There are lots of cases out there for the Apple iPod Touch-some made of leather, others of silicone, some with belt clips, some without. A few cases offer screen protection, while most ignore the issue completely, requiring you to purchase a separate screen protector. And plenty of the available cases look good but don’t really offer much protection for your $400 investment.
OtterBox Defender for the iPod Touch
The OtterBox Defender case is somewhat unique in that it is both highly functional and extremely protective. It is made of three different layers; the first is the screen protection layer, which is made of polycarbonate. It covers the entire screen, protecting it from scratches, liquids, and dust, but is thin enough that you can use your Touch normally, as if the screen were uncovered. The screen protector layer is permanently attached to the next layer, the hard polycarbonate inner case that completely covers the back, sides, and corners of the device. This part is in two pieces when you get the case; just lay your Touch in the back of the case and then attach the front of the case. It snaps together quite snugly, but isn’t difficult to open if you want to change cases.
The final layer is a soft silicone skin that covers the hard inner layer. It serves multiple purposes, from absorbing shock if you drop the case to cushioning it in your hand and making it easier to grip. It has several cutouts around the edges that line up perfectly with the protrusions on the inner layer of the case; when you put everything together make sure to tuck the little tabs of the silicone case under the bumps on the hard inner case so that everything fits together tightly. There are also a couple of extra flaps on the bottom of the silicone skin; these are designed to cover the sync/charge port and headphone jack when they’re not in use, adding extra protection against liquids and dust.
This case does add some bulk to the iPod Touch, but for me the peace of mind is completely worth it. The Touch is completely usable in the case for all functions, from charging and syncing to using headphones to listen to music. The power button on the top and the home button on the bottom front of the device are covered by the silicone skin; it make take a little getting used to at first, but with just a little extra pressure the buttons are entirely usable. There’s even a cutout for the ambient light sensor at the top left corner of the Touch, so that your screen will automatically dim or brighten depending on the current lighting conditions.
Of course the real question is whether or not the Defender does what its name implies, and this case passed with flying colors. I’ve dropped my iPod Touch several times (from a desktop to carpet and from eye level to concrete sidewalks) without any damage to the case or the device. It still looks brand new, and it has been through a whole lot in the last few months. Since the case is so protective I don’t worry about putting the Touch in another bag when I’m on the go, which means that it is usually in my hand, on my belt, or in my pocket.
Even better, this case is very resistant to the elements; OtterBox doesn’t market this case as being waterproof, and it isn’t, but I do consider it to be very water resistant. I don’t worry about using my iPod Touch in very humid or dusty environments, and I dropped it in a puddle once. Since the sync port and headphone jack were closed, nothing got into the case. I wouldn’t advise dunking it in a bathtub mind you, but I don’t think anyone should worry too much about any conditions you’d expect to encounter in your mobile wanderings, unless you happen to be an extreme sports aficionado.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a couple of drawbacks; while I love this case and think that it is “practically perfect in every way” it isn’t 100% perfect. I’ve found only two small issues so far: 1) it can be hard to manipulate controls on the extreme edge of the screen and 2) lint/dust tends to build up around the edges of the screen, where the clear protective layer is attached to the hard plastic inner layer. Issue #1 means that you may sometimes miss hitting a button right on the extreme edge of the screen, but after a short while you probably won’t notice this issue any more. The second issue is easily solved with regular use of canned air, about every other week or so. Just aim at the edge of the screen and you can get rid of the dust that accumulates there.
The ClipStand ($9.95) is a separate purchase, but if you have any potential need for a belt clip or would like to be able to prop up your iPod Touch for hands free video viewing you definitely need to buy it. I absolutely love this design because it allows me to choose whether or not I want a clip and quickly convert the case from one format to the other. Many cases offer a removable clip, but they often leave behind an annoying attachment “nub” that can drive you crazy if you’re in the habit of laying your device on a table and expect it to lay flat instead of wobbling around.
The coolest feature of the ClipStand is that you can use it to make your iPod Touch “stand” in either a horizontal or vertical orientation. Just push on the top of the clip until it snaps into place with the bottom extended; you can then rotate the clip into the right position to hold the Touch up on a tabletop. This is ideal for hands free ebook reading or video playback; I often use my Touch when I’m eating alone, and it’s great to have both hands free to hold my sandwich.
If it sounds like I’ve been gushing throughout this review, that’s because I have been–at least a little. I’ve tried several different cases for the iPod Touch but none of them even comes close to the functionality, protection, value, and peace of mind offered by the OtterBox Defender case with ClipStand. There are plenty of cases out there that are more expensive and less durable, so $29.95 seems like a bargain. It would be nice to see the Defender case for the iPod Touch in other colors, such as red, yellow, or breast cancer awareness pink, but black is the only choice and it suits me just fine. I might have to take my Touch out of the Defender case in order to evaluate other cases as my writing assignments require, but those times will hopefully be few and far between.