OtterBox Defender Samsung Galaxy S4 review

I dropped my phone on the floor, and I just don’t care.

The Defender series is back, and this time it protects the Samsung Galaxy S4. Few cases make me feel as safe, and secure as the OtterBox Defender. For the ultra-light S4 this is truly the case, as the combined force of the phone plus case is quite low. Compared to dropping the heavier Nokia Lumia 920 in a Defender case the S4 bounces with an almost happy thump whereas the Nokia bounces with a horrendous thunderous thump.

Samsung might be playing around with different versions of the Samsung Galaxy S4, and some might immediately say that why not get an Active version instead. The Active has both dust- and water protection ratings. To me the ordinary S4 is still a better choice, as you can choose when you need to have a more rugged, or resistant device. There are already a few specialised cases for using the ordinary S4 under water. To me I like to be able to have the choice to use a slim naked device, or use whatever I need when I need it. The Active is not really a rugged device either, and that is where the OtterBox Defender comes into play. The ordinary S4 with a Defender case is truly rugged, and if you are out in the rain a ziplock bag gives it all the dust- and waterproofing you need.

For smaller devices like the iPhone 5 some might be hesitant to slap on a rather bulky case, as it limits the possibility to keep handling it with one hand. For the larger S4 I actually find it the other way around. I am having issues handling it with one of my small Swedish hands, and keep hitting the tactile buttons with my palm by mistake. With the Defender case it turns into a phablet, and I find it much easier to use with two hands. Weirdly enough I also manage to use it with one hand better as well due to the added grip, and bulk that pushes my palm away from the tactile buttons. Overall I am having a much better time handling the phone with this case.

For protection it is awesome with three layers. The inner hard plastic shell snaps together at key points, and the fit is excellent. A quite thick screen protector is integrated into the inner layer. Wrapped around this shell a thick rubber layer is found. Once on the device it hugs it perfectly, and feels like one coherent seamless case.

Flaps in the rubber outer layer protect the charging socket, and headphone jack. These are easy to open, and once I am using a less protective case these are the things I miss the most. I want to be able to just throw the phone inside my bag, or use it outdoor in a drizzle without the risk of dust or water entering the headphone jack. With this case I can do that.

The design of the case allows all functions of the phone to work at all times. I have had no issues with the camera, phone capability or sensors. The only issue I have had is with some slight watermarking from the screen protector when it flexes. Just squeezing the case slightly can smooth these out. If you use a screen protection film, and don’t want the integrated protection this can be removed. Of course this means that you have less protection, as the integrated version is thicker.

A belt holster that doubles as a stand is included, and it works really well. I might not really find that much use of the stand function in my ordinary life, but it can be handy if you are on a train or at a restaurant and want to watch a movie. As a holster it works well, and the device can be inserted both screen in, or screen out. The swivel function is tight, and keeps the position you set it to.

The Otterbox Defender with the Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the best combinations the case has been part of. The added grip, awesome protection and great belt holster make it a must for me. The fact that the case design has the curves, and pattern of the S4 still give the user a sense of the phone inside. The fact that I personally miss the Defender whenever I take it off to test another case is a testament to how much I like it.

Final Rating


Defender at $49.95

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