I hate phone cases. When I bought my Nexus One back in March of 2010, the first thing I did with my very first smartphone was head over to Amazon and start searching for a cool and convenient way to protect it. So I bought some leather ordeal with a flip cover and all sorts of gimmickry, and I hated it. I used it for 2 days, and since then, it has occupied my box of unwanted electronics and related accessories. It was probably one of the worst $25 I ever spent. I swore off cases from that day forward.

Enter OtterBox. OtterBox makes all sorts of cases for all sorts of smartphones, ranging from thick but light and durable rubber skins to extreme shockproof full enclosures.

Somewhere between those two extremes lies the OtterBox Commuter series, which I wouldn't hesitate to call "rugged." But I also wouldn't classify it in the same league as other, more extreme rugged cases. Heck, if you want a rugged case, OtterBox makes one called the Defender that'll set you back $50, and it includes a real screen protector, as opposed to an adhesive sheet. If you work in heavy construction or in a particularly dirty or harsh environment, the Defender might be up your alley.

But, if you're like the rest of us and just happen to drop things occasionally, the Commuter is a far more logical choice, as it's a lot less bulky.

Full Disclosure: OtterBox wanted me try one of the Commuter Series cases so much that they sent me one for my DROID BIONIC - via FedEx, no less.

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  • What is it? The OtterBox Commuter for the DROID BIONIC is a rugged, 2-piece plastic enclosure to protect your phone from dust, shock (falls), and scratches.
  • What comes in the box? 3 things:
    • Hard plastic exterior enclosure
    • Rubber interior skin
    • Press-on adhesive screen protector (I didn't even use it)
  • How much does it cost? $35.
  • Do I want it? If you feel like your BIONIC needs extra protection, then yes, you want it. This thing is pretty great.

The Good

  • You will feel as though your phone is encased in a high-tech piece of Kevlar (there's not actually any Kevlar involved) body armor.
  • 2 layers (one rubber, one hard plastic) and raised edges around the display ensure that shock absorption actually happens and reduces the transmission of those forces to your glass screen, significantly lessening the chance it will crack in the event of a fall.
  • Rubber edges placed strategically = grippiness.
  • Most people probably won't even notice your phone has a case - the Commuter is quite discreet.
  • It's easy to take on and off.
  • The Commuter fits like a glove, there's no shoddy manufacturing going on here - this thing is meant for the BIONIC, all button covers map on perfectly.
  • It doesn't add all that much weight or bulk compared to its bigger brother, and it doesn't make the phone (for me) any harder to use, as it doesn't block or intrude on the notification bar area.

The Not So Good

  • Increases thickness by about 2mm.
  • Increases width and height slightly, making it harder to hold for those with small hands.
  • Is a veritable dust magnet on the rubber areas (just look at my pictures - and that's after cleaning it)
  • The power button becomes a little difficult to press.
  • Adhesive screen protectors are annoying - I didn't even try applying the one OtterBox included. But hey, it's there.
  • It's $35. Pricey.

Case reviews shouldn't be all that long. Accordingly, I'm going to make a few quick points about the Commuter, and then leave you to the pretty pictures portion of the review.

The Commuter is the best phone case I've ever used, hands down. Forget leather folio cases that fit poorly, forget annoying rubber skins that tear, and forget rage-inducing water-soak adhesives that turn your phone into the technological equivalent of an old person's couch covered in plastic wrap.

If you want to protect your phone from the elements (aside from water), the Commuter can do it. I'd feel totally comfortable dropping my phone from waist-level height (or higher) with the Commuter on. There's really not much of a reason to use anything else, unless you just want to protect your phone from scratches so you can resell it a month from now. But the Commuter will manage that, too.

I'm of the opinion that if you need a case, then skimping and buying some $5 rubber piece o' crap is a waste of money, particularly when it fails to protect you from much of anything but cosmetic scratches or, gasp, fingerprints! Do you drop your phone often enough to buy phone insurance? Do you work in a dusty or rugged environment? Then OtterBox is the way to go, and I feel pretty confident in saying that.

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