Otterbox’s Preserver case will transform an iPhone 5/5s or Galaxy S4 into a shockproof, waterproof rugged smartphone, but not without a few quirks along the way.
Otterbox Preserver: On the plus side
2013 has seen a large number of smartphones released with waterproofing features built in. That suggests that people are dropping them into water (or at the very least, getting them very wet) on a regular basis.
Actually, I doesn’t just suggest it; people are clumsy beasts who seem to regularly drench their handsets, generally by accident. This is not a good thing, but handsets such as the Galaxy S4 Active or Sony Xperia Z1 have inbuilt waterproofing that allows you to take them swimming if you really must.
What if you don’t like those particular handsets? That’s the market that Otterbox’s Preserver is pitched at. Like most rugged cases, it’s not only waterproof (up to 6.6 feet for up to 30 minutes, or IP-X8), but also shock proof (to MIL STD 810G-516.6 if you like standards).
Encase your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4 into a Preserver, and it’ll most solidly be preserved. Otterbox sent me the iPhone 5 version to test out, and I’ve variously dropped, dusted and drowned the case, and it certainly appears robust.
Otterbox Preserver: On the minus side
There are a few catches. Like most “rugged” cases, you’re giving up some flexibility when you put your phone inside the Preserver case.
The volume buttons are stiff, but they’ve got nothing on the volume mute button. About half the time I had an iPhone inside the Preserver case, I couldn’t get the mute switch to work at all, despite it being properly up against the external switch.
Otterbox has an instructional video that tells you to test the case upfront.
This, I discovered, is very good advice. The first time I tested without an iPhone present, I discovered — via air bubbles — that I hadn’t sealed it properly.
It should go without saying that this would be very bad if you had the phone in there.
I worked out the issue — I hadn’t entirely snapped the top left hand side in totally flush — but it’s a bit nerve wracking. It’s also worth remembering that while the case is tested to the standard, there’s no implicit insurance with the case itself. If it drowns your phone, you’ve got a drowned phone.
Otterbox Preserver: Pricing
Local RRP for the Otterbox Preserver is $89.95.
Otterbox Preserver: Fat Duck verdict
$89.95 puts the Preserver into the top price tiers for smartphone cases, although it’s not without reason. A replacement iPhone or Galaxy S4 would cost you quite a bit more.
The Preserver makes a lot more sense to me on the iPhone side of things, where there’s never been a waterproof iPhone. On the Samsung side, it makes sense if you’ve already got a Galaxy S4, but I’d suggest that if you knew you were going to be around a lot of water a lot of the time, it would be a whole lot easier to simply buy a Galaxy S4 Active instead.