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Review: OtterBox Impact, Commuter, and Defender Series Cases for Dell Streak

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If you ask a Dell Streak user to recommend a good case to you, most will likely say something that begins with "OtterBox." So you'll head over to OtterBox.com and see three different series of cases: Impact ($19.95), Commuter ($34.95), and Defender ($49.95).

But what are the differences and which one should you get?

Rather than opening each case's product page in a new tab in your browser, clicking back and forth between all of them, and then searching for reviews on the one you think you might want, save yourself some time and join me below for a look at all three cases at once.

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Top to bottom: Commuter, Impact, Defender.

OtterBox's Dell Streak cases are all different but since they also have some similarities, let's start with those and then move on from there.

Common features of all three cases:

  • Exceptional quality. When you have one of these cases in your hand, there's no way to be unimpressed with the quality of the materials and craftsmanship.
  • Thickness. All three cases add a considerable amount of bulk to the Streak. OtterBox cases are designed with ultimate protection in mind, so if one of the things you treasure about the device is its thinness, then these cases are not for you.
  • Improved buttons. All three cases cover the Streak's power, camera, and volume buttons with thick silicone that's raised to an even level. It gives the buttons a slight "bounce" that makes them very easy to press. Sometimes silicone-covered buttons can be difficult to press due to texture or a design that makes them blend in and feel exactly like the rest of the case; OtterBox cases are the exact opposite.
  • Style/Design. Although there is obviously some variation in what is used to cover the Streak, all of the cases feature the same slip-on style and general design.
  • Asymmetrical coverage. Because of the cases' thickness and the Streak's physical design, the front of the cases are not symmetrical. They do not cover the same amount of area around the screen (compare with the Amzer silicone case if you need a better visual).

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I don't think the uneven front design looks bad, but the asymmetry is apparent when you're holding the Streak and using it in two-handed landscape mode (as I do). Your left thumb sits on thick silicone, while your right thumb sits on what becomes a "lower level" without silicone. Some people may not be bothered by this at all, but it feels a little weird for me.

  • Screen protector. All three cases come with a screen protector. I never use screen protectors on glass screens, personally, but its inclusion is a nice money-saving extra.

So those are some of the pros and cons of what the Impact, Commuter, and Defender cases have in common. Now let's take a closer look at the individual cases.

Impact Series for Dell Streak

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The OtterBox Impact Series is the thickest silicone case I have ever seen. I'm so used to silicone skins being on the thin and floppy side that I was really taken aback by the thickness of this case.

Silicone doesn't offer a tremendous amount of protection from damage, but this has to be the most protective silicone case for the Streak in the world. In addition to the thickness, it also features an inner coring designed to "dissipate shock away from" the device.

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Another feature of the Impact Series that differentiates it from other silicone skins is its textured back. It's a departure from the classically soft and smooth back commonly associated with silicone, but it provides a nice amount of grip.

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The case slips onto and off the Streak easily and within seconds.

The main drawback of the Impact Series is lint. Typical of most silicone cases, this one is a magnet for lint, dust, pet hair, and other small debris. The textured back makes it more difficult to clean than a smooth back would be, but a few wipes (or some sticky tape) should do the trick.

Commuter Series for Dell Streak

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The OtterBox Commuter Series is a step above the Impact Series in both price and protection. It's a two-piece case (not including the screen protector) consisting of a silicone skin and polycarbonate shell for added durability.

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The shell has a nice brushed metal look to it, but it's really just plastic. It's thin and even feels a little flimsy on its own, but it transforms into a solid piece of armor when placed over the silicone. It fits nicely and covers the Streak's back, top and bottom edges, and corners. The sides are left exposed; the silicone is actually a bit thicker there, though, so they're not completely susceptible to harm.

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The silicone itself is fairly thin and what you might expect from a regular, non-Impact Series silicone: smooth, soft, and floppy.

