Cases - some people love them, others hate them. Regardless of how you feel about them, there is one truth: they're useful and help keep your device in top condition. A quick look through eBay or Craigslist will prove the value of keeping your gear in a case - when trying to sell a device most users put "has been in a case since day one" or something similar (whether it's true or not). That assures the buyer that they are getting a near-mint condition piece of kit.

When it comes to top-notch device protection, one name often comes to mind: Otterbox. They make some of the toughest, longest lasting, and most protective cases that we've ever seen. Today we're going to take a look at two cases designed for the Galaxy Nexus: the Commuter and Defender series.

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Price: $35.99 ($25 at Amazon)

Where to Buy: Otterbox, Amazon

In the Box: Case, Screen protector

The Bottom Line: This is the most practical solution for the average user. It provides enough protection to keep your device in good condition under most circumstances while still leaving access to all of the necessary functions. While it does add a bit of bulk to the device (don't all cases?) it's worth the trade-off for the added peace of mind.

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Note: Ignore the metal ring around the lens, this is not part of the case - it's for add-on camera lenses.

The Good

  • Two layers of protection - The Commuter is a two-part case: a soft silicone under-layer for shock absorption and a hard  polycarbonate outer shell.
  • Provides a full-protection solution - Between the two-part case and the included screen protector, your device is protected from end-to-end, front-to-back.
  • Port coverage - The silicon layer has small flaps that cover all of the I/O ports like the microUSB port and headphone jack, keeping them both free of debris.
  • Great fit - You can rest assured that your Galaxy Nexus will be as snug as a bug in a rug whilst in this case. It's a perfect fit.
  • Smart design - When you drop your phone, where does it normally land? On the corners. With this in mind, the polycarbonate shell cuts away from the corners of the device, leaving the rubbery silicone to take, and absorb, the hit. That's just smart.

The Bad

  • The back is slick - Oddly enough, the back of the case is quick slick, which could lead to more drops. Fortunately, if you do drop it, it's in a case.
  • Power and Volume buttons are slightly hard to press - When pressing the power/volume keys, you don't actually feel the button move. You know you pressed it, but the case doesn't give enough to provide a tangible reaction. It takes some getting used to, but after a while, it's not so bad.
  • It's difficult to put on - The silicone layer goes on very easily, but the hard shell is a bit difficult to manage at first. It gets easier as time goes on, I promise.
  • The silicone is slightly tacky - This one is pretty minor, but it's a con nonetheless. The silicone has a certain stickiness to it, so it's somewhat difficult to take out of your pocket (and lint sticks to it).
  • It adds some bulk - Let's face it - any case with substance is going to add some bulk, and it takes away from the beauty and elegance of the device itself. It's the price we pay for protection.


Like stated above, this is definitely the most practical solution for the average Joe. It's just rugged enough to protect your device during day-to-day activities, provides full device protection when you use the included screen protector, and even protects the phone's ports from dirt and grime.

Despite its few downsides, this is a great case. If, however, you tend to be a little more rough on devices (like my dad, for example - he completely destroyed three phones with cases in one year), then you should probably read on and check out the Defender.


Price: $49.95 (currently $33 at Amazon)

Where to Buy: Otterbox, Amazon

In the Box: Two-part case, belt clip holster

The Bottom Line: If you're known for killing devices in an instant and need supercharged protection for your GN, this is the case for you. It provides thorough protection of the device, has a built-in screen protector, and feels great in-hand.

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Note: Ignore the metal ring around the lens, this is not part of the case - it's for add-on camera lenses.

The Good

  • Two layers of protection - The Defender uses the same components of the Commuter, but it flips them. Instead of having a soft under-layer and hard shell, you have a hard polycarbonate inner-layer wrapped in a soft, shock-absorbing silicone. And it feels fantastic.
  • Port coverage - Like the commuter, it has silicon flaps to protect the ports. I think this case may provide easier access to said ports than the Commuter, as well.
  • Belt-clip holster - First off, I'm not one to wear my phone on my side, but since this case adds quite a bit of bulk to the device (more on that later), it's pretty uncomfortable in your pocket. Thus, Otterbox includes a holster with it. It's well made, tough-as-nails, and provides the perfect fit for the case.
  • It feels great - I've already mentioned this twice, but it definitely needs to be highlighted as it's probably my favorite feature of this case. The silicone outer shell is soft and smooth, yet it doesn't feel slippery at all. The power and volume buttons are quite tangible through the shell - it's simply a pleasure to use.
  • Built-in screen protector - This one is actually a double-edged sword. On one hand, you don't have to bother trying to apply an on-device screen protector or make sure it's on just right and free of bubbles - the whole tedious process is just eliminated. Just snap it on and you're GN is protected from scratches and other potential damages. On the other hand, it's diminishes the screen quality. More on that below.

The Bad

  • It's pretty dang big - I mentioned the added bulk earlier, and that's definitely the biggest drawback of this case. While it may not look that much thicker than the Commuter in pictures, you can definitely feel it in-hand. Every millimeter makes a bigger difference than you may realize.
  • Built-in screen protector - The downside of the screen protector is that it reduces how beautiful the GN's screen is. Whites don't look quite right, colors don't pop like they do when the device is out of the case. The worst part is that the screen protector can't be removed - it's built-in to the case and not going anywhere.
  • The silicone is slightly tacky - Like the Commuter, the silicone tends to stick inside your pocket (if you choose not to use the holster).

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Honestly, it's hard to find things "wrong" with the Defender case. It's well made, feels great, and provides outstanding coverage. Its main downside is a big one (pun intended): the size. That much protection comes at a cost, and in this case it's the cost of device form factor. If you need the extra protection, though, this case is definitely the way to go.


So, which case should you buy? That really depends. Both are very good solutions, but I feel like most people would get all the protection that they need from the Commuter, as long as you can deal with the negative aspects that I mentioned above. If not, the Defender is also a solid choice, and the must-have case for those who are prone to sporadically destroying devices. At the end of the day, it's all each person's individual needs.

For what it's worth, the Commuter stays on my GN about 90% of the time.


Otterbox Commuter for the Galaxy Nexus: Otterbox, Amazon

Otterbox Defender  for the Galaxy Nexus: Otterbox, Amazon