Review: Otterbox iPhone 4 Reflex Case - Macenstein

Review: Otterbox iPhone 4 Reflex Case

iPhone 4 Otterbox reflex case 01

Ahhh iPhone Cases – the $40 accessory you never factor into the cost of owning an iPhone. Love ’em or hate ’em, the fact is you need ’em, so you might as well get a good one. Otterbox has a well deserved reputation for providing best-in-class (somewhat bulky) protection against falls and spills, and their Reflex case for the iPhone 4 is another nice addition to their lineup.

While some of the colorful, slim cases offer protection from scratches on the rear of your iPhone, when it comes to protection from drops, they do little more than look nice on the way down. The Reflex is a “medium-sized” case, as far as thickness goes, but it provides nearly the protection of Otterbox’s bulkier, more padded cases.

iPhone 4 Otterbox reflex case 04

The secret to the Reflex’s protection is a series of thin, rubber, air-filled compartments along the back of the case and on each corner that cushion the iPhone in the event of a drop. Honestly, I don’t know how they work, as they’re so thin I can’t imagine there’s much air in there, but they’re squishy when pressed and I did a couple drops from waist-height with no apparent ill effects to my iPhone (oh, what I do for you guys), so I’ll mark the Reflex’s design as effective.


The Reflex is available in four colors, and ships in two pieces which can only be connected when an iPhone is inside it. The case covers the rear of the iPhone completely, save for the camera/flash hole, and the sides of the case have the usual cut outs for headphones, dock connector, and mute switch. The Lock button and volume buttons are coated in rubber. So this is not really the type of total protection case Otterbox is famous for that can block out dust and sand, but it’s a good compromise between useability and protection.

iPhone 4 Otterbox reflex case

The dock connector cut out is large enough to fit the Apple charging cable while still keeping the case on, but there’s a chance you’ll have to remove the lower part of the case when using some dock-capable speakers (see above picture). I found the iHome iD9 I use worked fine with the case on, so it will likely be hot and miss.

The case also comes with one of those screen protector films that I despise. I like to consider myself a dexterous fellow, but I have yet to get one of these on on my first try, at least without air bubbles. That being said, I eventually did get this one on, and after a day or so the air bubbles disappeared, and it has been on for over a month without getting all gross, and touch sensitivity has not been affected.

I suppose I should point out that I NEVER use these screen protector films, and because of that, my screen is the ONLY thing on my iPhone that has gotten a scratch, so I guess that says something. Despite being too little, too late, I plan to leave this one on from now on.

iPhone 4 Otterbox reflex case 02


The only problem I have with the Reflex is a very minor one and one which I have with most cases – namely that a standard audio cable’s connector can usually not fit in the headphone jack due to the size of the headphone jack cutout and how deeply the hole is recessed when in the case. I have personally solved the problem by finding audio cables with thinner connectors, about the size of the iPhone’s headphone cable, but that’s sort of lame, as they’re hard to find and the other, fatter variety is far more common.


If you’re looking for an iPhone case that can protect your iPhone from impact damage and still slide into your pocket, the Otterbox Reflex case for iPhone ($44.95) is a great choice. While it won’t protect your iPhone against a dust storm or toilet drop, for most other “natural disasters” a portable device is likely to experience, it’s a great buy.

Price: $44.95
Pros: Great protection against drops, choice of colors, included screen protector film
Cons: Could be a tad cheaper, leaves your iPhone open to dirt and water accidents

5 Responses to “Review: Otterbox iPhone 4 Reflex Case”
  1. ArtOfWarfare says:

    Doc, have you performed a control for the drop experiment yet? Until you know a drop from a certain height will damage your bare iPhone, there’s no way of knowing whether or not the case was actually effective in protecting the iPhone in the drop from that height.

    Basic science… And you call yourself a doc 😛

  2. Chris Leither says:

    Um Doc… you should REALLY use a screen protector! A good set with like 2 or 3 in them cost like 10 bucks and they are easy and bubble free to apply. People always don’t believe me when I tell them I have one applied. Until I point them to it’s edges surrounding the front-facing camera. Just don’t be a cheapskate and buy them on ebay for .01$ because these really ARE worthless crap.

  3. Donut says:

    i never did get a case for my iPhone3G and in the years i had dropped the phone, even down a flight of stairs, it never got so much as a small blemish on its backside.

    with the iPhone4 i ordered a $3 back cover for it from ebay.
    but i have always used the screen protectors. those do make a HUGE difference when u remove them u see that ur screen is intact and spotless.

  4. Chris says:

    I always recommend the otterbox defender series for any iPhone. If you do not get the defender definately get some sort of case because the iPhone is definately the most fragile. Just remember any phone (iPhone 4, 4s) that is glass on front and back is going to break without protection.

  5. Krys says:

    I just want to mention that it’s not 100%.
    I just dropped my iPhone4 from about 3.5 feet by accident and it cracked where the camera and logo cut outs are.

    Although it seemed to protect from other occasional drops before hand.

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