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Unlike the Impact Series, the Commuter Series silicone features plugs/port covers for the headphone jack and sync/charge connector. These plugs could probably tear with rough use or even just with normal use over time.

Surprisingly, the Commuter Series case actually weighs a little less than the Impact Series (1.9 ounces vs 2.14 ounces). I told you that was some thick silicone!

Defender Series for Dell Streak

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The most expensive OtterBox case is the one that offers the most protection. Appropriately named the Defender Series, this enormous case is made up of four separate pieces (excluding the screen protector): a snap-together two-piece hard case, a silicone skin, and a protective holster with ratcheting belt clip.

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The Streak is housed in a sturdy plastic case; the top half snaps onto the bottom half and is held in place by four latches/tabs.

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The textured silicone skin slips over the plastic case and, like the Commuter Series, features port plugs for the Streak's charge/sync connector and headphone jack. Putting this case on takes the most time because the silicone must be pushed down around the plastic tabs, the edges have to be pushed into the grooves on the front of the hard case, and the port plugs need to be guided beneath the plastic tabs.

Like the Impact Series, lint is an issue with this case.

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The belt clip is monstrous and of high quality. The back is textured like the back of the silicone, the corners are extended, and there are four raised circles on each corner that match up with the plastic tabs on the case to hold the Streak in place.

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The trade-off to such incredible protection is, of course, size and weight. Say goodbye to your thin and light Streak. Wearing this entire getup, the Streak tips the scales at 13.06 ounces (vs 9.8 ounces with the Impact and 9.56 ounces with the Commuter). This is about 70% more than the Streak weighs alone, so it's a significant gain.

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And that's the OtterBox Impact, Commuter, and Defender Series cases for the Dell Streak. Like everything in life, each case has its good and not-so-good points, depending on who you are and what you value.

All three cases are available directly from OtterBox, as well as from other retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, and even Dell.com.

Note: I'll be taking the rest of the week off to celebrate Thanksgiving in the US and my husband's birthday, but come back next week for a chance to win one of these cases for your Streak. Thanks to OtterBox, I've got all three to give away. Stay tuned for details.

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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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51 thoughts on “Review: OtterBox Impact, Commuter, and Defender Series Cases for Dell Streak

  • Another excellent and valuable article which I, and many others, are thankful for. I check StreakSmart one or twice each and every day. What that means Jenn: Very thankful for you and your hard work. Hope you enjoy a delightful and restful holiday.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bakana

    Haha. I know how you feel about it being uneven. I get OCD hands from it too! I should’ve opted for the commuter case though. The lint is killin me!

    Reply
  • Wow, you can tell those cases are made to an seriously high standard. Nice to see that the cases have a cut out for Dell Logo too, something I’d have to do manually with mine. The price though… I dunno. Justified by quality but still too much I think.

    I find the Amzer provides excellent protection when I’m on location jobs and risk of dropping is increased, and its only £7!

    For day to day use I use a £3 silcone case (found on ebay) which is incredibly thin so it keeps the Streak slim, but prevents cosmetic damage from knocks and scratches. Even if it was dropped to the floor, this case is good enough because the Streak has a pretty resilient build anyway. Screen wouldn’t break cos the blows taken off by that small amount of silicon padding.

    Reply
  • Avatar of dzuest

    I’ve got the Impact case and i think that’s as thick as i’d go. Its a great case and fitment is top notch. My only complaint is that it hangs up trying to get it into my pocket now as the silicone makes it “Sticky”. All-in-all its not that bad and i can live with it as long as its doing its job.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Alkiera

    I have the Commuter case, largely because of the outer, hard-plastic shell. I carry my Streak in pants ans jacket pockets a lot, and the silicone is very grabby, making it difficult to insert/remove an already large device. The hard plastic is slippery.

    As to the asymetric point, Jenn… I also usually streak in landscape, but my right thumb tends to rest over the screen for scrolling, and so I don’t accidentally hit that sensative ‘Back’ button.

