Review: OtterBox Defender for BlackBerry Bold

Review: OtterBox Defender for Blackberry Bold
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Price: $49.95 plus shipping @ BerryReview Store

I have been using BlackBerry devices since its first incarnation. I have also used many other mobile devices, MP3 players (I still have a Rio PMP300, one of the first MP3 devices ever). There are two things I know from experience:

1. If you can, use a screen protector.
2. A good case makes BIG difference.

Both of these will add years to your mobile devices. The OtterBox Defender fits well into #2.

Opening the box you’ll find 5 items, protective membrane for screen and keyboard, two piece polycarbonate shell, silicon skin that keeps the first three in place and adds shock/bump resistance and finally the holster. All these added together makes your Bold feel like a tank that can take almost anything. I have to mention, while this provides some protection against liquids, such as light rain, it will not prevent water entering.

The installation process was quick, but I had my own share of troubles setting up the membrane. Unlike my fellow team members, it would not form fit and left air pockets on the screen. The rest is fairly easy, put together the shell, slide the silicon skin over it and voila.

After I was fairly confident my unit is safe, I had my 7 year old daughter test it as well. She threw it on the floor, sat on it, and tried various other things but there was not even a single scratch. The membrane over the keyboard takes some time getting used to, but after couple of days, it fits really nice. For me the it was harder to get used to the trackball.

My biggest issue is the bulk, as the case doubles the thickness of the Bold. On the other hand that may be a fair trade if you want to protect your unit. I don’t think I will be using the case for my day to day life, but when I am on vacation at the beach or hiking, it will definitely be protecting my Bold for years to come.

Overall, I’d highly recommend it to anyone, especially if they are working on the field.

Pros:

  • Excellent protection
  • Ports are still fully accessible

Cons:

  • Adds bulk to the unit
  • Membrane may be hard to get used to

24 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. DON’T BUY IF YOU PLAN ON EVER USING SPEAKERPHONE.
    the seidio and oem cases have 2 holes on the bottom for the mics
    The otterbox is missing the big hole, resulting is echoeing whenever on the phone, and even squeeling when on speakerphone.

    I contacted them, they tried to tell me it isn’t the otterbox when infact it is.

    …Btw by bold still has the otterbox on.. Go bluetooth

  2. I’m curious to know how well it takes pictures through a protective layer. Any flash feedback?

  3. @nah.uhh crkbry- I have used the Otterbox cases on my Curve and my 8830 and I have never had a single issue with the speakerphone. I dont have a bold, so perhaps Remzi or Greg could confirm/debunk this.

    @Phreqd- Again speaking from my use of the Curve case, the camera does not function very well at all with the membrane on it. The pictures seem blurred and I had focus issues.
    Solution- I used a hole punch (one of my team members idea) and punched out a hole were the camera lens and flash led were located. I realize this will have an impact on the water resistance, but it was a trade I was willing to make.

  4. I have the same problem with my otterbox with the bold. Squeeling noise is very annoying. Ive also noticed that with this version of the defender series, the outside rubber stretches easily. It no longer gives a tight fit around the plastic case. Im hoping otterbox will replace it.

  5. Hey Everyone–

    First, thanks for the review Remzi! Second, I just wanted to address some of the concerns above. We actually changed the design of the camera cover on this Bold case so the flash is not a problem. The screen is built in over the camera so it shouldn’t cause any issues. As for punching a hole in the camera screen, this is up to the user, but it voids our warranty. I also wanted to let everyone know that this case does NOT protect against water (it is not waterproof or water-resistant), see website for details http://www.otterbox.com. As for the echo with the speaker it helps to keep the volume at 6 or below and if you’re still having issues you can try opening the side flap (for charging). As for the rubber, you can contact our customer service department customer.service@otterbox.com for a replacement.

    Thanks to everyone for your support,
    Kristin Golliher
    PR Executive

  6. I need to check into this!! I go through 2 Blackberries a year!

  7. @otterbox
    the echo isnt only on speakerphone, the otterbox messes with the noise cancellation on the bold and gives feedback to the person i am speaking too. honestly, try with and without the case. huge difference

    @nate
    the reason the olderbbs dont have the problem is there microphone isnt covered.

    boldseidio http://forums.crackberry.com/f120/unboxing-seidio-innocase-144441/
    bold oem skin http://www.shopblackberry.com/prodimages/researchinmotion/b/blackberryboldskinblack/l_bold_skin_black.jpg

    no feedback since they have 2 holes on the bottom for the bold.

  8. That’s really strange, a lot of our staff actually use the Bold case and haven’t run into that problem.

    I just ran it by customer service again as well and they suggested same thing as with the speaker phone keeping the volume level at 6 or lower or opening the silicone plug.

  9. I too just got a Bold and Otterbox Defender. People are complaing to me that they hear themselves echo when I’m talking to them. They say about 90% of what they say is repeated back. I thought maybe it was software, but I’ll try removing the case today. It does make sense it’s affecting the noise cancelling as well, since it seems that (not on speakerphone) on my end, my listening volume fluctates as well.

    Another web post says it’s the clear plastic membrane covering the mic. But what I can’t find docs for is which hole on the bottom is the mic? I assumed the small round since that’s what Otterbox made a pass through for. But that one is unobstructed by the clear plastic. So what is the other hole on the BB? It is half way covered by the clear plastic and there is no pass trhough in the hard plastic of the Otterbox for it.

  10. Brian– I just heard back from engineering. As for the echo, it is still suggested to keep the volume at 6 or below and if you’re still having issues you can try opening the side flap (for charging). Also, they’re curious if it helps to remove the clear plastic cover. Please let me know if it makes a difference. That would be useful information for us.

