We’ve reviewed quite a few wallet cases in our time, all of which have followed a very similar folding front cover with card slots design. Otterbox have come up with a wallet case that breaks this mold, so read on to see how this version for the S4 stacks up.
This case comes in two parts – a rubber inner-layer and a hard polycarbonate shell. The phone slips into the rubber layer which in turn fits into the outer shell while feeding the rubber port covers for the headphone and micro USB sockets through holes in the shell. Rubber is also exposed at the corners, over the buttons and around the screen. Sound from the speaker gets redirected from the back to a hole at the bottom of the case. The screen is left exposed but a screen protector is included with the case.
From the front there’s little to distinguish the wallet version from the Otterbox Commuter Series on which it’s based, but around the back you’ll see that this case has a little junk in it’s trunk. The case slopes out from below the camera making a thick case resembling one of the extended battery cases. However this extra space is used to house your cards or notes by sliding the compartment downwards and accessing the hidden space from the front. The port cover and thickness of the case will prevent using this case in a micro USB dock.
Otterbox cases have a reputation for providing top protection for your gear, and looking at this case you can see why. From the thick rubber inner-layer to the hard polycarbonate outer shell, high quality materials are used throughout and there’s no doubt that this case will stand up to loads of abuse.
The sliding compartment is well made requiring an appropriate amount of force to separate and closing with a satisfying click. This feels like a secure location that won’t accidentally open, and I’d have no concerns trusting my cards and cash inside.
There’s no denying that the Commuter Wallet adds quite a bit of bulk and weight to your phone. It’s around twice the thickness of the S4 so you’ll definitely feel the difference. You can also tell the quality of the materials used just by the additional weight.
The case feels good to use with the thick base sitting well in the hand. The exposed rubber is very grippy, although the plastic shell is quite smooth to the touch. You’ll want to leave this case face-down on the table as it can easily slide around on the hard plastic back when face-up. Extra pressure is needed to get through the rubber covering the buttons, making them a difficult to activate in certain situations.
The compartment can hold up to around 3 cards plus a folded note, and having them inside this concealed compartment does feel more secure than having them flap around on a front cover. Although you don’t get the extra screen protection a front cover brings, there’s also nothing to get in the way when using the camera or putting your phone in a car holder. As the cards get stacked on top of each other, you’ll need to remove a few to get the one you want unless it happens to be at the top.
The port covers seem durable and don’t really get in the way. Opening and closing is easy and while this case isn’t waterproof they will keep the dust or sand out and won’t hurt if you’re phone gets splashed.
The Commuter Wallet case is listed as costing £34.99 / $44.95 on the Otterbox website making it an expensive case. However you can currently pick one up from Amazon for quite a bit less, so it’s recommended that you shop around.
Otterbox target their cases to people who want the best protection and aren’t worried by extra bulk, weight or port covers (although watch this space for a review of their new case which offers less protection but increased style and usability). The Commuter Series Wallet case fits right in to this market offering great protection while including an innovative way to carry your credit cards.
If the secret compartment appeals to you (and one person on the Droid Horizon team is rumoured to want this case just to have somewhere to store his signed Justin Bieber photo) and you aren’t bothered by a little bulk or weight then the Commuter Series Wallet case is well worth checking out. Follow the links below for more details on this and Otterbox’s other wide range of cases from their UK or USA site…