Is it possible for a case to be thin and protect your iPhone from 6 ft drops? Find out in our Thule Atmos X3 review
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The Thule Atmos X3 for the iPhone 5/5S was one of our favourite cases for that device. Does the iPhone 6 version of the Thule Atmos X3 hold up to that standard? Generally, yes!
During our testing period of the Thule Atmos X3 review, we were impressed with the design and handling of our iPhone inside the Atmos X3 case. The case feels thinner than it actually is and adds a minimal amount of bulk to your iPhone 6 in terms of thickness.
Thule does a great job with the blend of textures on the case as its easy to slide into your pockets but it won’t slide easily off a table. In addition to all that, the Atmos X3 provides drop protection of your iPhone 6 up to 6.6ft or 2 m.
With all that being said, we gave this case a score of 4.5 Eh’s out of 5. This is one of our highest rated iPhone 6 cases as it beats out really great cases like the Tech 21 Classic Shell, the Urban Armor Gear and Incipio DualPro. If you want to see all the slim and protective iPhone 6 cases that we’ve reviewed (iPhone 6 Plus as well!), check out our comparison tool!
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Design – Great materials and its easy to install but what’s with the warping?
The Thule Atmos X3 is fairly thin but one of the oddest features is that the case bows out in the middle. This is the first case that we’ve seen that has this bow and we’re assuming it’s a requirement for the 6.6 ft or 2m drop protection.
We’ve already mention how well-put the Thule Atmos X3 and when we say it feels thinner than it actually is, its because when you’re holding the case, most of the contact is along the edge of the case which is as thick as the iPhone so it feels thinner than other cases with rounded edges.
There is one thing that we’ve noticed that brings down the quality of the case a bit and that deals with the slight warping of the buttons on the case. We’ve brought this up to Thule and they they say that a bit of warping is a characteristic of authentic TPE, the fancy name for the rubbery parts and doesn’t effect protection of the case. The warping does is minimized with an iPhone installed in the case so most people won’t even notice (unless you’ve read or seen my review that is).
Protection – Slim protection that protects your iPhone from 6.6 ft drops. Awesome!
We’ve been surprised at how few iPhone 6 cases are actually shock proof up to 6.6 ft. Many case manufacturers talk about how tough their cases are but don’t actually post how high you can drop their product. That’s not the case for the Thule Atmos X3. As you can tell in our review video, we have no problem dropping our iPhone 6 in the Atmos X3 from 6.6 ft.
In terms of screen protection, the lip of the case extends past the touchable iPhone screen by 2-3 mm’s. This lip isn’t significant and many cases have a similar lip so if you’re worried about your iPhone screen shattering, we’d recommend getting a screen protector.
The case extends further than the Spigen Tough Armor but not the Speck CandyShell.
Functionality – Might be an issue with larger headphone jacks
As we mentioned at the beginning, the Thule Atmos X3 case is pretty slick but yet won’t come flying out of your hand like the Incipio DualPro. Using your iPhone 6 in one hand is still quite manageable with this case.
Getting to all the hardware functions of your iPhone aren’t hindered by the case but we will say that you might have a bit of trouble using headphone jacks that are larger than the Apple EarPod. Our slightly larger set of Bowers & Wilkins headphones barely fit the cutout on the Atmos X3.
Have questions about our Thule Atmos X3 Review? Please ask them on our Google+ page or on our Facebook page.
October 31, 2014 at 12:15 am
I would suggest that you create a section to compare all the cases for a phone/tablet side-by-side, like Apple compares its models. It would much easier for everyone to find the case for them. But, if you do have this, please let me know.
November 2, 2014 at 9:51 pm
That is a good idea. I don’t have the resources for that yet but it will be there eventually.
November 1, 2014 at 4:43 am
More Monty, please. Perhaps a chew test.
Any idea when you are going to test the Atmos X4 for the i6 or even better, the i6+? It looks like the thinnest, high-protection case out there. If it has an everyday holster, it looks like the one for my needs.
November 2, 2014 at 9:54 pm
I don’t think it’s been released yet. Once it does, I plan on doing a full drop/water and review on the case.
November 9, 2014 at 5:41 am
I went to the SEMA show and spoke to a Thule rep, who said they got an email saying the Atmos X4 was delayed into next year. Could be spring or summer before it shows up. A long delay for what seems to be a great case with extremely good screen protection. The Atmos X4 has a SKU at BestBuy.com, but it is now listed as both, “no longer available”, and “coming soon” depending on the link.
