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Otterbox iPhone 3G Defender Case Review 6th November 2008

Otterbox iPhone CaseReviewed by Darren Griffin


We have reviewed many Otterbox products here at PocketGPSWorld. Otterbox's reputation for no-nonsense protective cases that are tough, waterproof and built to last has been confirmed each and every time.


With the receipt of my shiny new iPhone 3G I began the search for a protective case. Although the GPS aspect of the iPhone has yet to be fully taken advantage of I still needed something that would keep it safe from my clumsy hands. Although I had looked at Otterbox's offering I will admit that at first I wasn't keen. The iPhone is a design classic and it seemed criminal to smother it in the Otterbox case and hide all its best assets!


However I'm pleased to say that I was wrong and Otterbox have designed yet another case that does exactly what it is designed to do, protect your device. And it does it very well whilst retaining access to all the ports, indeed it actually makes the iPhone more comfortable to hold and the holster has other benefits so read on.....


The Otterbox iPhone 3G Defender case consists of a hard plastic shell with screen protector and a soft rubber outer armour, the individual parts are:

  1. A two-piece hard plastic shell (front and back) with built-in screen protector.
  2. A soft rubber armour 'wrap'.
  3. A holster with dual purpose rotating belt-clip

Case Parts


As with some other products Otterbox offer for smart phones, and unlike many other Otterbox cases, this is neither sold as nor intended to be waterproof. Otterbox sell this as a 'protective' case and they clearly state "Case NOT protected against water. Will provide some added protection against drop, bump and dust. NOT intended for protection against water intrusion." so please don't go jumping into the swimming pool with this!


Otterbox iPhone 3G Defender Case


On the top is a rubber covered port for the headphone jack, alongside this is a rubber 'button' for the Power switch, on the left is another rubber port for the Mute switch and rubber buttons for the volume control. On the bottom is a rubber cover for the sync connector and two ports protected by filters for the speaker/microphone. On the top front side is a window covering the proximity sensor, another filter covered opening for the speaker and a rubber button for the Home key. Finally on the rear is a window for the camera.


Otterbox have tipped their hat to the Apple Design ethos by also incorporating a little window on the rear so that you can see the Apple Logo. Well actually they may have done this because the logo is mirrored for use when taking self portraits with the camera but it does allow you to show you have a white 16GB model if you're that way inclined!


The holster is worthy of special mention here. As with other Otterbox products, the iPhone clips into the holster screen inwards for added protection. The belt clip rotates 360º and has a lip on it to ensure it cannot slip off your belt. But what is especially useful is the clip can be locked in the 'open' position. You can then insert the iPhone 'screen out' and use the holster as a stand in landscape format when watching videos etc, very handy!


Otterbox iPhone 3G Defender Case Stand Front

Holster in 'Stand' Mode, ideal for watching videos



Installation couldn't be easier, four simple steps:


Split the two-piece plastic shell and insert the iPhone then clip the shell together.


Install 1 Install 2


Stretch the rubber armour wrap around the case and fit into place, close rubber port covers, that's it, all done!


Install 3 Install 4


In use

The case is well designed and very comfortable in use. The only issue I had with it initially was 'puddling' on the screen where the integral screen protector was sticking to the iPhone display. Whilst only visible with the screen switched off it was unsightly and despite my best efforts to ensure both protector and screen were clean and dry I could not get rid of it.


I mentioned this issue to Otterbox and they let me in on a secret. The trick is simple, before installing the iPhone, rub the palm of your hand across the display. Apparently the natural oils in your skin are sufficient to prevent the 'puddling'. I'll admit I was not convinced this simple trick would be a solution but tried it and it works!


By cleaning my display I was making the matter worse not better, one simple wipe of my palm across the display and the issue has been expunged completely with no puddling or other issues with the screen protector. Otterbox really ought to print this tip on the box!


GPS function and reception is completely unhindered by the case, quite important as the iPhone's GPS Receiver isn't the most sensitive in the best of conditions.



This case will fit the iPhone 3G 8GB and 16GB models only, it will not fit the iPhone 2G or iPod Touch devices. Otterbox do offer a similar Defender case for the 2G model though.


This is another excellent case, my iPhone lives in it, protected against dirt, scratching and the knocks that occur. I can take it to the beach secure in the knowledge it'll be safe from sand (but not in the sea!) and the holster/stand works superbly. I've used that extensively, it's great on the tray table of aircraft for movie watching.


  • Full protection for your iPhone 3G
  • All Ports and Connector are still accessible
  • Holster works well
  • Screen stand works very well
  • Built-in screen protector


  • The holster clip can sometimes catch when mounted on your belt and lock in the 'stand' position.


Suppliers Web-site


PocketGPSWorld Reviewer

Darren Griffin

Street price

£36.52 (eXpansys UK)



Posted by Darren on Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:35 pm Reply with quote

I'm awaiting UK pricing and will update the published review once received.

Darren Griffin

Posted by 3GGG on Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:36 pm Reply with quote

Just got one of these, I like it a lot.

I removed the gauze that covered the mic/ear/speaker ports as they muffled the sound a bit. I don't really need that much protection, but it was a nice idea.

I may also remove the plastic that covers the camera lens as it is not coated and causes a bit of glare. [Removed now]

The 3GS screen is difficult to grease enough by palm because of the new coating it has to repel grease!

Edit: I have now removed the plastic screen covering - I much prefer to touch the glass than some plastic covering. It also is easier to keep the glass clean on the 3GS and the glare is less without the plastic.

I am not so keen on the hard plastic holster, it is a bit too plasticky, a nice leather holster would have been better.

All in all a nice product that appears to give good protection and is quite practical with all ports and controls accessible.

The main reason for changing my case was that my previous O2 leather flip top case had magnets in it to hold the flap down and that upset the compass. Mad


Posted by 3GGG on Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:36 am Reply with quote

One tiny problem with the Otter Box Defender case: I cannot get the Apple Av lead plugged in, it is too big to go through the slot in the bottom of the case. The normal Apple charging lead fits fine.


Posted by bienhoa on Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:51 pm Reply with quote

Just wanted to comment on the inital review. Thanks for the heads up on placement of the Iphone in the holder. I actually had it turned around facing out and had it slip out on me twice in a short time span. Now its as snug as a bug in a rug. Also the palm against the screen to remove the bubbles. I have yet to try it but once I finish here I will. Oh! By the way thanks to the OtterBox Defender my Iphone was undamaged from the drop to concrete. Expensive! Yes, but well worth it.

Posted by sgould on Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:56 pm Reply with quote

I've had mine for a while now. I have to take the phone out to put it in the docking station or in the Tomtom windscreen holder. After a few uses the sleeve has split at 45 degrees from the bottom right hand corner of the screen hole. The split is working its way further around to the back. I think that soon I will have to get a new holder before the phone falls out of the sleeve one day.

TTGO 700 (dead)
iPhone 3GS + TT holder
iPhone 5 (hers!)
Western Europe Map
Eastern Europe Map
Kenwood DNX-4210DAB with Garmin maps

Posted by Darren on Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:11 pm Reply with quote

Contact Otterbox and discuss the issue with them. They have a reputation for excellent support and it's justly deserved.

See what they have to say about the problem first?

Darren Griffin

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