05
Sep
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I am going to be honest - I am not a fan of phone cases myself. However, knowing my wife's affinity for miraculously sending her phones flying into the back yard from our 2nd story balcony or stomping on them with her shoes after they hit the asphalt (though her previous phone, the Palm Pre, didn't live to tell its story after drowning in our dog's water bowl), I set out on a mission to find the best protective case for her new and shiny EVO 3D.

Otterbox, one of the top case manufacturers, graciously sent me all three of their cases for the EVO 3D - the Defender, the Commuter, and the Impact. After testing the cases for the last 2-3 weeks, here are my thoughts, accompanied by an array of photos in front of a tough crowd (they came over one day for tea and never left), as well as my recommendation for the winning series of the three that should satisfy most people.

Let's get to it.

Introduction

The Otterbox name is very respected in the protective case business, and for good reasons - the quality is top notch, and you can bet that each case you buy was designed and customized specifically to your device with the snug fit it deserves. Ports are openings you need access to are exposed and, depending on the case, protected at the same time.

Otterbox means quality all around - you get the idea.

As with other devices, the cases for the EVO 3D come in 3 distinct series:

  • the basic Impact
  • the more sturdy and protective Commuter
  • the rugged and bullet-proof Defender

All Otterbox cases come with a screen protector of some kind - the Defender features a dedicated protective element, while the others offer a clear sticky cutout along with a tool to apply it. I personally attempted to apply one, but no matter how hard I tried to get rid of the bubbles, my efforts were fruitless. In the end, I decided that screen protectors are not for me - the Gorilla glass on the EVO 3D should prove to be a good enough shield, and I hate the plasticky feel of screen protectors anyway.

Otterbox Impact

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Yay

  • the soft silicone material feels pleasant, even "buttery" smooth
  • decent edge and back protection
  • volume, power, and camera buttons protection
  • cheap, at least relative to the other two cases

Nay

  • no hard components - the only protection offered is soft silicone, which may not be enough for crammed bags
  • because there are not hard components, the way the Impact wraps around the EVO 3D is not very tight - it feels like it can snap off at times and is generally flimsier than the other cases
  • no rear camera protection
  • charging port, headphone jack, 2D/3D button are not protected
  • the top front part of the case has to grab onto the phone, and because of that, it comes uncomfortably close to the notification bar. I am used to putting my finger almost at the top of the phone and sliding down, which this configuration kind of prevents me from doing. It's not as bad as the Impact for the original EVO, but still pretty uncomfortable

Discussion

As you can see, the Otterbox Impact case offers the most basic protection for the EVO 3D. It consists of a soft 1-piece rubbery shell, a basic screen protector, aaand that's it. The Impact is the cheapest of the three at $19.95 (though it's half that price right now at Amazon).

It is my recommendation to read the above Yays and Nays and skip this case in favor of the Commuter or the Defender.

Buy

You can buy Impact cases for the EVO 3D here:

Photos

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Otterbox Commuter

wm_IMG_9785Yay

  • great edge and back protection due to the combination of a sturdy polycarbonate shell and silicone cover
  • great looks, especially of the back
  • good, relatively snug fit - better than with the Impact for sure
  • doesn't make the phone too bulky - I actually really like how the phone feels with this case on
  • volume, power, camera buttons and charging port protection
  • still won't break the bank
  • doesn't have the upper "lip" that the Impact does, thus not interfering with swiping down near the notification area

Nay

  • no rear camera protection
  • headphone jack and 2D/3D button are not protected

Discussion

The Otterbox Commuter is not the perfect case, but it's the best daily driver for most people. It doesn't add to the bulk too much - in fact, I really enjoy the way the EVO 3D fits in my hand with the Commuter on. It protects well and fits much better than the Impact, but it's still lacking proper screen (see above for why I didn't apply the included screen protector) and camera protection.

Unless you're a construction worker or work in a similarly active profession and don't want the bulk of the Defender case, grab the Commuter and don't look back - it's the most well-rounded case Otterbox offers.

P.S. There is a special edition pink case dedicated to breast cancer (Otterbox will donate a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research). Girls absolutely love this case - see its pics further down.