March 10, 2015 at 7:46 am
Just to let you know, the Thule Atmos X4 is expected to be released in the US in the middle of the year. This is what i was told by Thule customer service.
March 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm
Thanks for the update! I look forward to reviewing that case.
November 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm
Just discovered your reviews this week– great work! Appreciate the details included in your presentations and comparisons. I’m especially interested in this Thule case after seeing/reading your review. Have you tried any of the cases by Element?
Thanks for your time and efforts!
November 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm
I have as Element Ion right now but I’m sending it back because the sides moved on the case. I’ll do the full review once I get the replacement case. My initial impressions of the case is that its pretty awesome.
November 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm
I see folks are getting their replacement ION cases made with the fixed mold. Did you get yours? Really curious how you will rate the ION.
November 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm
I have yet to get it but my initial impressions of the case are quite high. I’m surprised how slim it is.
November 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm
Awesome, I might just take the plunge with the Element Case ION. I see the cutouts are much larger for third party headphones and lightening cables, which is the only reason I haven’t already purchased the Thule Atmos x3.
November 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm
Hey Aaron, awesome review! Just came across your website by chance and now I find myself navigating to it a couple times a day. Anyway, I’m trying to choose between this case, the Lunatik Seismik, or the Pelican Voyager for the iPhone 6 … What do you think? Also, could you possibly do a review on those two aforementioned cases??
November 2, 2014 at 9:57 pm
I will review the Seismic but I cannot for the life of me get a Pelican Voyager in Canada. Off my initial impression of the other cases, I’d stick with the Thule.
November 5, 2014 at 4:18 am
Thank you for doing what you do. You are, by far, the best case review out there. I’m waiting on my 6+ and looking for the best slim case. The Thule 6+ only comes in black. I’m a GIRL and would like some color options! I’ve considered the Tech21 Classic Shell in pink or the Spigen Slim Armor in mint. I don’t recall you doing a review on the Slim Armor. Any thoughts on the Slim?
November 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm
I am reviewing the Spigen Slim Armor this weekend so stay tuned. Initial impressions are that its really slippy and I get a bit confused about the orientation of my iPhone inside the case.
November 6, 2014 at 4:26 am
Hey Aaron! Thanks so much for your reviews, they’ve been really beneficial while I’ve been shopping for a case for my iPhone 6. Now I’ve got my options down to the Thule atmos x3 or the Incipio Dualpro. One question: Could you specify which part of the Thule case’s exterior is hard plastic and which is more of a rubber-like material? I am wondering because I’m trying to figure out if the white part will get dirty easily. Thanks in advance!
November 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm
On the white case in the video, the white is hard plastic, the black parts are rubbery. Right along the edge of the case, the rubber has a sandpaper texture. The white should stay pretty clean unless dirt gets into it. It’s really hard plastic.
November 9, 2014 at 5:14 am
I saw some people saying that the buttons are a little bit hard to press, have you noticed that? I want a slim case with a nice protection, and I’m thinking about buying this one just because of your reviews. Keep with your great reviews, regards from Brazil!
November 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm
Hey can you comment on the fit of the phone. Will it help keep dust out like the incipio dual armor
November 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm
I believe so. It fits the phone quite tightly.
November 12, 2014 at 12:27 am
Does this case fit snugg enough to keep dust out? Like the incipio you reviewed
November 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm
Great reviews, thanks! Where can I actually buy this case in Canada for an iPhone 6 Plus? Amazon doesn’t seem to carry the case, and Thule doesn’t offer it for sale on their site.
November 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm
I’m not really sure. Sorry.
Another viewer linked this: http://www.racksforcars.com/store/search.asp
But I don’t see the 6 plus version for it.
November 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm
Thanks. I looked around some more, and the only place I found in Canada that lists them is http://www.prorak.com/prorak_en/catalogsearch/result/?q=TAIE-3125&x=0&y=0 . I emailed them this morning and asked if they actually stock them. They responded quickly and said they’re backordered but they expect them soon, and asked me if I want them to let me know when they have them in stock.
I also emailed Thule over the weekend and asked where I could buy one but I haven’t heard back from them yet.
