Review: OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone 3G and 3GS

The OtterBox Impact ($10) is a thick silicone rubber case for the iPhone 3G/3GS that offers extra padding around the impact points of the iPhone for protection during accidental drops. It’s also a case that tries to walk the fine line between protection and remaining pocketable, and in general, it succeeds in both tasks, although we did find fault with how the extra X-shaped padding makes the case feel a little awkward in the hand. Still, overall the Impact is a well-built, attractive case that we can recommend. Read on for the full review.

The Impact’s most distinguishing feature is the X-shaped padding on the back of the case that wraps around the corners of the iPhone and provides extra protection to the impact points. Shock absorption is one of the strengths of silicone rubber cases, and the Impact offers more of it than usual. The X-shaped rubber does have a minor side effect, however. It adds a little bit of wobble to the iPhone when resting in the palm of the hand, erasing most of the benefit toward increasing the iPhone’s gripability that silicone normally offers.

We suspect OtterBox went with the X-shape layer instead of making the entire case double-thick to keep the case slim, or at least slimmer than what it could be. They were successful in that the case is quite pocketable, but the extra rubber still adds several ounces to the weight to the iPhone and a good amount of bulk too.

The extra padding also prevents the case from fitting into most iPhone docks. In our testing, the thickness around the iPhone’s docking port prevented it from being docked in all but universal docks that come with wide mouths for compatibility with multiple products. And because the Impact case can’t be quickly removed, it’s not a good choice for those who own the more fitted docks like the official Apple’s 3G dock.

The case covers the iPhone’s home button, sleep button, and volume rocker with raised areas of silicone that simulate buttons. In our testing, all buttons worked accurately when pressed and were comfortable to use, perhaps more so than the iPhone’s own buttons. We tend to like the silicone simulated-button approach, and the Impact performed admirably.

In the area of accessibility, the Impact leaves openings around the ringer switch, camera, ear speaker, light sensor, and Apple logo as well as the customary openings around the headphone and docking ports. The opening the ringer switch, a typical problem area, was just wide enough to use our fingertip to flip the switch, but not quite as easy as without a case.

In general, the case had a good build quality to it. The case was delivered free of blemishes, with accurate cutting that showed no jagged edges or hanging strings of rubber.

The case comes with a clear screen protector, squeegee card (for applying the protector), and a 1″x1″ inch cleaning cloth. The case is available in two colors: black & white.


As its name implies, the OtterBox Impact is designed to give your iPhone a little extra protection from impacts that occur after accidental drops. Toward that end, the case is well-designed. We also appreciated the solid build quality we expect from OtterBox. The Impact’s only flaw is the ungainly feel of the case created by the extra padding, but it’s not enough that we can’t give the case a solid recommendation. We rate it an 8.5 out of 10.

Helpful links:

Official website OtterBox Impact OtterBox Impact $10


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