The great folks at Otterbox have been kind enough to send over a sample of their latest case for the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3G Impact Case. Not having a 3G iPhone (yet!) myself, I've asked my good friend Tre to lend a hand with this review. What follows is his report.
I have been testing the OtterBox case for the iPhone 3G for the past month or so, and have found it to be very sturdy and protective of the phone itelf. The case is made out of a single piece of silicone rubber that you stretch over the iPhone. The case fits relatively snugly, although the long vertical sides feel like they aren't as firm, but that may be from continual removal and reinsertion of the phone during the testing.
The case feels extremely solid, and I have taken to being a lot less careful with my phone, and will toss it on the desk as opposed to placing it down. Granted, 4 inches of toss isn't a lot, but with one broken glass face in my iPhone career, this says a lot about the comfort I have in its ability to protect the iPhone.
The corners and back of the case are thicker, ostensibly because those are the points that are most likely to cause the most damage if it drops, but because of the way that it's designed, it makes it much easier to grasp than the naked iPhone. I have found it much easier to hold the phone, especially for long calls without worrying about it slipping at all. On the inside of the case on the corners, the rubber is sort of corrugated, which allows it to absorb some of the shock of a drop of the phone at those points. This works well; I have found myself playing with the phone and bouncing it on the corners as I'm sitting at my desk.
All of the ports are fully accessible, and I had no problems plugging anything in. Because of the case design, I find myself holding the phone in a more consistent manner, and don't have to continually adjust the phone location to get the earpiece lined up with my ear (as I do with a non-encased iPhone). I do however, have a gripe with the thickness of the case around the ringer silence switch- if you don't have fingernails, you are fighting a battle to get your finger through the thickness to turn it on or off. Less thickness near the switch would be a better design choice, IMHO.
I like this case a lot, but will probably not continue to use it, just because of the way that I carry my phone: in my pants pocket. The rubber case is awesome in its protection capabilities, and unfortunately also in its ability to cause high amounts of friction when I try to either put it in or pull it out. And when I'm driving, the last thing I want to be worried about is fighting my pocket when I'm pulling this out to answer a call (California headset laws notwithstanding). I'm torn if using another material for the case would be a good thing, as the shock absorption properties are one of the biggest benefits of the Otterbox case, but something that's a little less grabby would be appreciated. For someone that has a purse or carries it in a jacket, this probably wouldn't be as big a concern as it was for me.
Bottom line: if you're a person that likes an industrial-style case that offers industrial-strength support, this would be a hard case to beat.
Pros: one piece construction, additional rubber support on the corners, easy access to the ports
Cons: ringer switch not easy to access, rubber casing grabs on cloth pockets