The OtterBox Defender Case for the BlackBerry Z10 can likely survive whatever abuse you throw at it

A CrackBerry first-look at the OtterBox Defender for the BlackBerry Z10!

By Kevin Michaluk on 10 Feb 2013 11:31 pm EST

Oh OtterBox. How I love thee. The company has come a far way in the mobile protection business since I first reviewed their tank-like case for the BlackBerry 8700 back in 2007. Over the years, OtterBox has maintained their focus on building cases for people who beat the heck out of their phones (and kids who are naturally gifted at destroying things). 

As a Built for BlackBerry partner, OtterBox was able to have their OtterBox Defender Case for the BlackBerry Z10 ready for launch. The Defender Series is an extremly popular line for OtterBox and among the CrackBerry community there has been a ton of interest and concern over this case for the Z10. Everybody knows the Defender is the case to have for extreme protection. The big question with the BlackBerry Z10 OtterBox was around the ability to comfortably use the Z10 in the case, given that BlackBerry 10's touchscreen gestures require a lot of swiping along the edges of the display and the sizeable case covers much of the Z10's bezel.

Be sure to watch the video below, which should alleviate any concerns users may be having with this case. With the Z10 inserted into the Defender case, I've been finding it OK to navigate the BlackBerry 10 OS. The gestures are accessible around the edges of the display on all four sides. That said, depending on your natural motions, you may have to make some adjustments to your natural movements as you start using the Defender case with the Z10. Swiping up from the bottom to return to the homescreen or perform a Peek into the Hub, I've found I had to adjust my thumb position a little, using more of the tip of my thumb vs. the flat of my thumb to start the gesture motion (the bezel is accessible, but there's not a lot excess space below the display to leisurely start the gesture).

Swiping down from the top of display there is plenty of space to gesture, and swiping along the left and right edges has been ok too, even though the bezel tolerance there is type. Typing on the Z10 is OK too - things get a little tight on the far left and right sides of the keyboard to the edge of the casing, but I've found it managable. The touch screen is perfectly responsive under the case's plastic screen protector, which helps protect against scratches and spills. A cut out remains in the screen cover so that the display sensors work properly.

I've always found every OtterBox I've ever owned takes a little getting used to. Compared to "normal" cases, it's big and bulky and slightly awkward. But it's also awesome. That's the trade off. I haven't spent too much time on the OtterBox for the Z10 as I type this yet, but in the time I have it appears to be another OtterBox case that I could easily adapt to and that I'm sure other OtterBox users -- who demand the most out of their case -- will love. And to be honest, as big as the Defender case is, it's actually not **that big**. It's much more slim than that first case for the 8700 I reviewed. :)

We tested out the Z10's NFC functionality with the OtterBox Defender protecting it, and found connections on the NFC front all worked flawlessly despite the extra thickness of the case. NFC users should be good to go! 

The rest of the Z10 Defender case lives up to OtterBox's usual standards. The case has excellent fit and finish, with tight tolerances everywhere. The external case's rubber is nice and grippy. The closure that allow access to the Micro USB and Micro HDMI ports fit snug, as does the one for the headset jack. Power and volume buttons are still easy to use. OtterBox was smart to leave a cut out at the bottom of the phone to allow sound to escape the sound port.

Removing the Z10 from the Defender case is a bit of a chore, so when it comes to needing extra power should the Z10's battery go low later in the day, I'd strongly suggest picking up a BlackBerry Z10 Battery Bundle, which allows you to recharge your Z10 without having to toss in the spare. Tossing in a spare battery won't be as easy compared to other cases.

The OtterBox Defender case for the BlackBerry Z10 has an MSRP of $59.99, but you can find it for less at As I write this it's available to Canadians in our Canada store, and will also be available in our main US/International store soon (sign up for Z10 accessory alerts here). Be sure to check out the video and additional photos below.

As for a tortue test to see just how tough the Defender case for the Z10 is, I'm sorry, but I just can't bring myself to do it... yet. There's simply too many people in the world still wanting to get their hands on a Z10 for me to risk destroying one. It would be rude. Once the Z10 is fully out there in the world we'll risk sacrificing one to test just how strong the case is. 

