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The best Otterbox cases: Everything you need to know

If you're looking for a rugged case, it doesn't get much better than Otterbox.
By
March 3, 2022
otterbox symmetry for the oneplus 9 pro
Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

From the entry-level to the super expensive flagship, most current smartphones come with glass builds and near bezel-less screens. While that makes for good-looking phones, it leaves them a lot more susceptible to accidental damage. To prevent damage, you’ll need a highly-resistant case, and Otterbox cases are some of the most rugged options on the market. Here’s an in-depth guide to what the company offers.

Are you looking for more options when it comes to cases? Check out our guide to phone case brands, and learn even more in our phone accessories guide.

Why choose Otterbox?

Otterbox launched way back in 1998. It was an idea in the making for more than ten years. Founder Curtis Richardson wanted to make waterproof cases for his electronic gadgets to keep them safe while outdoors. Richardson and his wife arrived at the unique name simply because they both like otters, which also have waterproof fur.

The company’s move into the phone segment took place in 2010 with the first iPhone. Otterbox was one of the first out of the gate with protective cases for it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Otterbox now offers cases for most major smartphones, tablets, laptops, Chromebooks, and more. You can also get screen protectors, wireless chargers, power banks, cables, and various other accessories.

However, protection continues to be the defining feature of Otterbox products. From cases to wireless chargers, everything is built to take a fall and survive harsh environments. Its accessories are big, bulky, and might not be the best-looking, but if you want to ensure that your phone stays protected, Otterbox cases are the best bet.

Otterbox cases are expensive, with prices ranging from around $30 to $70. In our opinion, though, they are worth every penny. It’s a great way to make sure that your even more expensive phone is safe, protecting your investment for years to come.

The good news is that Otterbox cases are available in most major markets across the globe. Nevertheless, its smartphone selection is limited to US releases. So, while you won’t find an Otterbox case for a phone like the OnePlus Nord, you will find a case even for some entry-level devices from Samsung, Motorola, and others, that are available in the US.

What kind of Otterbox case do I need?

Otterbox specializes in rugged cases and covers, so you’re in the wrong place if you’re looking for something thin. Still, there are a few things to consider when deciding the right Otterbox case for you.

  • What kind of protection do you need? Otterbox cases come with varying thickness and weight. Some offer multi-layer protection, while others have a built-in screen protector. Some cases are thin enough to support wireless charging. Newer Otterbox cases also come with an anti-microbial coating for an added layer of germ protection.
  • Do you need any add-ons? Higher-end Otterbox cases come with a belt clip holster that doubles as a kickstand. You can also get cases with built-in pop sockets or ones with a cutout to let you attach your own. If you’ve just bought an iPhone 13, you’ll want to check out Otterbox’s magnetic cases for all your MagSafe accessories.
  • Designs and colorways: There are arguably better-looking cases out there. But Otterbox lets you add a touch of style with various colorways to choose from. You can also get a clear case to show off the phone’s design, but this option is limited to one type of case. For more feminine designs, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

Best rugged Otterbox case: Defender series

sgnote20u otterbox defender
Amazon

The Otterbox Defender is one of the first case types that Otterbox launched, and it remains a fan favorite even today. It uses a synthetic rubber slipcover and a polycarbonate shell to keep the phone safe from accidental bumps and drops. The buttons are covered, and you also get port covers to keep dust, lint, and dirt away. A thick, raised bezel around the front keeps the display safe. Depending on the phone, you might also get a built-in screen protector.

Defender cases for more recent releases also come with an anti-microbial coating that protects the case’s exterior from common bacteria. It’s infused with a silver-based additive to stop microbial growth continuously. The Defender is also one option that comes with a belt clip holster. It’s thick and bulky, but if all-around protection is what you’re after, this is the case to get.

The Otterbox Defender isn’t available for every smartphone, but most major flagships are covered. This is understandable since it’s a bit pricey for a budget phone. However, if you want to protect your phone from damage, this is the case to get.

Get the Otterbox Defender for:

Samsung

Apple

Google

Read also: The best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra cases you can buy

Runner up: Otterbox Defender Pro

rugged sgn20 otterbox defender pro
OtterBox

The Otterbox Defender Pro somehow manages to be even more protective than the Defender series. The two are quite similar, but the Pro tacks a little more thickness and bulk to help your phone survive even harsher falls. It also comes with a more textured finish on the back that adds to the grip. The anti-microbial layer and a belt clip holster are also available with the Defender Pro.

However, the Defender Pro is only available via the Otterbox website. This means that the steep discounts often found on Amazon are not available. The good news, though, is that it’s not any more expensive than the standard Defender series.

Get the Otterbox Defender Pro for:

Samsung

Apple

Google

Best standard Otterbox case: Symmetry series

The Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro are excellent cases, but they are overkill for many people. If you want the safety features that Otterbox is known for, the Symmetry series is the one to consider.