November 17, 2014 at 5:32 pm
That’s good to know. Thanks!
November 19, 2014 at 10:18 am
Great site and reviews. I am down to 3 cases, UAG, Thule Atmos X3 and the Pelican Protector. Any chance you can review the protector?
I am concerned with the Atmos and the widening in the middle.
November 19, 2014 at 2:43 pm
For the Thule, you don’t really notice the widening of the case and its fairly slight. The Protector hasn’t been released in Canada yet so I can’t get my hands on one just yet.
November 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm
I agree with “June” about the screen protector. I’m scarred about shattering. I’m going to order the Thule based on your awesome work, but still wondering if I need a screen protector.
November 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm
I would get a screen protector if you’re scared about shattering the iPhone screen.
November 29, 2014 at 11:05 pm
FYI – The Thule Atmos product manager said he used the Zagg Invisible Shield glass screen protector when I spoke with him about the Atmos X3 not coming with one. He also said the X4 version with the built-in protector would probably not be available until late Spring 2015.
December 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm
Thanks for the update!
November 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm
Thank you for putting out such great info about all the different cases. Most of the time you see these case reviews its just some guy talking about opening in a box. It’s great that you actually use the case and put them to the test (I loved your otterbox video when you chucked it like 40ft) so you know what you are getting. I am a very clumsy person and I have just got the iphone 6 so I was freaking out about what case to get. I think after everything I have seen I’m going to go with the Thule. I was hoping that you could let me know some screen protectors you recommend? Thanks again for doing such great reviews!
November 20, 2014 at 12:16 am
I haven’t used any screen protectors so I can’t say which is good or not. Sorry.
I do plan on doing reviews for those soon.
November 19, 2014 at 11:46 pm
I was changing my tire and was recording a tutorial with my iPhone 6. I accidentally left it on my hood when I was done and actually drove over it by mistake when I drove off. I didn’t realise this even happened until I reached for my phone and it wasn’t there. I got out and found it a few yards back, dreading it being completely crushed. To my absolute surprise it was PERFECTLY fine, with only scratches on one corner of the case and faint tire tread marks on my screen. I’ll just let this story speak for itself. Get this case. Best protection any slim case can offer. I swear I’m not making this up.
November 20, 2014 at 12:16 am
Geez. Glad your phone is ok. Thanks for sharing!
November 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm
Hi, Aaron. Really good site. Based on your recommendation, I bought the Thule X3 for my 6+ and put a ZAGG screen protector on it, too.
The only problem I’ve noticed is that the decent quality Amazon brand lightning charging cables, which sell for half the price of the Apple-branded cables, do *not* fit into the bottom of the case and therefore into the charging port. The plastic plug portion of those cables is just too fat to clear the top and bottom of the case porthole.
Haven’t dropped the phone yet, hope I don’t. Used an Otterbox Defender on my previous iPhone 5S and it worked well for me, but the Otterbox screen protectors scratch very easily.
November 21, 2014 at 10:50 pm
Thanks for the comment. Thanks for bringing up the Amazon cable issue…you’re not the first person to bring this up. I will update the review.
November 21, 2014 at 11:18 pm
This is why I stopped from pulling the trigger on the Thule X3 and got myself a fire red Element Case ION case. It feels so right in my hand and the cutouts are PERFECT for my Amazon lightning cable and should work with larger headphone plugs as well (might push up on the case a bit but will definitely fit).
November 29, 2014 at 11:07 pm
Try the lightning cables from Monoprice.com. The reviewers say they fit as well as the Apple cables.
December 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm
Are they Mifi approved?
December 2, 2014 at 6:00 am
The Monoprice website says all lengths are MFI Certified Lightning cables. They carry a variety of lengths and colors; some have heavy-duty metal connections or flat wire as well.
Until they ran out of stock, Monoprice was selling the 3′ black cables on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for only $7.99 with Free Domestic (US) shipping. The 3′ cables are normally $12.02, which is still a deal. All Monoprice cables are also guaranteed for life.
November 25, 2014 at 8:47 pm
Thanks for the great info.
I’ve had my 6+ X3 for about two weeks now and IMO your review was very accurate!
Specifically, I have found your description of the case as feeling thinner than it actually is to be true. I also agree that the stickier rubber parts are conveniently placed on the case. I will also confirm that the sleep/wake button was difficult to press at first, but seems to be getting easier with time.
