OtterBox Defender and Commuter Series Case for HTC Desire Review
By: Michael Phrakaysone


If the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday happenings (not technically a holiday) across North America were any indication, Christmas shopping has already started!  Boatloads of people flogged their nearest electronics retail chains and flogged again on Monday to their various online retailers hoping to seize on as many deals as possible.  People even waited hours in line for crying out loud! 

Christmas is around the corner and chances are you will hopefully be receiving at least some sort of cool and interesting gift.  One of these gifts that will undoubtedly be selling is smartphones, specifically the relatively new HTC Desire Android-based smartphones.

Today I will be reviewing two different HTC Desire specific cases from well-known accessory maker OtterBox.  Sharing with you today is the OtterBox Defender Series Case and the OtterBox Commuter Series Case for the HTC Desire.  If you own this phone or know somebody who does and are considering purchasing a case, you must check out this review.

About OtterBox

“Mastermind and CEO Curt Richardson, with his 25 years experience in tooling and molding wanted to build a company that was distinct and structured upon innovation and evolution. In 1996, OtterBox was born.

Our cases are dedicated to all the klutzy, spontaneous, chaotic, graceless individuals who have broken a device or valuable due to their active lifestyle. Like our customers, we've been there too! From the beginning, we have protected valuables through innovation. This "innovative spirit" has allowed evolution in our product lines to safeguard the hottest technologies such as iPod's, smartphones, PDA's, Tablet PC's, laptops and other devices. We take the idea of a protective case to the next level so customers can find the ideal solution for any work environment or adventure!

Ok, rewind a bit to the name origination, we know you're wondering. On a drive to Denver, Curt and his wife Nancy were brainstorming company names. The name needed to be exciting and something people wouldn't forget. They wanted "box" to be in the name, but also wanted to incorporate "water" because the original OtterBox case line is waterproof (oceanic tidbit: an Otter's fur has a waterproof quality). Because of their fun, playful disposition "Otter" was the perfect fit! Well, the name stuck and we have to admit our logo is pretty darn cute too!

OtterBox is located in one of the greatest cities in America and no, we're not completely biased, see Money Magazine's 2006 rating for Best Places to Live. Yes, Fort Collins, Colorado is ranked #1. With easy access to the mountains for biking, hiking, running, camping, skiing, snowboarding and other activities, many of us use our cases every day. We also serve as excellent "guinea pigs" for new product testing.

We're a fun, hard working, creative bunch that enjoy a good laugh and a good beer, especially come Friday. We have in-house sales, customer service, engineering, public relations, marketing, web design, graphics and even our own warehouse.

At OtterBox, it's not one person changing the world of cases, it's a team!”

OtterBox Defender Series Case for HTC Desire Product Overview

“Consider your HTC® Desire™ protected. The OtterBox Defender Series for HTC Desire is our most rugged case–offering protection against drops, bumps, scratches and dust. Never again will you have to worry about losing contact with the world due to simple, everyday mishaps.

About our Defender Series: An innovative three layer design protects your HTC Desire from bumps, drops, scratches and dust while keeping your phone fresh as new.”

OtterBox Defender Series Case for HTC Desire Product Features and Specifications

PRACTICALLY INDESTRUCTIBLE PROTECTION: The OtterBox Defender Series offers an exclusive three-layer design that keeps information and investments safe. No other case can withstand this degree of rough treatment. The Defender Series provides superior protection for a smartphone allowing complete interaction through the case.

FEATURES: OtterBox HTC2-DESRE accommodates HTC Desire smartphones .

  • Layer 1: Clear protective membrane on screen and keypad.
  • Layer 2: Hi-impact polycarbonate shell.
  • Layer 3: Durable silicone skin. Access to sync/charge port via silicone plugs. Clear membrane protects camera and flash. Access to all side button features. Ratcheting belt clip holster included


  • COLORS: Black
  • WEIGHT: 4.23 oz / 120 g
  • DIMENSIONS: 4.97 in x 2.66 in x 0.75 in 126.26 mm x 67.64 mm x 19.15 mm

First Impressions and Overall Thoughts for Defender Series Case for HTC Desire

HTC Desire OtterBox Defender

OtterBox has given the packaging design on the Defender Series case an elegant, bright and attractive look.  The case is enclosed in the plastic container with the standard yellow and black company colors.  The biggest selling point for the Defender Series case is the amount of protective layers it provides, in this case 3-layers of protection.  The actual case is given an insert to mimic the real look of the HTC Desire and it does a great job at representing how the actual phone would look inside the case to customers coming across the package in stores.