    The small round hole on the bottom of the phone is the mic. It should not be covered by the clear plastic cover. If it is, the cover could possibly be defective or it has been placed incorrectly on the phone. The other hole on the bottom of the phone is for a lanyard when not using the Defender case.

    Best Regards,
    Kristin Golliher
    Public Relations Executive

  11. I will try to do some testing later. It’s tiring to test solo as it’s not consistent. No one wants to play with me. I’ve made about 50 test calls to myself at another phone and all I can determine is, it doesn’t appear to happen if only the hard case is installed without the clear plastic and the outer skin. With one or the other of those it’s inconsistent, but as a rule, worse during the first few moments of my call and appears to fade. However, I don’t talk on the phone a lot, and when I do I’m driving (I know, not good, but with 1hr 15 minute commute, it’s better than sleeping and driving) so I really should try to test it with the same background noise. My friends complaining complained throughtout our calls, not just at the beginning, so either I need more background noise, or more two way conversation to try to duplicate. Hopefully I can come up with something.

  12. Brian–Let me know what you find out. Maybe one of our engineers could play! I could see what their schedules look like and set something up. Its tough for us to trouble shoot this as well because we have 3 people in our office using the case without echo issues.

  13. Haven’t had much time to work on this. I have been using it without the clear membrane. I was in the truck on the way home when my boss called. Clear membrane not on. He complained. Removed black silicone. Still complained. Removed hard case. Fixed problem. Like I said before, in the quiet of my office with just the hard case on seems ok, with either plastic or silicone on seems to echo during the beginning of the call and then fade, although my testing was limited. Wish i could come to a conclusion on this. I’m guessing since it’s worse in the truck it has something to do with the level of background noise and the noise cancelling on the Bold. Not sure. I may have to just loose the case, as finding time to troubleshoot it has become difficult. It’s not really an option in the truck to turn the volume down much, as then I can’t hear the other person well.

  14. Brian–No worries. We want our customers to be 100% satisfied and I’m sure our customer service department would be happy to help you out with a return or exchange. Feel free to call them 888-695-8820 or email customer.service@otterbox.com.

    As I mentioned before we have 3 people in our office using the case without issue (they are also frequent travelers as well, so I’m sure the car and airport are also locations of use) so it’s hard for us to trouble shoot when we can’t replicate the issue.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

    Thanks,
    Kristin Golliher
    Public Relations Executive

  15. My biggest gripe is the bubbles on the screen. The review lets the reader down easy when it talks about the membrane but I bet a lot of people have this problem. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to smooth out plastic film with a card so whats with the bubbles around the edges? & why can’t I buy a new membrane online? Like a 3 pack for $15 bucks. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the product and defend it almost daily when people rag on me cuz it’s so big. Hey I paid $500 for the phone lets spend $50 and keep it like new! And it’s good to know that others are having the echo problem. My wife complains about it all the time and we always blame it on AT&T. Oh well…

    • Hi GregP,

      How does “I had my own share of troubles setting up the membrane. Unlike my fellow team members, it would not form fit and left air pockets on the screen.” lets the reader down? You can even see clearly I had issues with membrane in the shots.

  16. Kristin
    it is definitely an issue with the otterbox defender. i have a bold and in the case get feedback regardless of volume and side flap. I can be in the same call/conversation and remove the case and the echo and feedback go away. Why wouldn’t this get resolved before the item was released. Have your engineers test if a bigger mic hole would work. I would like a response to see if any upgrades are being done. Thanks

  17. Kevin—I’m really sorry to hear that. As I mentioned back in February, we have 3 people in our office using the case daily and they aren’t having echo issues so unfortunately we haven’t been able to replicate this in-house. Therefore it’s tough for our engineers to trouble shoot. We don’t have any current plans for changes to the case because most of our customers have found it works perfectly for their needs. At this point, I would suggest contacting customer service for suggestions 888-695-8820 or customer.service@otterbox.com they may also be able to help you with a return if you purchased the case from us. We want our customers to be satisfied so if there’s anything we can do please let us know.

  18. Has anyone had a problem with the phone turning off and then on again on its own? I am on my second bold right now and both units have had the same problem. Thought it was a defect with the first unit, but it is happening to the second one too. Spoke to customer service and they said it might be the magnet that is on the holster that is causing this. Sometimes the phone will ring and as I pull it out of the holster, it will reset on its own. Starting to get annoying. Please advise. Thanks.

  19. I haven’t heard of that, customer service would be the best bet for help on that one. Maybe they can send you a new belt clip if your magnet is not working properly. Thanks!

  20. I have a bold with defender case and have bad echo issues also I have tried without clear membrane, turning volume down, and opening side port but still echoes any ideas?

  21. Hi David—Sorry, I don’t have any further suggestions for you to try. My advice would be to contact customer service and see if they have additional suggestions. As I mentioned above, we strive for customer satisfaction. I’m sure if they can’t help you fix the problem they would be happy to assist you with a return if you purchased the case from us, 888-695-8820 or customer.service@otterbox.com.

  22. I had the feeback noise. I had the regular OS that came with Rogers Bold.

    However, I upgraded to the latest OS (used vodafone UK, off the blackberry site — just remember to delete the vendor.xml file before installing — check crackberry.com for OS upgrade instructions)

    anyway, after the OS upgrade, no more feedback, even if I am using the membrane and the full Defender Kit.

    the other benefit of the OS upgrade is that it fixed hte memory leaks and improved the overall lag.

    – using OS v 4.0.266 (platform 4.0.0.223)

  23. THANK YOU to FeedbackNoise. I can confirm that this has solved the feedback on my Rogers BOLD.

    The high pitch feedback has disappeared after upgrading the firmware to the new Vodafone version.

    v4.6.0.266
    (BlackBerry Handheld Software v4.6.0.451 Vodafone).

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