    Reply
  • Avatar of john

    i prefer the original leather case from dell

    Reply
  • Avatar of Ewan

    Thanks for another detailed review. I’m now tempted to get the Commuter case as I’m not convinced by the protection offered by the Dell form- fit plastic case. I don’t particularly like the ‘creaky’ feel of the plastic shell, which I guess could also be a problem with the Commuter. Some of these cases look so serious, I expect to get some ” do you work for the military?” type questions on the train..

    Reply
  • Avatar of Paulien

    Hi Jenn, a funny thing happened this morning….

    10.00 o’clock the morning of 25 November, (Here in Holland we are about 11 hours ahead), our postmen rings twice and delivers a package, all the way from the US. It contains a second Otterbox, bought on Ebay.

    A second one because we already had one Otterbox for my Dell and now, since my husband also bought the Streak, the second d one. I bought the Impact, which I love and always use , and my husband bought the Defender, which arrived this morning. My husband works out a lot and he wanted a case with a belt clip so he can use it while working out.

    So while he is studding the case I check your website, as we do frequently every day to stay up date, so imagine my surprise when I saw the review about the complete Otterbox series! Thank you for the detailed and accurate review. I believe the Otterbox series are the best cases for the Streak. They fit like a glove and protect it just as well.

    Have a nice vacation. Sincerely, Paulien
    (Biervliet, The Netherlands)

    Reply
  • The Commuter is the only case that I have seen at Best Buy, and is also the only case from any manufacturer that they currently carry. I decided to get Defender because as has been mentioned in the forum, the belt clip will attach to the Dell car mount. If you want to be able to use the Streak as a navigation device while in the car, you will need a way t hold it securly. With the Defender, I can have a case that protects it, and still be able to see the screen while driving.

    Reply
  • I very much like the idea of a wallet case, but I do wish that there were an Otterbox version of it, with which I would be certain that the edges and corners are protected. And while I like the availability of a belt-clip, I would LOVE for somebody to develop a contraption that would let me strap the Streak to my forearm — might turn out to be impractical, but I’d like to see how it feels.

    Reply
  • Avatar of p51d007

    I bought the Defender case a couple weeks ago, direct from Otterbox.
    Shipped and delivered in 4 days. I LOVE IT! Bulk isn’t an issue with me because I’m kind of big myself. I carry “the beast” on my belt because I use BT 100% of the time. Protection is TOP NOTCH!
    The weather is getting cooler, I’ve had to wear light jackets already and I didn’t see my jacket overlapping the belt clip. Went to snap the streak into the case, and it wasn’t secure, fell to the ground from approximately 3 feet. Well, of course I have a couple new gray hairs…not from dropping it, but because it wasn’t until the SECOND TIME I did it (after picking it up the first time) that I figured out why it didn’t stay put! The name defender is PERFECT! Not one scratch or hickup out of my streak. Now I’m careful to make sure nothing is obstructing the clip when I clip my streak onto my belt. I give it a 10 of 10

    Reply
  • Word to the wise:

    Regardless which Otterbox you choose, be sure to wash it inside & out every few weeks… Otherwise dirt & grime can build up around the screen edge (earpiece & camera), and chafe the screen.

    Just my $0.02

    -P@

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bubo Mortis

    I bought my Defender case a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. I’m hoping that they put out a replacement clip for it soon, as I intend to mod one into a forearm holster for it.

    I posted this in the forums awhile ago, but it looks like they still have the same price. I bought my Defender from http://www.boaterbarn.com/otterbox_defender_series_dell_streak_65920_prd1.htm for $29.14 with $8.32 shipping to Houston, TX. Quite a savings from the MSRP, and the one I received is an authentic Otterbox.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Motorcityjoe

    Excellent review Jenn. Happy Holidays everyone!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Mitzilla

    Before I got the Impact case, the phone go away from me a couple of times, luckily, with no damage. The case and its screen protector provide the perfect combination of protection and sleekness. Plus, my Streak now stays where I put it!

