Otterbox surprised us this year! They updated two of their cases and released a new case for the 2018 iPhones. With these updated cases and new products, our opinion of Otterbox has gone up! Some these cases even made our Top 10 list! Find out what we think are the BEST Otterbox Cases for the iPhone Xs!
At Mobile Reviews Eh!, we do reviews based on actual usage. We’ve been using Otterbox cases for years now and have done some truly awful things to our iPhones in the cases (throwing it 40ft in the air anybody?)
If you like how we do our reviews, please consider buying the products on the links scattered on this article.
Otterbox Defender is probably the longest running iPhone case in the history of iPhone cases. Itʼs probably why people keep defaulting back to it. But the question nowadays is: Is the Otterbox Defender necessary?
We donʼt know if itʼs just us but we’re much more at ease dropping our iPhones than we were a few years back. We donʼt know if this is because weʼve become desensitized at the sight of an iPhone falling or because subconsciously, we know that the devices can generally take a waist height drop easily. Even out of the box, the iPhone is supposed to survive a 1m drop according Apple accessories specs.
In general, cases have gotten tougher over the years with products like the Mous Limitless and Rhinoshield Crashguard being able to take large drops so again, whatʼs the point of the Otterbox Defender?
The Otterbox Defender is one of the biggest cases weʼve ever reviewed and thankfully, they decided to get rid of the plastic screen protector. We didnʼt mind it for the iPhone 5ʼs but the moment TouchID was a thing, the cutout at the bottom became a repository for dust and debris. The screenless editions work quite well with Edge to Edge screen protectors which is great.
We will admit that the Otterbox Defender is a tank of the case. There arenʼt many existing cases now that surrounds their iPhone with foam, PC and a TPU cover. The only other case that follows this trend is the Spigen ProGuard and itʼs not being made for the iPhone XS which is too bad.
The only reason we’d get the Otterbox Defender is for the belt clip. The belt clip is such a relic of a bygone era and for a while, it seemed like everybody had a belt-clip case. The iPhone 5ʼs and 6 eraʼs were very popular for belt-clip cases but they all disappeared for the iPhone 7’s and beyond. But the Otterbox Defender still has one so we guess if you stick around long enough that the demand will eventually come back?
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Otterbox Defender Pro
The standout difference of the Otterbox Defender Pro is the Otterarmor Microbial Defense feature. According to Otterbox, itʼs an additive that is molded into the TPU sleeve that doesnʼt wear off and wonʼt harm humans, animals or human children. The microbial defense feature only protects the TPU sleeve and nothing else. This means your screen, belt holster and graphic is still going to be a cesspool of germs on the Otterbox Defender Pro.
Now as a product reviewer, we try pretty hard to figure out where we can use products. Otterbox does say that the average device has 25000 germs and germs in general will make you sick. So in theory, if this product works, that means that whatever germs you get from shaking the hand of Sniffling Steven or Wheezing Whitney will die on the TPU sleeve of Otterbox Defender Pro.
Regardless, we can see a case like the Otterbox Defender Pro being a little more useful if youʼre working in the health field or deal with food all the time.
Otterbox does say that the Otterbox Defender Pro comes with Pro Drop protection and we were about to call bullocks on that feature. We honestly had to look hard to see if there was any reason why Otterbox could say it was tougher. We measured the thickness of each case, the weight of the TPU sleeves and frames and the only difference we could find was that the TPU sleeve on the Otterbox Defender Pro weighed more because it covered up the Apple Logo. The last thing we checked was the actual thickness of the TPU cover. On the Otterbox Defender, itʼs about 2mm. On the Otterbox Defender Pro, its 2.2mm. So technically, having a TPU sleeve thatʼs 10% thicker is going to offer more drop protection.
The FAQ on the Otterbox Defender Pro site also mentions that there is a better version of the shock absorbing foam but we canʼt tell the difference so we’re going to call bullocks on that unless Otterbox is talking about the extra foam where the hole for the Apple Logo use to be.