More Info and Purchase the OtterBox Defender for the BlackBerry Z10
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Reader comments

The OtterBox Defender Case for the BlackBerry Z10 can likely survive whatever abuse you throw at it


hey Kevin, totally unrelated , but could you please check to see if they are going to add group text back to the z10, on my bb930 i can i have a group of 93 people,and that is one of my favorite features, i use it for business , i'm in the u.s. and I've been waiting to get the z10, but i don't want to lose my ability to send mass texts , please help, as i understand that you can find info faster than anyone from BlackBerry

And I'm back... created some NFC Smart Tags on one Z10.  With the other Z10 naked, and one in the OtterBox Defender, was successfully able to use the NFC.

Then I put the naked Z10 into the Transform Case, and was still able to use NFC to connect to the Z10 in the OtterBox.

So all in all, I'd say good to go! Will update the post. 

These cases look very durable ..... a tank couldn't do any harm to my lovely Z10

Are white ones available? Maybe red or blue?

Haha trolling about a case? It is way too bulky and I have trouble with some of the gestures. I want a Commuter but they don't have one yet

Do you have any experience or evidence to support that statement or are you just throwing out blanket statements? I genuinely would like to know what is so bad about this case, that just came out, and has been available for only a few weeks.

I'll admit when I saw it in the video, it looked massive. But if it does what it's supposed to do, and protects the device, I don't see how it could be so bad. Kevin mentioned the functionality is "OK" but I don't see anything else out on the market that is comparable.

I'm looking at getting the Roots Tuff Skin 2 case but I can't tell how bulky it is. If anyone wants this case in London, ON for 30 bucks, it's theirs. The Defender makes this sleek phone look like a walkie-talkie. Also, nobody can tell it's a BB - everyone asks me if it's a Galaxy

he added it "We tested out the Z10's NFC functionality with the OtterBox Defender protecting it, and found connections on the NFC front all worked flawlessly despite the extra thickness of the case. NFC users should be good to go! "

ordered mine from the crackberry store. should of arrived last friday but was delayed thanks to the blizzard. heres hoping for tomorrow

Where is the multiple color option love that craple gets??? 2 colors for my 9810 and stupid black for my future z10 :/

I would love to see ALL the colors crapple gets!!! I have a black BlackBerry PlayBook® and soon a black z10. Beyond frustrated for the lack of ob love o_O

Also, do you think the rubber will start peeling off easily like the iphone version does? Btw thanks for not doing the torture test. I watched the drop test video from mashable and got pissed off and upset:(

I'm waiting for the commuter. I like the hard plastic on them outside so it slides in and out od pockets nicely. Come on Otter box

Looks like another great otter box case. Every BlackBerry they I own,including my PlayBook has one.......and hopefully they have one ready for the Q10 when that comes out too.

Great article Kevin...I put @Otterbox on every BlackBerry device in the house...I tweeted them to voice my looking forward to buying the case for my upcoming Q10. I was pleased to see they responded, however they stated, and I quote, "...we have no plans to protect the Q10..." I among others expressed our disbelief, to which they responded..."...sorry to disappoint you". Is this possible? I have been using #Otterbox for a very long time and would hate not to use one. Query @Otterbox and @BlackBerryQ10

I'm an electrician and I wear gloves all day. Case works really well. I find that if you swipe up from the right half of the bottom bezel it works great. Thank god for this case. Wouldn't want my new baby getting scratched. Oh and I take the case off on weekends so I can show it off!

I drive truck so I want my new phone to be protected when I get it. I was also thinking of taking the case off some weekends. How do you feel the case will hold up to being removed every two or three weeks?


Just tried that. Took some time but can be done using your index finger. I'd just wait till after work or the weekend when my z10 is naked.

Is there going to be other heavy duty alternatives to Otter Box? Any word if LifeProof will make its way to the Z10?

I can't wait for my Z10. My Playbook is already fitted with an Otterbox (which also doubles as a Clobbering weapon due to its sheer weight). I wonder if I should get this or the transform case.

