iPhone 7

Otterbox Defender vs Commuter vs Symmetry vs Pursuit – iPhone 7(+) Cases

Figure out which Otterbox iPhone 7 case is right for you in our Otterbox Defender vs Commuter vs Symmetry Comparison

*Added in a review for the Otterbox Pursuit (scroll to the bottom)

Is your heart set on getting an Otterbox case for your iPhone 7? Or are you reading this article while in a big box store and all you have in front of you are Otterbox cases? Well, we can definitely help you decide which case to get. Looking for other iPhone 7 cases? Check out our comparison tool for iPhone 7 cases.

Otterbox Defender vs Commuter vs Symmetry – iPhone 7 CasesUnlike our comparison for the iPhone 6 versions of the case, we can’t say for certain which case is better. The Commuter fit the iPhone 7 quite well (which wasn’t the case for the iPhone 6 version), and it’s been updated with better grips along the side of the case. The Commuter offers a bit more protection than the Symmetry as there is a port cover on the Lightning port. See if Amazon has the Commuter in stock!

The Otterbox Symmetry is a decent case but with the back of the case is quite slick so it will slide around a bit more than the Commuter. Also, the corners are slick which means there is a higher chance that the case will fall out of your hand. With that being said, it is a good case for an office dweller. Our Symmetry was pink and baby blue, wonder what other colour combinations are on Amazon?

The Otterbox Defender is the toughest case out of the three. We know the slipcover on the case will stretch out over time and people tend to pull the port covers off, but we’ve seen Otterbox Defenders last 2-3 years(an office mate has one their iPhone 5s still). The Defender will protect your iPhone 7 as the iPhone 6 version protected our iPhone from a 40 ft. drop. See if you pick one up on Amazon.

Pretty simple right? It sort of is. Below is a comparison table that might help you out. Check out the full tables here.

 Otterbox DefenderOtterbox SymmetryOtterbox CommuterOtterbox Pursuit
(out of 5)

(out of 5)

(out of 5)

(out of 5)
iPhone 7: $49.95 USD
iPhone 7+: $59.95 USD
iPhone 7: $39.95 USD
iPhone 7+: $49.95 USD
iPhone 7: $39.95 USD
iPhone 7+: $49.95 USD
iPhone 7: $69.95 USD
iPhone 7 Plus: $79.95 USD
- Fairly tough case
- No noticeable gap on the case (unlike our previous Defenders)
- Tougher than the average slim iPhone case
- Tougher than the average slim iPhone case
- Handles slightly better than the Symmetry
- Thin, modern design
- Sealed camera opening
- Lanyard attachment available
- BIG!
- Slipcover may stretch over time
- Plugs can be torn off
- Buttons are slightly tougher to use
- Larger than the average case
- Back is very slick
- Hard to use one-handed
- Larger than the average case
- Back is quite slick
- What happened to the screen protector?
- Not fully waterproof
- Quite expensive
- No screen protector


Design – Slim or Rugged, none of these cases are sleek like the iPhone 7

Design - Otterbox Defender vs Commuter vs Symmetry – iPhone 7 CasesBetween these three cases, the Defender is the thickest and widest case followed by the Symmetry and Commuter. All of these cases are bigger than the average iPhone 7 case but the extra bulk generally means extra protection.

The Symmetry is a little different than the iPhone 6 version as Otterbox has increased the amount rubber on the front which improves the handling of the case.

The Commuter has improved grips along the side and doesn’t stretch out as much as the previous versions. We’d still recommend taking the Commuter off every once in a while to clean the iPhone as dust/debris may collect between the iPhone and case.

The design of the Defender has changed (we’ve been reviewing them since the iPhone 5). The iPhone sits in a polycarbonate shell and is held together by a TPU sleeve (called the Slipcover). We know that the Slipcover stretches out over time and the port covers have been issues for many users. Buyer beware! The iPhone isn’t completely sealed which leads to poor dust/debris protection which we’ll talk about below.

Protection – The Otterbox Defender is a tough case…if you clean it.

Regarding protection, Otterbox doesn’t rate any of these cases to Mil-STD 810G but to their own Otterbox Drop Certification. For the Commuter and Symmetry, we’d be very comfortable dropping our iPhones from chest height whereas the Defender; you could do whatever you want to the iPhone from whatever height.

Regarding water and dust protection, none of the cases is waterproof, and only the Commuter and Defender offer above average dust protection. However, the edges of the Commuter are a tad pliable so dust/debris can get between the iPhone and the case. As we mentioned above, cleaning the setup is recommended.

Our issue with the Otterbox Defender has to deal with the cutout on the front. Dust/debris will start collecting between the screen protector and the iPhone’s screen which isn’t good. We’re not concerned with the back because the foam around the cutout will keep dust/debris out.

