There are a lot of cases on the market and anyone shopping for one no doubt has considered OtterBox in the purchasing process. OtterBox has become synonymous with quality and complete range of products. From their Impact Series cases that offer excellent protection at an affordable price, to their Commuter Series that has a two piece polycarbonate frame with a sleek but strong silicone skin over top, and finally the ultimate in protection, the Defender Series. The Defender Series, the ultimate in device protection, completely encapsulates your device on a two piece polycarbonate frame and has a complete silicone skin over top of that. Literally, we have dropped an iPhone 4 off the top of a Lowes Home Improvement Store and found that it completely survived the fall upon retrieval!

That’s Tough!

I have had an OtterBox on almost everyone of my devices and have never been disappointed. So when it came time for me to jump into the tablet market and drop a few bucks on a shiny new iPad 2, I knew I needed to protect my investment, so I turned once again to OtterBox. I checked out the Defender and this was not like the other devices I entrusted OtterBox with, this case was something different, something more. I would need to check this out. I would need to review it. So read on friends cause I got a heap of pictures, testing, and thoughts to share with you.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

The box is constructed like any other OtterBox retail product you look at, only a lot larger. Interesting that inside the box is where OtterBox chose to put the instructions instead of actually printing a physical instruction sheet. Everything you need to know is there, I actually had to look at them as when I removed the components of the case there where some things I was not expecting past the typical 3 piece case construction. I will get into that a little later.

  1. Instructions printed on the inside of the package
  2. Screen protector assembly
  3. Clear rear polycarbonate back plate with foam cushions
  4. Front black polycarbonate plate
  5. Black silicone cover
  6. Black front or rear polycarbonate cover doubles as two position stand 

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FIRST IMPRESSION

Upon receiving the OtterBox Defender Series case for the iPad 2 I immediately noticed the weight of the components and the quality of the material. The polycarbonate components feel incredibly strong and appear to have not thinness in any areas. The silicone shroud is massive and is very thick. You immediately feel like the purchase you made will be well protected against any types of impacts or drops. I’m not suggesting that the case will in fact defend against such catastrophes but that was the impression I got. Very heavy duty, and heavy!

INSTALLATION PART 1: The Case

When you open the package the OtterBox Defender Case for your shiny new, well maybe not new anymore since the OtterBox was released well after the launch of the iPad 2, but you will need to disassemble the case to be able to install your device in it. BE VERY CAREFUL when removing the lower part of the silicone cover.  This is the thinnest point and potentially could rip or stretch  if not careful. I am going to cheat a little here and use the OtterBox installation video because is excellent. Of course I will add more of my narrative afterwards on what my findings were.

As you can see form the video the iPad 2 fits excellently into the front and rear polycarbonate sections of the case. Everything lined up beautifully and the clips used to hold the two together mated together perfectly. There are some smaller clips located on the bottom of the case that are a little more difficult to undo and fasten so take your time and be careful as not to cause any damage or premature wear.

Next up in the installation is the silicone cover. Before you even begin, take a deep breath. I know you are excited to finish the installation and use your iPad 2 completely ensconced in OtterBox goodness, but the silicone cover installation take a few minutes to complete. The long edges are especially time consuming but we are just talking minutes here and not the entire evening.

The OtterBox Shield Stand included with the kit is really amazing and my favorite part of the case. I know this is the fitment portion so to complete this part of the fitment review the Shield Stand fits incredibly well and spaces it’s outer shell well away from the screen. If any impact should occur, the force from that blow would be absorbed and spread to the outside of the case and not directly applied to screen which could cause breakage.

