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OtterBox Defender with iON Intelligence review - smart protective case for iPhone


The Otterbox Defender with iON Intelligence is a battery case for the iPhone 4/4S with a number of unique features. It incorporates a built-in battery that doubles the amount of iPhone usage, and it works alongside an app that intelligently manages your remaining battery. Also, like most OtterBox Defender cases it offers remarkable  protection.


The OtterBox Defender case itself comprises of three layers: a screen protector, a polycarbonate inner layer and the silicon outer layer. To place the iPhone inside you have to stretch and remove the silicon outer layer, unclip the screen protector and insert the phone into the polycarboate inner layer (then re-assemble the case). At the bottom chin of the case are 10 LED lights and pushing a button displays the remaining battery power. It charges via a Micro USB cable.


Where it gets clever is the app integration that manages the case’s power. The iON Intelligence app is a free download from the App Store (a link appeas when you plug in it in for the first time) and it monitors your battery usage over time.

The iON Intelligence app provides a good estimate for when your battery life will run out. It also manages the battery in the case when in the background, intelligently seeding power from the case to the battery (it apparently kicks in around the 60 per cent mark).

As with other OtterBox Defender cases, it’s designed with protection in mind. The website claims it withstands bumps, drops and shocks and given the styling of the case we’re inclined to believe them. The screen protector prevents scratches and the ports are all covered from dust and debris. It’s not waterproof, however, as there are open areas for the two cameras and speakers.

The case itself does not have an on/off switch, like a Mophie Juicepack but instead monitors the battery level inside your phone and seeds power as needed to prolong the life. The iOn Intelligence app is actually quite smart and it’s a free download so you can take a look at it in advance. When running (evenin the background) it accurately measures the time remaining from either just the internal phone battery, or the phone and a charged case. It tells you what time during the day you can expect the phone to run out of power; and it bases that by monitoring the way you use the phone as well as the battery drain rate.

The EMEA license throws up a warning flag, however. The iON Intelligence app collects your name, contact information, username, password, location information, battery life status over the course of a day, language, network usage, UDID, and IP addresses. The terms and conditions state: OtterBox can use this information to “deliver marketing communications or promotion materials from us, our affiliates, and third parties that may be of interest to you”. And “to help our advertisers and sponsors better understand the demographics of our audience.” So that’s something to think about before clicking the “I Agree To The Terms” button.

That aside there’s no denying that the The OtterBox Defender with iON Intelligence is a very, very clever case. We are genuinely impressed with the way it manages power and adds protection to the iPhone.  It’s also quite an ugly case. We don’t mean it’s badly designed (it’s not – it’s great), it’s just that the combination of silicon and plastic make the iPhone 4 look like something that would be used by the military.

Which is, perhaps, the point. It’s a case that fixes two of key criticisms that you could legitimately direct at Apple’s iPhone. The first is that the combination of glass and aluminium is fragile and prone to screen cracking when dropped; the second is that the battery life of the iPhone is insufficiently short.

If you work in a nice safe office, you might prefer a case that provides a bit more style, like theMophie Juice Pack Air. But there are instances where the OtterBox Defender with iON Intelligence will be genuinely more appropriate. People working outdoors will find the OtterBox Defender a more secure device. And the extra charge will keep the iPhone going during the day. We also think the plain and secure styling with longer battery make it ideal for anybody travelling. We imagine backpackers will especially like the combination of plain appearance, sturdy protection and double the battery life.

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