For screen protection, the edges are high enough to keep the iPhone’s screen off a flat surface. The Commuter’s of past came with a screen protector, but the one for the iPhone 7 didn’t which was a bit disappointing. The Defender has a screen protector that’s decent and doesn’t diffuse the Retina HD screen.

Functionality – Get to your iPhone without any issue

Port Access - Otterbox Defender vs Commuter vs Symmetry – iPhone 7 CasesThe buttons on all three cases work well though the Commuter still has the best buttons. The edges of the cases don’t get in the way, and the screen protector on the Defender sits fairly flush to the screen so there wasn’t any noticeable sensitivity loss.

The Lightning port is covered by the Commuter and Defender’s ports, and they’re not annoying to use like other cases.

Otterbox Pursuit – A decent case that’s quite expensive

Is the Pursuit actually Otterbox’s thinnest, toughest and most protective case? That’s what Otterbox claims but is it tougher than the Defender? We don’t think so. The Otterbox Pursuit will offer your iPhone better protection than the average tough case and feels slimmer than the average tough case. Otterbox has done a good job ensuring dust and debris doesn’t touch most of your iPhone.

Otterbox Pursuit - iPhone 7 Case ReviewsOur only gripe with the Pursuit is the fact that it doesn’t come with a screen protector. It’s marketed as a case that protects you from the elements, cost $80 dollars and leaves the most vulnerable part of the iPhone exposed. So if you’re thinking about getting the Pursuit as your tough case, get a screen protector. Also, tough cases from experience are synonymous with belt holsters and the Pursuit doesn’t come with one. Again, what do you get for $80?

Thickness - Otterbox Pursuit Review for the iPhone 7On paper, the Pursuit is larger than the average case but the extra width and bulk isn’t uniform across the entire case. The middle of the case is quite thin which reduces the feeling of “bulk” in the case. The case will wear well over time but drops will be noticeable on the case.

Installation is simple as you snap two pieces together. Taking the Pursuit is simple as well if you use a coin to pop the bottom apart. The backside of the case is slick which isn’t great but the rubbered bottom and edge provide enough texture for day to day usage.

Wear and Tear - Otterbox Pursuit Review for the iPhone 7When it comes to protection, the Otterbox Pursuit is Otterbox Drop-Certified. We’re not sure how high we can actually drop the iPhone but as you can see in our review video, we’ve dropped it from 6 ft without much hesitation. We will note that a drop on the camera edge of the iPhone resulted in the iPhone coming apart.

This would not have happened with the Otterbox Defender. Which is why we say the Defender is the tougher case between the two products.

Laynard Loop - Otterbox Pursuit Review for the iPhone 7Laynard Loop - Otterbox Pursuit Review for the iPhone 7The Otterbox Pursuit is probably the best Otterbox case for dust and debris protection. The lightning port has a tight fitting plug and the camera cutouts are surrounded by foam which keeps dust and debris from collecting inside the case. The edges of the case are high enough to keep the screen off a flat surface.

Did we say get a screen protector? You should because Otterbox doesn’t provide one with this $80 dollar case.

Case Edge - Otterbox Pursuit Review for the iPhone 7iPhone access is decent in the case though the buttons were a tad stiff. The mute switch is small but works well. We had no issues accessing the screen, camera and the lighting port cutout was large enough for our biggest cable.

The last thing of note is that the Otterbox Pursuit comes with a lanyard loop which will help with the drop protection when you’re out and about.

Have questions about our Otterbox Defender vs Commuter vs Symmetry post? Please ask them below, or on our Google+ page or our Facebook page or our About Us page. To stay up to date on everything we’re doing, check out our Twitter and Instagram feeds!



  1. Joey

    October 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    May I ask two quick questions:

    1. Can I use a screen protector with symmetry?
    2. How abt the achiever model?

  2. Dean Webb

    September 13, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Will The defender or the pursuit cover any part of the screen on the iPhone 8+ or the X

    • Aaron Ho

      September 18, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Not the 8+, not sure about the X

  3. Doug

    September 19, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I have read and watched reviews were the Defender case for the iphone7 has left marks near the home button. The guy in the video showed how the different plastic used for fingerprint ID reading causes a discoloration/damage to the iphone screen.

    Has anyone who has used the defender case checked their phone and did this happen?
    Also anyone take the screen off their defender and throw on a tempered glass protector?

  4. Joe

    September 20, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Hard to tell if the Symmetry is thinner than the Commuter. Which one is less bulky?

    • Aaron Ho

      September 27, 2017 at 12:06 am

      The Symmetry has a slimmer profiel.

  5. George Simon

    September 26, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Called Otterbox and asked which of their cases will work on the Iphone 8 with the new wireless charging stations….
    They said they’ve all
    Been tested and all work….
    Have you folks tested this function ??

    • Aaron Ho

      September 27, 2017 at 12:06 am

      I’ve been playing around with the wireless chargers and anything thicker 1 cm will be an issue. I don’t think any of the OTterbox cases are that thick.

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