TL/DR: The new Defender for the 6+ is the same great product as I’ve used in the past, with only one very minor flaw. It’s well worth the money. 5 stars.
I’ve been a long-time user of Otterbox cases for my phones, ever since I left my Motorola Razor Dragon phone behind and got the iPhone 3GS. The latter has moved on as well, naturally, and now serves as a great USB jukebox in my car, though 32gb of music seems lacking now, somehow.
Recently, I upgraded to the iPhone 6+, like many other geeks I know. Some folks went with the 6, some stayed with their 5, but for me, the jump from the 4S to the 6+ was too much to resist. So naturally, when I shelled out $500+ for it (including shipping), I knew that I was going to be getting an Otterbox for it. Having literally shut an SUV back gate on my 4S phone when it was in the Otterbox and had it come out without so much as a scratch, getting another case was never a question. Seriously, metal met metal on that day, and I was sure I was going to be picking up pieces of my phone. Not so. I also knew that I’d be reviewing the new case here when I finally got the time.
I reached out to Otterbox to ask them if they had any preferred media that I use in my review (images, etc), and I was overjoyed to find out that they were going to be sending me a brand-new case for free to thank me for my loyalty and support of the company. They’re from my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado, too, so I may be a bit biased, but I was very surprised. Of course, I didn’t get to pick one of the cool customization options – I would’ve done the Deep Water Blue slipcover with the white shell – but free is a great thing, and I wasn’t about to argue the point. I was just excited to get this great new case for my huge new phone.
It’s a good thing, too, since with it’s monumental size difference compared to the 4S, I’ve dropped it several times. And that pained expression you get when you drop a piece of high-tech gadgetry? Yeah, I had that, right up until the point I saw the phone actually bounce because of the engineering on this case. There’s a new feel to the slipcover on this case that wasn’t there on previous versions. Whatever they changed, it was a good thing, though. I’d seen some slippage and eventually had to remove the slipcover and shell completely with my 4S cover after some hard use, but the new Defender case slipcover is still as tight-gripping as the day I unboxed it.
The new construction also works very well with the port/switch covers, making sure they get snugged down nice and tight, despite multiple opening/closing sequences. The buttons work great through the cover, and there’s no effect on sound that I could discover through multiple tests. The camera is clear on both sides, working just fine, and the other problem I had with the 4S case (the phone not recognizing when I removed it from my ear due to the sensor cutout at the top) has been nonexistent. The new design of the speaker/sensor cutout at the top of the case seems to have removed that problem completely, which is quite welcome.
Few cases are truly waterproof, and this one is no exception. I’ve spilled/dripped liquids of all kinds on it and had nary a problem with the phone. It cleans easily, and the slipcover doesn’t attract any grit or grime, being super-easy to clean. Lastly, the case doesn’t add much in terms of size to the phone, being a slimmer design than previous models. I can put this phone in my pocket (I’m a big guy with big pockets, so yeah, I can) and not worry about Bendgate.
The case for this phone is a bit cumbersome to install and remove, if only because the phone itself is huge. The case needs more clips than previous versions to hold itself together due to the increased real estate it’s protecting, and this means a little more finagling before you can get the phone out. The rubber slipcover’s tight seal is great 99% of the time, but it does make for getting the phone out of the case a little difficult. That said, why are you taking the phone out of the case in the first place?
The instructions that come included with the case for the belt clip – an accessory I don’t use – need to be a little clearer on how to use it as a stand. I eventually figured it out, but I was anxious at first, thinking I was going to break the clip before figuring out it was the stand and locks in at its most open position.
The last and only real grumble I have with the case is that the screen protector doesn’t quite meet the glass of the screen, leaving you to have to press through the plastic to touch the screen. Again, I’m sure this is a function of how much larger the screen is than previous models, but if I’m pressing the screen in/near the middle, it’s a noticeable amount of space difference.
The case is $70 + tax most everywhere (excepting deals you may find). Considering this is about 14% of the cost of the top-end phone model (with a 2-year contract), you’d be a fool not to get this case. Otterbox also has some of the best customer service I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with in my *mumble* years of retail experience.
The Bottom Line
The Otterbox Defender case is one of the most well-engineered and protective phone cases I’ve ever used. Buy it. Buy it now, before you drop your phone or your dog decides it makes a good chew toy (true story).