    Reply
  • I bought the Impact case the day that they started selling it. Ended up getting the case before I actually got my Streak (ordered from Best Buy). It adds a bit of weight to the phone, but the quality and the “grip” of it is really nice. I am quite satisfied with the product. I also have a waterproof hardcase from Otterbox that I double this with, so when I’m commuting (via bicycle) I have the ultimate protection for my phone.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Atlas

    Could you do an article about the bigger battery for the streak next?
    or maybe one that tells us how to go from official 2.2 to steves current one?
    Or if there is such a thing, a way to go back to the gui of the 1.6 streak while keeping the 2.2 OS in there?
    and by the way, is it just me, or is the streak more sluggish with the offical 2.2, drains battery faster AND has lost some of the volume of media playback?

    Reply
  • Do you mean that you remove the Streak holder part from the car dock and the belt clip then slides on to that? I would buy one of those if that’s what you mean. One more question if you don’t mind. How hard is it to swap batteries with this case on? I have a spare.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Andrew

    Does the defender have the defendor built in screen protector like on the iphone models? I’m terrible at putting on the adhesive ones haha

    Reply
  • Avatar of Alkiera

    I have the Commuter case, and the hard plastic doesn’t make any noise at all. The fit with the inner silicon layer, and the fit of the silicon to the Streak, is very tight, no movement at all. The extra stiff layer would seem to me to help with some of the torsion screen-cracking issues; the extra bulk overall helps with that too, I’m less likely to forget it’s in my pocket and sit on it.

    I suppose you could paint the plastic odd colors if the black bothers you that much.

    Reply
  • From what I’ve seen about the larger battery it’s very bulky. It even comes with its own battery cover. You wouldn’t be able to use any of the accessories with it. You would even have a lot of trouble using a case. When I did the math, 3 extra Dell batteries $120-4590mAh compared to the $130 4800mAh. The only difference is the problem with charging them. I’m hoping my two batteries will be enough. I don’t want to ruin the Streak by adding size.

    Reply
  • I haven’t seen anyway to charge spare batteries without using the phone, which eliminates most of the advantage of extra batteries, unless you are extremely organized, which I’m not. The best alternative I’ve seen is the automobile mount with the car charger, since the Streak won’t charge through the usb, at least not in my MINI.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bubo Mortis

    It’s an adhesive, not a built in. I ended up taking it off a couple of days after applying it.

    Reply
  • Avatar of JackGT

    I’m pretty sure that’s what he means. I noticed that too from the pictures in Jenn’s review, that the slot in the back of the Defender looks like it would snap right onto the arm of the windshield mount.

    Reply
  • That is right. If you look at the pictures that Jenn posted of the belt clip, the slot on the back of belt clip attaches to the front car mount arm.

    Reply
  • No black Friday for the Streak . . .

    |-(

    Reply
  • Interesting, I definitely feel as if this site is supported by dell…I HAD the commuter case (took my DELL streak BACK to bestbuy) and I feel that the case was decent. The side close to the mouth piece would always flap when I put my fingers by it. I think the worst FLAW with this case is that IT BLOCKS THE LIGHT FOR THE FRONT FACING CAMERA…but if that does not bother you, and you want your streak to look like an oversized blackberry storm.

    edit: then get it.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Brian

    Received my defender case today, it adds a good amount of girth but I cracked one screen and don’t want a repeat. I think the buttons feel better now.

    Reply
  • Avatar of rockysic

    Is it me or the 2.2 streak drains more battery?

    Reply
  • Thanks. That is a very neat feature. Being able to just unhook it from the belt clip and slip in onto the dash arm like that. I just have a feeling that getting to the battery might be a challenge. I am looking forward to having a device with me all day that I don’t need to be near a charging cord ever again. Even if it means carrying two spares.

    Reply
  • Actually that is something I have been looking into. There are some universal chargers on the market for the 3.7v Streak battery. Here’s a link to what they are like.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Jeremy

    Hey Jenn, can you please post hi res side by side comparison of these cases with the amzer one?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Jeremy

    Oh, that’s ok, can you say though that there is a big difference between impact and amzer?

