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Review: OtterBox HTC EVO 3D Defender Series Case

Defender After learning last week that all three OtterBox cases (Defender, Commuter, and Impact) were officially available for HTC EVO 3D, I decided to give the readily-available Defender Series  ($49.95) a test drive.

This is likely the most protective case you can find right now, but that protection definitely comes with some trade-offs.

Like many others, I want to be able to let my EVO 3D run free without a case to cover its beauty. That said, I also know that one unprotected drop can ruin my fun. Having used the Commuter Series case for my EVO 4G, I had grown accustomed to the level of protection that comes with the OtterBox products. I was also used to a slightly larger case than simple shells.

However, I was completely blown away by the size of the Defender Series case.

OtterBox has continued to refine the strengths of its cases over the years, and I would say that this model is an improvement over the EVO 4G case, due in part to the design changes HTC implemented as well.

For example, anyone who often found themselves shaking their head at the "chin" found on the bottom of the EVO 4G cases will enjoy the new design. With HTC moving the microUSB and micro HDMI (now combined) ports to the left side of the phone, the chin is gone.

EVO3D Defender front

As it has been in previous models, 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. The quality of these pieces seems very sound and once assembled, the device definitely feels like it is thoroughly protected.

EVO3D Defender pieces

The plastic case snaps together very tightly and getting it off again takes work.

A smooth clear plastic screen protector is attached to front of the case and it covers everything on the front of the phone with the exception of the earpiece, front camera, and sensors. I normally run with a Zagg on mine but this would do the trick instead. It does not interfere with touch operations, but it and the plastic do reduce the screen area you can functionally interact with (more on this later).

Since the camera pod is larger than it was on the EVO 4G, there is more to protect. The rear plastic piece has small openings for the two camera lenses and the LED flash. These are all protected with a sheet of plastic covering the crystal. As long as there is no dust/debris on the screen guards, visibility and responsiveness remain unaffected.

Getting the silicone skin installed over the plastic cocoon does take some work. Once on properly, it provides a nice barrier keeping lint, etc. from getting into the assembly.

The included holster appears to be virtually the same as the previous model, allowing you to securely stow the EVO 3D facing in or out. The 360-degree ratcheting belt clip now serves a new purpose. Since the phone doesn't have a built-in kickstand, the clip can be locked open to serve as a very adequate substitute.

I still love OtterBox products but a few issues would prevent me from keeping this case:

(1) Size/Thickness. OtterBox describes the Defender Series as "perfect for people who need hardcore protection" and they meant it. It is not very pocketable and definitely awkward to wear with the holster. The photo below gives you a good idea of the size with the case next to a naked EVO 3D. 

EVO3D Defender case & phone

(2) Lint. The silicone shell will find any/all particles it can and collect them. It's not hard to find the lint on these photos, and that was within minutes of installing the case.

(3) Access to the edges of the screen. The front case provides a tall barrier protecting the screen. However, the case itself creeps right up to the screen edges, and with it being so tall, it is almost impossible to touch the screen properly in apps that have buttons/icons in that space. For example, I couldn't tap the check boxes in Gmail (it would open the email instead) and I couldn't bring down the notification shade when in landscape mode. This may be resolved if you take the screen protector out, but that would seem to defeat the purpose of this case.

All in all, if you want complete peace of mind and are willing and  able to bulk up the phone, this case may be for you. I expect I will be much more at home with the redesigned Commuter Series once I get my hands on one.

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David Carleno

David is a former contributing editor at Good and EVO, which was merged into Pocketables in 2012.

Avatar of David Carleno

17 thoughts on “Review: OtterBox HTC EVO 3D Defender Series Case

  • I have the same exact issue mentioned here. I can’t touch the sides of the screen and in gmail I can’t check off the the emails without opening them most of the time. This case is nice but I think I’ll be switching over to seidio convert if the reviews for that case are good. If the commuter series had a belt clip holster I would get that one instead. The commuter is sleek looking. All in all the defender is nice but its mostly for people who really need protection from falls and bumps. Luckily I only paid $30 for the case so If i decide to get rid of it I should be able to break even.

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  • good looking case but not something I would use everyday. I would like something slimmer and almost as good.

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  • I have this case and I do have problems with interacting UI controls located along the edges, but I wouldn’t call it impossible. You just have to force yourself to touch the edge more accurately. Though, it is very bulky, I want the protection. I’m a big guy and gadgets can have a rough time in my pockets.

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  • I have the case and also have the issue with Gmail, but so far, luckily, that is the only app that I have the issue with, and as @DanyMac above states, it’s not impossible. In fact I manage to hit the checkmark probably 9 out of 10 times I’m guessing, so it’s a relatively small annoyance. Still annoying though…

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  • I have the commuter case and love it, always have, well at least my last four devices… Unless you are in the field (for military) or on a construction site the defender is a bit much… but having used the defender when I was active duty it is the best out there for protection.

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  • This is my first Otter box case, and I love it. I’ve had the cheap cases and the more expensive split cases, but have never been able to protect my phone as well as the Defender. Yes I’ve in a while hurting the P can be an issue, but I’ll live with it for the protection.

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  • I as well have the BIG fingers problem with the edge of screen. One of my main gripes is that when your screen is facing in(which provides most protection) you can’t access the volume up/down buttons. Now I have thought about modifying the holster my self but afraid ruining it. I miss the compact size and every button accessible like my Evo 4g Innocase and holster. I think the size is crazy but I do feel like my 3d is well protected.

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  • WOW! This was a lot faster than availability on the Defender case for the Evo 4g. Good job.

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  • The defender is also my first otter case. When I put the case on it looked like the tabs were pushing the 3d/2d slider to much. Anybody notice this? I guess its not too much of an issue.

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  • You can access the volume buttons with the display facing in. Just flip it.

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  • I have both the Defender and Commuter cases and although I like the Commuter more for its slenderness and minimal size increase, unlike the Commuter case for the 4G, this one doesn’t cover all ports or the camera pod like the Defender does. If I could find a good screen protector for the camera glass (that doesn’t reduce picture quality), I’d probably switch back to the Commuter case.

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  • Almost everybody I spoke to on my phone using this case has told me that it sounds like I’m in a tunnel. I did some surgery on the rubber area where the microphone is, and removed the rubber ring on the inside part that surrounds the microphone. I put the case back together and made a call. The person on the other end said that I sounded much better. I’ll roll with this for a while and see.

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  • Mine is not rooted (yet). My 1st Evo was rooted and I LOVED it (ran on Fresh ROM). I will definitely root my 3D, I just wanted to give it a while unrooted first. :-)

    Reply
  • Avatar of Goofygirl

    I got my Evo 3D last Thursday but was too busy to even be able to play!! :( I turned it on Friday and was rooted within 30 minutes of activation!! The rom I’m using is from Team XRon and I LOVE it!!!!! This phone is amazing and the rom just magnifies the greatness!!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Olivia

    This defender series is yes, protective against drops and a very good protection against water damages, however mine seems to hold in it’s own moisture, causing my phone to black out unexpectedly. Maybe it’s where it holds in the heat, I do not know.

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  • I have had the defender series case for almost 10 months now and I absolutely hate it! Sure it protects my phone just fine, but whats the point of having a phone that nobody can hear you on? Everyone says that I sound super far away and they complain that everything they say echoes. I cut the rubber away from the microphone and no success. My phone is a htc evo design. Kinda ticked about spending $50 on something that doesn’t function properly.

    Reply

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