Lifeproof vs Otterbox: Which is better to protect your phone from hazards and accidents whilst hiking, riding, or climbing in the great outdoors?
This article will explore everything you need to know to make the process of choosing easier.
Smartphones are designed to be sleek, lightweight, and aesthetically pleasing; but they aren’t the most durable gadgets. A few bumps and drops can be costly, perhaps limiting your ability to reach out for help, if needed.
Understanding this struggle, phone case companies have brought out an impressive array of options for safeguarding smartphones in a variety of situations. From in-built Popsockets to grip your phone securely at any height to a rugged cover that can withstand some gnarly cliff drops; you can pursue your adventures without the added risks of damaging your phone.
In our Lifeproof case vs Otter box comparison, we’ll explore their differences, features, design and practicality as phone protectors. We hope to help you distinguish between the two and aid you in your decision. So, let’s get started.
Bottom Line Up Front Summary: Serious outdoor enthusiasts are MUCH better off going with the more capable Otterbox cases here. They are typically more affordable AND offer better protection and customization than Lifeproof.
The main differences between Lifeproof vs Otterbox Cases are:
On the surface, the two companies seem to offer similar products, but a closer look distinguishes them as being unique. As we explore their profiles below, you’ll see how different the two are and how they might be catering to different audiences.
Otterbox creates a protective phone case range according to varying lifestyles and personal tastes of its consumers from rugged case (extra protection) and waterproof water protection case options (waterproof protection) to more casual protective case options for “drop friendly people”.
It has seven different distinct designs with multiple customizations available as well. Some are built for enhancing durability, others for adding a vintage aesthetic—with some basic protection. As such, they differ in sizes, width, material, and finish.
On the other hand, Lifeproof cases distinguish themselves on the basis of their functionality. There are four basic options available in multiple vibrant colors and designs. Nevertheless, what makes them differ from one another is their features.
Lifeproof has cases that may focus more on being waterproof, while others may be more shock-resistant. Additionally, the company does have an environment-friendly case that is made from sustainable materials.
That said, both companies understand their consumers well and deliver products that have a premium look and feel. But, are they functional for those who like trekking out into the great outdoors?
The Otterbox Defender cases are relatively bulkier and weigh more than its counterpart given its emphasis on meeting military-grade standards. This is often reflected in the overall aesthetic of their products.
For instance, the Otterbox Defender Pro consists of extra bulk due to its thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) being denser for that added cushion and security.
Whereas the company’s Symmetry cases resemble the traditional iPhone transparent case (iPhone case compatible). Therefore, it is much similar to Lifeproof’s line up.
When it comes to the latter, Lifeproof follows its aesthetic pattern more strictly. They have a sleeker design, which is more subdued, but still stylish enough to turn heads.
Having a textured grip is certainly helpful to provide a good grip of your device. However, it might downgrade the look of your phone case. That’s why many phone cases have a smooth back, but there are notable differences in the textures when it comes to Lifeproof vs Otterbox cases.
Lifeproof cases have three options with a smooth, un-textured back—namely the Fre, Slam, and Next cases. Whereas the Wake case has a wave texture which is pleasing to look at. The sculpted pattern does not take away from its overall looks.
Otterbox Defender cases are variant with four cases having a smooth back, while the remaining three have a textured/leather back. Notably, however, the company allows consumers to add Pop Sockets to improve on its grip and functionality.
The types of outdoor activities you engage in will help you figure out the level of texture your phone’s case should have. For mountaineers, grip will be an important element; your phone shouldn’t easily slip off or out of its location. Campers, on the other hand, can get by with lighter texture and a little vigilance.
The main crux of our Lifeproof FRE case vs Otterbox debate lies here. Which one fares better?
Starting with Otterbox, the company focuses on providing military-grade protection to your smartphone. Its OtterBox Defender series is what made the company popular after all. The company provides a high-level protection against drops, scratches, and dust accumulation. But, there is a tradeoff.
While their products are built with high-quality, durable materials, their size can be rather bulky. Aside from a user’s own preference and hand-feel, the bulk can make storing and placing your smartphone a bit challenging. Typical holders and pockets will not be able to cater to its size.
Lifeproof heavy duty cases provide similar protections against dirt, scratches, and drop protection. Moreover, their Fre case is waterproof as well, which also provides added snow protection.
However, it does not focus on providing the same durable construction as Otterbox. Lifeproof cases are sleeker, but ultimately, flimsier as well.
It would also be wise to keep functionality, texture, and other elements in mind, as protection isn’t everything. Having a durable, but bulky phone whilst running through rugged mountain trails is difficult to store and equally difficult to use. Therefore, don’t simply get hyped by a cover’s protection level. Choose the one that works for you and your environment.
Features aside, the practicality of usage matters as well. The strongest, safest phone covers will be useless if you cannot use them.
Moreover, given these phone covers have a premium price, making the right choice from the get-go is preferable.
Both Otterbox and Lifeproof case models have plenty of positive reviews as a testament to their functionality. Some fare better than others do, depending on individual preferences.
For example, users who prefer Pop Sockets may want to stay away from textured covers. It also depends on the type of activities you engage in. If you’re a frequent hiker, having a phone with durability trumps one with waterproof functionality.
Other than that, the companies have both been in the game long enough to design their cases with the consumers in mind. Accessing and using buttons is relatively easy and can be done on the go.
The functionality differences between Lifeproof and Otterbox will ultimately come down to personal choice as on the whole, both perform equally well.
There is a significant difference between each company’s smartphone compatibility range.
