OtterBox Defender Series case review - multi-layer protection and a locking holster clip

The OtterBox Defender Series case for the HTC One X offers three solid layers of protection in a tight, compact package. Beyond the usual hard plastic/silicone skin hybrid set-up, there’s also a screen protector integrated with the inner case. This means no more futzing around with sticky screen protectors, and having to line things up perfectly or squeezing out air bubbles. The case comes with a clip-style holsters that rotates a full 360 degrees while keeping your phone securely in place - face-up or face-down, whatever works for you.


As with any hybrid case, you’re going to have to deal with a fair bit of bulk, but Otterbox tends to be good about having really dense components. The outer silicone layer feels a lot tougher than most, but still affords a ton of grip. Even though the color remains monotone throughout this layer, the texture smooths out around the corners, adding some nice, subtle differentiation. There are a few color options available, including straight black, black and grey, and grey and purple.


The overall assembly of the Defender Series is extremely tight; the exterior skin clings tightly to the inner core, and the hard plastic case leaves little wriggle room for the device. This can be a bit of a hassle for assembly, but ultimately creates a package that feels very solid. I worry a little bit that the close quarters and lack of padding between the device and the hard plastic case that there wouldn’t be a lot of padding for impact protection, but the exterior skin still offers a significant first line of defense. 

The holster has a lock mechanism to keep the clip in the open position, but I can’t fathom why anyone would need to do that. The clip should be closed tight pretty much all of the time; when would that ever be a hindrance? Locking it closed, like the Seidio Convert Combo case I understand, but to keep it open? The angles in either portrait or landscape don’t make it work as a kickstand, either. The worst part is that the lock activates really easily (pretty much as soon as you open the clip all the way), so you’ll likely have to deal with the nuisance of unlocking regularly. Still, I like how the clip swivels a full 360 degrees and allows you to mount your phone face up or face down. Flipping the phone upside-down and right-side-up enables use while holstered, which is pretty handy.

I'm a big fan of the screen protector built into the case. Some cases come with a separate protector bundled, but they suffer from the usual trappings of misalignment and air bubbles. The slight gap between display and protector does add a little bit of glare, but otherwise functionality is completely unaffected. On that note, all of the device's external keys are accessible through the case, though headphone and microUSB ports are protected by dedicated flaps.


  • Tight-fitting
  • Bubble-less screen protector


  • Confusing clip lock

Bottom line

The OtterBox Defender Series is a long-standing line-up of cases that continues to provide solid protection to a wide range of handsets.  Despite the quirky lock mechanism, the clip holster is quite versatile. If you're looking to pick up a case, be sure to head on over to the ShopAndroid store and pick this one up while it's still 20% off (normally $49.95). 

Simon Sage
Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at