I have been a fan of Otterbox cases for many years now; it is one of my first purchases when I get a new device. Because I know I’ll be getting a well designed, well made and hard wearing case. I’ve had a Note 4 for a good few weeks now and Otterbox have sent us a couple of cases to try out, which arrived just in time for MWC.
I’ve got the Otterbox Defender and Symmetry cases, both in Glacier which are a mix of grey and white. As I said I’ve been using them for several weeks now on my Note 4.
When someone says “Otterbox case” you instantly think of a large rubbery case with solid lumps of plastic dotted around, a built in screen protector and an overall size that will render your pockets useless. In the case of the Defender case for the Note 4 that preconception is pretty much spot on. Normally I shy away from the Defender cases as the screen protector reduces screen sensitivity and often makes typing a chore, this time though I thought I’d persevere and I’m glad I did.
The Defender case they sent us is in the Glacier version which means you get a white polycarbonate sub frame and a grey tough rubbery outer layer. The sub frame is a two part construction held together with about half a dozen clips, as the screen protector is attached to the sub frame I found it best to clean the insides and both sides of the protector before fitting the case. The few times I hadn’t I found bits of fluff stuck under the protector which irked me somewhat. Once you have assembled and cleaned the sub frame it is just a matter of lining up the tough rubber outer layer, you need to ensure the flaps covering the ports are in the right place and also the buttons line up too.
In the box you also get a belt clip holder which holds the phone tightly in place suing the white plastic nobbles on the sides of the case. It makes the whole setup even bulkier but it does the job it sets out to do. If you are a builder or something it’ll look perfectly normal on your belt.
Overall dimensions of the Defender case come out at 93mm (w) x 169mm (d) x 15mm (h).
I like the design of the Defender case, thanks to the rubbery back it doesn’t slide off stuff and the overall size and heft gives you a sense of confidence when using it. However if you like tiny pockets you may struggle with this, although you could use the included belt clip holder.
The Defender cases normally put me off, thanks to the built in screen protector and the lack of screen response it imparts, this time I thought I would try a little harder and learn how to get on with it. Interacting with the touch screen at first seems like you are doing it with a boxing glove, but after a while you become accustomed to the higher pressure you need to use and in the end I started to be able to type onscreen fairly quickly, albeit with an audible plasticy clicking on the screen as I typed. The S-Pen also functions quite well using the case, with the hover functions not being effected at all.
Using the case day to day was at first a bit of a struggle, a big phone in a big solid case is not going to fit in skinny jean wearing hipsters pockets, in the end I settled for my back pocket. The rest of the time I opted for putting it in my bag or rucksack as my Note is always paired to a Pebble so I still received notifications, which comes with its own problems and that is dust ingress, after any amount of time in my bag I found that some dust had made its way through the cut out around the home button and was now hanging out under the screen protector, mocking me.
I mentioned that having the Note 4 in the case instils a sense of invincibility and that was good as I knocked the Note 4 of our table onto the floor and apart from a rather loud clatter the phone and the case remained unscathed.
After a week of running around in my jeans pocket I did notice that the rubbery outer layer had started to discolour slightly thanks to my dark blue jeans, which actually just washed off. I guess on the black model this wouldn’t be as noticeable.
Again I’ve got a Glacier version of the Symmetry case, the Symmetry case is a one piece case, which you force onto your phone and it’ll offer a decent level of protection and not make you look like your carrying some sort of specialist industrial device.
The Defender case feels like it is more about protection, with design coming second place. With the Symmetry case it’s the other way round, they’ve made it look good and also it’ll keep your phone safe. The colouring on the Symmetry case is the other way round compared to the Defender, with the rubbery bit around the display being grey and the backplate and sides being white polycarbonate.
The Glacier variant is the other way round this time, with a grey rubbery inner and screen surround and hard white polycarbonate back plate.
The Symmetry case is a little bit smaller than the Defender case and as it’s got a hard back it’s easier to get it into and out of your pocket. The Symmetry case does however not have a built in screen protector, which means you’ll either need to fit your own or just risk scratches.
Overall dimensions of the Defender case come out at 87mm (w) x 160mm (d) x 13mm (h).
The Symmetry case for the Note 4 is nice, it’s solid, it’s quite hard to get on the phone as it is a one piece case and it has a nice rubbery lip around the display protecting it somewhat from drops to the floor. The one main nice thing about the Symmetry case is the back of the thing, it just feels great, the rounded corners, the rounded edges, the flat but slightly textured back and the fact you can still get to the S-Pen. It really feels quite nice.
Putting it in your pocket is a lot easier as well thanks to the flat plastic back and slightly smaller dimensions.
Overall I really liked both the Otterbox cases for the Galaxy Note 4, I have been using this style of case for years so I am used to the fiddly setup, the large size, the hefty price tags and the great level of protection they offer.
In my eyes not many other case manufacturers make cases as tough and as solid, with as good build quality. To buy these cases in a variety of colours you can order from the Otterbox website for (£34.99 for the Symmetry case or £47.99 for the Defender case) or from Amazon too.