Quick Review: OtterBox Defender for the Nokia Lumia 1020

When it comes to industrial level protection of smart devices, no one can touch the OtterBox brand. Their cases, known for being well built and comprehensive, are only meant for those who work in construction, outdoors or in adverse conditions. It’s a case you have to commit to because you want the best in technology and you want it to survive.

The OtterBox Defender was announced about two weeks ago for the Nokia Lumia 1020 and runs $50 from the company directly. It’s an impressive system to protect your device, offering an impact-absorbing outer layer, rigid plastic shell, built-in screen protector and included holster-style belt clip.

But it’s not for the faint of heart. Once on, you don’t want to remove the Defender.

So how is it? The quality is top notch as always. OtterBox understands protection, you can’t argue against that as it’s their whole reputation. Having said that, the case is hardly pretty—but we’re not sure where it could be improved either (‘Hello Kitty’ edition?). Having a yellow option though would be nice instead of the more tame black.

The buttons on the side do get mushy, losing some sensitivity as is the case with the screen protector. If you’re a world-record screen typists, you can throw your skills out the door as you’ll be focusing more on hitting the right letter. And pushing the physical keys will require some more effort too, though you do get used to after a break in period.

The phone with case feels nice enough in the hand, assuming you have accepted your fate in carrying around a bulky Lumia 1020. Likewise with the swivel holster, which securely locks the phone in (face in or face out) making sure it doesn’t accidentally slip.

Conclusion? We’re mixed on the OtterBox Defender. The screen protector could be better as could the faux buttons and we suppose a yellow option wouldn’t have hurt either.

Still, for those of you who need this case (and you know you are), what choice do you have? From a pragmatic position, the Lumia 1020 OtterBox Defender is the best protection you can buy right now and it works admirably. Sure, you’ll trade off some usability and speed but that seems like the standard tradeoff for such a massive layer of armor. If we worked in construction or were mountain climbing, this would be our go to case, no questions asked.

We’re just glad we don’t need to use it.

You can order the Nokia Lumia 1020 OtterBox Defender from OtterBox directly. ESRP $49.95.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.