Review: OtterBox iPad Defender Series Case (Editor’s Choice)

The OtterBox iPad Defender Series Case might not be the prettiest case, but it is the most protective one we’ve seen so far. If you’re more concerned about protecting your iPad from hazards than making a fashion statement continue reading.

Update: The OtterBox iPad Defender Series Case is now Available for just $53.51 at

Three Layers of Protection

The OtterBox iPad Dedender Series Case offers three layers of protection to protect iPads from drops, bumps and dust. A two-part polycarbonate shell snaps together over the iPad. The second layer of protection comes in the form of a silicone wrap that absorbs shock. The third layer of protection is a polycarbonate cover that protects the back of the iPad while in use or its display when not in use. The cover has a built-in pop-up stand so you can use it in both portrait and landscape modes. The OtterBox iPad Defender Series Case also comes with a screen protector. The silicone portion of the case has flaps to protect the iPads audio jack and the screen rotation lock. A section of the backside of the case slides on/off to protect the docking connector.

When it’s all said and done, the only exposed portion of the iPad is the microphone (a tiny hole located next to the headphone jack) and the speaker, though both are recessed.

As you can guess from the above description, the multi-part case offers a lot more protection than your average iPad case. OtterBox doesn’t advertise exactly how well this case protects an iPad, probably for legal reasons, but as you can see in the below video it can take a beating. Dropping my iPad from two feet onto concrete several times felt awkward after handling it with kid gloves since I bought it on launch day a few months ago, but it came away unscathed. My iPad can also be slid down the sidewalk and knocked off a chair without any damage when covered in this case.

Though the case isn’t waterproof, it can take a little moisture. After sliding it across my patio and beating the thing up  I wiped it down with a wet cloth. Dunking a Defender Series covered iPad in water or letting any amount of water to get into the speaker grill or headphone jack is a big no-no.

The bezel of the case extends about a quarter of an inch past the front of the iPad’s display, offering protection even when the cover isn’t there. The one, unavoidable hazard is direct impact to the display with the cover removed. Dropping tools or other hard objects directly onto the iPads display will kill your iPad, with or without the Defender Series Case installed.

Go Anywhere

The iPad is a pretty fragile device and a lot of users hesitate using theirs outside of safe environments. With the Defender Series case installed, I’m much more comfortable carrying using my iPad in more places. I don’t have to think twice about setting it on the edge of a piece of furniture or bringing it outdoors. Since installing the OtterBox case, I’ve brought my iPad into our workshop a few times without worrying about anything. I’m confident this case would stand up to the rigors of more demanding environments, such as construction sites.

Some Things You Might Not Like

As much as I like the OtterBox Defender Series Case, it’s not perfect. The iPad is a pretty dense device to begin with and all those layers of protection adds significant heft and thickness. As a big guy, I don’t mind the extra weight, but my wife’s complained that the iPad is too heavy to hold comfortably with the case installed.

The part of the case that protects the docking connector can be a little stubborn to slide on and off. This means that it won’t come off by accident, but it also means that it can be a pain to charge or sync your iPad. Thankfully the iPad has a very long-lasting battery so this isn’t a daily chore.

The pop-up iPad stand in the cover of the case can also be a little difficult to snap into place, but it at least stays there once it’s locked in.

There’s a cutout in the middle of the case to let the famous Apple logo shine through, but I would’ve preferred a little more protection than being able to see the logo. Without the cover on the back of the iPad, there’s the potential for a small or pointy object to dent the back of the iPad since the logo is only protected by a clear layar of plastic.


The iPad Defender Series Case is available at and select retail partners for $89.95. However, we found it for just $53.51 at At that price it’s an excellent value. Because it’s a specialty case, don’t expect to find one at your local Apple store. Apple generally reserves shelf space for more affordable and fashionable cases. However, I’ve heard many Apple employees recommend OtterBox cases to customers looking for extra protection.


The OtterBox Defender Series Case for iPad is the best solution we’ve found for protecting the iPad. It may be overkill for some users, but those who are rough on their gear will appreciate this durable case. Its ability to turn the fragile iPad into a semi-rugged device earns the Otterbox iPad Defender Series Case a Editor’s Choice Award.