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Samsung Galaxy S4 OtterBox Defender Case Review

The king of protection reigns supreme

My Galaxy S4 comes in handy for lots of activities including navigating through the streets of Chicago on my bike, bumping tunes and watching videos when I have friends over and playing around with S4 apps or learning games with my two nieces. Needless to say none of these activities are great for the exterior of my phone, since my nieces slobber on the phone, Chicago is filled with potholes and my friends aren’t always the most trustworthy when they have a few drinks.

A while back we showcased the best Samsung Galaxy S4 case list to help you protect your phone at a reasonable price. Now we sifted through the top options and gave a thorough hands-on test for the best Samsung Galaxy S4 case: The OtterBox Defender Series.


Our Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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The Good

The OtterBox Defender Series is offered in five different colors to fit your style. The phone fits nicely in the polycarbonate material. Each port is easily accessible so you can plug in your cables and push buttons. It also comes with a belt clip, which I never use, but others might find it handy.

The Bad

It’s not water or crush proof, which you can find in other OtterBox options. The case also makes it difficult to dock in different media players and accessories which seemed a little awkward since I had to take the phone out of its case to play music in my home. I also found that the buttons required a hard push.

The Bottom Line

Although I’ve seen some more durable OtterBox cases, this is your best Samsung Galaxy S4 case. It beats just about any other company on the market and I’ve dropped my phone numerous times, never resulting in a single scratch. The $30 price tag is just about the best deal you can find from the OtterBox family.


Style

For some reason I usually stick to plain black or grey cases for my phones, but my sister has a bright pink case and my dad even has some old school brown leather case for his phone. I understand that color plays a huge factor when people buy cases, and the OtterBox Defender series delivers in this aspect. It has six different colors including Raspberry Pink and Surf (a shade of blue,) which is nice because companies that pump out tons of colors are usually the ones that make cases that don’t protect your phone. The OtterBox Defender series may look like a military grade case, but it packs some style too.

The case also has some rigid cut edges that are prevalent from up close and afar. This gives it a somewhat futuristic look instead of the smooth coverings that saturate the market. Another thing I like about the OtterBox Defender style is that each color includes a different color lining around the openings. So my black case has nice yellow colors around the camera, mini USB input and volume buttons.


Durability

You really can’t compare any other case with the OtterBox in terms of durability. I frequently drop the case and even slammed it on my table a few times to see how it would respond. The result was nothing. No scratches or anything. It comes with a built-in screen protector so that your screen doesn’t ever see a scratch, and I noticed that even the screen protector doesn’t get that scratched. I always hated it when my screen protectors had tons of scratches, because then I would have to buy a new one because I couldn’t see the screen.

The case is built with three layers, one of them silicone, to take the impact of a fall, instead of just having your phone slam against plastic. When I put the OtterBox case on and take it off it’s amazing how the silicone fits so snug with the phone. You can tell that no dust or any other contaminants can get in unless you take off the case.

The only problem with durability is that OtterBox says this case is not crush proof or water proof. Now I never plan on going in the water with my phone, but it would be cool to try. Obviously I didn’t want to test that OtterBox was telling the truth so we’ll just have to trust them. Durability truly is the reason this case is the best Samsung Galaxy S4 case.


Functionality

The OtterBox Defender series screen protector doesn’t seem as well designed as some of the protectors I’ve seen on other cases from the company, but it works fine. There are no noticeable problems with navigation through the screen protector, making it perfect for clicking buttons and executing commands on your screen. Which is nice for when I rooted my S4 and added some custom ROMs.

The raised rubber and plastic that protects the phone is the interesting part. Although these areas protect the phone and buttons quite well, it does take a fairly hard press for the buttons to work. However, I didn’t have any problem accessing the buttons. That said, the phone slides in and out of my case with ease, and the buttons still work fine, but you might have to break them in a bit. Regardless, I was able to reset the phone just fine, snap some screenshots and click on the volume buttons.

Like stated before, the OtterBox Defender series comes with a holster to clip on your belt. This is one of the big reasons it’s surprising to me that the case is priced so well. I don’t use the holster, but I know plenty of people who would, so this addition makes it even more valuable for lots of customers.

In terms of fitting in your hand I tend to think that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a little too big compared to other phones, but this doesn’t have anything to do with the case. The outside polycarbonate material is sleek and rigid so there is no problem when I pull it out of my pocket or move it around. It clasps to the hand nicely and I don’t ever feel uncomfortable when holding it. The size is my only downside here and that’s because of the phone.


Value

With a pretty awesome design, six color options and the ultimate protection, the OtterBox Defender series is a steal for just around $30 on Amazon. The original price is $50, but they sold these things for even more in the Verizon store when I bought the phone. It’s really the whole package besides protection from water and crushing. You get a solid screen protector, a tight fit with three layers of comfortable protection and the extra bonus of the belt holster for those who don’t want to put the phone in their pocket. The holster is also nice for those who plan on travelling. Just remember to unlock the phone if you go abroad.


Conclusion

So, the king of protection reigns supreme after my thorough test of the OtterBox Defender Series. It’s the best Samsung Galaxy S4 case, and my favorite features are the three layers of protection and the built-in screen protector, since cases I bought in the past seem to let little bits of dirt in. This case seals the doors to keep just about anything from reaching your phone besides water. My least favorite part of the case is how hard it was to press the buttons, but I’ve seen much worse, and I’m sure these will break in over time.

If you have any questions about the OtterBox Defender series or any of the other best Samsung Galaxy S4 case options let us know in the comments section below. You might also be interested in learning about some unexplored tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy S4 to make your phone even cooler.

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