The only noticeable difference between Otterbox Defender Pro and Otterbox Defender is going to be the design and texture of the TPU sleeve. The Otterbox Defender Pro version has several different types of texture which will help with day-to-day handling.
Out of all the Otterbox cases weʼve used for the iPhone XS, the Otterbox Defender Pro is probably the one that makes us the most uneasy because everything about it seems fluffy.
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Even though the old Otterbox Symmetry was never highly rated in the scoring system, we still like it because it was a solid feeling case with tougher than average buttons. The design of the Otterbox Symmetry hasnʼt really changed in a few years but with the iPhone XS, Otterbox rolled out the Otterbox Symmetry with a new thin design.
Weʼll be honest with you, we started using the Otterbox Symmetry after trying to figure out how to use the Otterbox Defender Pro so our opinion of Otterbox was slightly skewed. Our first impression of Otterbox Symmetry was that all Otterbox did was remove the TPU lining on the inside of the case and make the PC slightly thinner in order to shave 1mm off the thickness of the case. It seemed more like a cost saving measure while keeping the Otterbox Symmetry at the same price point. Which means Otterbox makes more money.
After using the new Otterbox Symmetry for a while, our first impression still stands. Otterbox, however, has done a little bit more than just reduce the materials in the case. The smaller case is still quite rigid as the PC back isnʼt going to flex much during a face first drop. The bottom of the older Otterbox Symmetry was thicker than the top but itʼs the same thickness across the entire device for the new Otterbox Symmetry.
When it comes to drop protection, the slimmer case isnʼt going to offer as much drop protection as the thicker old case. Again, Otterbox doesnʼt state how high you can drop their cases because they use their own drop protection standards. However that doesn’t mean the new Otterbox Symmetry is still going to protect your iPhone from any drop from waist/table height.
The biggest difference from the old and new Otterbox Symmetry is the buttons. With a thinner case, we were expecting a small bump in button access. However, thatʼs not the case for this new Otterbox Symmetry. The buttons on the Otterbox Symmetry went from being hard to use to one of the best that weʼve ever used. The updated buttons on the Otterbox Symmetry float in the case, similar to the Rhinoshield MOD buttons. The buttons make a world of difference when it comes to iPhone access. It wonʼt seem like much when we’re talking about it but trust us, it is. We think there can be a bit more fine-tuning with the buttons as they do rattle a tiny amount. Also, the updated buttons arenʼt as pronounce as the old ones.
The biggest draw for the Otterbox Symmetry is going to be the designs and colors that Otterbox offers. The prints are quite glossy and look nice from afar but fingerprints will be noticeable on the print when compared to the rest of the case. We personally were drawn to the Aspen Gleam while scrolling through Otterboxʼs webpage. Looks so bright!
If youʼre looking for the ultimate customization, you can head over to Zazzle and have your custom image printed on the back of the Otterbox Symmetry which is awesome.
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The Otterbox Traction surprised us. We really like this thin, well-handling case. We first saw the Otterbox Traction in the Apple store and was surprised at the colors and design. The case has two colors, the dominant color and then random accents of color sprinkled throughout the nonaclear portions of the case. The accents are not overwhelming and add a bit of attitude to the case. The accents might also be a turnoff as some people might prefer to keep the slick lines of the iPhone XS.
The standout feature of the Otterbox Traction is the handling. The edges of the case is 100% TPU whereas the Otterbox Symmetry is about 1/2 TPU and 1/2 PC which reduces the handling slightly. The Otterbox Traction has a full TPU edge which feels great in our hand. Now if that wasnʼt enough, Otterbox added a series of groves in the edge that make using the iPhone in the Otterbox Traction a joy
Our only complaint is that the clear back will show wear and tear quicker than other cases. Our dark iPhone XS does a wonderful job showcasing all the grease that comes off from our fingers on the Otterbox Traction. If youʼve got the same coloured iPhone as we do, maybe the Otterbox Traction isnʼt for you. Fingerprints and scratches will be much less noticeable with a lighter coloured iPhone.
