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.