Otterbox Defender vs Commuter: Which is Best?

With our Otterbox Defender vs Commuter comparison, you’ll discover what the best phone case is to use out of these two models.

Dropping your phone is a nightmare at the best of times, and dropping and breaking your phone during an outdoor adventure is even worse. Whether you are camping, hiking, hunting, or kayaking, having your phone in good working condition is vital from a safety point of view in case you need it in an emergency.

Also, how else will you snap those pics of the great outdoors?!

So, this is why having the right phone case is important, and you’re going to find out about the differences between the Defender and Commuter phone cases from Otterbox.

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: Overall the Otterbox Defender is a great way to protect your phone and it offers everything you need to ensure your Smartphone will survive the rigors of outdoor life. It’s the more durable option.

Main Differences Between Otterbox Defender vs Commuter Case

The main difference between the Otterbox Defender vs Commuter comes down to protection: the Defender has three layers of protection, whereas the Commuter only has two layers of protection. Additionally:

  • Otterbox Defender has a belt holster that you can use as a phone stand, whereas Commuter does not.
  • Otterbox Defender is available for more Smartphone models, whereas Commuter has a bit more limited selection

Exploring Otterbox Defender and Commuter features

otterbox defender


One of the first things that you will notice between the Otterbox Defender and Commuter is the size difference. The Defender is much thicker than the Commuter, and while this will offer better protection (we’ll explore this later on) it is something to take into consideration.

Having a thicker phone case might be ideal if you are heading out into the great outdoors however if you are thinking of doubling up one of these cases for everyday use, a bulky case isn’t always better.

That being said, the Defender does come with a three-piece construction while the Commuter has two layers of protection. You’ll also find that the Defender will weigh more than the Commuter too. The Defender case for the iPhone X weighs about 2.6 ounces while the Commuter case from Otterbox for the iPhone X weighs around 1.7 ounces.

There is also a belt clip with the Defender that you don’t get with the Commuter. Not only is this handy for holstering your phone to your belt for easy access when climbing or hiking but it can also be used as a stand for the phone.


Ensuring that you can grip your phone case securely when outdoors is important too. Even if you have a nifty pair of gloves that have adequate grip, it is easy for a modern-day Smartphone to simply slip and hit the ground. The Defender phone case has a rubber grip all over and the texture of the whole Otterbox case makes it really good for holding onto.

The Commuter on the other hand relies on a textured grip around the edges of the case and your phone. This means that the Commuter isn’t as good for overall grip however that being said, the edges do still provide a decent texture to hold onto.

The grip further cements the idea that the Otterbox Commuter is more suited to everyday use as opposed to heavy-duty grip and protection. Out of the two cases, I would say this is an area where the Defender is ahead because it offers a good grip throughout the whole Otterbox case whereas with the Commuter it is confined to the sides.


When you are in the market for a phone case to use when on an outdoor pursuit, protection is really the main feature that you need. Much in the same way that a watch needs to be sturdy and stand up to the elements, a phone case needs to provide protection to your Smartphone.

Overall the Defender series offers a higher level of protection than the Commuter. This is down to its 3 layers of protection it provides – a hard inner shell which also has a thin phone pad which helps protect the back of your phone, a synthetic rubber outer layer and on some models, there is also a built-in glass screen protector too.

The Commuter only has two layers of protection – it’s a hard exterior shell (outer shell) and interior rubber cover. It doesn’t come with a screen protector but you can buy one and put it on the phone yourself. You can use third-party tempered glass screen protectors or basic plastic screen protector options with the Commuter whereas depending on what phone model case you’ve bought with the Defender this isn’t possible.

Although in the newer versions you can use different screen protections with the Otterbox Defender. I would feel much more comfortable dropping my phone against a hard rock or solid ground with the Defender. That isn’t to say that the Commuter is useless because it does offer a decent level of protection, it just isn’t as heavy-duty as the Defender.


Otterbox commuter A phone case needs to protect your device but it also needs to ensure that your device is still functional too. Having thick layers around the edges is fine but if you can’t actually push the buttons on the outside then this will cause problems. I haven’t come across any issues with using any phone with either the Defender or the Otterbox Commuter from Otterbox.

While the Defender is thicker, you can still use all the functions on the device with ease. Both of these phone cases have port protection too so you won’t get any dust or debris building up in the ports of your phone and around the camera lens. The screen protector that comes with the Otterbox Defender series is great as well and I’ve never noticed a sensitivity loss when using it – my phone feels and responds like it normally does.

One functionality problem with both cases is that you won’t be able to use a docking station to charge your phone or play music with the case on. It simply won’t fit due to the bulky nature of both. It isn’t really a negative because you can just take the case off but it is something to be aware of.