Opening up the Defender Series HTC Desire case we find a number of parts in the package that make up one single product.  First thing you notice is how bulky the case really is.  It’s going to provide some nice heft and thickness to the overall smartphone, which is something you should plan for when looking for a tough case.
With the Defender Series Case for HTC Desire, we have three main layers of protection.  This case

does not come with a standard screen protector that you lay onto the device; rather it comes with a clear protective membrane that acts as the screen cover over the smartphone within the main inner shell. 

This is the same type of material I had experienced with the Defender for 1st Gen iPod Touch a while back.  You forget after a while there its there, meaning it’s actually brilliant.  This first layer of protection does not stick or get stuck on the screen creating bubbles or air pockets.  It does not interfere with the sensitivity of the touch screen or degrade it in any way. 

The second layer of protection you have with this case and to which I have found to be very strong and almost unbreakable is the high-impact and proven polycarbonate shell construction.  Polycarbonate’s can be deformed and stressed in many different ways and will always withstand these deformations and not shatter under pressure.  This is no different with the Defender for HTC Desire. 

The HTC Desire snuggles inside the polycarbonate shell with ease and with zero fitment issues.  It doesn’t rock back and forth in the shell and that is important to note.  It fits like a glove and all the necessary openings for the speakerphone, charge port, camera and lower half buttons are all there and perfectly aligned.

About the only drawback with such a polycarbonate shell is that one can induce scratches rather easily to this type of plastic.  However, the third layer will solve this low-scratch resistance issue.

The third and last layer of protection you have on this Defender Series case for HTC Desire is a silicon skin for added bump, scratch, dust and shock protection.  It’s not the thickest silicon skin out there but it’s of decent thickness and gets the job done.  It provides enough protection to withstand mishaps that will happen to a person’s smartphone device over time.  A silicone skin, like the one present on the Defender for HTC Desire case, will also help provide a level of grip.  It provides a texture that your hands and fingers can grip on and that is something other cases on the market are missing.  Other manufactures seem to forget about this.  HTC executes the silicone skin correctly because they add little dimples to the entire outside edge of the skin.  Without these features, a phone case can get slippery when you grab for it and that adds much more potential for the device to slide and fall off tables or on to the ground.

I love the fact that with this Defender Series case for HTC Desire, the inner shell is compacted into the silicone skin and that you snap and lock them into place within the belt buckle capable polycarbonate outer core.  There is so much more level of protection within this setup that it gives you full confidence that your $600 smartphone will be protected and guarded with the utmost care.

My brother has utilized the Defender Series Case for HTC Desire for about a solid month now day in and day out and it makes it clear to me that it doesn’t get any better than this.  He loves everything about it.  He has knocked it into tables by accident and the phone remains protected, the ability to swivel the belt buckle at any locking degree is convenient, the rubber compartment flaps that keep the charge port and headphone port closed, stays closed and doesn’t fly open, the clear membrane that acts as the screen protector does not stick to the AMOLED screen nor does it ever decrease or interfere with the sensitivity of the touch screen.  Because of all these great and positive feedback, the OtterBox Defender Series Case for the HTC Desire receives our Editor’s Choice Award.

OtterBox Commuter Series Case for HTC Desire Product Overview

HTC® has done it again! With a lightning-fast processor, built-in multi-tasking and an extremely vivid screen, the HTC Desire™ is one of the most impressive phones on the market. Protect your investment wisely with the OtterBox Commuter Series for HTC Desire. You won't find a sleeker, tougher case out there. About our Commuter Series: Three slender, yet sturdy layers offer tough protection in a sleek package. With a slim form factor and smooth outer layer, this case slides easily in and out of a pocket, purse or bag.

OtterBox Commuter Series Case for HTC Desire Product Features and Specifications

SLEEK AND TOUGH PROTECTION: The OtterBox Commuter Series is a perfect on-the-go accessory for everyday handheld technology. Safeguarding the screen from scratches and the corners from bumps and shocks, this style of case offers unique design with reliable strength.

FEATURES: OtterBox HTC4-DESRE accommodates HTC Desire smartphones.

  • Layer 1: Self-adhering clear protective film (cleaning cloth and installation card included).
  • Layer 2: Durable silicone mid-layer.
  • Layer 3: One piece custom molded polycarbonate shell. Access to all side button features. Silicone plugs allow access to all ports. Open access to camera.


