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Review: OtterBox HTC EVO Defender Series Case

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The final case in OtterBox's HTC EVO lineup is the $49.95 Defender Series.

Described as "the toughest case around," it features multiple layers of protection, a rugged holster with ratcheting belt clip, and built-in screen protectors for the display, camera, and LED flash. It's about the closest thing I've ever seen to make the EVO practically indestructible, but it obviously comes at the expense of the phone's slim profile.

Is it a fair trade-off? Read on to find out.

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The Defender Series is made up of four pieces: a two-piece "top-quality polycarbonate" plastic case, a silicone skin that is placed over the plastic, and a thick plastic holster. All the items are constructed well and look/feel like quality products.

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The plastic case snaps together with a satisfying click and fits the EVO perfectly. A smooth clear plastic screen protector is attached to front of the case to cover almost the entire face of the phone (the area with the earpiece, front cam, and sensors is left exposed), while a smaller shield is affixed to the back to protect the camera lens and LED flash. As long as there is no dust/debris on the screen guards, visiblity and responsiveness remain unaffected.

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The back piece covers the EVO's kickstand, so OtterBox has included a plastic one that snaps into and out of its slot. Two small bumps on the kickstand snap into two small grooves in the slot and keep the stand securely in place when in its closed position.

Although the EVO's metal kickstand is more durable and looks better, what's nice about this one is that it keeps the phone stable. Most cases tend to make the EVO a little wobbly when the stand is in use, but this one doesn't since it's built into the case. UPDATE: Feedback in the comments indicates that this stand will break with minimal usage within a few days/weeks.

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The textured, lint-attracting silicone skin slips over the plastic case and features plugs for the headphone jack at the top and the HDMI and microUSB ports on the bottom. The power and volume buttons are covered in slightly bouncy raised silicone that makes pressing the buttons a little easier.

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It takes some work to get the silicone skin correctly in place because there's a lot of pushing corners and edges into grooves and beneath/around plastic pieces involved in the process. This creates a nice seal on most of the areas that would otherwise be suspectible to dust and lint, though the speaker and earpiece/front cam/sensors area are still exposed.

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The included holster is made of thick plastic with an extended bottom edge and corners for added protection. The ratcheting belt clip on the back can be rotated 360 degrees to suit your desired position.

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The EVO is designed to fit into the holster with its screen protected and facing your body, but the holster latch will lock onto device when it's facing forward too. The fit isn't quite as secure, but it held on just fine when I tried to shake the EVO out of it. The plastic notches that the latch fits into are on the left and right sides of the case, which allows you to put the EVO in either direction (i.e., earpiece to the left or right).

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The main drawback to the OtterBox Defender Series case for the HTC EVO is its thickness. You can't get layers of "unrivaled protection" without some added bulk, and this case makes the EVO quite chunky. As you can see from the photo directly above, the Defender is about as thick as the EVO wearing a 3500mAh extended battery.

But if you can live with the chunk and you need stylish "armor" for your EVO, then there's very little to complain about with the Defender Series case.

What I like:

  • Build quality
  • Ultimate protection
  • Stylish design
  • Inclusion and versatility of holster (facing front or back, left or right)
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Silicone port covers
  • Shielded camera lens

What I don't like:

  • Silicone attracts lint/dust
  • Built-in screen protector (not everyone wants to use a screen guard and some people want to use their own)
  • Adds a lot of bulk
  • UPDATE: Kickstand is said to break very easily

The Defender Series Case for the HTC EVO is available now for $49.95 directly from OtterBox and for considerably less than that at Amazonir?t=goodandevo 20&l=ur2&o=1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here.

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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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