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Old 08-08-2009, 10:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)

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I recently replaced a Sprint Motorola Q with the Blackberry Curve 8330. The Curve is small, glass smooth, and has the general physical characteristics of a pebble.

Unfortunately, as one learns at a fairly young age - pebbles have one tendency - to be thrown. Within a week of getting my Curve, I had dropped it twice onto fairly well padded carpet - with absolutely no damage to the phone - but I started to realize that without some kind of protection, my blackberry would probably end up enduring a fall onto something far less comfortable than a shag carpet. I wasn't about to let my investment come into harms way, so I made a short list of phone protectors and narrowed it down to two - the Otterbox Defender and the Seidio Innocase.

I already own the Otterbox 1900-series case, which I use whenever I need to take any of my gadgets on the water (rowing, canoeing, etc.) and I've been generally impressed with Otterbox's quality as a company. The Defender isn't waterproof, but I figured - if I'm going to get a case to ruggedize my Blackberry, I want the roughest, toughest thing I can find. The Defender is a beefier product than the Innocase, so I ended up buying the Defender - and I am very satisfied with my purchase.

The Otterbox Defender's internal protective layer is a thermo-formed sheet of plastic made primarily of screen-protector material. It completely covers the keyboard and screen, wraps around the top of the phone, and also contains built-in acoustic seals for the earpiece and the external speakers of the blackberry. There is a small hole for the trackball.

The directions that come included with the Defender recommend the use of soapy water to aid in bubble-free installation. I personally have my own method - I use 92% Isopropyl alcohol, which stays slick enough for installation, but evaporates within minutes for instant use.

Once the plastic sheet is placed on the Blackberry, the rest of the installation is utter simplicity. Snap together the polycarbonate case and place the silicone protector around the polycarbonate case.

The Otterbox Defender also comes with an extremely beefy belt-clip holster, which has a click-detente 360 degree swivel clip, as well as a massive hook on the end of the clip to prevent accidental removal from your belt. A magnet is embedded in the base, which causes the Blackberry to enter sleep mode when it is holstered.
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2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox1.jpg  2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox2.jpg  2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox3.jpg  2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox4.jpg  

Last edited by sonoronos : 08-08-2009 at 11:02 PM.
Old 08-08-2009, 10:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There are several features about this case I really like.

1. The silicone wrap around the polycarbonate case is about 2.5mm thick. The texture of the wrap increases friction and reduces the possibility of having the case slip out of your hands. Also, since the wrap is so thick, it will never wear out from abrasion, and if it ever experiences damage (although I'm not sure what could damage it, short of a razor blade) then it can be replaced. Also, the silicone wrap acts as a third level of defense against dropping the blackberry. If you drop the Innocase, there's nothing to prevent the two halves of the hard case from coming apart - and once apart, your Blackberry is completely unprotected. With the Defender, the silicone wrap not only cushions drops and blows, but it also prevents both halves of the hard case from ever coming apart! A brilliant idea from Otterbox.

2. The silicone wrap has raised buttons that allow you to access all the side/top buttons of the blackberry without allowing dust intrusion into the phone. It also forces you to click the buttons with a purposeful inward motion as opposed to sideways motion, which prevents accidental button pushing - yet the extra force is practically negligible. It's hard to describe, but the extra bit of security makes it virtually impossible to press the buttons accidentally.

3. The silicone flap completely covers the headphone and charging port, yet can be flipped open with ease. There's plenty of room under the flap to fit the charger plug and headphone, which doesn't force you to modify the plugs or case like other hard cases.

4. The polycarbonate hard case has raised bits which act as additional anti-slip guards. On the center of the case, the Otterbox company logo as well as the words "Patents Pending" are molded rather smartly - which aids in grip. The hard case also integrates with the holster to provide a very positive "click-in" sound as well as smooth entry of the phone into the holster. This, in combination with a set of raised bumps on the inside of the holster, provides a very strong grip on the phone which prevents accidental release from the holster - yet the phone is fairly easy to remove from the holster when necessary.

5. Audio quality is very good, and since the microphone is left uncovered, there's no reduction in voice quality. The external speaker is also as loud as the original, without any noticeable reduction in sound volume.

6. Screen visibility is crystal clear without any reduction in brightness or clarity.

7. Typing through the protector film is accurate and the polycarbonate hard case does not block access to any of the buttons.

There are two weaknesses with the case:

1. Pressing the keys through the protector film feels a bit like typing through saran wrap. It's difficult to describe, but there's a different sort of texture from what you're used to, and it takes a few days of getting used to. Once I got accustomed to it, however, it became completely transparent with respect to typing on the phone.

2. The protector film will reduce the sharpness and quality of photos taken with your built-in camera. This is where Otterbox could have theoretically placed a small mineral-crystal optically clear protector where the camera port goes, but that sadly is not the case. If you are someone who needs the camera on your blackberry to make sharp photos, you will have to either manually cut out the plastic film from around the camera lens (a simple paper hole-punch is all it takes), or simply live with blurry photos in exchange for the dust-proof advantages of the case.

So in the end, I love this case. The beefy holster keeps the phone out of my pocket and on my belt, where it's easier to access. It makes me confident about wearing my blackberry on my waist and not worry about things slamming against the blackberry or my blackberry accidentally striking a hard object. The phone is completely protected against drops, abrasion and abuse. Dust, dirt, and general crap won't grunge up my phone, and at the end of the day, I can plug it into my home charger to get it ready for a new day, without having to do anything but flip open the port cover.

It's well worth the money for anyone who is tough on their phones, or is just plain clumsy - like me.
Attached Thumbnails
2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox6.jpg  2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox7.jpg  2009 Otterbox Defender Case for Blackberry Curve (Review)-otterbox5.jpg  

Last edited by sonoronos : 08-08-2009 at 11:12 PM.
Old 08-09-2009, 06:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for doing that write up and sharing your experience with the product. Looks pretty robust.
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