Review: Otterbox Commuter Series Wallet iPhone5 Casing

Commuter Wallet Package

Commuter Wallet Package

Towards the end of last year (2013) I was asked to take a look at casing for my Apple iPhone 5. It was impeccable timing because I was using my iPhone5 naked and it had been dropped once already. Fortunately it didn’t get smashed, instead it suffered a small dent to the side of aluminium casing. Like anything new and costly your heart pains for a while with that first ding. I was lucky the fall hadn’t shattered the glass or made the phone inoperable.

Packaging Details Back

Packaging Details Back

As iPhone users will know and profess the battery life on the phone can be short and I considered one of the available backpack type battery packs but thought the protection afforded by the Otterbox was of higher importance than the battery life. Besides I was already toting about an external battery pack and charging cable.

Otterbox Commuter Wallet Impact and Shock protection

Otterbox Commuter Wallet Impact and Shock protection

Sliding Wallet

Sliding Wallet

Complete Casing

The Commuter Wallet is a two piece design – a flexible rubber inner piece that wraps around the iPhone and a hard outer shell. The shell is unique, featuring a sliding back which Otterbox claims can hold upto three credit cards. I don’t know what kind of credit cards Otterbox has but if I stuff three cards inside it was difficult to close and equally difficult to remove one of the cards. At best you can fit one credit card and number of note (bills for the Americans reading)  The notes have to be trifolded as the wallet area is not very wide.

Three Credit Cards

Three Credit Cards

Money Money Money

Money Money Money

Business Card

Business Card

Proximity Card

Proximity Card

The plastic construction is indeed tough enough for drops and with the rubber inner piece it is able to absorb the shock. I tested this on numerous occasions, of course not intentionally. My iPhone 5 survived all the mishaps except for the scratches on the screen. Luckily Otterbox Communter Wallet includes a screen protector.

TL7C1911

Coming back to the ‘wallet’ portion. I had hoped to make use of the wallet area for one of two specific needs. The first need was not for credit cards like Otterbox presses home in their marketing collateral. I wanted to use the wallet area to store business cards. I didn’t like the idea of having to carry an additional holder for business cards. The standard business card would not fit. So, the other need was to have a convenient place to store the public transit electronic pass. This could also be a proximity door pass.

There is only enough room for a single proximity card and nothing more. In any event, having two proximity cards in the wallet may cause some confusion with the proximity reader. With my proximity card in place I am unable to carry any other items. The plastic casing is extra thick and I found it to affect the signal. The receiver (pickup) antenna was not always able to read the card through the plastic.

The idea for the wallet is a useful idea and I believe it can be made to be useful and handy. That usefulness depends on external factors like what size and kind of cards you have or a shop/service issues. If the wallet is made of alternate phone designs that have larger screens then the likelihood is the wallet will be able to hold business cards. Increasing the thickness to accommodate more stuff is debatable because the bulk may negate the usefulness.

Overall, I like using the Commuter Wallet and continue to use it with my proximity card. Now if I can remember not to forget my phone on my desk when I leave the room I won’t find myself locked out and without a phone.

The Otterbox Commuter Wallet is available at Challenger Superstores, EpiCentre and other authorised dealers.

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