[Accessory Review] Otterbox Defender Case for HTC EVO 3D


I’ve had my HTC EVO 3D for a bit over a week now and have had more than enough time to inadvertently expose it to the harsh conditions of the world. The device’s build quality seems great, but you’ll quickly notice how fragile the coating is atop the aluminum chassis. One quick ding or drop can scar it for life. It happened to me and all I dropped on it was a fork from a few mere inches away, the result of which you can see in the image directly below.

Highly upset about it, I opted to buy the Otterbox Defender case to protect it from further damage. The Otterbox Defender series is one of great quality. Although they bulk devices up a good chunk, it’s built to last and protects every inch of your device save for the obvious needs to uncover the speaker grill, external speaker, microphones and the front-facing camera. The HTC EVO 3D’s version is no different.


It keeps the dual-cameras recessed, making sure you never scratch the camera glass as long as it’s encased by the Defender. All buttons and external ports are closed, with the microphones and speaker grill being the only exposed areas aside those mentioned above. Flaps cover the microUSB/MHL port, the 3.5mm headphone jack and the camera’s 2D/3D toggle switch.

One of the most important parts of the phone, the display, is fully protected by a plastic covering, acting as a screen protector that can potentially last you for years. I can barely tell the difference as responsiveness and clarity are just as good as without the shield. My finger runs over it smoothly unlike some screen protectors and it’s extremely easy to clean. The only negative is how recessed the case makes the display.

It becomes kind of hard to type on the edges of the screen or to use the “search” and “home” buttons that sit on the right and left edges of the phone, respectively. I find this sort of recession overkill considering the protective covering over the face of the device, but I’m sure they designed it this way for a reason.

The buttons over the camera shutter button, volume rockers and power button are easy to press. It may take a bit more force to handle that two-stage shutter button properly, but you can still clearly feel the difference between focus level and shutter level.

Assembly, Disassembly, Build Quality and Style

There are four parts to the case  – the screen protector mentioned above, two pieces of the “hi-impact” polycarbonate shell that goes over the phone and the very high-quality silicon that covers that shell. The hard shell is easy to assemble and hard to disassemble. This may be frustrating for your rooters who need to do frequent battery pulls, but it’s good news if you drop your phone a lot – it won’t be breaking off that easily.

The shell over it not only adds style, but a grippy surface to ensure you don’t drop it in the first place. Otterbox also claims it absorbs impact. It’s not perfect, however. The silicon cover can sometimes be hard to reapply, and even with normal use some corners or sides of it can separate from the polycarbonate case. It usually doesn’t play nice when trying to get it back into place, either. I expected more from Otterbox in this area, but have only had this problem twice to date.

The case makes the phone extremely bulky. As the phone itself is already quite thick, you’ll often feel like you’re holding a brick and your friends might often mistake your phone for one. It really comes down to style vs maximum protection, in which case you may want to take a look at the Otterbox Commuter case and compare the two.


I’ve dropped the phone once on purpose using the Defender case from about 5 feet high and, sure enough, it defended the EVO 3D. I’m not in the business of dropping my phone a lot, but I feel confident that if something horrible were to happen it would be in a lot better shape than if I didn’t have the case. That’s not to say I’d expect it to survive being run over by a car, but it probably could.


It looks good in doing its job, as well, if you don’t mind your phone looking like a piece of one of the great pyramids. For $50, I highly recommend buying this case to protect the investment made on the phone itself, especially if you’re a clumsy person like myself. It may be overkill for some folks, in which case the Otterbox Commuter or some other case my be a better, and better looking, fit. It comes with a one year inclusive warranty, too, so if the silicon material gets stretched out over time or if the polycarbonate shell somehow gets cracked, you’re covered. Somehow, I don’t see that happening before the one-year warranty is up.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Forgot to mention how typing on it can be difficult with the keys at the extreme edge. Its so bad that I’m considering a new case now. Don’t mind the weight and size the case gives though. Its just very annoying to have issues using the keyboard.

    1. “It becomes kind of hard to type on the edges of the screen or to use the “search” and “home” buttons that sit on the right and left edges of the phone, respectively.”

