Otter Box lets you drop a Galaxy S4, throw it, misuse and abuse it

We’re not huge fans of broken phones, and yet we see them all the time. Aside for the obvious stupidity of broken glass and fingers, there is another solution, and that’s to make the phone harder to break in the first place.

One company has a fix for that with a series of special cases that pack in between two and three layers of protection, with shock absorption, screen protection, and the strength for withstanding the ability to hurtle your phone towards uncertain death at the sight of the nearest block of land or asphalt.

Available from Otter Box, the cases increase the protection on the glass, the back, and an area that customers don’t often think about, the sides.

Two of the cases have popped up at GadgetGuy in the past few weeks, and we’ve been giving them a decent flogging, throwing them about and generally feeling like pricks as we toss around a thousand dollar phone to show what they’re capable of withstanding.

First there’s the Commuter, what Otter Box calls “stylish protection,” likely because it doesn’t bulk up your phone to looking like it will take so much of a beating while simultaneously expanding your pocket to looking like you’re walking with a brick in your pants.

This case wraps your smartphone in a shock absorbing silicon case, and then pulls it together with a piece of plastic which tightens it all up.

The screen gets a touch of protection too, although it comes in the form of a screen protector. While Otter Box provides instructions and an application card, you’ll still probably get an air bubble or two while giving your phone the slight drop and scratch protection it needs.

Then there’s the Defender series, and while the other case was branded as “stylish,” this one ignores the need to be fashionable and is merely “rugged.”

That’s a fact that becomes instantly obvious when you see what the Otter Box Defender is: a $50-$60 smartphone case that doesn’t just pack in more resistance, but also a belt clip so your phone stays on your person at all times.

The extra resistance you’re paying for in this model is a redesign, with the polycarbonate outer layer from the Commuter becoming an inner layer thanks to a shock absorbent silicone outer layer.

In essence, this case keeps the smartphone inside a heavy duty plastic cage held behind a screen protector that’s built inside the casing. Once the S4 is inside here, a flexible silicone covering sits on the back, making it easy to grip and more likely to bounce when it takes a tumble.

From here, you can slip it into any luggage you want, a large pocket, and use the belt clip we mentioned.

Also of note are the ports, which are still usable across both cases.

The 3.5mm headphone jack is covered, as is the microUSB at the bottom, but the flaps can be easily pulled away for use. Your infrared transmitter and microphones are also uncovered, just pushed deep into the case.

Once the phone is sitting inside the casing, you’ll find that you can drop it pretty hard without as much risk to your phone… like this.

Unfortunately, removing the Defender case isn’t nearly as fun as dropping it, and takes some serious effort. Ours was so strong that we inadvertently broke the case (below) upon trying to take the polycarbonate case off.

You could say that the Otter Box case is so strong you won’t need to remove it, but we’re not so sure that will fly with everyone. There might be times you want to carry a phone comfortably in a jeans pocket, and for those times, get ready to pull at your case in a mad fit.

The important thing to remember is that you probably won’t be dropping your smartphone intentionally, but if you do, these cases will definitely improve the chances of the handset suffering a disastrous death.