The name OtterBox has become synonymous with unrivaled protection, and its Defender series cases are truly unmatched. I never hesitate to recommend OtterBox products to people looking to keep their phone in great shape for the duration of their two-year contract. Simply put, you’d be hard pressed to damage your investment with an OtterBox on its back.

The Defender series case for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is no different. OtterBox leaves nothing to chance, and if you absolutely must keep your device in pristine condition, there is no better option on the market today. The Defender series offers two layers of protection: its inner hard-plastic snap-on case is designed to withstand falls, bumps and bruises at the hands of even the clumsiest user.  But why only protect when you can prevent as well? The Defender series uses a rubber outer shell that adds a soft-touch feel eliminating the worry of the semi-slippery hard shell falling out of your fingers. The Defender series has a screen cover built into the inner shell, which protects the Nexus’ beautiful Super AMOLED display without the pesky bubbles and ripples so common in conventional sticky covers. To sweeten the pot for all of you holster-lovers out there, a belt clip is included in the package.


After taking a deep breath and placing my full confidence in OtterBox, I threw my Nexus around for a bit, seeing if the Defender series lived up to its reputation. Sure enough, it did (no, I did not have a plan for if it did not). My Nexus emerged unscathed from a fall off my desk, a drop on the floor, and a stray spray from my sink.

But this type of protection comes with a huge trade off: pocketability. The Defender series adds serious heft to the Nexus, and just might render your skinny jean pockets unusable.  Your device will look absurd in pants pockets, which led me to carry my Nexus in my messenger bag. The upside is that you can feel comfortable throwing your phone into your bag without the worry of what pens, keys and jagged edges might find it at the bottom.

Another caveat is the built in screen protector. I loved the idea of a display cover that doesn’t need to be tediously applied, but the results are less than stellar. It’s a smudge magnet, and after extensive use it becomes nearly opaque. It’s a serious detriment to the brightness and clarity of the Nexus’ display, and personally I’d rather take my chances with a few scratches. Luckily, the screen protector can be removed with a little wiggling.

For those who swear to protect their Nexus til its dying day, the Defender series cannot be beat, and it’s $40 price tag is chump change compared to the $500 you’d spend replacing a shattered Nexus. It’s compatible with both the standard and extended battery (the latter fits a bit snugly), which makes the Defender series the universal choice for ultimate protection. I do wish that OtterBox would refine its hard-shell layer, which is currently pretty jagged and ugly, to let users forego the rubberized outer shell in the event of necessary pocketability. I also wish OtterBox would continue to work on its screen protector, which is thrilling in theory but nearly unusable in practice. Despite its few shortcomings, the Defender series may just be the best $40 a clumsy Nexus owner can spend.


Reader comments

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Samsung Galaxy Nexus [accessory review]


I have the other series, not sure the name at this moment. Couldn't me happier with an otterbox. I rarely keep a case on my phone for long but I never go anywhere without my case on. Absolutely superb protection.

That would be the Commuter series, and I agree, superb. In fact, coupled with a Martin Fields screen protector (which covers the phone pretty much edge to edge, so you have some overlap between screen protector and case), it's a good combination.

The Commuter is what I use. Although I opted NOT to use the screen protector, mostly because it was a pain in the ass to attempt to put it on. Also, it didn't cover it from edge to edge... the one I got only had enough plastic to cover the actual viewing portion of the display. I eventually just got fed up with the bubbles and tossed it. But the rest of the OtterBox is a solid piece of protection. :)

The defender makes the phone huge and unpocketable. But it has saved my nexus many times. I've dropped it from hip and shoulder high. But when I take it out it still looks brand new. Also the screen protector is not what its all cracked up to be. Makes the screen rainbowish and gets greasy and dirty fairly quick.

Great case, protects the phone.
It also keeps you from feeling the heat when the Nexus gets super hot, and it does.
Basically it will cook itself inside that case, The Galaxy S3 does this to.

Also you cant put on a 3800mAh extended battery with this case.
You can only go up to the 2100mAh battery.
Which means roughly you get 5 hours of battery life.
YAY !!!! (sarcasm level turned up to 90% during entire post)

Otterbox makes great cases, but the Galaxy Nexus is a super hot battery eating hog.
with a nice screen and finally gets the newest updates.
I love and hate this phone. Its like a girlfriend that has a great time making
woopie with you but then kicks you in the jewels when its done.


Thanks for bringing this up, I have a 3800mah battery (which just about gets me through 16 hours, not with flying colors though).

