The first thing that I noticed about the OtterBox Preserver case for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 is that the size difference between it and the defender case is negligible. Which is great if you’re upgrading, however the cons in moving up are; the back is plastic rather than the grippy rubber of it’s little brother, the back isn’t curved, so it may feel a bit awkward at first, and it doesn’t come with the incredibly stylish belt clip.
In comparison to other waterproof cases, the plugs for the headphone and charging port covers are really nice and easy to open and close, but not to the point of them popping open on their own. However, I did notice that the foam covering the inside of the charging port cover sticks up a little too high, when inserting the device into the case you’ll want to put the bottom in first or you risk ripping that foam off.
When you’re securing the back onto the case, you’ll notice a lot of resistance, there’s a nice gasket going around the inner edge of the back plate. All of the holes are covered by reassuring plastic covers attached by what appears to be more rubber gaskets. The speaker covers are mesh on both inside and outside, presumably with some sort of black magic trapped in between to prevent moisture from getting through.
Opening the case will be frustrating at first, it will make you want a tiny little crowbar you might even be worried that you’re going to damage the case, but once one of the clasps releases, it’s fairly easy to liberate the phone without worrying about accidentally throwing it across the room.
The volume and power buttons are just as stiff as you’d expect from the OtterBox brand, although the home button isn’t quite as hard to depress.
The one thing I was worried about with the size and fortitude of the case was maintaining the functionality of the IR blaster, but it actually seems to work better and more consistently than with any of the other cases I’ve used. As far as the functionality you might expect to be hindered, for the most part, the device behaves the way you’d expect. Speaker and mic during phone calls are acceptable although the earpiece buzzes on low tones. The camera doesn’t seem to be impeded at all, they did the right thing separating the sensor and flash windows. The only one of the port or sensor covers that doesn’t quite live up to expectations is the proximity sensor, it seems to always think your face is next to the device. Literally the moment you tap “call” or “answer” the screen shuts off leaving you to fiddle with your hoe key to startle the device awake if you need to utilize the display while on a call.
All-in-all, if you’re in need of a waterproof case, and you don’t mind the size of the OtterBox Defender series, At an MSRP of $89.99 this is a totally viable option. It doesn’t offer the color customization options you’ve come to expect from the defender series as the case is only 2 pieces, but to have complete protection is a give and take.
The size is comparable to their Defender series
Strong build quality
Very small amount of functionality lost
The price, Sub $100 to protect your $600 phone
The proximity sensor issue might be a deal-breaker for some