OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro Review

by Reads (5,725)
  • Pros

    • Serious drop and shock protection
    • Built-in screen protector
    • Includes a stand and an Apple Pencil slot
  • Cons

    • More than doubles the thickness and weight of Apple's tablet
    • Blocks Smart Connector
     

Quick Take

While undoubtedly bulky, the OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro brings significant drop protection to Apple's flagship tablet

With a base price of $799, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro needs protection, and those taking it to a jobsite or other inhospitable environment should consider the OtterBox Defender Series Case. It protects the device from drops and dust, and includes an integrated screen protector. A built-in stand and a slot to hold an Apple Pencil are bonus features of this $129.95 accessory.

Build & Design

This hardcase includes multiple layers of protection. A synthetic rubber slipcover wraps around a polycarbonate shell, and the screen is covered by both clear plastic film and a removable shield stand.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro Review

OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro

OtterBox certifies that the Defender will cushion against drops and shocks. Buttons are protected, and there are also coverings for the Lightning Connector and headset jack. That said, this hardcase makes no significant attempt to shield against water damage; there are openings for the camera, speakers, and the Apple logo which could let in liquids as well as dust.

However, there’s no opening for the Smart Connector on the left edge of the tablet, so accessories like the Apple Smart Keyboard and Logitech BASE can’t be used with the Defender in place.

The cover over the Lightning Connector can be moved aside to plug in a data/charging cable, and accessories like the SanDisk iXpand can be used as well.

A rugged case like this one adds significant bulk. Alone, the iPad Pro is 12.0 x 8.7 x 0.3 inches and 1.6 pounds. Add the Defender plus its shield stand and those dimensions go up to 12.7 x 9.6 x 1.0 inches and 3.4 pounds, and it feels a bit like carrying around a laptop. Without the shield stand, it’s 12.5 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches and 2.7 pounds, which feels more like carrying a really big tablet.

This OtterBox model comes in black, and only black.

Screen Protector

OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro Review

OtterBox Defender

Some people avoid using screen protectors because they can be difficult to attach correctly. Installing the Defender’s is as easy as it can be: it’s put in place just by inserting the tablet into the hardcase.

Our testing showed that this thin film doesn’t interfere with using the iPad’s touchscreen in any way. Fingertip touches are recognized just as easily as they are without the screen covering in place.

The Apple Pencil can be used with the iPad in the Defender. In fact, some people might prefer it this way, as the film cover is less slick than the actual display. Just keep in mind Apple warns that using a screen protector with the Pencil will wear the tip out faster.

The screen protector extends over the fingerprint scanner in the Home button, but also doesn’t interfere with its functioning.

Shield Stand

While the shield stand adds considerably to the thickness of the Defender, it also brings several useful features. Obviously, it’s an extra layer of protection for the entire front and the corners of the iPad Pro. It can be clipped onto the back of the tablet to get it out of the way.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro Review

OtterBox Defender with iPad Pro Propped Up in Shield Case

In addition, removing and flipping the shield stand props up the computer at several angles. At about 20 degrees, it’s well suited for typing or drawing on the screen, with the device either on a desktop or lap. At about 50 degrees, it’s good for watching video or typing with an external keyboard. With the tablet in portrait orientation, it can be propped up at about 80 degrees, though this feels a touch precarious.

As a bonus, there’s a pair of clips that can securely hold the Apple Pencil on the inside of the shield stand.

Conclusion

While undoubtedly bulky, the OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro brings significant drop protection to Apple’s flagship tablet, and the built-in screen protector is welcome. The hardcase doesn’t protect against all potential hazard though, like liquids.

Value

OtterBox’s suggested price for this item is $129.95,. While there are a number of iPad Pro cases available in the $70 range, none of these are from companies with OtterBox’s reputation for outstanding design and quality.

Another hardcase that’s not as protective but includes a physical keyboard is the ZAGG Slim Book for iPad Pro.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro Review

OtterBox Defender in Shield Stand

OtterBox Defender Series Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro Review

OtterBox Defender in Shield Stand



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