OtterBox Defender & Impact Series – The Best Rugged BlackBerry Tour Cases

September 8, 2009

The folks at OtterBox have taken on the challenge of keeping our hand-held gadgets protected.   Having recently purchased the BlackBerry Tour and being notoriously rough on cell phones, I was excited to receive OtterBox’s solutions – the Impact and Defender Series – for protecting one of the most important gadgets I own. 

Last May I raved about the OtterBox rugged laptop 7030 case which unfortunately has been discontinued, as OtterBox is now concentrating their product line primarily on hand-held technology.  I can understand the shift in focus, as it further underlines the ever-increasing, important role smartphones are playing in our hectic lives.

I have been a consumer of smartphones since 2004 when I purchased the Treo 300.  Since then I’ve owned seven different smartphones including Treos, the XV6700 and BlackBerries.  With each phone I desperately searched for the perfect case, and inadvertently became what is referred to in the gadget world as a "casewhore".  That’s fine, I wear the badge proudly, and claim pundit status when it comes to protecting my smartphones.

With that said… I’d like to introduce to you two of the best rugged cases on the market for the BlackBerry Tour:

OtterBox Impact SeriesImpact Series
The Impact Series for the BlackBerry Tour offers both a rubberized skin case and a screen protector. This is not just a rubber-on-phone case.  There’s a little more engineering and thought that has gone into the Impact Series shell versus your cheap $5 silicone cases.  The Impact has grid pockets strategically placed throughout the inside of the case to absorb the shock on impact.  

 

The skin comes only in black and feels solid in hand. Unlike the plastic two-piece hard shells you see at the mall kiosks, if you drop the Tour the case won’t bust apart at the seams.

The cut-outs allow for easy access to both speakers, the LCD, headset jack, mic, etc. It takes a little extra pressure to activate the left and right side-buttons and volume controls because the Impact shell has rubber covers over these areas.  I actually think that’s a great feature because I’m always inadvertently pressing side buttons on the Tour.

If your smartphone carrying habits are to toss your phone in your bag, backpack or purse – or even if you carry it in a large pocket – the Impact Series offers solid protection for your BlackBerry Tour.

Pros:
Durable, one-piece, firm grip, screen guard included
Cons: None
Cost: $19.95
Also included: self-adhering clear protective film, cleaning cloth, and installation card
Purchase here 

 
Impact Series + Protective Film, Cloth, Installation Card

Impact Series

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OtterBox Defender SeriesDefender Series

I carry my phone on my hip because it simply makes life easier.  The anxiety that comes with digging through my purse or computer bag in a desperate search to locate my cellphone BEFORE IT STOPS ringing… poof, gone.  It’s on my hip. Just be aware, when you roll like this, fam-n-friends tend to become agitated when you don’t respond immediately to their communication efforts – (nasal voice) "Where is she? She has the phone attached to her hip for crying out loud!"

The OtterBox Defender Series for the BlackBerry Tour is really two cellphone cases in one.  You can use the protective shell as a stand-alone, or pair it with the hip holster like I do. The smartphone casing is comprised of three layers:

First Layer - The silicone skin is made of a thick rubber similar to the Impact Series.  It not only offers you a substantial sense of “rugged” protection but it gives you a good grip on the device.  The silicone seals all ports from dust, allowing you full access by peeling back the rubber flap.  And just like the Impact series, there are rubber bumps covering the four side buttons and the two buttons located on the top of the Tour.  This outermost layer really does seal the deal (no pun intended). 

Second Layer  – This is a two-piece industrial plastic that encases the Tour and protects the cellphone on all sides.  Although it’s rather elusive in the pictures, there are  pieces of clear plastic that rests over the top of the large Tour screen and the camera.  Acoustic seals over the speaker cutouts prevent dust intrusion while  maintaining sound quality.

Third Layer – Kudos to OtterBox for recognizing that the “clear membrane” keyboard protection should be a removable option.  I opted out of the third layer, because I prefer to feel the tactile response from the keyboard.  The keyboard is nestled down about 3 – 4mm inside the case, allowing for a buffer between the surface and the keyboard. Thus, there’s enough raised protection around the outside of the phone to protect the keyboard in case of a drop.   Perhaps if my Tour were to consistently be exposed to water, sand or dust, I would  opt for this additional layer. 

Holster
Not much to say about it other than it does the job it was intended to do, which is to hold the phone securely in place.  At first it took a little effort to remove the Tour from the holster but over time it became easier. There’s a belt clip in the back that ratchets 360 degrees.  Belt clips are so important when you carry your phone on your hip. There are clips that dig into your skin, and clips that are too short, easily detaching.  I like the OtterBox clip because it not only has a tight grip, but it’s long enough to tweeze/pinch ample clothing or belt to keep it from falling off. 

The Defender Series is the most rugged BlackBerry Tour case in existence.  Your phone is completely protected while remaining completely functional.  After carrying my smartphone inside the Defender Series for the past two weeks, I would challenge any manufacturer to present a more durable, sound piece of engineering for the BlackBerry Tour.  OtterBox backs the Defender with a 1-year warranty. For the amount of engineering that went into making this product, I think it’s very reasonably priced.

Pros:  Durable, rugged, functional, very reasonably priced
Cons: A tad bulky
Cost: $49.95
Purchase here
 
Defender Series Case & Holster

 
Defender sans plastic keyboard membrane

 

Defender’s three layers of protection + holster

 

See OtterBox Commuter Case article here.


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