I have the Seidio 3800 Surface Case to fit the battery, I was wondering if the Otterbox would fit with the extended bat, did you try putting it in the Otterbox with the 3800mah with out the battery door on?

Just curious.

The otterbox does not fit with the 3800mah battery. I love otterbox but stopped using them for this reason. I use the seidio convert case made especially for the super extended battery. I hate dealing with seidio, but they are the best option product wise on the market.

I wish Otterbox did make a "super" 3800mAh extended battery case
for the Galaxy Nexus.
Yes it would be huge, but it would be well protected.
Seidio isnt horrible but I like them only for batteries.

The 3800mAh battery I got was a Trexcell 3800 from Amazon
it sold for about $24, you cant beat that price. Versus $59 from Seidio.
You really need to compare prices before getting anything from them.

I bought the Defender series after it was too late for my first GNex - it met an untimely end from a 6 foot 2 inch fall from my ear onto concrete (but it didn't drop the call I was on :) ). I think I picked up the case for about $25 on sale. My only gripe is that after about 2 months the clip at the top of the belt clip broke off so now my phone lives in my pants pocket (I'm not a skinny jeans wearing type of person so I don't have that problem). The moral of that story is don't wear the holster without the phone in it and get into your car. I haven't truly tested its protection, but I do know it did survive a 3 foot fall from my hip onto asphalt without difficulty.

Shoot OtterBox an email and let them know your situation. They have been nothing but a pleasure to deal with, when it comes to backing their products.

I was pushed into a pool yesterday with my GNEx in my pocket. I have a defender otter box protecting it and after a night in the rice, I think my Gnex will be fine!

I lhookshis case but hagrindopen up the gap on the bottom hooks of the holster. I couldn'greet my head phone jack into the phone, while in the holster, otherwise.

I like this case but had to open up the gap on the bottom hooks of the holster. I couldn't get my head phone jack into the phone, while in the holster.
(thanks crappy spell checker).

I wanted to get this but the built in screen protector made the screen look awful. I guess it was an anti glare and whenever you looked at a white screen it made it look like little colored pixels were all over the screen.

When I buy a phone, any kind, I always add the cost of an OtterBox Defender Series to the total purchase price.

Short Story :
Evo 3D had two, bought one and one was gifted. So I figured why not test one out. After repeated attempts at Nolan Ryan style pitching of my phone against a brick wall, it came away with only scratches to the hard plastic. After throwing it in the air 5 or 6 times and letting bounce around in the middle of the street a few more scratches. After running over it with the car twice it looked the same. Then finally I gave it to the neighbors pitbull, and after 5 minutes it was given back with a nice day tear in the rubber outsole.

Took the phone out of the case finally and then I smiled and canceled the insurance on my plan...
Put phone in second case and it lives there now.

I'll be the first to tell you that I am thoroughly impressed with the the case, itself...but, the holster leaves much to be desired.

Two issues that I have had with the holster, personally, are:
1) The belt clip has a small retainer that holds the belt clip open. This is a pain and subsequently broke off, which exposed a very sharp piece of hard plastic which would be very likely to cut someone's hand wide open if they were careful.

2) The Retaining clip at the top of the holster broke off under normal use only 3-4 months of use. For a company which touts such durability with their cases, I would not have expected this.

After the first issue, a simple filing down was very successful and didn't impact the effectiveness of the overall case itself. However, I still communicated to OtterBox about my concern of injury and was shipped a new case w/ holster. Very nice and unexpected. Considering emailing Customer Support again as I'm unhappy that the holster lasted such a short amount of time. Doesn't seem like the same OtterBox company that they started as!

I got the Otterbox Defender from Amazon the minute I got the GNex. There's three things I've noticed that weren't touched upon in the review (and one that was touched on, and am offering additional commentary on)

1. Not mentioned in review --- It's more difficult to get notifications screen to pull down due to the way the protector is built (the hard plastic goes almost to the edge of the screen). You'll definitely find yourself trying to pull down the notification bar a few times before you get it, and everytime you think you figured out a trick to get it down consistently, it'll stop working later.

2. Not mentioned in review --- I have the regular battery, and I've noticed if I shake the phone, I can hear the GNex slightly rattle inside the Otterbox. I'm hoping when I get the extended battery, that the tighter fit in the case due to the larger battery will remedy this issue.

3. Not mentioned in review --- Dirt and other small debris can make their way into the case, and I believe it's due to the opening at the top which isn't covered. It can get annoying because I'll have to take the whole thing apart to clean it at least weekly. Anyone who's owned Otterbox knows that the Silicone does not hold that shape forever, and will start to stretch a bit over time, so you want to remove it as little as possible.