I just put the Defender on my Z10 today. At first I had some trouble with both the typing and the gestures. Typing was delayed as I typed and the gestures were hard to get to take. I took my Z10 to a stand in the mall to have a Ghost Armour screen protector on it and while I was waiting, I took the screen protector on the Defender off. Once the Z10 was back in the case, it worked 10 times better. Absolutely no problems with either gestures or typing now.

The only thing I find that is not up to OtterBox standards is the clip needs to be a bit bigger to fit a duty belt properly, and the case doesn't snap into the clip as tight as my Defender on my 9860 did. While the case adds a huge amount of bulk, I don't find that a bad thing at all as both the protection it gives is exactly what I was wanting all along and I have large hands so the Defender makes the Z10 much easier to hold now.

All in all I'm very satisfied with this version of the Defender. If they would fix the two problems I mentioned with the clip, it would be perfect.


As amazing as Otterboxes are in terms of defence I've never been a fan. I like to think I'm fairly gentle on my phones/devices so I don't quite need this level of protection, not when it comes at such a cost of bulkiness.

I work in some pretty undesirable conditions and I find that these cases are good for impact resistance but not for dust. And dust is a real phone killer. The magnet in the earpiece seems to attract it and becomes unusable within a couple of months, Otterbox or not. I know that Lifeproof makes a really good dust/water proof case but only for apple stuff. Anyone know of anything else?

Damn, being in 40th-ish place, don't know if my comment will be seen.

I love otterbox, have a defender for my 9700 and playbook and may still get one for my 9900.

My big concern when first seeing this though is whether that cut-out at the top of the screen will allow a bunch of dust and stuff in resulting in scratches on the screen. I'm used to full coverage from otterbox. Even my 9700 had fabric over the speaker and mic ports (something that unfortunately was not found on the playbook case).

Maybe a screen protector underneath? Doesn't work with the playbook (gets lots of bubbles that can't be removed). Any thoughts?

Dust is a killer, see my comment two above yours. But I was thinking. Maybe little pieces of electrical tape over, or under, the earpiece and mike holes. I am sure the phone would still work enough. If it doesn't, just use a Bluetooth headset.

The fabric membranes used on my 9700 Otterbox Defender work very well. I was thinking of trying to find the same sort of thing (tightly weaved fabric) to do the same for my PlayBook's Defender case. It sits so snugly that I don't think you'd even need to glue it in place. I'm surprised that the sensors are so sensitive on the Z10 that they couldn't cover the entire face of the phone. I will definitely need to find a solution before purchasing this case. Like you, my work can be very dusty; a lot of time in the desert and desert-like conditions. Maybe what I'll do is swap phones back and forth between my 9900 and Z10 since I'm with Bell anyway and by the sounds of it, we're being forced to have a "BIS" plan even with BB10.

Before you buy this case, they mounted the magnet in the wrong place, it doesn't put the phone into sleep which wears the battery down faster. Mine's going back tomorrow.

Very similar to the otterbox defender for the playbook. Am wondering if it would be better to remove the plastic screen cover from the case and instead put on a standard screen guard on the phone. Think that would be a better combination ???

i think if the price is kept to 30000 inr then it will sell like hot cakes in india..39 40 thousands seems a bit high considering its

I wonder if this design will have the same issue as other Defender series cases have where the rubber outer casing stretches over time becoming very loose at the bottom.

That has been my biggest gripe with the Defender series over the years, but Otterbox has always stepped up and sent replacements.

yes I had the same problems with my 9360 Otterbox Defender case with stretching. Plus the holster kept breaking and I actually bought 2 cases..(was denied replacement due to warranty wording). I also found that after a while the top of the screen was marked where the rubber case came in contact with the screen just below the Blackberry logo. In the end I was just not happy with the build quality of Otterbox on my phone so I went with a $3 Ebay case and a Nite Ize holster. I like the build quality of the Nite Ize holsters much better. So far so good.

Funny I've been using Otterbox Defender case on Playbook for almost 2 years now with no complaints.

I'll give Otterbox another try when I get my Z10 when my carrier releases the phone hopefully sooon....HERE THAT WIND!.