    Excellent review as always btw. :) Good Job!!!

    Reply
  • Avatar of lungjian

    Hmm… tough choice. I like the simplicity and cost of the Impact Series. The look, protection, and slightly smaller and lighter design of the Commuter is very tempting also. And the Defender will… defend… against most tragedies. It also looks like it will fit the Bracketron windshield mount arm that I already have.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bob T

    The Defender case has saved my Streak twice already. I love it. Yep its big. yes its bulky. Yes it is worth every penny.

    Reply
  • I personally prefer the Impact (better protection, nicer design, makes buttons very easy to press), but the Amzer is still a good case.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Sriraam

    just ordered for defender case for recently froyo-ed streak! with my 2n half yr old waiting for every chance to use the device the best protection s wut i think will fit :)

    Reply
  • Avatar of Edouard Young

    I like the Defender Series of the Otterbox because it seems to offer the most protection for the Dell Streak. I have had my Dell streak since August 10 and I love everything about it. It just seems like it would break very easily if you are not careful. I have been looking for a good case and these seem to be the best out there.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Sparkle58

    Had my Streak for 4 days and dropped it twice. First time not a scratch, second time smashed to smithereens. Such is life thinks I. I’d already ordered the Commuter and was waiting for it to land. It just did today, now I wait for the Streak to be fixed. $315 for the repair btw. I was quoted $275 for the part alone so can hardly complain. Located in Sydney if any local interest in the repair process.

    PS Have an Otterbox for my N900 and although bulky the phone looks like new after a year’s use.

    Reply
  • Thanks! Saved me around 10 bucks.

    Reply
  • i have thought about this for my iphone otterbox defender, im thinking of fabricating something, its a good idea if you ask me.

    Reply
  • thank you Jenn,
    hi from London, an excellent (& still the most comprehensive)review.
    I bought the Defender case found it very cheap on ebay(was only after the impact)and I may buy a tuff-luv leather case later.

    The Defender case is the most over the top protection possible for the most over the top phone of the moment

    Reply
  • Avatar of Sushant Vasishta

    I just bought my Streak and its in transit. By the time I get it, I want to order one of the commuter or the Defender.

    I like defender for the safety it provides but my only gripe is the fact that they are using a hard plastic case against the plastic of the phone. I guess this will scratch the phone surface after prolonged use.

    In case of Commuter, the first layer(the one that contacts the phone body) is silicon and no way it’ll damage the phone surface.

    Still I would like to get it confirmed that is the inner surface od Defender lined with some kind of soft material or is it just plane plastic. If it is only the plastic, I’ll get the Commuter then.

    Reply
  • You can probably line it yourself if it is not already with neosprene rubber sold in hardware stores, assuming you can add a millimeter or so.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Dinesh

    Good article with good coverage & neat presentation.

    Reply
  • Are you sure this is the Defender series you are talking about ? On their web site it clearly says built in screen protector.

    Reply
  • nevermind…it is a stick on…it gets fingerprints on very fast ..wonder why they tout it being a ‘built-in’..its the same as the others.

    Reply
  • I’ve seen a few people write that the Streak with the Defender isn’t adequately retained in the beltclip by the four circles and sometimes falls out – does anyone have any comments on this?

    -avi

    Reply
  • Avatar of Oliver

    Quick question, do any of these cases allow you to use the Streak Dock? Had Dell Formfit case because it was dock compatible but it fell apart after a couple of months of use

    Reply
  • Very essential article, u see the problem with dell streak is that the front as in the gorilla screen side is hard and strong and can resist impacts, however the backside is equally weak… In this case dell streak will and will require 100 % back protection to ensure its long lasting… I myself have replaced the phone thrice due to impacts which resulted in screen damage… Now they have started providing silicone case with the box itself… Nw im a bit less worried about the impacts…

    Reply

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