REVIEWED: Otterbox Defender for iPad Mini

Perfect for the pool-side or base camp, tablet owners get some serious protection

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Buy the Otterbox Defender for iPad Mini

Price at time of review: £49.99

It might be small, but the iPad Mini can seem a little delicate for travel. As ideal for using by the pool as in campsites and while hiking, the Otterbox Defender will be overkill anywhere else.

Drop, dust and scratch-proof

Put the iPad Mini inside an Otterbox Defender and you can take it anywhere. Designed for both the original iPad Mini and the iPad Mini 2 Retina, the Otterbox Defender protects against drops, dust and scratches using a clever three-layer protection system. It’s got a built-in screen protection and even a heavy polycarbonate kickstand that can prop-up the iPad Mini – or clip-on to its front to protect the touchscreen if the going gets rough.

Three-layer protection

The three-layer protection system is tricky to put together and take apart, but at least that’s reassuring. Luckily there’s a seven-step instruction booklet detailing exactly how to get this case on and off. First it’s necessary to disassemble the entire Otterbox Defender to put the iPad Mini inside. There are multiple clips that need to be carefully unhooked before the silicon layer is moulded around the first layer; there’s nothing particularly difficult about it, but long-ish fingernails help.

Not waterproof

Once the silicon layer is wrapped around the hard polycarbonate shell, construction is pretty much complete. There are gaps for the iPad Mini’s controls. For instance, there is a tiny flip-out cover over the headphone slot and gaps for the microphone and a pass-through button over the on-off switch on the top of the device. On the side there’s a cutout over the lock button and a volume rocker sitting exactly above the real-life controls. There’s also a cover on the main function button on the front of the device.
However, gaps over the speakers at the bottom mean the Otterbox Defender isn’t waterproof. We wouldn’t dunk it in water, but we’d happily leave the Otterbox Defender out in the rain.

Kickstand & cover

Lastly, there is a kickstand included, which is rugged indeed. It weighs 115g and clips to either the front or back of the Otterbox Defender. Using a three-sided plastic hinge on the inside of that backplate, it’s possible to lean the Otterbox Defender on it in four positions. That’s the theory; in practice we only managed one position, though it was at a low enough angle to make either viewing, browsing or typing reasonably comfortable.
The Otterbox Defender is available in black, Crevasse (grey with a white silicon layer around the iPad Mini) or Blushed (pink with a white silicon layer).

Heavyweight protection.

The Otterbox Defender is extremely weighty, making the 331g iPad Mini 2 Retina reach an astonishing 539g (and a whopping 653g – so more than an iPad Air – with the kickstand attached). Still, there’s doubting the rugged nature of this case. Speaker holes means it’s not 100% waterproof, but nevertheless this is the most heavy-duty case we’ve come across yet for the iPad Mini, and one we’d recommend to campers, hikers and anyone near water who wants to protect their small tablet. For anyone else, it’s overkill.