Smartphone compatibility

If you are worried that either the Otterbox Defender or the Otterbox Commuter case won’t be compatible with your Smartphone then we can put your mind at ease. You can find both models available for a wide range of smartphones such as iPhone and Samsung Galaxy (Galaxy note, etc…) amongst others.

Unless you have a really rare Smartphone that isn’t widely used then you’ll find an Otterbox Defender and Commuter phone case to fit. One thing to note is that you can get tablet cases with the Defender model but there aren’t any for the Commuter case.

Fitting the Otterbox Defender and Commuter onto your phone


Fitting both the Otterbox Defender and the Commuter is a fairly straightforward process and you will get instructions that help you to put it on. You can easily find a wide range of online videos that will show you the process as well.

The Otterbox Commuter series is a bit easier to get onto your Smartphone or iPhone as it only has two layers of protection whereas the Otterbox Defender has three layers so it is a little trickier.

That being said, you shouldn’t have any issues with either and it should take less than 10 minutes to install both the Defender and the Commuter onto your Smartphone.

Comparing Otterbox Defender and Commuter pricing

There really isn’t a whole lot of difference between the Otterbox Defender series and the Commuter when it comes to pricing. The cost of each phone case can depend on the type of phone you are buying it for.

The Otterbox Commuter series is in general a bit cheaper than the Defender phone case so if you are really on a budget you can still get good protection for your Smartphone and save a few bucks in the process.

The difference between the Defender and Commuter isn’t much at all and you do get better protection overall with the Defender case so it might be worth splashing out a few extra dollars.

Pros and Cons

Otterbox Defender Series


  • Providers 3 layers of protection to protect against drops
  • Available for a wide range of devices
  • Great grip and case is textured throughout
  • No loss in functionality
  • Has port protection
  • Belt clip that doubles up as a phone stand


  • Bulkier and heavier than the Commuter
  • Older models don’t let you install third-party screen protectors (or tempered glass addons)

Otterbox Commuter Series


  • Lightweight and isn’t as bulky
  • Still offers a good level of protection for your phone
  • A good grip around the edges
  • Available for many devices
  • Compatible with third-party screen protectors


  • Doesn’t offer as much protection as the Defender
  • No belt clip or stand

Are there any alternatives?

Beasyjoy iPhone Cases

beasyjoy iphone

The Beasjoy iPhone Case is one massive upside to the cases from Beasyjoy and one massive downside as well. Like the Defender and Commuter from Otterbox, these phone cases provide a high level of protection and they are designed to safeguard your phone against drops in any situation but especially in outdoor pursuits.

Unlike Otterbox, these phone cases are waterproof which is a big bonus. They are a certified waterproof case for 10 feet or 2 hours – you can also take photos underwater with this case on too which is pretty cool. The downside to the Beasyjoy phone cases is that they are only available for iPhones.

Not bad if you have anything from the iPhone 6 and above but not great if you have a Samsung or a Pixel. Still, for iPhone users, they are a very good alternative to the Otterbox models.

Beasyjoy Case | Amazon

The case fit for iphone 7 iPhone 8 iPhone SE only. iP68 standard waterproof iphone 7 case with lanyard, submersible to over 10 ft deep for 2 Hours. Protect your phone from water or rain, perfect for underwater, swimming, or daily use. Fully-sealed cover stop any dirty and dust into your iPhone7, if the case dirty, you can washing it directly by water.

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02/14/2023 04:19 pm GMT

Unicorn Beetle Pro

supercase unicorn beetle pro

The Unicorn Beetle Pro is another phone case that is something to consider alongside the Otterbox and the Defender and the good news is that it isn’t just for iPhones. In fact, the Unicorn Beetle Pro has a distinguished history given that it has come out on top in CNETs best case scenario drop test.

With various layers of protection that will help protect your phone against drops and bumps, it also comes with a belt holster that you can use. Overall I really like the Unicorn Beetle Pro is a phone case. It has a good grip and its nifty design as well.

You can also pick one of these up a bit cheaper than the Defender and Commuter phone cases from Otterbox if you want. The phone is available for a wide range of devices so you’ll easily find one to suit your Smartphone as well.

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Phone Case | Amazon

Multilayered TPU and polycarbonate materials for maximum drop protection of at least 20 feet. Built-In Kickstand: Convenient hands-free viewing from either landscape or two different angles of portrait mode, doubles as ring holder.

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02/14/2023 05:14 pm GMT

FAQs About Otterbox Defender and Commuter

Will the Otterbox Defender and Commuter keep my phone safe if I drop it?

