xGear Defender Case for iPhone 3G
Due to a huge backlog of iPhone 3G cases that have swamped our offices in the last couple of weeks, we're reviewing a whole bunch today in abbreviated fashion, starting with eight rubber designs from seven different companies. Though we've separated the reviews for their individual products, our top pick of the bunch is linked here: SwitchEasy's Colors. This review covers xGear's Defender for iPhone 3G ($25-27).
Based on the same dual-color silicone rubber technology we’ve seen in a number of other recent cases, Defender comes in four different colors that vary in price. For some reason, while red and clear frosted alternatives sell for $25, xGear’s site shows another “black” version for $27, but its photos alternate between the black on black and gray on black versions shown in our images here. Which one do you get with your order? We’re not sure, but you’ll probably want to avoid the black one.
Why? Our black on black version was either torn in the package or ripped immediately after being removed. The tear developed in the spot where the front and side rubber moldings came together at the top left, near the iPhone 3G’s proximity sensors. However, as with a similar issue we had with Griffin’s FlexGrip for iPhone 3G, we subjected the remaining cases to some intentional abuse in an effort to duplicate the problem, and couldn’t; consequently, it’s unclear whether this was just one bad case or one bad color from the bunch.
Each case comes with a screen protector, squeegee, and cleaning cloth, which together bring the Defender case up to a well above average level of protection: the headphone port, ringer switch, camera, and bottom are all open, but here, xGear uses an unusual bottom flap that protects the Dock Connector port part-time, flipping open for use with accessories. We found holding the flap back for insertion into a Universal Dock a little tricky, but it works, and apart from the Apple iPhone 3G Dock, you shouldn’t have any issue using Defender with your preferred accessories. No belt clip, video stand, or other items are packed in, however; we generally prefer to see one or more of these items with a $25 rubber case.
That pricing is the major reason Defender rates lower than the similarly rip-sensitive Griffin FlexGrip. In the absence of a really stunning design or pack-ins, there’s no reason to pay a $10-12 premium over FlexGrip or a similarly simple rubber case; this design—with dust-attracting X marks on the back and front—is nothing special, and the build quality is similarly questionable. Minus the tear, these cases would have rated a grade higher thanks to the sheer amount of the iPhone 3G they cover, but we view them as a bit risky and pricey given the quality of what we received.