The wear and tear also didn’t helped by the fact that the case will slide around easily on its back.
But again, we do like this case!
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We werenʼt terribly impressed with the original Otterbox Pursuit or itʼs cousin, the LifeProof Slam. But the updated Otterbox Pursuit is oddly awesome. Hereʼs two reasons why:
- The majority of the edges of the Otterbox Pursuit is made from rubber which improves handling. On the original Otterbox Pursuit, the back of the case handled like a wet bar of soap. The back tapers in slightly. Thereʼs more rubber which your hand will spend the most time in,
- The angled edge is a smart design feature. The front of the case is quite a bit wider than the back of the case which makes it easier to pick up. The angled edge also helps with the handling of the device because it the iPhone never feels like itʼs going to pop out of my hand like the previous version.
The installation of the Otterbox Pursuit is a little odd as our case didnʼt come with any instructions. If you do get this case, our advice is to get this case when your fingernails are a little longer so that you can easily pry the TPU sleeve from the PC front. When it comes to overall design, the new Otterbox Pursuit feels tougher than the old one because of how the TPU folds over the frame rather than snapping together along the middle of the case. This design feature is going to work better in the long term when it comes to drops as there is no chance that the new Otterbox Pursuit is going to split in half during a drop.
With the newer case, the iPhone sits in a frame of rubber rather than foam and the buttons are much easier to use. Using the buttons on the old Otterbox Pursuit was like trying to turn on a light switch through a pillow. The new Otterbox Pursuit’s buttons is similar to watching a Kit Kat bar get broken in half in slow motion. Thereʼs crispness to it.
The only thing that the old Otterbox Pursuit has that the new one doesnʼt, is a covered mute switch. When it comes to overall protection of your device, the more of your device that is covered, the better however that extra protection usually comes at the cost of functionality so itʼs not necessarily a good thing. The mute switch cover on the old Otterbox Pursuit, though protective was painful to use so we’re glad that Otterbox decided to go with a normal cutout on the new Otterbox Pursuit.
The last two things we’ll mention regarding the Otterbox Pursuit is that your speakers can never be muted which is handy if youʼre using the device outside or in louder environments. And if youʼre really clumsy, the Otterbox Pursuit allows you to attach a lanyard to the case. All these little features is just icing on top of a well-made iPhone case pie. Or cake.
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The Otterbox Statement is one of Otterboxʼs more unique cases. Otterbox combines a small piece of leather with TPU and PC. It may not seem like much but that small piece of leather will put the handling of the iPhone over the Otterbox Symmetry. However, from our knowledge, the Otterbox Statement hasnʼt gotten the slim down treatment like the Otterbox Symmetryʼs have. This means whatever weʼve said in our 2016 review of the Otterbox Statement still stands.
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The Otterbox Commuter hasn’t been updated for the iPhone XS (we think). Otterbox didnʼt include one on the package they sent us. But the iPhone X version we used earlier this year wasnʼt any different than the versions we used for the iPhone 6-8ʼs.
In fact, we didnʼt think Otterbox made the Otterbox Commuter for the iPhone XS because their webpage heavily featured the Otterbox Symmetry, Otterbox Defender and Otterbox Pursuit series.
Prior to the iPhone XS, we actually preferred the Otterbox Commuter over the Otterbox Symmetry solely because the buttons on the case were easier to use than the Otterbox Symmetry. The updated Symmetry makes it a non-issue so the only reason why we would get the Otterbox Commuter would be if we wanted a dust cover on the lightning port. Now itʼs a funny thing because the dust cover is great but the TPU edge of the case along the top of the case are quite pliable to dust. Debris will also have an easy time getting into the case.
The only other reason we can think of why you would get the Otterbox Commuter is the ability to customize the colors of the PC shell and TPU.
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