INSTALLATION PART 2: The Screen Protector

I am not going to go overboard here with the installation of the screen protector because mainly not a whole lot has changed. The screen protector used with the iPad 2 is the same used through out the OtterBox case offering. What has changed is that the Defender does not have a screen protector made into the front cover of the case like the smartphone versions of the OtterBox Defender does. (note Mobility Digest’s iPhone 4 review here)

Check out the following video for a more hands on application of the OtterBox screen protector:

 

FITMENT & DESIGN

I have been reviewing and blogging about mobility for almost 8 years. During that time I have never had a case work or fit as well as an OtterBox. However, the OtterBox Defender for the iPad 2 has a few issues that unless I am totally missing the boat on, need to be addressed in the next build. Let’s start with the front and back of the polycarbonate inner case. Also, all of the cutouts for the iPad two are exactly placed and work well.

However it is with the silicone cover at the charging and sync port that I start to have some issues. First from a design standpoint I am unsure why OtterBox made the first back hatch so large and then added a smaller hatch that would only suit a sync cable. The larger door appears to have been engineered to accommodate a docking stand but on the OtterBox homepage it clearly states that the Defender Case for the iPad 2 is NOT compatible with a docking stand. Even if it was engineered for a docking station the larger back hatch works well and has foam cushions so that protection is ensured, but as you can see from the first photo below looks quite bad. The silicone is too flimsy to hold the weight of the large hatch and buckles. The smaller hatch fits and looks fine and appears to be all that is really necessary for charging and syncing.

Another fitment problem I ran into is adjacent to the the large rear hatch. The silicone above the speaker port would not lay flat and was quite unsightly. I pressed down in every way possible to get it to fit properly and it did indeed seat down but the silicone in this area appeared to be stretched and probably needed to be smaller in length in this area to stretch it flat. The speaker cover did a nice job of enhancing the sound coming out of the iPad 2 and liked the clear plastic look which made the speaker visible.

Last but not least I really loved the front cover that is also used as a two position stand. If fit perfectly and the angles of the iPad two in the stand were perfect for typing and for upright viewing of videos or other media content. not mentioned on the OtterBox website but with the traction of the silicon cover it is possible to rotate the iPad 2 around to portrait view and still position the device in the stand.  I personally prefer keeping it in portrait position for some reason unless I am viewing video. The hinges on the stand are incredibly well built and I had no doubt would last for as long time.

CONCLUSION

As I said at the beginning of the review, no one builds a case for a device like OtterBox. That’s why they were issued a patent for their product. The quality of the components and material are top notch. The protection of the Defender Series cases for the iPad 2 is unmatched by any other case I have encountered. At a retail price of $89.99 the OtterBox Defender Series case is at the high end of the spectrum when it comes to cases. Is it deserving of that high price tag? In my opinion I would say yes. It does provide superior protection and will last a very long time. Even though I will not be rating this case as highly as I have rated other OtterBox products, I still think it does what it is intended to do and does it quite well.

PROS

  • Superior protection
  • Enhanced speaker sound
  • Screen protection included
  • Two position stand is excellent and at the proper angles for typing sand viewing videos.

CONS

  • Rear hatch design is too big and causes the silicone cover to buckle
  • Very heavy, adds a lot of girth to one of the sleekest tablets on the market.
  • Pricey at $89.99

Rating: 3.75 / 5.00

For more information or to purchase, head on over to OtterBox.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. Doug, I’m curious if your review would change now after a month of use? I’m considering buying one and would like to know if any of your intial impressions have changed?

  2. Hi Mike, actually I really like the Otterbox for the iPad 2, but I find myself not using it as much at the house because how big and heavy it is. I do use it when I am traveling, which is quite often these days because of the protection it offers. So for maximum protection, I would say yes, for daily driver at the house, I would opt for something lighter. But that is just my personal preference.

  3. Thanks for responding. I commute to/from work everyday on the train. So, I’m looking for something that will protect the iPad while it is stored away in my backpack. I expect I will be using my iPad more away from home than when I am actually at home.

  4. @Mike: then I would say the Defender is for you. I also carry my iPad in my backpack and even thought it is padded, does not offer sufficient protection. Looks like we have to wait till next year for our iPad 3. :(

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