A month ago, we wrote about Otterbox’s release of its signature mobile phone cases for Google’s (then) new Pixel range of smartphones. We asked Otterbox to send us a couple, and obligingly, they did. I’ve been using the Otterbox Commuter since it arrived, with Google’s Pixel 5-inch model, and I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve had to take it off.

Unlike some other toughened cases for the Pixel, the Otterbox definitely has a slightly more premium feel, and while it does add a bit of bulk to your phone, it adds a lot of grip too, as well as protection against bumps, drops and knocks. Granted, the Otterbox Commuter isΒ not going to offer the same protection as the Defender, but by the same token, you probably don’t want to walk around with an Otterbox Defender in your pocket; it’s simply too big.

Comprising a dual-layer case, with a flexible inner case and a harder polycarbonate exterior, the Commuter both protects my Pixel and compliments it. The polycarbonate outer is mostly slick, meaning it slides in and out of pockets easily, whether your standing, seated, or lying down. There are grippy parts where your hands naturally grip, meaning that the risk of dropping your phone with the Commuter on is significantly reduced. If, though, you do manage to drop it, the Commuter does offer some fairly reasonable protection.

I’ve found this a few times already, where I would have destroyed the Pixel by now if it hadn’t been protected; drops onto concrete, hard floors, and banging into walls, and while the case has a couple of marks to show, the phone itself remains completely unscathed.

I don’t really like having to carry my phone in a bulky case; I much prefer a slim-line gel-type case, but that really doesn’t offer the protection I need. With a phone worth over $1,200, you can bet I’m going to compromise in favour of using the larger case to make sure my phone doesn’t get destroyed.

Probably the only other gripe, besides the slightly higher cost, is that the Commuter is a bit fiddly to actually fit to the Pixel, but once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’s easy enough, and there’s really very little need to take the case off. Despite the size it added to the phone, I had no issue getting the Pixel into my car holders, pockets and anywhere else it needed to go.

At $59.95, the case I’m using isn’t exactly cheap, but then again, neither was the phone. I’d call this a wise investment, even if you’re working a ‘safe’ office environment, there’s still plenty of ways you can break a phone — dropping it, someone banging into you on the train making you drop it, throwing it at the wall, whatever the case may be.


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Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag. Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.
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Darren Ferguson

Do you need to take it out to use Daydream VR?

How does it go with heat? I’m often playing PoGo and charging my phone at the same time and it can get quite hot. Does this insulate or help conduct heat away from the phone?