  • COLORS: Black
  • WEIGHT: 1.43 oz / 40.6 g
  • DIMENSIONS: 4.83 in x 2.54 in x 0.67 in 122.7 mm x 64.6 mm x 17.1 mm

First Impressions and Overall Thoughts for Commuter Series Case for HTC Desire

OtterBox Commuter HTC Desire

OtterBox has given the packaging design on the Commuter Series case an attractive fall season look.  The case is enclosed in the plastic container with the product shown in the middle and graphics which describe the ‘on the go’ mentality.  The Commuter Series case is marketed as a hybrid case with style and protection in mind.  The case is given an insert to mimic the real look of the HTC Desire and it does a great job at representing how the actual smartphone would look inside the case. 

Turning over the plastic container reveals to us more features and product selling points that OtterBox would like to get across to its potential customers.  First is that the Commuter Series case for the HTC Desire includes three slender, yet sturdy layers of protection, that the Commuter Series case can slide into your pocket or purse and that in their eyes, the Commuter Series case is the perfect on-the-go case you can have.

Opening up the Defender Series HTC Desire case, we do not find a number of parts like we do with the Defender Series case.  The Commuter Series case is basically comprised of only two basic components.  All you have is the silicone skin insert that you place your HTC Desire into and you wrap this inside the one-piece polycarbonate shell.  The shell is not even a full shell but rather just an outer backing plate.  The last piece of the puzzle is the included screen protector. 

The Commuter Series case for HTC Desire is much different than the Defender Series case.  Comparing them both, you don’t really notice the added bulk or thickness to the device as you would if you slipped on the Defender Series case.  The Commuter Series case is definitely not thick but rather a little on the thin side. 

The silicone skin is bare and that to me is disappointing.  The skin has no texture, no dimples, nothing to grip on.  It’s as smooth as a babies bum and that is not what I want in a protective case of any kind.  You can have smooth as a baby’s bum if you wanted the shiniest and mirror looking back plate as you can find on an iPod device, but with a protective case, that’s unacceptable.  If you utilize the silicone skin alone, it will only provide you with a small level of bump protection, small level of dust protection and small level of shock protection since its too thin to do any high level protection.

The bad thing is that once you slip the silicone skin into the polycarbonate outer shell, it does the same exact thing as the silicone skin!  The shell is made purely of polycarbonate and offers some level of protection but the problem is that it’s not thick or even padded with any rubber; its totally bare plastic. 
The silicone skin is as smooth as a babies bum, and the outer polycarbonate shell is the same thing, which is an obvious disappointment.  The plastic may look like it contains textures when the photo is using flash, but don’t be fooled, there is nothing to grip onto and there is only a slippery surface you will experience, especially when you’re oily hands will grab onto it.  The funny thing is that polycarbonate by nature will offer low scratch resistance, so you’ll scratch up the backing plate in no time. 

I don’t understand the reason why OtterBox added zero rubber textures or any form of reliable grip on the polycarbonate backing plate.  At least add on rubber on the entire outside ridge like you have managed to do with the Defender Series case.  It makes little sense to me.  All they would have had to do with the Commuter Series case for HTC Desire was add some rubber on the sides or add some rubber on the backing portion of the case in order to prevent the case from being a $600 hockey puck.
The screen protector is the only saving grace of the Commuter Series case for HTC Desire.  It goes on relatively easy and fitment is great.  A very thin film just magnetically attracts and applies on the screen where you can push a few air bubbles away.  The screen protector is very clear and you won’t notice any loss in quality of the screen.

Remember the old Heinz Ketchup commercial?  The one where the man slides a ketchup bottle across the table to an attractive lady (at least that’s how I remember it).  The OtterBox Commuter Series Case for HTC Desire is basically that ketchup bottle sliding across the table with ease; something that should not happen with a protective case. 

Therefore, I recommend purchasing the OtterBox Defender Series Case for HTC Desire but I cannot do so with the Commuter Series Case.  Don’t get me wrong, the Commuter Series case is not horrible but as a protective case, it’s not up to par with my expectations.

Pink is Strength

I just wanted to give a plug for something that OtterBox is doing with the partnership of Avon.  OtterBox has teamed up with Avon and is raising money to help fight Breast Cancer apart of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.

You can help by purchasing a limited edition ‘Pink is Strength!’ Commuter Series Case for the specific BlackBerry models which include the 9800, 9700, 9100 and 8500.  When you purchase a ‘Pink is Strength!’ product, 10% of the purchase price will go the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade which looks to fund support for finding a cure, and to help bring awareness.

If you would like to help donate, you can learn more here: Pink is Strength!