’t notice anything different with the screen protector. The Otterbox Preserver has a thicker screen protector than other cases and the edges of the case are a little higher than most which provides a bit more clearance when/if you drop the case face first.

The final category is Functionality and it’s where the one fatal flaw of this cases exists. Within the Functionality category, there are four scores which are handling/usability, screen usability, screen view-ability and attachments.

The fatal flaw exists in the usability/handling of the actual case. The Otterbox Preserver severely mutes the sound coming from the ear piece speaker on the iPhone 5S. It mutes it to the point that the taking calls with the case is almost impossible. Now, we hope that this fatal flaw is a manufacturing defect and not a design flaw and by the time you’re read this  review, we hope to have received a replacement case from Otterbox.

UPDATE: The replacement case has arrived! The ear piece sound issue is not present. Woohoo! There is still some sound quality degradation, this is quite common with all rugged, tough iPhone cases. Mostly the sound creates vibration and the speaker sounds a bit staticky. This is still an issue in terms of pure sound quality, yet much better then our original Otterbox Preserver protective iPhone case.

Otterbox Preserver Case – Ear Piece Speaker ISSUES – iPhone Cases

All the buttons of the iPhone 5S are easily accessible through the Preserver and accessing the hardware parts is as simple as pulling the latches apart at the bottom of the case. We did notice that the latches do put a bit of pressure on the actual cables but during our review period, none of our cables broke. Sound coming from the speakers are actually louder (they do say that the case is acoustically engineered to improve the sound coming form the case).

Out of the 4 TouchID compatible rugged cases that we’ve used up to this point, the Otterbox Preserver comes out on top. If you’re really enjoying unlocking your iPhone 5S with a finger and you’re looking for rugged protection, this iPhone case might be for you. Touch ID is a pretty solid feature in the iPhone 5S and Otterbox Preserver allows you to use the feature like the case wasn’t there.

For the screen usability, we didn’t’ have any trouble registering our fingers and most styluses with the screen protector. The edges of the case are tapered enough that you can still access the letters “q” and “p”.

The view ability of the iPhone screen through the screen protector is very good. In fact, its one of the better screen protectors that we’ve encountered during our iPhone case reviews. The glare coming off the case is almost minimum and it doesn’t scatter any of the light which ends up in a rain bowing effect on the case.

With all things considered, the Otterbox Preserver is a very good case. And with the fatal flaw with the muting of the ear piece speaker fixed, we might crown this the best rugged case that’s Touch ID compatible.

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