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Review: Otterbox's Commuter Model iPhone Case

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (3 Reviews)


Otterbox Defender iPhone 5s

The Bottom Line

Getting an Otterbox iPhone case is a smart idea. It protects your phone and keeps it looking good without adding significant weight or bulk. Though the silicone flaps can get in the way when you want to plug in your earphones or charging cord, it's a minor nuisance most of the time as is the initial struggle to get the silicone mid-layer to match up right with the polycarbonate shell. In general terms though, the Otterbox Commuter case for the iPhone is easy to use, with quick access to most all of your needed buttons and features, and the overall protection it brings to your phone makes it a smart choice.

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  • Great protection for your iPhone device
  • Slim and lightweight design
  • Open access to camera
  • Guards against bump and shock, as well as damage to your screen and case
  • Ready access to all side button features


  • Not waterproof
  • Flaps allowing access to charging port and earphone plug can get in the way.
  • Silicone mid-layer and outer shell are sometimes difficult to get right fit.


  • Layer 1: Self-adhering clear protective film with included cleaning cloth
  • Layer 2: Durable shock-absorbing silicone mid-layer
  • Layer 3: One piece custom molded polycarbonate shell protects against the rough stuff

Guide Review - Review: Otterbox's Commuter Model iPhone Case

Otterbox makes a series of protective cases for iPhones. This is a tricky business. Just like you can't eat a cupcake if it's locked up in a safe, for an iPhone, these types of cases have to strike the right balance between protection and accessibility to your device. Sure, you could keep your phone safe by wrapping it in bubble-wrap and packing it into a moving box, but how would you then answer when Grandma calls?

Enter the Otterbox iPhone case. Somehow it manages to walk the fine line between protecting your iPhone, yet still leaving all of the features and buttons available to you. This isn't necessarily a bike-specific case, but a good idea nonetheless because of the protection it offers from shock and wear. Plus, you know if you ride your bike and carry a phone for any length of time, sooner or later you will drop your phone.

Otterbox has three different protective cases for the iPhone, including the Commuter, which is the one we tried out. With three layers of protection, it guards your phone against bump and shock (i.e., dropping your phone on the ground) as well as deterioration to the screen or case from simple wear. This case is the middle issue of the series, a bit stouter than the lightweight Impact, but somewhere below the heavyweight Defender model, which offers the most protection of all. From my perspective, this is the right blend of lightness and sleek design without giving up too much protection.

Putting the case into action is fairly simply. Just follow along with the illustrated directions for installation if the self-adhering clear protective film that protects your screen, the silicone mid-layer for cushioning and then the custom molded polycarbonate shell. You may have to work a bit to get the shell to fit just right over the silicone mid-layer as I did, but once it's in place, you're set.

Speaking of the silicone mid-layer, the only time you'll find the case a nuisance is when you want to get at either the charging slot or want to plug your earphones in. The flaps that are designed to keep moisture and dust out are unavoidable there too, when you want to plug something in, though it doesn't take long to become nimble at moving them out of the way.

All-in-all, that's the only drawback, and it's certainly a minor one. The case is smartly-designed and it protects your phone well, while adding barely any bulk or weight to your device.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
Otterbox...Why bother?, Member Suzyrosehopper

My otterbox encased my iPhone4S but the opening where you place your ear to listen caused a sensitive spot so when I dropped the phone and hit near that opening, the entire glass front shattered...The otterbox did not break but having it on my phone caused the phone to break. Go figure. I thought the idea was to protect the phone and be covered in the event of damage. Not so. The phone damage is not the problem of otterbox. They will cover otterbox damage only. How silly is that for a $50 case that everyone believes protects the phone. Don't waste your money.

6 out of 12 people found this helpful.

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