I'm curious as to when the Commuter case comes out. I like The Defender for my PB, but I think the Commuter will be good enough for my Z10 and not as bulky/limiting and still provide good protection.

My playbook Otterbox case is very nice, playbook dropped about 6 times from a height of about four feet and still working well. I don't think you would have an issue dropping the Z10 :D

My playbook dropped face first onto ceramic tiles.

I had a defender on my Curve and hated it. I don't know if it was the tolerances or what, but the phone "itched" inside the case and completely ruined the look of the phone. I love the commuter and will never go back to the defender.

One MAJOR flaw with this case, The magnet does not put the phone into sleep. It is either in the wrong place or is not strong enough. Pop the phone in the case in a dark room, you can see light coming out around the edges. This makes a pretty big difference in battery life.

Once I get the Q10, I'll definitely be getting an otterbox defender series case for it. I might get one for this blackberry also, pending it's moddable for the extended fat battery. :D

I just got an Otterbox for my Z10 and it has already proved itself in protection (no, not an intentional impact test).
Not long after I had installed it, an incident arrived where it was subjected to a fall from above 6 feet and a subsequent bounce off a wall. You can imagine the feeling in the lower groin area when I saw my week-old Z10 hurtling to its impending doom and the shudder that ran through my spine upon impact. I picked up the phone to find the screen still intact. I tried some gestures on it and everything seemed to be ok. Now imagine that feeling of relief that washed over me. I, for one, am a HUGE fan of this case!

The case was somewhat difficult to put on initially...well, not to put on but to seperate for installation. The rubber housing didn't want to come away from the hard plastic front shield readily at first.
Once the case was properly installed, I could see that it would keep dust out fairly decently and it felt very rugged and durable. The size didn't throw me off one actually lent to the feeling of security. I didn't feel like I had to handle my new phone with kid gloves.

There is some concern with the magnet on the case holder. It apparently doesn't have enough power to interact with the phone magnet when holstered. Not a major concern as the phone does go to sleep on its own after 30 secs anyway.

I've found that the finger gestures for pulling up the hub and collapsing tabs is somewhat hindered by the case. It sometimes takes a few swipes to work. I've found that a little heavier of a stroke helps. The more I use it, the easier it appears to be, though, so I imagine I'll get used to it.

I don't like how open the microphone and speaker on the front panel are. The case looks like it will keep out the dust and such but those open elements don't have any protection at all. Again, this isn't really an issue as the front of the case is flush with the clip when holstered.

All in all, with the noted caveats, I am very pleased with this case and I'm more than happy with its obvious impact resistance thus far.

The case is good, however I don't trust the holster. LOST the phone (fell out of the holster) TWICE the first day I got it. Otherwise OK

I agree about the quality, and mine hits the ground every day attesting to the case quality. Twice it has hit so hard the phone reboots itself and it still works The holster doesn't hold well!

Swipe gestures must be forced do to outer box dimensions.

More importantly, these dimensions cover up my BlackBerry logo.

I want the world to see I'm using a BlackBerry, and I want to use the swipes gestures with ease.

It's a simple fix of dimensions. Other then that I'm confident that this box will save my z10 from any damage.

Z10, PlayBook, 9810, 9000.

The case is good but does not save the phone if you drop it in 4" of oil. Personal experience.

- The case itself is much better than ones I have had previously.

- The holster allows the phone to pop out easily.
- The magnet is not strong enough to put the phone to sleep.

Posted via CB10

Now if otterbox would just give us more color options :( tired of black! I couldn't get a white phone and have no options when it comes to ob colors.

Does anyone know how to remove/ hide the address bar at the bottom of the screen when browsing on the device?? Also, how do you change the "confirming before deleting emails" feature?

Just an update after a month using the Defender case...
I've gotten the hang of gestures quite well now. My initial use was somewhat hampered by the case for the first week or so, but I've found that it just took some getting used to. I now have no problem whatsoever with any gestures.
The case has now saved my Z10 on numerous occasions. It may be that I'm kinda hard on my phones or maybe I'm getting more and more confident in the ability of the Defender and less careful about how I treat my phone. It has now survived a drop of more than 25feet with 0 problems. When I take the case off, my Z10 still looks brand new.
The only thing that would make me want to get rid of my Defender case now would be if Otterbox were to provide a waterproof case with the same toughness of the Defender.

