OtterBox was one of the first big-name smartphone case makers to hit the scene and make it big. This was largely thanks to the first of many OtterBox phone cases, the OtterBox Defender. It was originally introduced way back in the days of the PDA
. The company built a reputation as one of the best rugged case makers, but has since expanded out into an entire range of phone cases.
The various styles can be a lot to keep track of, and OtterBox doesn’t make the differences especially clear on their website.
So, to help you decide on the right OtterBox phone case for your situation, here’s a guide to the top styles.
Defender Series: For Ultimate Protection
The OtterBox Defender Series
is the line of cases that made OtterBox famous. These highly rugged cases provide extreme protection from just about any threat. It makes them a popular early choice for people who work outdoors or in dirty or physically demanding environments.
This is a beefy case with serious protection credentials. OtterBox rates these cases for four times as many drops as the military standard. The port on your phone is protected by a watertight plug. The case features raised edges to protect both the screen and the camera, as well. The case is made up of several distinct layers and includes a holster/belt clip/kickstand attachment.
Earlier Defender cases featured a built-in screen protector for even more holistic protection, but this has been dropped due to poor performance, as it would get cloudy or collect moisture over time. For highest protection levels, OtterBox recommends pairing one of the Defender phone cases with an OtterBox screen protector.
Now, the Defender Series isn’t exactly known as a thing of beauty. All that ruggedization adds weight and thickness and isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing. But for people who need the ultimate in protection (including outdoors enthusiasts
), Defender Series is the way to go.
Commuter Series: Two Layers of Protection
The Defender Series is simply too much for many phone users: for office dwellers and the like, it’s just plain overkill. OtterBox recognized the need for a less bulky case that still offers strong levels of drop protection, but without the extreme protection from dust and debris. The result was the Otterbox Commuter Series
, a lighter-weight and less expensive case that still provides plenty of drop protection.
The Commuter Series features a two-piece construction: a soft rubbery interior layer cradles and cushions your phone, while a hard exterior layer provides strength and stability.
This two-layer approach can be a bit tricky to install. Despite that, it works quite nicely, protecting your phone from several forms of damage.
Commuter cases include raised edges to protect screen corners and camera bumps. The company used a smart design to allow bits of the inner rubber layer to poke through, adding much-needed grip to an otherwise slippery case.
The Commuter is thinner, easier to slip into pockets than the Defender. Yet it still features three times military standard drop protection.
Newer Commuter cases infuse antimicrobial technology into the case as well and are compatible with MagSafe and Qi wireless charging.
OtterBox Symmetry Series: Simple, Single-Layer Phone Cases with Moderate Protection
The Symmetry Series
is a simpler and lighter case from OtterBox, offering moderate protection and a simple user experience. It’s a single-layer case, so you just pop it on and off your phone. Symmetry cases are slimmer than Commuter cases but offer similar levels of protection. There are raised edges to protect camera bumps and screens. Additionally, it has the same 3X military standard drop protection thanks to careful engineering.
The Symmetry Series is so similar in terms of features to the Commuter Series that it’s tough to recommend the Commuter Series for most users. The only real advantage is the port cover, which is less and less important as flagship phones become increasingly waterproofed.
Otter + Pop and MagSafe Editions
The Symmetry Series must be pretty popular because it’s the only series to receive both custom PopSocket and MagSafe editions. You can’t get both in one, unfortunately. But, if you’re committed to either PopSocket or MagSafe use, it makes sense to move up to these cases. You’ll get a better magnetic connection with the MagSafe Edition, which is built for MagSafe — not merely compatible with it.
Other Lesser Series
OtterBox offers a few other lesser-known series, covered briefly below.
OtterBox’s vision of a slim case
is still thicker than many, but thinner than the rest of the lineup. This case is built for iPhone and MagSafe. It offers a grippy edge and raised edges to protect the camera and screen. Overall, it’s durable, but it doesn’t feature military drop protection.
goes even thinner than Aneu. It still protects the camera and screen but loses any claim of drop durability entirely.
OtterBox’s version of a bumper case
is grippy on the edges, with a recessed clear back panel that provides scratch resistance. This slim case shows off your iPhone and offers mild protection.
Don’t Stop with a Case – Get Upsie Protection, too
Picking up an OtterBox case is a great way to protect your new phone, but you shouldn’t stop there. Add on an Upsie subscription warranty
for even more thorough protection. If your case fails to protect your phone, Upsie’s accident protection will! Plus, cases cannot protect from manufacturing and battery defects like an Upsie warranty.
Learn More About Phone Protection: