OtterBox Armor, Impact, and Defender Cases for the iPod touch Review

by Reads (18,589)
Your iPod touch can take a huge beating as you go about your day, whether it is dropped on the floor, stuffed in a pocket, or tossed in a carrying bag. To combat the amount of wear and tear your device might see, the best accessory is a case.

OtterBox, known for its wide range of ruggedized cases, makes a number of iPod touch cases; spanning from simple silicone sleeves to water-submersible cases. In this review I take a look at three of these, including the Armor case, Defender case, and Impact case.

Picking the Right Case
OtterBox makes three different iPod touch cases for one simple reason; everyone has a different situation they need to protect their iPod from. If you use your device in desert conditions or out in the open waters where sand and water might be a problem, it might be best to get a case designed to fully seal the iPod from the outside world. One step down might be rough handling in an industrial field where you might drop the iPod frequently, and swipe greasy fingers across the screen. This case doesn’t need to be fully sealed, but screen protection is a must. The last option is very basic protection from an occasional drop in normal day-to-day activities, where all you need is a basic slipcase to cushion the edges of the iPod from falls.

For the first scenario OtterBox has the Armor case which fully seals the iPod touch, but still gives you a pass-through connection for the headphone jack. The screen is covered by a plastic layer to resist scratches and fully seal out water. The next option is the Defender case, which encloses the iPod in a plastic shell and is wrapped in a silicone sleeve. The shell has a similar plastic layer over the screen like the Armor case, but it is only partially sealed from the outside environment. The most basic case is the Impact case, which like the name implies, protects the iPod from impacts which might be the result of getting dropped from a table or your pocket.

OtterBox Armor Case for iPod TouchArmor Case
The Armor case turns the iPod Touch into something the size of a large PDA, but protects it from tall drops and contaminates.

In my daily use it somewhat hinders the usability, blocking the volume controls, power button, and docking connector. Since the Home button can power the iTouch on, and you can adjust volume through software, it isn’t a huge problem, but it still is an inconvenience. Using the iPod through the case and interacting with the screen did take some time to get used to, since some of the touch-sensitivity is lost through the plastic layer. The headphone jack is flush mount and has plenty of clearance for any style of 1/8″ headphone plug.

OtterBox rates the waterproofing of this case at 3 feet, which puts it into small puddle or splash range. It is more than what the iPod could handle by itself, but don’t plan on swimming with it anytime soon. I think if you didn’t have to interact with the screen, the plastic film could thicker, but in this case the screen is the only way to navigate through the device.

Specifications:

  • Waterproof to 3 feet (1 meter), dust-proof, dirt-proof, sand-proof, and drop-proof protection for your iPod
  • Touchscreen is covered, yet fully functional
  • Impact-absorbing rubber on all sides
  • Included belt clip for carrying convenience
  • External headphone jack usable with any style headphones with a standard mini stereo plug
  • Includes removable neck lanyard
  • Fits the iPod touch Second Generation only (8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB models).
  • Price: $49.95

OtterBox Defender Case for iPod TouchDefender Case
The Defender case is a nice cross between having a basic silicone cover over the iPod touch, and having it completely enclosed in a shell the size of the Armor case. The Defender adds a little more than a ¼” to the height and width of the handheld, and makes it about twice as thick. It is still easy to carry in a pocket, not much larger than a typical smartphone.

Protection for the iPod Touch is excellent, with “bumpers” on every corner, plastic film to cover the screen and rear chrome Apple logo, and silicone plugs to cover the docking connector and headphone jack. The clearance around the headphone jack is reduced slightly, barely clearing the large jack on my Sennheisers.

Throughout the test the Defender case held up well and showing only showing one sign of wear. It appears that during one of my tests I managed to impact the screen, leaving a small dimple in the protective clear film, whereas the iPod suffered no damage at all.

Specifications:

  • Three layers of protection
  • Layer 1: a clear, thin membrane to protect your Touchscreen
  • Layer 2: a hi-impact Polycarbonate skeleton
  • Layer 3: a Silicone skin to absorb bump and shock
  • Complete Touchscreen interactivity
  • All buttons are accessible through the case
  • Sync/Charge jack and headphone jack accessible via silicone plugs
  • Fits the iPod touch Second Generation only (8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB models).
  • Price: $29.95

OtterBox Impact Case for iPod TouchImpact Case
If you need just the most basic levels of protection, the Impact case works quite well. Slipped over the iPod touch it protects the edges from sharp impacts, the rear chrome finish from scratches, and covers the edges of the screen to keep dust outside.

The case is designed with a honeycomb structure to absorb energy in a fall, protecting the shell form scratches or dents. The silicone material adds a small amount of grip to the iPod for handling, but isn’t as “sticky”, which can make it a pain to slip inside a pocket or become a magnet for dust and dirt.

I preferred the Impact case the most, since I still had just enough protection to make me not worry about my iPod, but not interfere too much with normal operation.

Specifications:

  • Provides open access to headphone jack, sync/charge port and Touchscreen
  • Provides protection against bump & shock
  • Inner corners designed to dissipate impact away from your device
  • Fits the iPod touch Second Generation only (8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB models).
  • Available in Black or White
  • Price: $19.95

Conclusion
Overall I think OtterBox covers the market pretty well for varying levels of iPod touch protection. It has options for parents, construction workers, and even a case for deep sea fishermen who might be constantly blasted with salt water.

The build quality on each case is fantastic and the price is well within reasonable levels. Maintenance consists of sticking the case (without the iPod inside) under a faucet to clean off dust or dirt.

If you are looking for a case to keep your iPod Touch looking as good as the day it came out of the box, the OtterBox lineup is well worth checking out.

Pros:

  • Great fit and finish
  • Affordable
  • Silicone material is not as “sticky” as some cases

Cons:

  • Armor Case slightly interferes with everyday use
  • No individual replaceable parts, if you dent or scratch the protective screen layer you have to buy a new case.


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