Posted via CB10 with my Z10

This case is junk. Not only does the design of the screen protector bezel make swiping up difficult, but the sleep magnet doesn't work. Total design flaw. How could this make it to market?

Bought mine January 30th and had to wait tell March 29th before I could try it out on my Verizon Z10, but this is the most awesomest case ever.

Posted via CB10

Wish the back was cut out to reveal the BB logo like it does on the "other" brand. I don't mind advertising for BlackBerry!

Posted via CB10

Although I enjoy Otter Box cases an my other devices, I believe that the other box for the Z10 wasn't built properly. It is very difficult to swipe up because the case covers most of the bottom edge where you need to start your swipe from. I thought about adjusting the case myself by shaving the bottom to expose the bezel but that would have damaged the case. Also, it's very difficulty to press the keys all the way to the right when typing one handed (or maybe I my fingers are too thick, lol). The plastic cover on the case felt very loose, so every time I would type I can feel the plastic cover hit the phone. This corrected after I added a screen protector on the phone. This may sound like I'm just picking on it, but trust me it's very annoying after a while. I really wanted to keep the case because it's probably the best case to protect your phone, but couldn't deal with the flaws so I returned it. I have the otter box for my PlayBook and after accidently dropping the device down the stairs, it's still good as new. I hope that they recall these cases or just redesign the case to work properly with the Z10.

Posted via CB10

This case is great the first little while is odd but other then that it is wicked and having owned several for legacy devices swear by it!!!

Posted via CB10

Hi Guys and gals I just got the Defender Otterbox for my new Z10. Its awesome, the phone works fine. The learning curve on the Z10 was steep but worth it and everyday I discover new tricks. I too would like some other Otterbox colors as I have the Z10 white. Someone asked about groups in bb 10...all here. the links to facebook and bb and sim card are very promising with "link"...phew..much to chew on.

Got mine last week. Cannot live without it. Not overly bulky and definately worth buying. I don't bother with the holster though. No problem typing and swiping once you adjust very slightly. Makes my shiny Z10 virtually bulletproof! No complaints here. Brilliant bit of kit!

Hey everyone. I have had the opportunity to use this case for about 3 weeks and I have decided today to take it off permanently. The cutout around the earphone (speaker) and camera is the only real complaint that I have. It lets way too much dust and grit in and then gets sandwiched between the screen protector and screen.

Today I felt a larger speck of dirt under the screen protector and pulled the the case apart (third time) to clean it and noticed a small pick mark on my screen.

I really like the silicone fit and (impact) protection and I don't see the potential for issues with the silicone like I have with my wife's iPhone Defender stretching and losing shape. The silicone feels and looks different.

I didn't feel like the case affected the gestures however, I had the case on the phone from day one and learned the gestures with it installed. I really notice how much smoother it is now with the case off and there is no need for multiple gesture attempts.

The built in screen protector being cutout for the cam and earphone is the main issue but is worsened by the fact the screen protector gets lifted off the screen slightly by the small "lip" on the screen bezel. This effectively creates a pocket to catch any dust or lint etc.

This has been my experience so I'll be shopping for a new case.


pulled the screen protector out of the defender and applied one directly to the screen. No more dust under ...

How about a defender w/ ion intelligence or armor series for z10/q10. I am a little tired of the iphone and droid shills.

Posted via CB10

Got the otterbox for the Z from day one but now it sports a Convert from Seido. Otterbox covers too much of the front to be able to swipe compared to the Seido. Magnet in the Convert works like it should, the one in the otterbox is a waste. Phone can fall out of the holster for the otterbox and it is rock solid in the Convert holster. I like the finish on the otterbox outter better but if my phone falls out its could be lost and that is not good. The big problem I had in the past with Seido was the belt clip would break too easy. Now they would replace them but shipping them the broken one and waiting for the new one sucked. With this holster they made the clip part easy to replace.

Edges of the phone screen become very difficult to use. Case is nice and solid and give you a sense of indestructability.

