Review: Otterbox Defender for the iPad Mini (and Retina Mini)

Product: OtterBox Defender Case for iPad Mini
Manufacturer: OtterBox
Date Reviewed: November 30, 2013
Retail Price: $69.99
Price Paid: $44.99

If all iPad cases were the same, the choice would be easy. There are many, many cases and cover designs available for the iPad Mini Retina. But my choice was limited by three simple criteria:

  1. I wanted a case that would protect the iPad Mini in case of drops, bumps or shocks.
  2. I wanted a case that would protect the iPad Mini’s screen display.
  3. I wanted a case that included a hands-free stand.

I sifted through various websites and performed my due diligence (i.e. research). After careful consideration, I placed my order for the OtterBox Defender. The Defender for iPad Mini (and Retina models) retails for $69.99, but can be had for less through various online retailers.

What’s in the Box?

First off: kudos are in order for Otterbox when it comes to packaging; the Defender box is easy to open. Inside the box is a one page manual and the Defender itself.


In preparation for the install, I took a few moments to clean the front and back of the iPad Mini Retina, removing finger prints and dust. (For all my gadgets, I use iKlear brand cleaners.)

Once unboxed, the Defender as to be taken apart to place the Mini inside it. Opening the Defender took some effort, as it wasn’t obvious to me where to start. After about 5 minutes, I had to consult the documentation. In short order, I had the whole thing taken apart.

The Defender comes in four parts: the screen protector, a form-fitting silicone housing, a hardshell to protect the Mini’s backside, and a display mount.

And here it is, with the iPad Mini Retina inside the silicone layer. Installing the silicone layer was simple – it can be easily stretched around the device. The fit and finish was solid, with the iPad sitting snuggly inside the silicone layer.

Next up, I placed the silicone protected Mini inside the Otterbox’s hardback shell. The fit was snug and tight. Finally, I snapped the screen protector in place. This part was a little tricky, as I struggled for a few minutes before properly snapping in the top right corner.

The protective screen covers the entire display area. It’s clear and does a great job of minimizing fingerprints. Best of all, you can use the Mini with the protective screen cover in place.

The back of the OtterBox Defender has a neatly carved opening to accommodate the Mini’s rear-facing camera.

The bottom of the unit has openings for the Mini’s speakers…

..with a release flap to accommodate a Lighting cable.

A resealable flap also appears on the OtterBox’s side, to allow access to the Silent/Screen rotation lock. Both Volume and Home buttons are easily controlled through raised controls on the OtterBox’s case itself..

The Otterbox Defender includes a stand which places the iPad Retina at a roughly 45 degree angle. The stand comes with a small lever that locks into place to keep the Mini upright. It can sit flush when not in use.

Additionally, the stand doubles as a protective shell to fully enclose the Mini. Every edge and corner of the device is covered by the Defender.

Is it Worth Buying?

The iPad Mini Retina wasn’t cheap. I bought a case to protect my investment. I hope I never accidentally drop my Mini, but if I do, I feel reasonably confident that the case will do a good job at protecting the contents within. The unit comes in black, Papaya (pink and white), or Glacier (gray) varieties, if color choice is an important consideration.

A lot of thought has gone into the design of the Otterbox Defender; from the contoured form factor to the overall integration of the Defender’s components. The OtterBox Defender is comfortable to grip, well constructed, and packs well. The Defender will add more weight and bulk to your device, but in my experience of lugging it around for a week, it wasn’t a big deal.

At $69.99, the OtterBox Defender is by no means the cheapest case you can buy, but if you value your iPad Mini Retina as much as I do, the cost is offset by the incredible piece of mind you get from knowing that your investment is safe. (NOTE: Amazon’s currently selling them for $45, so if you’re in the market, you can save some money.) As for me – I’m very happy with my purchase.

The OtterBox Defender earns 5 out of 5 Bob Weiners.

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Laurent
    November 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    This is ridiculous. You pay a lot of money for design and aluminium and you hide it with that ugly thing. Such a pity.

    • Krishna M. Sadasivam
      November 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      Ugly? That’s your opinion, Laurent. I’ll take “ugly” over accidentally damaged any day of the week. My 5 year old daughter shares my iPad, and with the Otterbox in place, I have peace of mind.

  • Alex Ponce
    December 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Do you put an ipad mini w/retina display in a ipad mini case (no retina) ?
    It fits Ok?