OtterBox Preserver Series Review – WaterProof Case For iPhone 5/5s

by on October 31, 2013
What We Like

+ Appealing
+ High-quality build materials
+ Rugged protection
+ Waterproof
+ Easy put on/remove
+ Screen protector does not have gap like LifeProof does
+ Still provides access to charger & headphone jack
+ Headphone jack does not require adapter

What We Do Not Like

- Edges wore slightly after daily use
- Silent switch is tough to use while case is on
- Call quality suffers when case is wet
- Priced $10 higher than LifeProof

Editor Rating
Cosmetic Appeal

Design & Build Quality



Value for the Price

Total Score

Final Verdict

I found OtterBox's new Preserver Series case to be an excellent product that would make a great addition to any consumer's iPhone 5. Its solid design, high-quality build materials, and strong performance warrant the rather expensive price tag although I would have liked to have seen it priced slightly lower to match LifeProof's frē model. If you're seeking a fully rugged case, yet sleek case and don't require the cold weather/snow proof technology then the OtterBox Preserver series should be a good match for you. Otherwise, check out the LifeProof frē series as it rivals OtterBox's Preserver Series in nearly all aspects, but suffers from some inconvenient design elements.


The OtterBox Preserver Series is a rugged, waterproof case for the iPhone 5/5s.


Protecting your precious iPhone is not an easy task especially when you add elements like water, sand, snow, or mud into the mix. To combat this, several companies have produced their own rugged, weather-proof protective iPhone cases for the past several years. Just a few months back, OtterBox purchased LifeProof which was a huge step as they were the two most popular companies competing in this market. This acquisition allowed the chance for these companies to combine forces and utilize each other’s strengths to produce top-notch cases in the future. While both companies still remain independent brands, OtterBox has just released their new Preserver Series that closely resembles LifeProof’s frē series for the iPhone 5/5s.


Priced at $89.99, the Preserver Series is $10 more expensive than its closest LifeProof competitor, but truthfully it isn’t unreasonable for what you get in return. The iPhone 5 version (will work with 5s besides TouchID) is the only one that is available on the market right now although OtterBox has already confirmed they will be producing a separate versions for the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and the Samsung Galaxy S4. The iPhone 5 version is sold in Pistachio, Carbon, Primrose, and Glacier. Our review sample was in Carbon finish which I found to be the most neutral color choice and the dark gray and black combination complimented each other nicely.

Design & Build Quality

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Like I stated earlier, the Preserver Series is designed very similar to the LifeProof’s frē series with clean lines, limited bulkiness, and full 360-degree protection. The bottom of the case features two tabs that open to give access to the headphone jack and lightning port which I prefer more than LifeProof’s “latch and cork” design. To assemble/disassemble the case, you need to line up the bottoms of each piece and push down on the corners, working your way from the bottom up the sides until you reach the top. As you continue up the case, you’ll hear a noise letting you know you’ve successfully snapped into the grooves that hold the case together.

In terms of build quality, the OtterBox Preserver series is well-made and produced using a solid polycarbonate shell, overmolded synthetic rubber, and internal foam. The combination of these three components make for a secure shock-resistant, waterproof enclosure while still managing to keep the case thin and lightweight. The Preserver Series is significantly less bulky than their older Defender Series and is noticeably lighter when equipped with your iPhone inside.

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After 2 weeks of everyday use, the case has held up well although it does show some slight signs of wear and tear, particularly on the sides and corners. Luckily, the slight wear only affects the case on a cosmetic level (nothing major) and not in terms of performance so chances are you won’t need to worry about your case losing its protective capabilities over time.

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Otterbox Preserver Series
Up to 6.6ft for 30 minutes
Up to 6.6ft
LifeProof’s frē Series
Up to 6.6ft for 1 hour
Up to 6.6ft

The Preserver Series has some impressive technical specs that make it competitive in the market yet it falls just short of its LifeProof sibling. These aspects are minor and unnecessary for most although the LifeProof frē is $10 cheaper which makes it slightly disappointing since you’re getting fewer features for a higher cost. Personally, I’m not planning on using my phone in the snow or freezing conditions so the lack of any snowproof or cold weather capabilities doesn’t bother me and I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on much.


This case has been used daily for the past few weeks and I have grown to really like it. When compared to LifeProof cases that I have owned in the past, the Preserver Series beats them by a long shot. Though I have yet to frē personally, I think the Preserver series would top it due to a few factors.

