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Otterbox Universe Case System for iPhone 6/7/8 Series, and iPad Pro 9.7" Review
      #49925 - 10/18/17 03:20 PM

Otterbox has been around since the early days of the iPhone, providing heavy-duty protection for our fragile handheld devices. Considering how vulnerable the majority of Apple's offerings have been, there was a clear need for ultra-protective cases, and Otterbox has always filled that void quite well, arguably becoming the top player in the field. Imagine for a moment how difficult it must have been to engineer a water-resistant (no case on the market is ever truly water-proof) solution for a device with a large button embedded in the screen that also served as a fingerprint sensor, as well as an analog headphone jack. With Apple's recent offerings, however, the need for water-resistant cases has significantly diminished, and Otterbox has responded with a case system that happily leaves the job of repelling water to the device, and focuses instead on durability and functionality.

The Universe Case System begins with the case itself, a polycarbonate tank of a case that somehow manages to provide significant drop protection without adding a lot of extra weight. As with all rugged cases, however, expect it to approximately double the thickness of your iPhone. It provides easy access to all buttons as well as the mute switch and Lightning Port. How rugged is it? I honestly have no idea. The product page contains a link to "learn more" about their certified drop+protection tests. However, when I follow the link down the rabbit hole, all I find is a list of 29 tests including such things as makeup resistance test, Purell Wipe test, and hand lotion resistance test. The last one on the list is drop test, for which there is no further description. Now, I don't fault Otterbox for testing their products to see how they react to things they are likely to come into contact with. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that very few manufacturers go to this trouble. I do, however, take exception with them being described on the product page as "Certified Drop+ Pro-tection" tests. That being said, the case fits perfectly, and, based on my experience in this field, I can confidently say that it will provide drop protection equal to or exceeding any daily-use case on the market today.

Ruggedness is great, but it's really only the opening act for the Universe Case System. Otterbox has used their reputation and position in the market to leverage some truly excellent partnerships from top-tier manufacturers such as Mophie, PolarPro, SanDisk, and Square. On Otterbox' website (as well as many online retailers) you will find extended batteries, wireless charging modules, storage-expanding flash drives, credit card chip readers, armbands, bike mounts, tripods, car mounts, rail mounts, camera lenses, and even thermal imaging cameras. Keep in mind, however, that all of these require additional purchases that will equal or exceed the price of the case itself (in some cases by quite a bit). The only accessory that I had the opportunity to test was the PolarPro Bicycle Mount. I found it to work quite well for light riding, however, I was unable to get the compression ring around the ram ball to tighten enough to prevent it from slowly dropping as I rode. If you intend to use it for mountain biking or long road rides, take care to position the device so that the ball joint sits at its lowest point before you begin. You may get some lateral movement but it won't be able to drop any lower. Regardless of the road conditions, the rail system held tight, and felt quite secure throughout the ride.

While the functionality of a phone case is of paramount importance, Otterbox has never been one to ignore style, and they haven't done so here either. The Universe Case is available in black, Rosso Corsa (red/pink), Bespoke Way (dark blue/light blue), and Island Sherbet (teal/orange).

If you're looking for a modular case system with tons of options, there is nothing on the market like Otterbox' Universe Case System. It's durable, stylish, and will allow you to turn your iPhone into just about anything. Prepare yourself for sticker shock, however, as these accessories do not come cheap.

Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Rail system allows for attachment of a wide range of accessories. Substantial drop protection.
What's Not: Accessories are expensive. No protection from water.
Price: $49.95 - $79.95
Website: Otterbox

Reviewed by: Tom Slayton


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