It’s still excellent quality, but it doesn’t have the extra thickness and bulk. In fact, the polycarbonate case is one of the thinnest you can get from Otterbox. It still offers three times the drop protection you’d get with a MIL-STD 810G 516.6 certified case.

The Symmetry also supports a much larger number of phones, including the latest flagships from Motorola, OnePlus, and more. It also features far more attractive color options, including clear designs to show off your phone’s natural style.

Get the Otterbox Symmetry for:

Samsung

Apple

Google

Others

Best Otterbox wallet case: Strada Series

iPhone 13 Pro Max strada series case

Otterbox only offers one wallet case, but it’s an option worth considering. It’s a classic folio-style case with space for cards or cash on the inside of the fold, plus a magnetic clasp to keep it securely closed or open. The genuine leather finish adds a soft touch to the polycarbonate shell beneath the hood. Another option called the Strada Via series drops the leather for a more-resistant polyurethane flap.

Like most Otterbox cases, the Strada series also features military-grade drop protection. The only downside is that it’s only offered for certain flagship phones from Apple or Samsung, like the Galaxy S22 or iPhone 13.

Get the Otterbox Strada for:

Samsung

Apple

Best affordable Otterbox case: Commuter Series

pixel 4a otterbox commuter
OtterBox

The Otterbox Commuter offers the perfect middle ground. It borrows the best elements from both the Defender and the Symmetry cases. It has a relatively slim profile, but it sports dual-layer protection with the combination of a synthetic rubber interior and a polycarbonate shell. It also comes with port and button covers and an anti-microbial layer.

While still more expensive than cases from Spigen or other budget brands, the Commuter series is one of the most affordable Otterbox cases you can buy. The standard Commuter series isn’t available for every phone, but the Commuter Lite series (more on this below) greatly fills out the lineup.

Get the Otterbox Commuter for:

Samsung

Apple

Others

Runner up: Commuter Lite series

best moto g7 power cases otterbox commuter lite

The Otterbox Commuter Lite is the best protective case you can get for a slew of entry-level smartphones. It may be the cheapest case Otterbox has, but it doesn’t compromise the device’s safety in any way. In fact, it’s almost as good as the Commuter as far as drop protection is concerned, but without the added benefit of port covers and the anti-microbial layer.

Get the Otterbox Commuter Lite for:

Samsung

Motorola

LG

Other Otterbox cases

As mentioned above, Otterbox has a few specialized cases beyond its rugged offerings. One of our favorites is the Otter + Pop Series, which essentially adds a PopSocket grip to the back of a Defender or Symmetry Series case. They also come in funky colors and designs, although support is limited to flagship phones from Apple or Samsung.

For iPhones, Otterbox also offers MagSafe editions of its Symmetry and Defender Series cases. Some of these are also clear or transparent, although you can obviously see the MagSafe magnets inside the case.

Otterbox has also dabbled in providing eco-friendly cases under its Core Series. These soft cases are made with 50% recycled material, which isn’t as eco-friendly as other manufacturers. Plus, these are only offered for the iPhone 13 lineup. All models in the series feature built-in MagSafe magnets and a translucent design.

A few other more limited series, like the Figura Series, Aneu Series, and Lumen Series, are also offered for the latest iPhones. They offer unique designs in a fairly standard PU and synthetic rubber casing. Each also comes in models with and without MagSafe.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Are Otterbox cases waterproof?
A: Most Otterbox cases feature a MIL-STD-810G 516.6 rating for drop protection, but none are waterproof. For that, we recommend a waterproof pouch case instead.

Q: Will an Otterbox case keep my phone safe?
A:
There are no guarantees, but Otterbox cases are some of the best you can get for complete device protection. The cases are repeatedly tested to ensure their drop protection capabilities. Even the cheapest Otterbox case will keep your phone free from damage.

Q: Can I use an Otterbox case with screen protectors?
A:
Otterbox cases are designed to fit your phone precisely. The thick raised bumper around the display may not let you use these cases with certain screen protectors. You will have to make sure that both accessories are compatible with each other before making a purchase. Otterbox has its own range of screen protectors as well.

Q: How do I clean and disinfect a case?
A:
Using special wipes or a microfiber cloth is usually a good way to keep your device and phone case disinfected. Certain Otterbox cases come with an anti-microbial coating as well. For more specifics, check out our guide to properly cleaning your phone.

Q: What is the warranty period of an Otterbox case?
A:
Otterbox claims that it offers a lifetime warranty for its cases. However, this actually means that you can make a warranty claim for up to 7 years from the date of purchase.

Q: Does Otterbox ship globally?
A:
You can place orders on Otterbox’s website in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia. You might also find Otterbox cases listed on your local Amazon store.