The iPhone 5 is finally here. And like previous iPhones before it, paranoid users want to keep it’s well designed bits and pieces in optimum shape, free from scratches, scuffs and cracks. The iPhone 5 moves away from the all-glass design of the 4/4S and incorporates a large section of aluminum on the back panel with only two small slivers of glass remaining. Because of this, shattering a piece of glass on your iPhone 5 when dropped is a much smaller problem than before. The aluminum is strong and resilient. That said, the black anodized iPhone 5 in particular has garnered a bit of a reputation for being scratch/scuff prone and causing another “-gate” drama, aptly called “scuffgate”.
Whether or not you buy into such hype, one thing’s for sure. People love styling/protecting their iPhone with cases. And while looking good is always a valid concern, some people just want brute strength.
Otterbox isn’t necessarily known for “good looking” iPhone cases as their rugged, beastly cases lean towards brute strength at the sacrifice of a pretty face. But the company’s “Commuter” case manages to toe the line, offering a thicker than average wrapping around your precious iPhone as well as multitude of color options to help oneself differentiate.
For the iPhone 5, Otterbox kept the design and overall theme exactly the same with the iPhone 5 specific Commuter cases. Button coverings, textures and color choices are all identical to iPhone 4/4S versions of said case. Being the “lighter” duty Otterbox style also means the front face of the phone is completely open and void of any protective covering.
On the Otterbox unit that we received for review, we noticed that straight out of the box the plastic outer shell was every so slightly bent backwards. Also, the soft inner shell had a small defect on the top left side over the volume button area, which resulted in a fit that was never quite snug on all sides. Also, the top of the soft inner case was a bit wavy, also not sitting flush along the iPhone’s topside the entire way across. We’ve had Otterbox cases before and never noticed either of these issues before. Hopefully it’s just a fluke with the sample we received.
As I touched on above, the Commuter isn’t the thickest or most protective Otterbox case. But it is certainly far and away stronger and more resilient than many other iPhone 5 cases of similar design. Even this case has few worries. For example: the other morning as I was leaving my house and shutting the door, my butterfingers managed to let my iPhone 5 sail from my hands. It then proceeded to tumble end over end across my front porch. Being just a few days old, I cringed at what the resulting damage would be. Luckily, the Commuter did what it was supposed to do and took the brunt of the trauma, gaining a few new corner scratches in the process. Otherwise, nothing else was visibly damaged.
For drops/shock and sharp objects, the Otterbox Commuter is still a great case. We have no doubt that for the majority of the population it is “the” rugged case to get thanks to the combination of strength, thinner than average (rugged cases that is) design and god-like strength to survive the worst of what life throws your way. And at $34.95 it’s certainly within the realm of affordability. Many cases on the market hit the same price point yet feature chinzy graphics or shoddy construction. At least when you buy Otterbox you know you’re getting a quality product. For those wanting one of the strongest and most resilient iPhone 5 covers that money can buy can continue feeling confident with an Otterbox wrapped around their device.
*A screen protector ships in the box with the Commuter series, however, we choose not to install it.
Big thanks to Mobilefun UK for sending us the Otterbox
More: Otterbox Commuter