Lifeproof protective cases cater to:
The Otterbox case series provides greater compatibility coverage, which includes:
Even with their different features and functions, the two companies have fairly similar installation methods.
Some covers will simply slip in and provide its intended protection. Others need a little setup. This includes:
Each cover also comes with its own easy removal tool for when you need to take your phone out of its cover.
While both brands have premium phone protection covers, there is a difference in their prices.
Overall, Otterbox has a wide price range for its product range. It’s more premium products, such as the Otterbox Defender Pro, remain relatively cheaper. For instance, the Lifeproof’s Fre protective case is priced higher, while it has lower resistance capabilities.
Therefore, between the two companies, you’re getting more value with Otterbox at a more affordable price.
If you like the construction of Otterbox covers, Body Glove ShockSuit is a reasonably priced alternative that may be right for you.
It has a sleeker design but does not compromise on its shock resistance. It protects your phone from all angles while still providing easy access to all buttons or ports.
Moreover, it is not overall bulky like the Otterbox and can fit easily into most pockets or holders. It comes in six different colors and the case can be customized according to your own personal preferences.
Sometimes what stands between you and a broken phone is your ability to grip it tightly. While the Speck CandyShell has a funky, unique look, its grooves and pattern provide functional advantages.
The phone is also made from military-grade materials and has been drop-tested to assert its capabilities. It’s multi-layered design is able to absorb shock to resist intense impacts. A raised bevel prevents the screen from being scratched while adding minimal bulk (screen protector).
Its buttons are covered by raised rubber ridges for easy, quick access and responsive pressing. It comes in a variety of cases to help you find the right combination for your style.
Both cases provide shock protection, but they differ in their capabilities.
Lifeproof cases can survive drops from 2 meters. Whereas the Otterbox has a more durable construction lending to its higher performance capability. It has been tested to perform well against shocks from 4 ft high.
While neither option provides guaranteed security, the added layer of each should be sufficient for more outgoing folk who need basic-to-medium shock absorption.
Each case is meant to last as long as you need to. Some will fair for a longer time than others though.
The plainer soft cover cases will be prone to overtime scratches on its surface. But, they should last you a long while protecting your phone against any damaging bumps or shocks. Pair it up with their cost and they do provide a long-lasting service in safeguarding your phone from any accidents.
Lifeproof and Otterbox cases both offer warranties against their products. Although the warranties are limited, they can be a simple bonus to keep your phone safe. You can read details about their terms on their respective Lifeproof and Otterbox websites.
Using the above-mentioned techniques, you’ll be able to fit your phone inside each company’s case with relative ease. They also come with their own instruction on how to insert your specific phone into its casing and how to ensure it stays safe.
Moreover, it will also come with any removal tools and instructions so help you take the cover off as necessary.
Otterbox focuses on providing durable cases, but it does not dabble into the waterproof game. On the other hand, Lifeproof does offer waterproof phone covers, but it is limited to its Fre model only. Other models will be able to cater to shock absorption and scratch resistance only.
Pertinent to mention that most phones nowadays are mostly waterproof anyways. Therefore, check whether you need waterproof capabilities depending on your risk level.
Both companies cater to some of the most popular phones in the market today; therefore, you should be able to find a model that works for your phone.
That said, Lifeproof has a smaller compatibility range and does not cater to rising star companies such as Honor, Huawei, Motorola, and so on. Therefore, do check the details before making a purchase.
Yes, both companies have some compact options available for tablet users which can easily be stored in your camping backpack or other outdoor gear. While Lifeproof only focuses on iPad users, Otterbox has options for Galaxy tab users as well.
The outdoors offers many exciting activities for us to explore, but damaging your phone can be a disappointing, costly, and mood-dampening experience.
That’s where phone protective cases sweep in to provide you with the ease of mind you need as you hike, bike, kayak, climb, camp, and so on. Avoid nasty scratches or costly repairs by investing in a nifty little accessory.
However, among our two contenders, which do we recommend?
Lifeproof and Otterbox are both highly rated products, which provide premium protection for users. They cost more than ordinary phone covers but their value makes up for that. In our review of Lifeproof vs Otterbox, we believe there is a clear distinction in the applicability of the two.
That is to say, if you need a compact, basic phone protector for your long hikes or trekking outdoors, the Lifeproof range provides excellent coverage for you to attain peace of mind with. It can be suitable for basic activities like camping. Or, alternatively, it’s waterproof/snow-proof capabilities can make it the ideal option for kayaking and skiing.
On the other hand, if you need something a bit more sturdy, the Otterbox uses military-grade materials to provide you with extra security (particularly the Otterbox Defender case). You’ll have to trade off a bit in sleekness and storage, but outdoor users can quickly adjust for its functionality. It is able to absorb shocks like few others on the market.
For the everyday ordinary, everyday user, our recommendation has to go with the Lifeproof covers. They offer basic protection while being outdoors, whether it be running, mountain biking, kayaking or mountain climbing. Moreover, it is storage-friendly so it can easily fit in your pocket, gear bag, or phone holders. However, you cannot go wrong with using either one as your phone case.
Bottom Line Summary: Serious outdoor enthusiasts are MUCH better off going with the more capable Otterbox cases here. They are typically more affordable AND offer better protection and customization than Lifeproof.
From backpacking to cycling in the mountains, Jodie can help you stay in shape and pick the best outdoor gear, clothing, and footwear. She is a full-time blogger and is our go-to source for backpacking gear reviews, outdoor skills advice and information, destinations for backpacking, camping, and hiking, and a lot more.