Ever since getting my iPhone back in July, I’ve wavered over getting a full on case. The antenna PR debacle caused Apple to give cases away for free and I chose the minimalist Apple branded iPhone Bumper. It has been alright but hasn’t held up terribly well. It also does nothing to protect the back glass from impact. Recently my resident 14 year-old scraped the money together to obtain his own iPhone 4 and bought a new case with his birthday loot. The case impressed me enough that I bought one.
I was initially skeptical at the idea of an Otterbox since the company is best known for their indestructible but very large cases for iPhones. Turns out the OtterBox iPhone 4 Commuter Case isn’t very large at all. The case comes in 2 pieces and includes a screen protector. The screen protector is the usual stick on sort that requires plenty of fiddling to get the bubbles out from underneath. Once on, though, it’s one of the better screen protectors that I’ve seen and is effectively invisible.
The case itself consists of 2 components. One, a silicone case, fits easily over the iPhone 4. The other component is a hard plastic shell that wraps around the sides of the silicone encased iPhone. This creates what is both a cushiony silicone case and ads some nice hard protection around the edges and back glass.
Once snapped together, the iPhone is fully protected with flap type covers for the audio and dock ports. Only the speakers and mute switch remain exposed. There are silicone actuators over the volume control and power buttons.
The case itself is a snug fit and works well. It doesn’t increase the size of the iPhone overly which on a device with a shape and size like the iPhone 4 is a big deal. It’s much too easy for a case to change the way the device feels in the hand and make it too big to comfortably fit in a jeans pocket.
The Otterbox Commuter is available with either a white or black silicone core and a variety of colored plastic shells. My son originally obtained the black on black Commuter which is quite handsome. I opted for the red on black Commuter just to easily tell my iPhone apart should they both get set together on a table or counter top.
Long term durability is, of course, an open question but given the reputation that Otterbox has for indestructibility and the seeming solid construction of this case, I have no doubt that the Otterbox Commuter will live out the iPhone’s contract lifetime.
Good case, solid buy.
Case mods:You’ll probably note in the case pictures above that there is no flap to cover the dock connectors though I specifically mentioned one in my review. That’s because we removed that flap from both of these Otterbox Commuters since it interfered with the dock connector over the Sony clock radios where the iPhones spend their nights recharging. This mod was done easily with a hobby knife using the edge of the plastic shell as a guide. The result is seamless and makes a fair compromise of convenience over a small amount of added protection.