The black color (which was the only one available when I ordered) will be easier to lose in a pile of stuff, but also helps such a large phone to be a bit more discreet compared to other color options, which I like.
Over all, I am very happy with the case and thankful for the info you provided to help make the case-buying process easier.
November 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Phew, glad I wasn’t out to lunch with the review. Glad you found something you liked!
December 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm
Thank you so much for this review. I purchased this case and a Zagg glass screen protector. I couldn’t be happier. I have recommended this site to all my friends who are looking for iPhone 6 cases. Job well done sir!!
December 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm
Glad we could help!
December 22, 2014 at 12:16 am
Just FYI, if u look really carefully at the atmos x3 for the iphone 5/5s, you’ll notice it does bow out a bit on both sides of the case just as the 6/6+ version, it’s just not as noticeable as it is on the newer cases due to the smaller size of the device.
December 28, 2014 at 4:32 pm
Thanks for pointing that out!
December 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm
thanks for your reviews – entertaining and informative. i was struggling with what to get for my 6+ and just bought the x3 case after watching your reviews. fortunately, i was able to find the case here in singapore. my primary concern about this case was the lack of protection for the screen in case the phone falls flat. i’ve put on a glass shield (0.25mm thick), so hopefully between the x3 and that glass my phone is well protected.
btw, i think the reason why the case bows out on the sides is to assist with grip so phone doesn’t slide down in hand when holding upright especially since the material is not tacky.
January 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm
Thanks for the heads up! Glad we could help.
January 14, 2015 at 11:42 pm
My iPhone 6 (not +) bent within the first 2 months, due to being sat on in my back pocket I assume. I had the apple silicon case on it from the day I got it on launch day, and have finally got a replacement device. Will this case help prevent curvature?
January 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm
The case is pretty rigid but I don’t think it’s going to protect from the bendage that occurs from sitting.
February 18, 2015 at 6:42 pm
I am trying to figure out the best case for me for an iPhone6. I have watched nearly all of your videos and I am having a hard time deciding between this case and the Griffin Survivor Slim. I originally was looking at getting the Otterbox Defender, which I used on the iPhone 3GS, but after seeing your review I am changing my mind. I currently have a Galaxy S4 in a Commuter case with a screen protector and have no problems. I am worried about screen shattering the most. I can be slightly clumsy and I have a 3 year old little boy who sometimes gets to play on my phone. I plan to use a screen protector, but I dont know which one yet. I feel like the Survivor Slim seems to have more screen protection. Can you please help me? Thanks 🙂
February 19, 2015 at 8:26 pm
The Survivor Slim does have a bit more screen protection than the Thule. For your case, I’d go with the Slim since it has a bit more texture for your 3 year old to hold onto. It also comes with a screen protector (the X3 doesn’t).
February 19, 2015 at 12:27 am
Have been using this case for 2 weeks now and it is by far my favorite. I have tried 8 different cases but couldn’t find one that I loved. I have this paired with a Tech Armor Edge to Edge Ballistic glass and feel the combination provides adequate protection. Thanks for all of he reviews. It helped me finally settle on a case.
February 27, 2015 at 9:23 pm
Hi, some great, really helpful reviews. Thanks. Just wondering with the Thule Atmos X3 for the iphone 6 can you fit a 3rd party lightning connector in (ie. Amazon basics etc.)? Also if you had to pick would it be the Thule or the Griffin Survivor?
March 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm
Hi, i would like to ask if full coverage screen protector like BENKS Magic OKR+Pro 0.3mm 2.5D Complete Coverage is compatible with this Thule Atmos case? i had this Benks screen protectors on my iphone 6+ and i was wondering if the full coverage of the screen protector will lift up if i have this casing installed. Thanks!
March 7, 2015 at 8:22 pm
Wow! What a great site you have. I am so glad that I found it. The Otterbox Commuter cases I had ordered for our new IPhone 6 plus phones are already in the mail and being returned. They were like bricks, and did not fit well as your video showed. In fact we could not even get one of them on my husband’s phone…afraid of breaking the phone in half! After watching this video, I bought two of these Thule Atmos X3 cases. (I would have ordered them from Amazon so you would get some credit, but having had our phones almost 2 weeks with no protection, I did get them at Best Buy.) Mine is White/Orchid, and husband’s is Blue/Gray. They are AWESOME, grippy, fit very well. Thank you very much for your review. Oh yes, we do have the Zagg invisible shield glass screen protectors.