4. Mentioned in review --- The screen protector is definitely a smudge magnet, but I worry that if I take it off and subsequently drop the phone, the unprotected screen will crack (Gorilla Glass toughness be damned, there are more than enough videos on the internet proving the GNex screen will crack).

Regardless, the peace of mind this thing gives me is priceless. My entire house is tile, and the other day I dropped the phone while walking to the kitchen. I didn't freak out in the slightest because I knew the phone was protected.

Need more proof these cases rock? I previously had an iPhone 4 for 2 years in an Otterbox Defender. The case looked like hell from all the times I dropped it in my house, on the street, everywhere; but the phone itself was pristine. Ended up selling it for $300 two weeks ago to get the GNex. I NEVER would've gotten that price had I not had the phone in the Otterbox. These cases are absolutely the real deal.

While I don't have a Defender, I do rock a Commuter for my Gnex most of the time. Personally I like it's design better then the Defender series, plus it's still slim enough it will fit in my jeans pockets

Where the defender has a hard shell over the phone and a silicone outer, the commuter has a silicone inner and a textured hard shell that goes over top. The hard shell is easier to grip then the naked phone because of the texture, and to my mind having a hard shell on the outside with the silicone between the shell and the phone makes far more sense for absorbing shocks and drops then the way the Defender is set up.

No screen protector was included with mine, but this allows me to buy whichever screenie I want - or go without.

The only case I'd buy over an Otterbox would be if Lifeproof would make one for the Gnex. My wife has one on her iPhone, and that thing takes some serious abuse (plus their customer support is just amazing!)

This must be a sponsored ad for defender case product. I admit it is a great product. It protects phone well in harsh environment, but it has couple flaws. First is the audio connection is blocked when phone is holster and second is that case itself is about 2 millimeters larger than phone making it slide and rub inside the case a bit. When some hard dust gets inside and grinds between phone and case it develops a slight damage to phone. I have phone in case since first day bought it for about two months now and I have noticed small scratches on phones body mostly on top and bottom where phone hits the case because of that.
I contacted Otter Box to see if they have a solution for this maybe extra padding or something. Two days later I got the email saying that they have ordered me a new case. I did not even ask for it they just did. I do not think that new case is going to be any different, but all this shows how outstanding their customer service is. Especially knowing that I bought this case on Amazon for half price and they did not even verify it just sent me replacement.
EDIT. user Dolfan058 actually mentioned few things that i forgot to tell.

Why do you say this must be a sponsored ad? Wouldn't sponsored ads have all pros and no cons, which simply isn't the case here? Wouldn't sponsored ads be praising the product as the end-all-be-all of it's market, which this article is clearly not doing? Would sponsored ads really list areas where the product could be improved, as this article definitely does?
BTW, if this were a sponsored ad, it would have a little "Sponsored Post" label right above the article title.

I got one of these cases when I got my nexus in May. Yeah, it's big & etc, but I have an issue with it I haven't seen mentioned yet.

After about a month I had to take the phone in to Sprint, because it wouldn't charge. They replaced phone & battery & told me the micro-usb port was bad. The flap covering the power port on the bottom of the silicon overcase pushes against the cable when it's plugged in. I cut the flaps off, and that fixed the problem.

Well the sprint store talked me into this to avoid buying insurance. I really tried to like it. I've use it about a month. The screen seems to be unresponsive at times. And the outside rubber cover keeps you from being able to slip it into your pocket (any pocket!) It makes me fumble with my phone trying to get it into my pocket. Also makes it hard to get out of my jeans pocket. I'm gonna list it on Ebay and go naked. P.S. - the most annoying thing is trying to keep the stupid rubber door open and get the charger cord into it without getting mad!

This case is weak! It fall off my belt and cracked, with a piece breaking off. I contacted Otter and received a response directing me to email pictures of the damage. Sprint really pushes Otter, don't buy, the belt clip is faulty, and the customer support is non existent! Oh by the way less than 30 days old! A friend recommended ballistic!

hmmi have mixed reviews on the otter has protected my phone in alot of ways but i dropped it from waist high and just the way it hit the floor (on the corner)it popped open and i got a crack in my screen ..i went to a local company and because my phone is too new but they are thinking it will be about 300.00 to replace the screen when the parts become available..ummm tape costs nothing..i went to virgin and they said to call customer service and call otter box...pretty sure neither one will be willing to help so as long as the tape is working good to go..and also the clip to hold it to your belt is crappy..but other than that it is good.