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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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iPhone Case Review: Otterbox Reflex Series

I recently wrote about the first iPhone case I tried, the Speck Candyshell. Today I’m going to discuss another, similar case, the Otterbox Reflex Series. Like the Candyshell, this is a light case that protects the iPhone’s body, and which is designed essentially for shock protection.

According to Otterbox:

Surrounding each device with a cushion of air, the Reflex Series flexes upon impact and rebounds to its original form. Focused on protecting the occupant, just like the crumple zone of a car, this case not only takes a hit but recoils and springs back, ready to protect again and again.

This case doesn’t have rubber inside its hard plastic shell, but protects the iPhone by having extra space. It is as light as the Candyshell – only 27 g – but has an interesting particularity: it is in two equal parts. You slide the phone into one part, then slide the other part on the phone, and they snap together.

In the first place, this makes the case a lot easier to put on and off the iPhone, if you want to do so. But the main reason for this is so you can take the bottom part off of the iPhone to place it into a dock. While there is a space sufficient to connect Apple’s dock connector cable, if you want to put the phone in a dock, you need the bottom to be naked.

I don’t put my iPhone in a dock, and this is probably less common now with over-the-air Wi-Fi syncing, but many people still use docks to connect to audio playback devices. If that’s the case, this is an extra reason to buy the Otterbox Reflex Series case.

Aside from that, the protection is similar to the Candyshell. I was initially worried that the two parts of the case would come apart easily, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, the ability to take the case off so easily has me preferring this case; for now.

Check out this and other Otterbox cases on the company’s website. They sent me another model that I’ll review soon.

If you’re a vendor who makes iPhone cases, feel free to contact me (there’s an e-mail link in the sidebar to the right). I’d be happy to mention any cases I receive that I like.

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iPhone Case Review: Speck CandyShell

As I mentioned recently, I’m new to the iPhone party. And I’m not going to take a €629 device and just stick it in my pocket without any protection, nor especially take it out of my pocket without something to cushion any shocks if it slips from my fingers. So I’ve been exploring iPhone cases, based on recommendations from friends and readers, and this is the first of a handful of reviews that I’ll be posting.

The first case I got was a Speck Candyshell in black and gray. It was cheap, and seemed to meet my needs: a simple case, that would protect the iPhone from falls. I don’t believe that I need a screen protector, but I wanted something solid and unobtrusive.

The Speck Candyshell is just that. After you struggle a bit to get it on the iPhone, it fits like a glove, and the rubberized interior makes sure the iPhone doesn’t move a millimeter. The back of the case is smooth, glossy plastic, which gets scratched pretty quickly (though not seriously), and the front has a raised rubberized edge to protect the screen if you drop the iPhone screen side down.

One thing I don’t want is a case that is very heavy. The iPhone weighs 138g, and the Speck Candycase only adds another 27g (though that’s still 20% of the weight of the iPhone). For this type of protection, you probably can’t get much lighter, unless you go with a flexible silicon case.

There’s enough room on the bottom to connect a dock cable, and access to the buttons is simple on the sides. There’s a hole for the camera and flash, and a decent sized hole for access to the headphone jack. All in all, this is a fine case, and is close to what I was looking for. While I think I found something a bit better (see an upcoming review), for what it cost (a mere €8; you can get it from Amazon.com for around $12), this is certainly a good deal.

Speck Products has a wide range of cases for iPhones, as well as plenty of other devices. While I don’t live in an area where I can see many of them first-hand, their website shows the variety of protection they offer for different needs.

If you’re a vendor who makes iPhone cases, feel free to contact me (there’s an e-mail link in the sidebar to the right). I’d be happy to mention any cases I receive that I like.

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