IMG_1001If you have been out today and standing in line for the Apple iPhone 4S then you may have noticed the displays of OtterBox Defender Cases for them displayed. The ultimate in protection, I have a series of reviews on the Defender Series including a full review of the iPhone 4 OtterBox Defender Case that you can read here.

Since Apple changed almost nothing on the exterior of the iPhone 4S, then it would be expected that the cases should all be the same right? Well, not exactly. It looks like you are still going to have to cough up another 50 bucks or simply do some cutting on your existing OtterBox Defender to encompass the following changes.

As you can see from the picture, the new OtterBox, which is positioned on the right hand side of the iPhone 4 Defender case varies in that it has larger openings on the front facing camera as well as the rear facing camera.

In the past, the white iPhone 4 did not play well with the Defender and many people had issues with the screen not going to sleep while on a call. With new and significantly larger openings, this should be eliminated on the iPhone 4S, but I cannot confirm this as my local Best Buy did not receive any white iPhone 4S for me to test with. However, OtterBox has confirmed that the front cut out is compatible with the iPhone 4S:

Although our Defender Series case for the original i4 was not compatible with the white models, with our new 4S Defender Series cases we have resolved this issue with a wider cutout on the front of the case to accommodate all versions/colors.

The back side of the case as well has a much larger opening to un-shroud the camera and let more light in the significantly improved iPhone 4S camera. I tried to contact OtterBox for an official explanation but they were incredibly busy today, so I will update this when the rep calls me back. Since there is no sensor on the back side, it is safe to say that it has to do with improved lighting for the camera.

The last thing that OtterBox has changed is the Silicone outer sleeve. I am a little on the fence with this change because I happen to remove the iPhone from the case frequently for cleaning and removing the SIM card to go into another device. This new silicone material, while still very high quality, has a much stiffer feel to it. Upon trying to install it and then remove it, it is much more difficult than removing it’s predecessor. Here is the reason OtterBox has given me which is also on their website:

OtterBox has also included a more robust silicone skin on our Defender Series iPhone 4S case line to provide more durability, resistance to dust and lint, added grip and an improved ability to hold its shape over time.

So as you just read, it was improved for very good reasons, but if you frequently remove the case for use in an iHome, change phones, or whatever, you will find it a lot more difficult. Still, the OtterBox Defender demonstrates why it is ultimate in protection for your device and why OtterBox continues to grow create great cases for our devices!


  1. I recently got the 4S and went to best buy and bought what is appearantly the older Defender case and repeatedly asked the sales rep about this being compatable whit a white iphone 4S, to get the same response from 2 different people that “Yes it fits all and is compatible all iphones” glad you put this out because more stores should be educated so we don’t have to make so many returns

  2. I got the Defender Real Tree camo case…Some points its an update to the iPhone 4 case of previous and some points not so much. Either way, iPhone 4s has been in the Defender since launch day and I get a lot of compliments. The belt clip holder deal catches on my seats and either breaks or locks open and falls off belt. My iPhone 4 Defender was barely holding together by the 4s launch, yet it still protected my untouched iPhone 4. I am and will be a repeat customer.

  3. I get tons of compliments on my camo otterbox! Everyone I know uses the defender on their 4S. I think the new rubber compound will work out better for the otter sleeve lifespan. I will have to report back when the iPhone 5 is launched on how well the new rubber compound held up. so far, it has not shown and fatigue.

  4. HEY! the Defender Series ARE GREAT!!! I bought before 2 weeks ago for my iPhone 4s , and i love IT! Yesterday i drop my phone when i came out from my truck and guess what?!!? nothing wrong , i already buss 2 phones like this. I love my OtterBox case . I bought it form , they had a huge discount !!!!

  5. I have a question about the Otterbox Defender for 4S that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere. Before I get one for my brand new (i.e., yesterday) 4S, I need to know about an issue I had with my previous Otterbox for my 3GS.

    Specifically, the one for my 3GS made the phone’s camera useless. Even though the ‘box was brand new, the clear plastic was so opaque & inconsistent (i.e., not optical quality) that I gave up on using my camera, not realizing it was the ‘box’s fault, not the camera’s. Pictures were muddy and blurry, right from the day I bought it (at the same time as the phone).

    By the way, even though I loved my 3GS, Apple has stopped support for it in Canada. No ios updates are available, and even purchased apps no longer work when they are updated, and require ios above 4.2.1. Thus, the purchase of an iphone 4S…

    SO…does the new Defender allow decent pictures (particularly from the much-improved iphone camera), or will I need to take the whole thing off every time I want to take a reasonable photograph? Anyone?

  6. @Mike: absolutely, the defender case for the 4s works perfect! As a matter of fact I used it today and the New Orleans Zoo and would be happy to email you copies. Even in full zoom the iPhone 4s takes amazing pictures. It is without question the best camera on a smartphone. I used it all week, brilliant pictures. The only issue I have ever heard is the defender on a iPhone 4 that is white would mess with the sensor and not turn off the screen during a call. Otter box opened up the 4s sensor and camera opening which made a big difference. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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