Yes, these two phone cases provide a higher level of protection however it isn’t 100% guaranteed that your phone will be fine. It depends on how high the phone is dropped and the surface it falls onto. The Defender offers a bit more protection than the Commuter due to its three-layer protection but both do a very good job.

Are these phone cases from Otterbox waterproof?

No. Neither the Otterbox Defender nor the Commuter is waterproof because they aren’t fully sealed. While they will provide some protection if you drop your phone in water and remove it right away, it isn’t guaranteed to safeguard it against being submerged.

Will the Otterbox Defender and Commuter last?

It really depends on how you use the cases and how often you drop or scrape your phone. Both are very durable and you shouldn’t need to replace them within weeks or months or fitting them onto your phones. The Defender will likely last a bit longer due to its extra bulkiness and protection but it does depend on the usage.

Are the Otterbox Defender and Commuter easy to fit?

Yes. There will be instructions provided for both the Defender and the Commuter when you purchase but they are both simple and straightforward to install on your smartphone. The commuter is slightly easier as it has two-piece protection but you shouldn’t have any issues and there are online videos that can help.

Do I get a warranty with the Otterbox Defender and Commuter?

Yes. Both the Defender and the Commuter come with Otterbox’s limited warranty and you can find more information about it on their website

Will the Otterbox Defender and Commuter fit my smartphone?

There are many cases available for a variety of smartphones with both the Otterbox Defender and the Commuter. You can find both cases available for the latest phones..

Can I get an Otterbox Defender and Commuter to fit my tablet?

Only the Defender phone case has versions for tablets while the Otterbox Commuter does not.

Our Verdict: Otterbox Defender vs Commuter – Which one should you buy?

Making sure that your phone has adequate protection is vital when you are camping, hiking, climbing or simply enjoying the outdoors. It is very easy to drop your phone and for it to smash which not only leaves you with a nasty repair bill but can mean that your phone won’t function in case of an emergency.

The Otterbox Defender and Commuter are two cases that offer great protection for your Smartphone.

Which one should you buy? I’m going to go with the Otterbox Defender. 

The Commuter is ideal if you aren’t doing any risky outdoor adventures. If you simply need a good level of protection for your phone for everyday use then it’ll do the job but the Defender offers much better protection overall. This makes it ideal as a piece of kit for use in the great outdoors.

The three layers of protection and bulky nature give it durability and longevity. The fact that it comes with a belt holster that doubles up as a phone stand is a bonus. The whole case is textured so it has a good grip so if you are out in cold conditions you should still be able to hold onto it easily.

I would feel more comfortable dropping my phone when out hiking or climbing with the Defender case on than I would the Commuter.

Perhaps my phone would be fine with both models of phone case but the Defender just offers more protection and unless your phone falls from a super high height, it is unlikely to suffer any damage with the Otterbox Defender.

Bottom Line Summary: Overall the Otterbox Defender is a great way to protect your phone and it offers everything you need to ensure your Smartphone will survive the rigors of outdoor life. It’s the more durable option.

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FAQs About Otterbox Symmetry and Commuter

Question: Between the Otterbox Symmetry and Commuter, which is more durable?

Answer: Generally, Otterbox is a brand known for producing high quality and long-lasting phone cases. The symmetry series is designed for a sleek finish but they don’t skimp on protecting your phone. At their price level, they offer phone cases that are high quality and trusted for durability. In terms of durability, we believe the commuter case has an advantage over the symmetry series. Since it is designed for more heavy-duty usage it is bound to outlast its sleekly designed counterpart.

Question: Does my Otterbox Symmetry or Commuter phone case come with a warranty? 

Answer: Yes, it does. All Otterbox products are eligible for warranty replacements within one year of purchase from a verified retailer or outlet. It is important to note that Otterbox warranty does not cover your phone screen (no screen protector). As there have been reports that several customers also ask for their phone screens to be replaced alongside a faulty phone case. Your phone’s warranty is handled by your phone device company if purchased from a verified outlet.

Question: Will my Otterbox Commuter Case or Symmetry case overheat my phone?

Answer: No, it won’t. Ideally, your phone shouldn’t produce any noticeable heat when charging. If it does, then it has an issue that should be resolved soon to protect your phone’s battery and battery life in the long run. With that said, your Otterbox phone case, be it commuter case or symmetry will have zero effect on your phone’s heating.

Question: Are the Otterbox Symmetry and Commuter cases waterproof?

Answer: No, they aren’t. It is important to note that neither cases are waterproof. In fact, none of Otterbox’s cases provide waterproof protection to phones. However, cases such as the Defender case series and the Commuter series, offer dust protection that is well above average.

Further Reading on Otterbox Case Options and Similar Cases for Drop Protection:

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