  2. I purchased the OtterBox Commuter Case! It’s the best of both worlds with protections and pocketbility(I Know, its not a word, Idk tho!). Im not a fan of the Built in Screen protectors and the size of the Defender Cases, if I was in Construction maybe. Good Review Q!

    1. no, i like pocketability. Im with you.

      1. I like pocketability too, the word flow from mouth like milk from the teet of a goat

  3. How come the Sensation has received no Otter love?

  4. It’s also sometimes difficult (depending on which launcher you use) to move an item on a homescreen to another homescreen. Your finger may not be able to reach the very edge of the screen that triggers the homescreen to scroll over.

  5. I love this case I just got mine, here

    Now gotta wait for the kick ass kickstand case…

  6. BTW, any news as to when the OEM kickstand case is coming?

  7. Quentyn, there are two points I feel you missed in your review. One of them was the reason I returned mine.

    1. The top of the plastic screen is needlessly die-cut lower to accommodate the proximity/speaker/ffc. The only thing is, the plastic never was interfering with those functions in the first place. It’s really baffling, because the fit of the plastic case is absolutely perfect and precise – so why did they add such a sloppy hole for the top components? The added cut in turn exacerbates another problem – since almost the entire top of the plastic is screen isn’t attached, it acts like a dirt pocket, right against your screen. With the case fully assembled, I was able to easily slide my fingernail under it, and lift the plastic right up. If my fat finger can do that, imagine how easy it would be for a single grain of sand or dirt to slip in from your pocket, and grind against your screen all day. Of course this is less of an issue for those with screen protectors, but still, it is kind of silly to have a case as rugged and famous (and expensive) as the Otterbox brand, and leave the most delicate part of the phone with an invitation to grit. At least if they had included a adhesive screen protector (cost to them, what, 5 cents?) they could have appeased some users. My protectors are in the mail, and until then, I just KNOW if i put that thing in my pocket, a bit of dirt will slip right behind the plastic and mash it into my glass. I honestly cannot foresee a situation where this wouldn’t eventually happen to everyone, sooner or later, especially those in construction/rugged activities. If only they had attached a piece of thin fabric on the top, stretched between the top edge of the clear plastic, and the top edge of the frame, with two holes perfectly die cut for the proximity/ffc. That would have sealed up the front as best as possible.

    2. This is just an opinion, but it should be made known to people so it can factor in their decision. The cameras are inset really, really far into the case, and they have a lens in front of them. Great for protection, but those are going to get filled with pocket lint very quickly. In the small amount of time I had my Defender, there was already lint in mine. Because the hole is so small and narrow, it required a Qtip to thoroughly clean because nothing else would fit in there and blowing the dust didn’t get it all. This isn’t a big issue, but a nuisance none the less for some people.

    On a side note, you said the plastic screen didn’t affect clarity, however mine was significantly bad. It sure as heck wasn’t crystal clear. It gave the screen a “digital noise” look with a rainbowish hue. Kind of like someone added a 10% opacity colored noise filter in Photoshop over the screen. I looked with a loupe, but couldn’t find any protective film that was supposed to be peeled off, so I assumed that was just the way the plastic was. Did I miss something to peel off? Was my plastic defective? Or do you notice it too?

  8. Also, you forgot to mention the belt clip can be turned to function as a kickstand (but you have to flip the phone screen-side out first, obviously).

  9. ” It really comes down to style vs maximum protection ” No worries there. The EVO3D, while it does have a nice spec sheet (3D stuff aside – just a 30-second novelty to me), it is by far, the ugliest phone I’ve ever seen. Period. I’m probably going to end up owning one in a few weeks the same way I ended up owning an EVO (neighbor likes gambling, and when he gets into a rough streak, he sells me his toys for dirt cheap and I like $100 phones I can use for dev stuff). This case hides just how fugly this thing is. When I saw the picture of the white one, I threw up in my mouth a little, it was so disgusting, but this case actually makes it almost stylish. Well done otterbox! I no longer feel as if I’m looking at a medusa when I see an EVO3D.

  10. Come on Quentyn trim the nails before you take the pics man. good review though.

  11. I love mine.

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