iPhone Case Review: Otterbox Commuter Series

For my second review of an Otterbox iPhone case, I’m going to look at their Commuter series. Unlike the first Otterbox case I looked at, the Reflex series, the Commuter is made up of two parts, one that covers the other. First, you put a soft silicone protective layer, designed to absorb shocks, on the phone. Next, you place a harder, polycarbonate plastic shell over this, providing solidity and firmness, and holding the silicone layer in place. It takes a bit of work to get this to fit perfectly, but when it’s in position, you can barely tell that it is in two parts.

You can feel the difference in some locations, though, when holding the phone. There are several places where the hard plastic shell does not cover the silicone: over the volume buttons, on the top-left of the phone, and the same space on the right; and a small space on the bottom of each side.

I find that having the silicone present, especially at the top right, where I place my thumb when using the phone, helps keep it from slipping, and this is clearly designed for that purpose.

The back of the case has two openings: one for the camera and LED flash, and another to allow the Apple logo to be visible. I guess I’m not the average consumer, but I’d rather that the case cover the logo; I really don’t care if people see I’m using an iPhone, and a full back would make more sense to me (as on the Otterbox Reflex).

I have two bits of criticism for this case. First, the silicone bit that covers the dock connector at the bottom of the phone; it is a bit difficult to open while trying to connect a cable. But it does protect a sensitive part of the phone from any possible water, in case you’re using it outdoors. Second, the hard plastic shell doesn’t sit perfectly behind the volume buttons. In other words, there’s a bit of a rough edge where the shell doesn’t sit with the silicone correctly, as it does on the other side. At first, I thought I just didn’t get the shell on correctly, but when I looked closely, I could see that it just doesn’t fit perfectly. This doesn’t really affect usage, but it’s a tad uncomfortable when I hold the phone.

This case comes with a screen protector, which I’m not interested in using. Apple’s glass seems to be pretty scratch-proof (as I’ve seen over the years with other iOS devices), and since you only touch the screen with your finger, I think it’s superfluous. It’s nothing like the old Palm Pilot, with a plastic screen and stylus, that quickly got scratched.

All in all, this is an excellent case, offering full protection from shocks with a limited profile. (It weighs only 28 g.) With this on my iPhone, I feel that it is very secure. It takes a standard silicone protector and adds a hard shell, keeping the silicone in place, and providing an extra layer of protection.

Check out this and other Otterbox cases on the company’s website. I’ve got one other Otterbox case to review, their Defender model. I’ll be posting that review in a couple of days.

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