Review: OtterBox Impact, Commuter, and Defender Series Cases for Dell Streak
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The silicone itself is fairly thin and what you might expect from a regular, non-Impact Series silicone: smooth, soft, and floppy.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.