March 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm
Glad we could help!
March 16, 2015 at 12:10 am
Not blaming you at all, but after using your site to choose my iPhone 6 case, I chose this one. Just shattered my iPhone screen. Like, can’t touch it for fear of cutting my fingers shattered. :-/
March 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm
How did it fall? Was there a screen protector?
March 17, 2015 at 5:02 am
I want to get this case for my iPhone 6+. Which screen protector would you recommend?
March 20, 2015 at 2:49 pm
A Sir Lancelot Glass Screen protector. I have one on my 6 Plus and it’s one of the better screen protectors that I’ve used in the last month.
April 1, 2015 at 9:42 am
swayed to buy this too because of your awesome review! thanks Aaron!
April 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm
Glad I could help!
April 1, 2015 at 3:54 pm
Hey Aaron. This is my case of choice as well for my 6 plus. Only issue is which I like better, white or black :). I have been using the tech armor ballistic glass with great success with this case.
The case holds up very well from large drops, which I found out thanks to my daughter. Phone perfectly fine after a 6 foot fall on a sidewalk right on a corner.
July 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm
Greetings Aaron. Loving my iPhone 6 plus/Thule X3/Zagg Glass combo with a Turtleback Case leather holster. The only minor issue has been a tiny screen crack between the screen protector and the edge of the Thule. Since it’s not on the working part of the screen, I’ll live with it.
When will you get your hands on the Thule X4 with the built-in screen protection?
And how’s Monty?
July 13, 2015 at 9:31 pm
The case seems to cause the phone to be hot. And a hot phone weakens the battery life. My battery definitely feels weaker and my phone is always hot. What do you think, Aaron?
July 13, 2015 at 10:03 pm
Any case makes an already hot phone hotter by holding in heat longer. A full metal case might be a better heatsink, but would still retain some heat. The Thule X3 case is certainly not much different than similarly thin, rubbery cases in terms of retaining heat. It’s probably better than many other cases with more gummy texture.
It’s inaccurate to say that, “the case seems to cause the phone to be hot,” since it doesn’t effect the computing or communication reasons your phone is running hot.
If your phone is always hot, there’s something else at work. Do you leave lots of apps running? Are they all using location services? Are you in the boonies away from 4G service? If your phone is noticeably most of the time, you should have it checked.
November 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm
For me thule atmos x3 is very good in term of design and protection.the downside for me is just the weight,it is quite heavy when u put on the thule atmos x3 case.
November 12, 2015 at 1:26 am
Does the white colored case get dirty easily?
November 14, 2015 at 7:50 pm
Nope. My white/orange x3 is still white… with orange.
November 23, 2015 at 8:33 pm
I have a quick question for you regarding the Thule Atmos X3 as compared to the Thule Atmos X4. Is there any difference in the actual body of these cases? They look pretty much the same to me and the Thule description of them is pretty much the same. When it comes to actual phone and phone screen protection, the X4 has an included StratoShield protective shield which might also provide a heightened “lip” around the screen (and that addition is not to be underestimated).
So my questions are these: 1) Am I right in my assessment above? 2) On the issue of phone and phone screen protection only, which do you think is more protective, the X4 with its StratoShield protective shield or the X3 with the inclusion of a Cinder tempered glass protective shield? Prices of the X3 are dropping to the point that both of these options would now cost roughly the same.
Thanks for what you are doing, it really helps us!
November 23, 2015 at 9:02 pm
The X3 is a thicker around the edges when compared to the X4. Generally plastic is stronger than glass for screen protectors. Out of all the glass screen protectors I”ve broken, glass breaks at about 2ft with a 200 g ball. The stratoshield stood up to a 4 ft drop with the same ball and didn’t break (left a dent in the iPhone though)
November 23, 2015 at 8:35 pm
One other thing, I am talking about the use of the Thule Atmos X3 or X4 for an iphone 6s plus.
December 16, 2016 at 6:10 pm
hi… can anyone help me out that THULE ATMOS X3 IPHONE 7 fits for iphone 6s..?? or it gives any problem near the camera slot??
December 19, 2016 at 10:51 pm
They do not.