Buy

You can buy Commuter cases for the EVO 3D here:

  • Black/Regular
  • Pink/Strength

Photos

Black/Regular Variant

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Pink/Strength Variant

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Otterbox Defender

wm_IMG_9752Yay

  • insane, unstoppable, all-around protection - only water and tanks seem capable of damaging your phone with all its armor on
  • rear camera protection (though with a small hole, probably for ventilation
  • all ports and buttons protected - volume, power, camera, 2D/3D buttons, charging port, headset jack. The only holes I see still exposed are the bottom mic and what I think is the 2nd mic at the top (does the EVO 3D have stereo mics?)
  • a separate screen protector piece, which snaps on as part of the case assembly and doesn't interfere with screen interaction whatsoever - it's not like the screen protectors that come with the Impact and Commuter and doesn't need to adhere to the screen
  • the fit is very snug once you tuck everything in
  • a separate holster is included in the package - it doubles as a screen shell or even a kickstand of sorts. It rachets, so you can position it at any angle you want on your belt, and it won't swivel freely. You can lock your phone into the holster both face up or down, which is nice
  • this thing is bullet-proof - holy hell. If you manage to destroy your phone with the Defender on, I'll be impressed

Nay

  • thick
  • heavy, especially with the holster shell on
  • the most expensive of the three
  • takes a long time to snap on right. Snapping it off is easier, but still time-consuming, so if you have a dock, either make sure it works with this case or forget about using it

Discussion

Wow, there is one word that comes to mind when using the Defender - bullet-proof. It offers all-around protection, sealing almost all holes, protecting both the camera and the screen. The build is superb, and the amount of thought that went into designing and customizing this case is impressive.

To top it off, the multi-function swivel holster is going to be irreplaceable to repairmen and people with active lifestyles who don't mind the bulk.

Yeah, it's heavy - but not too heavy. It's thick, but not too thick (unlike the XOOM Defender case - that was a behemoth).

Is it worth the price? Absolutely. Will I ever use it? Absolutely not - I'm an engineer, not a construction worker.

Buy

You can buy Defender cases for the EVO 3D here:

Photos

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Conclusion

In this review, I've taken a look at all three Otterbox cases for the EVO 3D - the Impact, the Commuter, and the Defender.

The winner for me ended up being the Commuter, unsurprisingly - see why in the Commuter section above.

2nd place is firmly occupied by the Defender, which offers protection next to none.

The final, 3rd place, belongs to the Impact, which I can't recommend, unless you're really on a budget and can only afford $10.

And that about does it, folks. Feel free to ask any questions about any of the cases in the comments and expect an Otterbox giveaway to follow up shortly.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Matt

    I have the Kraken by Trident on my evo 4g and it is definitely the best bulletproof case around. I work in a welding/fab shop and I only remove the case on my days off. Still looks like a brand new phone when I do.

  • Jaz

    I tried both the defender and the commuter. The defender was nice but too bulky for my needs and too difficult to remove. The commuter was perfect but it didn't have a belt holster. I ended up with the seidio active which also comes in different colors and has belt clip holseter.
    You should do a review on the seidio cases. The seidio convert is a 2 in 1 case that has same features as defender. Otterbox is nice and their cases look really sleek but they need to make their stuff more user friendly and offer more options.

  • MangoHorse

    I've got the Defender, and good grief, its rugged! I've dropped and/or knocked it off of things several times, and cringed, expecting to have cracked or broken something. I honestly believe u can't break it! Lol, I've always been rough on my phones and my 3dvo is no exception. I highly recommend the Defender if you are A) clumsy, and B) even think you might drop it. I can handle the bulkiness much more than service trips to Sprint. The one and only downfall, is if you have to do a battery pull for some odd reason, it won't be quick, it takes a couple minutes to get this thing apart, and don't put it back together til you're sure you don't have to do another, cuz if you do, you'll curse your own mother that you gotta tear into x2. Best case for any phone I've ever owned, hands down.

  • Goose

    My Otterbox case works great I have dropped it many many times over and I am a firefighter and I have dropped it on the bay floor and uncountable amount of times. I have an EVO 4G. The only thing I do not like is after a couple of months of good use the outer rubber casing starts to get stretched out. This happened with my other otterbox case I had for my Blackberry. Other than that the case is the best.

  • http://kjpmconsulting.com Karen Johnson

    Excellent review! I had the defender for the iPhone 4S white and it blocked the top sensor so the phone worked incorrectly. I just bought the pink commuter (yes girls AND moms live it!) and the phone works great! I only have one tiny air bubble left but drop my phone a lot so I'll use the protector. Moms try to carry too much at once. That's why we drop our phones so much! Haha. Anyway. Great review.

  • jacquelyn bryant

    I've smashed my screen twice with a defender. It doesn't work well when dropped screen first onto 1)bumpy asphalt or 2) driveway made of rocks.