First off, OtterBox’s Preserver series provides easy access to your iPhone’s lightning port and headphone jack with polycarbonate tabs that secure nicely, yet are able to be detached without much effort. This type of design is better than LifeProof’s in my opinion as you can use any type of headphones without the need to worry about carrying around the extra adapter or losing your headphone “cork” thus making the case susceptible to water damage.

Secondly, every LifeProof case that I have used in the past suffered from the same obnoxious gap between the built-in screen protector and the touchscreen of my iPhone. With the Preserver Series, there is no noticeable gap and the protector is perfectly flush. This makes the screen feel natural thus making regular activities like texting or gaming comfortable while still preventing accidental scratches and dings. The Preserver Series is solid and your phone feels well-protected at all times which is something most consumers should want out of a case like this when they are carrying around a device worth $500+ in their pockets.


As much I enjoyed using this case, I did come across few some small problems with the case’s performance throughout my use. The most noticeable one occurs when your try to use your “silent” switch on the side of your iPhone. The case features a built-in extension for this silent switch, but it is difficult to use and you aren’t able to easily tell whether your iPhone is currently silenced or not. With some practice, I was able to get used to the switch, but it is far from perfect and should be improved upon in future models.

Another small issue I found occurs after the case becomes submerged in water. If this situation occurs, you need to make sure the Preserver Series case is fully dry before making or taking calls as the moistness can distort the quality of your microphone and make it tougher for your call recipient to hear you. However, I’ve found that if you simply unclip the bottom tabs, it will help combat this problem regardless if your case is still damp. Other than these circumstances, I had no issue with with audio performance using this case and it worked as expected when it came to the waterproof test (which you can witness below).


In the end, I found OtterBox’s new Preserver Series case to be an excellent product that would make a great addition to any consumer’s iPhone 5. Its solid design, high-quality build materials, and strong performance warrant the rather expensive price tag although I would have liked to have seen it priced slightly lower to match LifeProof’s frē model. If you’re seeking a fully rugged case, yet sleek case and don’t require the cold weather/snow proof technology then the OtterBox Preserver series should be a good match for you. Otherwise, check out the LifeProof frē series as it rivals OtterBox’s Preserver Series in nearly all aspects, but suffers from some inconvenient design elements.

Did you enjoy this review? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It would be great if you subscribed to our RSS feed or signed up for email updates to get more goodness. There’s lots more where this came from!

Special thanks to OtterBox for providing a sample to make this review possible.





Leave a reply »

  • Kelly Coxen
    January 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I think it is funny that Otterbox owns Lifeproof now and they still cant produce a better waterproof case, how can they make the Fre snowproof but not the Perserver?I have the Lifeproof Fre and my favorite thing about it is that it is not only waterproof, but it is also thin! Add in the fact that you don’t have any issues hearing others or being heard during calls and I would say its the best iPhone case period.


    • Jesse Trucks
      January 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      I have a Fre for my iPhone 5 and the sound quality is so horrible nobody can stand to call me. I’m ditching it, but there isn’t a better waterproof case available, unfortunately. The Preserver is promising, but it’s not waterproof while using a headset and the entire underside is exposed when plugging in power in a way that makes me wonder how badly I’ll get those flaps on the bottom caught on things.


  • Matt Deason
    January 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Otterbox Preserver for the galaxy s4 is very disappointing. The case is very difficult to get open. The first thing the instructions say is water test your case with no phone. You can break the case just trying to open it after the test to put you phone in it. It is very hard for people to hear me a lot of the time too. Also, the mesh screens that go over the speakers only last 2 weeks at best before they fall of. After that the thin rubber diaphragms that protect your phone are exposed and vulnerable. I bought one in December of 2013 and I’m waiting on my second replacement(January 2014)… If nothing is done to improve the case I’ll be asking for a refund.


  • Maureen
    March 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I’ve had the Otterbox Preserve for a few days. & am seriously considering returning it. For two solid days it was on my phone & my phone battery would die half way through the day, when I took the Preserve off I was back to normal with the battery. Not sure what or why cut very frustrating since the whole point if buying it was to use it while we’re at the water parks without having to worry.


    • Colt Agar
      March 30, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      The OtterBox Preserver or any other non-battery case for that matter will have absolutely no effect on your battery life as there are no factors that influence battery life in anyway. While there is likely a culprit for your problem, I can truthfully say I think the Preserver case has nothing to do with it.


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