+ High-quality build materials
+ Rugged protection
+ 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
- Silent switch is tough to use while case is on
- Call quality suffers when case is wet
- Priced $10 higher than LifeProof
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
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.
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.
Up to 6.6ft for 30 minutes
Up to 6.6ft
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.
Special thanks to OtterBox for providing a sample to make this review possible.