The belt clip is junk, my z10 continually fell out. I should have stopped using it. But because all my precious BlackBerry phones had otters I kept using it until I lost the phone.

So don't use the product unless you toss the belt clip in the garbage.

Posted via CB10

I buyed that thing a few weeks ago on a german internet store. Great Protection so far but:
a.) The Box does NOT protect from dust! Even worse: As the Screen Protector does NOT fit, you have to clean it every 2 or 3 Days or you going to risk deep scratches on the Z10 Screen [because you have to use more pressure to make sure your fingers will have contact with the screen].

First i thought that my Box was "defect" or that i did not build it correct together. But then i looked through dozen of Forums and found out, that the Screen Protector does not fit as this is by Design. WTF? How should it protect from dust when it let every single bit in??

2.) You have to use heavy pressure at side of the Screen as
a.) First You need to press down the "Screen Protector" that it (and your Finger) got in contact
b.) You must keep the pressure the whole time to swipe or glide over the Screen or it often will not work

Thats something, you will learn to live and work with. But you will (or i will) ever feel it. This is just partly a personal feeling.

People in different Forums says, the first thing with every Box they did it is: They remove the Otterbox not fitting c*appy screen scratching thing and replace it with a good one that really fit, direct to the Z10. Then put the Box around it.

And like rampant Ross says: The Belt Clip is totally useless after a few days. It get loose very quick.

Oh using with Headphones: No Problem with my Headphones as the Plug is angled. The Plastic Cut outs around the Jack give some really pressure to the plug so make sure it is angled to be able to spread the pressure wide on the plug. But with some better quality Headphones with better quality cables and material, this should not really be a problem.

Current Status: I took it off 2 Weeks ago during the now and then cleaning cycle. The Phone reacts so much quicker and it is much more easier to use. I love to have this feeling back. But Yes i still love and miss the Otterbox for its protection from falling and such.

If there was not the bad side effects, i would give this Box 10 Points out 10.
But as they are exist: 6 out of 10.
4 Points less because of:
-High Risk of Scratches as the Screen Protector does not fit which is by Design (sadly and unnecessary).
-While something has made his way under the not fitting Screen Protector and you have always more pressure, the dust works in the long-term (or mid-term; depending on how good the quality of the display is) like sandpaper. Risk of getting deep scratches.

How to avoid: Clean it often to remove the dust or whatever is under the Screen Protector. Another Tip i saw and read a dozen times: Cut the Box Screen Protector out -> buy a good (not too thick) Screen Protector and put it directly on the Z10 Display -> put the Box o. Have not tried this personal yet but for many people it works.

Because of the bad sides: If the Price was better fitting the (in my personal opinion) midclass quality (maximum 25-30 Euro worth. not a cent more) it would get 7 out of 10. But with the existing misdesign and the amount of money they want because of their Brandname: Personally i think its a little overpriced with 45 Euro.

Iam looking for an Alternative now: If someone has one, i would be thankful for a Tip! :)

And Sorry for my bad english! ;)

Greetings from Germany

Even though these cases are the best for protecting your phone, I had to remove the otter box from my Z10 within 2 days simply because the plastic covering the screen wouldn`t allow to type or swype with ease on my touchscreen. Every time I wanted to text, I had to press extra hard on the keyboard keys and that was holding me back, taking me forever to write an email, etc. It would be nice to have another heavy duty alternative for the Z10.

At $200 replacement cost there is no need for a case. Its a commodity item now. ... and an awesome one.

Posted via CB10

I had a BIG problem with this case. The clips that hold the phone to the belt clip assembly were not near tight enough. A slight bump would cause my phone to come loose from the clip assembly and fall to the floor. My solution was simple and very effective. No velcro like some other user suggested. Take a heat gun and heat up the area of the clip assembly where the grips are. When just hot enough, press the clip grip (you do one at a time) to a solid surface to slightly bend it inwards. Do the other clip grip side. Let it cool for five minutes to re-harden. Now when I put my Z10 in the belt clip and snap it into place, it REALLY grabs on tight. I feel confident in wearing this clip outdoors now. Just my two cents worth of advice...