Trident Kraken vs. Otterbox Defender mini-review
I've had some questions about my experiences with both items, so I thought I would share here. Depending on time constraints will I will try to take and upload pictures in the next few days to go along with the text. I shall cut to the chase and hit the high points.
Base package: The Otterbox Defender includes both the housing and ratcheting belt clip; the belt clip can be snapped open and used as a cradle. The Trident Kraken includes only the housing; a similar clip to the OB Defender is available for separate purchase (currently $9.95 direct from Trident).
Housing base: Both phones use a dual-layer shell approach. For both the Defender and the Kraken, you place the phone in the backplate and snap the frontplate into place. Make sure to clean your screen before installing the frontplate as both the Defender and Kraken have glued-in screen protectors. The screen protector on the Defender protects only the screen, while the Kraken's built in solution protects both the notification LED and proximity sensor as well.
(side note: Since the screen protectors are glued into place, they can be removed with some care and applied force should you wish to use your own solution instead. Removing the built-in protector voids your warranty and removes some of the elemental protection qualities of the case but will allow you to use your favorite screen protector unhindered.)
The housing for both cases provides some protection to the screen and the camera area by means of angled raised edges. While the protection around the screen is almost identical, the Kraken adds a divider between the camera and flash where the Defender leaves the camera and flash area open and surrounded by a rectangle. In this situation, the Kraken provides much better protection for the camera lens and flash than the Defender. The plastic used for the Kraken's housing feels sturdier and higher quality than the Defender.
Housing covering: Both the Defender and the Kraken use a layer of silicon rubber over the plastic housing. For both cases the plastic housing is slid into the silicon rubber; the outer layer has rolled edges that fit into grooves around the screen and housing to hold the silicon in place once applied.
There is one point of preference when dealing with the silicon shell: the port coverings. While the headphone jack covering on both is nondescript and effective, some people may find that one case or the other implements the HDMI/MiniUSB covering more to their liking. With the case laying flat on the table and the screen facing up, the Otterbox Defender's charge port covering opens by pulling up. This causes a gap to open up near the screen and may result in occasional repressing of the screen groove. While I found this to be minor, it was slightly annoying to have to press the screen edge back in place on a regular basis. The Kraken's charge port covering opens downward towards the desk and does not pull the silicon away from the screen edge.
Overall protection: Both cases are well made and can protect their contents from light damage. Where the Kraken excels is in the added protection of the phone's audio system. The Otterbox Defender leaves the speaker and microphones in recessed areas where it would take an extremely fortuitous accident to penetrate and cause damage. Trident goes one step further, with fabric coverings for the microphone and speaker ports. While this won't waterproof your phone, it certainly makes it less risky to use in light rain or snow as the covers should repel small amounts of water.
Fit, Finish, and Usage: Having been an Otterbox devote' since the waterproof iPaq case days in the early 2000s, I am finding myself not too impressed with my Droid X Defender experience. The plastic housing audibly creaks when applying lateral or diagonal pressure towards the bottom of the phone. The silicon outer layer seems a little too loose, especially around the screen; simply taking the phone out of my pocket or removing it from the holster has found me accidentally peeling back the protection from around the screen. A thicker edge on the silicon coupled with deeper grooves on the plastic housing should alleviate this. Because the holster is designed to accept the phone in four different positions (screen facing in or out, camera button up or down), there is extra room that allows for some more creaking. I appreciate OtterBox's desire to have the phone inserted in any direction the customer desires, but the creaking this design creates is annoying. I have also accidentally pressed the camera and volume buttons when inserting the phone into the holster, causing the screen to turn on and wasting valuable battery life.
Trident's Kraken case has a few small touches that I greatly appreciate. The bottom of the case has a raised area in back that is equal in height to the Camera area; this allows the phone to lie flat rather than at an angle. This added raised edge also creates somewhat of a handle holding the phone in landscape position, giving the phone a very slight feeling of symmetry it does not otherwise have. While I've managed to separate the silicon from the housing as I did with the Defender, it took a purposeful effort to do so. I also feel that the Kraken's keys have a more firm, deliberate press and less mushy feeling than the Defender.
Other considerations: While I've covered the most noticeable points for each phone above, there are a couple more things that may affect your decision for which one to purchase. The current low price for an Otterbox Defender on Amazon is ~$29; this includes the holster. The Trident Kraken is going for anywhere from $23 to $33 on Amazon depending on your color preference; this price does not include the holster, which I can only find for $9.95 directly from Trident's website. I will be ordering the Kraken belt clip soon and editing this review with that information.
Yes, I just mentioned colors. You can get the Otterbox Defender in any color so long as that color is black. The Trident Kraken comes in an assortment of colors including res, black, green, yellow, etc. The silicon remains black, but there is plenty of exposed colored plastic to make a statement.
Final thoughts: Both the Otterbox Defender and Trident Kraken are well-designed, well-made cases that are sure to keep your Droid X protected from the elements and minor drops and dings. The edge in this head-to-head goes to Kraken thanks in large part to the build quality and small touches that make it a slightly better value than the Defender. It might cost a little bit more, but the few dollars extra is well worth it.