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Otterbox Defender iPad case review: Best rugged case money can buy

Otterbox Defender iPad Case

The iPad has established itself as one of the coolest gadgets of the year, and is a must have if you love Apple.  Its large display, crystal clear screen, and a multitude of features make it one of the most impressive tablets on the market.  Check out Mobile Magazine’s iPad review here. However, like all iDevices, they do leave something to be desired in the area of durability.

Fortunately, or unfortunately in respects to decision making, there are multitudes of cases available for you to buy.  The most noteworthy iPad case on the market is the Otterbox Defender.  It features three layers of protection, a screen protector, and a hefty $90 price tag.  Otterbox has made quality cases in the past for countless mobile devices, Blackberry’s and the iPhone 3G/3GS; but can the iPad version of the Defender live up to expectations?

Features and Design
The case itself consists of three layers: a hard inner shell, silicon outer shell, and hard outside shell with stand, this protects the screen on the go.   The layers all overlap like a suit of advanced armor providing for maximum protection with very few weaknesses.  A removable tab allows you to easily access the dock connector without removing the entire case. The materials are incredibly well made and light, considering the amount of protection you’re planning on getting. They protect your iPad against bumps, shocks, drops and dust intrusion. But it will not protect your iPad from water.

Back side of the Otterbox Defender iPad case, without the front guard clipped on.

Overall Performance
Ergonomically, the stand and screen protector work well for your everyday use.  All buttons are accessible, and the stand/outer shell works great in portrait mode. The screen protector allows you to use your iPad’s touch screen with no problems whatsoever if applied correctly. Its a thin film of plastic that sticks to your display flawlessly  That being said, the case’s only weakness is the standard full screen sized adhesive protector. You need a very clean surface and a bit of patience to get it right.  The cardboard air bubble remover is essential to getting it right.  Once you do, it’s on for good and hardly noticeable.

The Defender is tough, but I’m not going to say it’s indestructible.  The hard layers protect from big bangs, while the silicone absorbs shocks from falls, covers your ports, and can really save the day in case of an accidental drop.  It can stand up to some pretty decent drops.  I’ll go as far to say that you’ll have to look to break the case, in order for it to be broken.

Wireless connectivity does suffer a tad when wrapped in its protective sheath. I noticed on average a 30% reduction in signal strength. One trade off in respects to near indestructibility.

This is the front protective cover/stand which clips on the back when not in use.

Bottom Line

Despite the high price tag, and the generic screen protector, I highly recommend the Otterbox Defender for your iPad.  If you’re using it in an environment where “shit happens,” this case is the one you want. It’s the strongest and best-made case I’ve come across since I bought  my iPad.  It may be expensive and not waterproof, but the extra $90 you spend on the case could very well save the $500+ investment you’ve put into your iPad, so long as it doesn’t take a dip.

Check out the photos in the gallery for the stand, and other angles.

Otterbox Defender iPad case – $90 from Otterbox



About Anthony Lifrieri

Anthony is a veteran freelance writer writing for a number of websites on the iPhone and Nintendo Wii. One of the brightest young minds in the business, Anthony constantly looks for a story wherever he can find it. When not writing, he attends Stony Brook University where he is a senior and a history major. Here, he learned the tools of research and is still perfecting his writing skills.

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  1. Jamarcus Hubbard

    Your so helpful..

  2. For one of the best protective devices for my Ipad, that being the Otterbox Defender; I fail to see the unwarranted bad reviews for this excellent product. I purchased mine immediately after purchasing my Ipad in August and was at first intimidated with the pictorial graphics on how to install the device. A quick phone call to Otter immediately answered my questions. Please remember to first install the stick on plastic screen protector, then follow the steps in snapping the case together. This is an excellent product and It even works with the “profile position only” Apple blue tooth docking keyboard as Otter has actually provided a removeable cover for both charging the ipad while in use or being “docked”. The clever fold down stand built into the cover is excellent for less eye strain when in use. My ironclad Otterbox protected Ipad and my Apple bluetooth wireless keypad are in use daily in my home. Otterbox is the top of the line protection for
    any Ipad.

  3. took my son just a few days of normal use to find an otterbox iphone case broken. i’m guessing their ipad case isn’t that rugged either. i think otterbox has better pr than product. i wouldn’t usually say this just from one thing breaking, but i examined my son’s case and it was pretty flimsy for what it’s function is. plus, i noticed (but didn’t read) a post about otterbox replacing someone’s broken otterbox case. maybe in consermerist.

    i don’t think it would be too hard to get some good reviews, because the reviewers probably just use it a little bit then write their article.

    • Your son was probably using a Reflex or Commuter. The reason people
      still like these is that they still protect the device in use, and if
      the case breaks, Otterbox replaces them. This particular Otterbox is
      called the defender. Good luck breaking it accidentally, I’ve ran one
      over with an iPhone in it.

  4. Because of the crap plastic screen protector. I have to say otterbox defender is an overpriced fail. You’ll never get it on right unless your in a dustproof room. It has no cover to protect the most sensitive part, and the case adds too much weight. It’s own additional weight will cause it to become more damaged in a fall.

    Save money. Get something else.

    Otterbox, we need a 2.0 version. Keep your beta model.

    • The screen protector is difficult to get in place with larger screens, in all fairness, any screen protector would have the same technical pitfalls. Its probably one of the hardest applications to get just right and should probably be done the moment you unbox your device.

    • Totally agree. If you wast your screen to look like crap…use that plastic film. It sucks.

  5. I’m not as impressed with this product as I had hoped. I should have read reviews first. I’m am comparing the otter box to the actual apple case from apple.com (which is what I replaced it with) first, the angle of the iPad when using the stand is uncomfortable for typing. Second, the panel that has to be removed to charge is annoying. Third, the weight that it adds. I’d certainly make it a must have for anyone who is not as appreciative as I am at 37 to have this technology like my 11 yr old son. I think I ll keep it in the box until the new iPads come out and I pass this iPad to my son. I give it a 3 of 5

  6. I think Apple should start using “Gorilla Glass” Go to http://gizmodo.com/5443146/gorilla-glass-hands-on-unbreakable

  7. I would suggest being more careful if anything. It’s meant to protect the iPad after all. Not render it invincible

  8. Thanks for the reply. Talked to the otter box support, and they admit its possible the screen might crack depending on the angle of impact. They are willing to return the otterbox for a full refund, minus shipping. As for the ipad, its a $300 repair through apple Canada, as the warranty doesn’t cover it. Any suggestions on a case that has more protection from the front side?



    • I haven’t seen any yet, you have to remember this is a piece of glass stuck to aluminum. What are you doing with it that it needs such strong protection?

  9. DO NOT BUY the otterbox case for ipad. If you drop the ipad while using it, and it lands screen side down, the plastic edge of the otterbox will hit first and shatter the screen. There is no protection when the top cover/stand is off. Even from a height of only 16 inches off the couch.

    • Really sorry to hear that Joseph. We did not drop it screen side down in our tests, simply because we only have one ipad to test with. Did you let Otterbox know? I would definitely shoot them an email as it shouldnt crack from such a low impact.

  10. I got this case for my IPad and I got to say this is the best case hands down. I do not even look at my apple case or my mar ware case.

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