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Review: OtterBox HTC EVO Commuter Series Case

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When OtterBox began shipping its Commuter Series Case ($34.95) for the HTC EVO 4G a few weeks ago, my G&E inbox was full of tips from readers about the case's availability. When the company releases a new case, people obviously notice. OtterBox has been making cases for a variety of devices for years; it has a loyal fanbase and has earned a reputation for producing high quality, well designed products. Everyone I know both in real life and online who has an OtterBox case has nothing but good things to say about it. One-time buyers seem to turn into lifelong customers.

So the number of tips I received about OtterBox's Commuter Series Case for the EVO isn't surprising. But does the case itself live up to the hype? Read my full review to find out.

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If you're familiar with Seidio's Innocase Active Case, then you'll feel right at home with the two-piece style of the Commuter Series Case. It's composed of a thin silicone for impact absorption and a textured polycarbonate plastic shell that fits on top of it for added protection.

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The shell doesn't have the same soft feel of the EVO's back, but it has an added strip of brushed plastic where the camera, flash, and speaker cutouts are that give it some character and style.

The silicone and plastic pieces are thinner on their own than you might expect, but together they make the case durable, sturdy, and solid. An adhesive screen protector is also included with the case. It isn't the greatest, but it's crystal clear, smooth, and covers the entire face of the phone.

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All the pieces (silicone, plastic, screen protector) make the EVO seem completely armored against the elements and able to withstand anything. This is probably not true, as the case isn't designed to let you treat the EVO like a football, but it gives you peace of mind; when the phone is in the Commuter Series Case, it's going to be okay.

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The silicone portion of the Commuter Series covers the power button and volume rocker with raised "buttons" that have a good amount of bounce to them; it also features doors/plugs for the headphone jack and bottom ports to keep them covered when not in use. Both are easy to open because of ridges/notches, and the plug fits into the headphone jack easily and quickly. It takes a little more time to put the bottom plug in place, though, because you need to press down both corners to get the edge to slide under the plastic shell. The door stays closed until you purposely flip it open later, though the thin piece of silicone used to attach it to the case seem susceptible to tearing.

I can imagine that some people might remove the bottom door due to how often the charging port it's covering needs to be accessed, but being able to prevent dust, lint, and other debris from getting into the ports is a nice feature not seen on other cases.

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The plastic shell provides the EVO with another layer of protection, but the bottom corners and most of the top edge aren't covered. The silicone will absorb some impact from a fall, yes, but with the corners of the device often taking the brunt of the damage from a drop, the extra plastic would've been welcome here.

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The case fits the EVO incredibly well, with all the cutouts and other details aligned perfectly with straight, even lines. There are individual cutouts that recess the dual LED flash, camera, speaker, and of course the kickstand.

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Like many hardshell cases, the Commuter Series makes the EVO a little wobbly when the kickstand is in use. The phone won't fall over by itself, but it's not as stable as when it isn't wearing a case.

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The silicone is a bit of a lint magnet, but it wipes off pretty easily and there isn't much that isn't covered by the plastic shell to be a real problem. The plastic offers some grip due to the slightly rough texture, but it's actually a little slippery and could slide out of your hand if you don't have a firm grasp on it.

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Many EVO owners who use the OtterBox Commuter Series Case after having used other cases for weeks/months say that it's the best case available for the phone right now.

Although I don't think it's fair to compare a case like this with a leather pouch or silicone skin, I would have to agree that the Commuter Series is the best case of its kind. The silicone lining makes it more protective than a hard case/shell (whether one or two pieces), it's the only case that protects the open ports when not in use, and build quality is excellent. The case may not be perfect (e.g., bottom corners not protected by plastic shell, silicone attracts lint), but it comes pretty darn close.

The OtterBox Commuter Series Case for the HTC EVO is available now for $34.95.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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