Review: The OtterBox Commuter Case for Epic 4G


WP_20130311_010I baby my gadgets.
At the end of a 2 year contract, my phones look brand new (aside from the occasional scuff). My laptop has never traveled without a case, and I take care to clean it and use a cooler. I use a blower on my camera while swithching lenses, and I always put the lens cap back on while not using it.

My last two phones have been a challenge as they’ve both been keyboard sliders. The Epic has been especially challenging as it’s already a large phone.

However, OtterBox thinks they’ve got the challenge settled with their Commuter Series Case.

Let’s see if their solution will stay on my phone!

WP_20130311_011I had actually given up on a case for this phone. It’s large, and the slider is a bit finnicky. Sliders are tough. You either just get a holster or pouch that the whole phone goes in, and you have to remove the phone from that pouch every time you want to use it. Or, you can get a two piece snap on guard–one piece snaps around the screen, the other snaps to the back, and it offers protection from scratching and minor bumps and bruises.

OtterBox has opted for the second option.

If you’re not familiar with the company, OtterBox is known for making extremely rugged, drop/shock/water/dust proof cases. I’ve been a fan of theirs since my early days of playing with iPaq PDA’s. The cases were GI-normous, but there was no better way to take your PDA underwater than with an OtterBox.

Otter has taken a more consumer design approach with their Commuter line of cases. The two piece guard is tailored to the Epic rather nicely, and while it adds bulk, few people looking at the phone will notice that there’s a case on it (though I have gotten a few comments about my rather large phone since putting it on).

The Commuter is made out of high quality polycarbonate with a silicone skin. All buttons around the side of the device are accessible through the case, the headphone jack is covered by a rubber plug, and OtterBox has also included an adhesive screen protector. Not a single original surface on the phone is left exposed except for the speakers, camera,  and the charge port/door.

The case does have a textured back, but it’s a little slicker than the Epic’s soft touch back. I normally leave my phone on my car’s dashboard, but I’m unable to do this with the OtterBox. Also, the depth of the case makes it just a little trickier to open the charge port door if you keep your finger nails trimmed short.

The case does aid in “pocket identification” however. The buttons on the Epic are subtle. When reaching for the phone in a pocket, it’s hard to tell which way is “up”. The rubber spacers used for the buttons stick out just a little farther, and give me a bit more of a tactile cue as to which end of the phone I’m holding–very helpful for those times you want to adjust volume without giving the phone your full attention.

WP_20130311_012You never want to buy a cheap guard case for a slider. If the pieces don’t fit the phone well, the case will put extra pressure on the screen, and will eventually break either the slider mechanism or the connector that powers the phone screen. The Commuter fits extremely well. The case clips are very discreet, and the surrounding edges are rubber to help with fit. There is still pressure on the slider from the extra bulk of the case, but there isn’t any friction on sliding the screen out. It slows down the screen slide, but I kinda like that as the Epic’s slider is twitchy. The extra pressure also helps the phone feel more solid when the screen is extended. Hold an Epic, screen extended, with one hand and give it a little shake, you’ll feel that screen wobble. The Commuter helps keep that screen in place.

As a final warning, this case is designed for basic protections. It will only provide marginal protection against drops, and will provide little to no protection against water.

Will I keep it on my phone.

Yes. I think I will. The Epic has never been a shirt or jacket pocket phone, so I don’t mind the extra bulk. It’s the perfect way to guard the phone against those times it ends up in my pocket with keys, in my camera bag, or in my wife’s purse where all good gadgets go to die.
However, I will be looking for a grippy surface sticker to apply to the back of the phone for a little extra traction.