The Otterbox Impact iPhone 4 case ($12) is one of the thickest silicone rubber cases we’ve reviewed, and while all that rubber may not give it stylish looks, it does offer superb protection and shock absorption. Overall, we found the Impact to be a solid all-around case, and one of the better protective choices for the iPhone.
The Impact is one of the thicker silicone cases we’ve seen for the iPhone 4, but that thickness is partly deceiving due to some clever design on the inside of the case. The case has two layers of silicone. The outer layer is solid rubber, but the inside layer is honeycombed. With less material, the case weighs less while retaining some of the shock absorption of a double-layer case.
The biggest benefit of all that rubber is impressive protection, particularly in the area of shock absorption. Otterbox has become known for its protective cases (see our reviews for their Defender and the Commuter cases), and the Impact maintains the reputation, offering some of the best protection we’ve seen out of a silicone case. The impact points of the iPhone (the four corners) are well padded, and a rim around the front screen sticks up about a quarter of an inch and should absorb some shock should the iPhone fall on that side. Overall, the case gives your iPhone an excellent chance of survival if you accidentally drop it.
In the area of accessibility, the Impact scores well, with all ports and buttons accessible and working as expected. The case leaves openings for the headphone and docking port as well as the ringer switch, back camera and LED flash, front camera, and light sensor. The case covers up the iPhone’s volume, sleep, and home buttons with its own simulated rubber buttons, but all work accurately when pressed. The buttons also have a nice soft feel that I’ve always appreciated when silicone buttons are done right.
The Impact offers a much improved grip over what you’d get with a naked iPhone. Besides the inherent grippiness of silicone, that case’s sides are textured to offer provide friction for your fingertips. The only downside in this area is the case’s thickness that small hands may find difficult to wrap around.
Otterbox’s protection-focused cases aren’t particular known for their looks, and the Impact is no different. But I wouldn’t call it ugly either. It’s a functional design, with a matte black color, textured sides, and a tasteful Otterbox logo stamped into the rubber on the back. The only aesthetic feature I disliked is the big round porthole on the back that shows off the iPhone’s Apple logo.
There is one minor flaw worth mentioning: a loose fit for the narrow strips of rubber that frame the right and left sides of the iPhone’s screen. These areas tend to bend and stretch with the slightest pressure. It’s a minor flaw that doesn’t affect use of the iPhone, but it gives the case a strange feel at times.
The Otterbox Impact for iPhone 4 ($12) is one of the thickest silicone cases we’ve reviewed and also one of the best designed and most protective. While it may not win points for style, the case is a highly functional case that won’t stand in the way of using the iPhone. We rate the Impact an 8.9 out of 10, highly recommended.