Otterbox or Lifeproof: Choose!

Thrill-seekers, water-lovers, child-havers, grace-lackers - pretty much anyone who might find their mobile device outside of its ideal environment is eager to protect these increasingly valuable possessions from the many dangers that may assail them throughout the day.  It's now become pretty clear that two major contenders have emerged in the "protect-your-device-from-all-the-things" market: Lifeproof and Otterbox.  Both of these companies have proven they know how to make smartphone and cell phone cases that can take a beating.  And, in the case of Lifeproof, a drowning.  So how do you, the wary traveler, swimmer, parent, or klutz, chose the right case for your device? Let's start with the basics: what do these two companies have to offer?  This is not always a simple question to answer.  Both Lifeproof and Otterbox, but especially the latter, frequently introduce and discontinue products, based on what devices are most popular.  Here is a chart of their current series and what they can and cannot protect you from: Otterbox_Lifeproof series features chart  


We bet you noticed that only one of the Otterboxes is waterproof.  And guess what?  That series is actually only available for the Galaxy S5.  So, if what you're looking for is an anti-drowning case, you'll want to go with Lifeproof.  You may also notice that only three of the cases have built-in screen protectors.  There are a few of the Otterboxes that come with an adhesive screen protector, but if you're looking for serious, certain protection from the elements, you probably want either a Defender, a Preserver, or a frÄ“.


The other thing to consider is whether either case maker actually makes a case for your device.  On this front, Otterbox really kind of kills Lifeproof.  Where Otterbox at any given time generally has cases for 40-50 different devices from 8 or 9 different manufacturers, Lifeproof pretty much caters exclusively to Apple and Samsung.  Right now they also of have one case for the Motorola Droid Turbo, but otherwise you're out of luck if your device doesn't have an "i" or a "Galaxy" in its name.  We learned this by creating this chart of all the Otterbox and Lifeproof cases currently available on each company's website, listed by device.  Of course, in many cases, earlier and discontinued models can be found from other retailers, like Amazon or Best Buy, but you should be careful shopping around€”there are a lot of knock-offs out there that are not guaranteed to produce the same results as the genuine article.  In fact, if you think you may have purchased a fake, you can report it to Otterbox or Lifeproof.  They may not be able to do much, but maybe you can feel better that at least whoever you bought it from could get in big trouble and maybe be prevented from defrauding anyone else. [caption id="attachment_453" align="aligncenter" width="566"]Otterbox and Lifeproof_devices covered_April 2015_Screenshot Cases currently available from Lifeproof and Otterbox. Otterbox letters correspondence to the series in the chart above. Click to download the Word document.[/caption]

Agile Tablet System

This is a series particular to Otterbox.  It comprises several pieces designed to add functionality to your tablet case.  We'll let Otterbox explain:  

Otterbox Agility Tablet System graphic

We think this is pretty cool.  And while there is a decent variety of Lifeproof accessories, nothing they have really compares.


This is really another area where Otterbox kind of wins, but not by a lot.  Neither Lifeproof nor Otterbox cases are primairly designed to be sexy.  However, Otterbox has made an effort.  For the more popular devices (iPhones, Galaxy S-series), they offer many of their cases in a variety of colors and have created the Symmetry series specifically to look more like a smartphone case and less like a portable bunker.  Fortunately, MightySkins has decided to pick up the slack in this particular area and offers hundreds of options (instead of ten) to make your Otterbox or Lifeproof case look super great.  The most popular?  For both Lifeproof and Otterbox cases, it is hands down the tree camo. tree camo_otterbox_armorpink tree camo-otterbox preserverpurple tree camo-otterbox commuter_droid So, for swag, we've got you covered.  Even if you're not into tree camo.

Case-specific Considerations

Besides the factors above, there are a few other factors to look for before you make a final decision:
  • Can you charge your device in the case?
  • Will you need an adapter to use your headphones?
  • If there is a screen cover, will it interfere with touchscreen?
  • What is the warranty?  Does it cover only the case, or also the device if the case fails? For most products, the Lifeproof warranty and Otterbox warranty posted online are all you need, but if you're purchasing from a third party, make sure you know what's covered.
  • Do people who have used the case like it? Even if you don't want to purchase from Amazon, it's a great place to go for customer reviews.
  • How awesome is it? Check out these stories of Otterbox miracles and Lifeproof cases in real life.