Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro [2020]

This Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro comparison is going to show you the best protection you can get for your phone.

Regardless what outdoor activity you are pursuing, protecting your smartphone is vital.

Not only is it important so that you don’t have to pay for any damages to your smartphone when out hiking, climbing or hunting but you might need your phone to be fully functional in an emergency too.

Getting the right protection so that it can withstand bumps, drops, and everything that comes with outdoor pursuits is necessary.

In this Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro comparison, we’ll show you the differences between these two products, what their features are, if there are any alternatives on the market, and also what one is best to buy.

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: Most outdoor enthusiasts will be well served by the more affordable Otterbox Defender here, while the Defender Pro is a better option only if you are climbing / working at significant heights OR have some use for the microbial defense feature (working in a higher touch “people” business outdoors). 

Main Differences Between Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro

The main differences between Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro are:

  • Otterbox Defender does not have a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) layer, whereas Defender Pro does.
  • Otterbox Defender does not come with a Microbial Defense, whereas Defender Pro does.
  • Otterbox Defender has the Apple cutout on the back of the case, whereas Defender Pro does not.
Great Pick
Otterbox Defender
$39.96

If you need a new cover for your phone when taking part in outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, hunting, and kayaking this is the perfect option for you! A great balance of durability and price.

Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Otterbox.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. 11/26/2020 09:12 am GMT

These two cases have a ton of similar features and their sleek designs fit in well with other outdoor accessories such as the best watches for outdoor activities.

Exploring Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro features

Design

When you first look at both the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro there doesn’t seem to be a massive difference in the actual size of the phone cover. They are both around the same size so one isn’t massively bigger than the other.

While the main focus on our comparison is going to be on how much protection each case offers as well as the functionality when using your phone, the design is important too.

You don’t want something tacky looking when out in the great outdoors. Luckily, both of these cases deliver when it comes to aesthetics and they both look great on any smartphone.

The Otterbox Defender Pro does weigh slightly more so this is something to take into consideration. The weight difference (only a few grams we should add) is due to the extra thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that is there to cover the Apple logo.

There are several layers to the Defender Pro including the polycarbonate outer shell in addition to a thick rubber outer jacket as well as an inner foam layer.

You’ll find several layers on the Otterbox Defender as well but it doesn’t have as many as the pro version.

There is still a polycarbonate outer shell on the Defender model and it has a rubber outer layer for protection. You will notice that the Defender model is lighter too and this is mainly down to the aforementioned extra thermoplastic polyurethane.

Otterbox Case Texture

The texture of your phone case might not be the highest priority on your list but it is something we need to mention with the Defender and Defender Pro. There is a big difference in the texture between these two models.

The Defender Series Pro has a lot more texture so this should aid in the overall grip of the case. This is very useful especially when in the great outdoors as even if you have a solid pair of gloves, having that extra grip to your smartphone case can make all the difference. The Pro version has also removed the Apple cutout.

The Otterbox Defender isn’t as textured as the pro version however it still does offer a good amount of grip. I suppose one downside of added texture is that it’ll collect a lot of lint and dust and it will grip onto the lining of your pockets so having slightly less isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Protection

This is really the main reason you are probably looking at this comparison – how well is the Otterbox Defender Pro and the Otterbox Defender case going to protect your smartphone?

Logic tells you that a bulky case is going to offer more protection to your phone than a thin case – regardless of what it is made from.

Both of these cases are fairly bulky and they will both provide a high level of protection to your phone if you drop it. The Defender Pro is probably going to offer a bit more protection due to the extra layers that it has.

We’ve dropped an iPhone from 4 ft on pretty solid ground with this case and our smartphone has been fine. How many drops and bumps it can withstand is anyone’s guess but we’d imagine this case will last for a while due to its construction.

That isn’t to say that the Defender won’t offer you any protection at all because it does a very good job at shielding your phone from bumps, drops and knocks.

From short heights they will both protect your phone however the Defender Pro offers better protection overall and will no doubt work better in the long run due to its additional layers.

Functionality

It is all very well having a bulky case that protects your phone against drops and the elements but how much use is this if you can’t use your smartphone properly?

There are many cases out there that will shield your phone but makes actually operating it difficult.

Luckily both the Defender and the Defender Series Pro make using your phone with the cover on relatively straightforward. Accessing and using the buttons on your smartphone with both of these covers is easy and while the case is bulky it doesn’t mean you need to push too hard to make them work. You’ll also find port covers on each one as well which is handy for protecting dust and dirt build up.

To be honest the only functionality issue is that you won’t be able to put your phone on a charging stand with the case on but will you really be doing that during an outdoor activity? Probably not.

One thing to mention is that the Defender Pro comes with something called Otterarmor Microbial Defense. This is a feature which is meant to protect the case from common germs – you’d be surprised how dirty your phone can get with germs and bacteria so it is a pretty cool feature that you don’t get on the Defender model.

Smartphone compatibility

Both of these phone cases are compatible with a wide range of smartphone models so unless you have something really uncommon, you’ll find one to fit your phone.

Some of the smartphones that you can buy either the Otterbox Defender or the Defender Pro for include:

  • iPhone 5 through to the iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 to the Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Google Pixel 5 and 5.5
  • Tablet devices such as Galaxy Tab S7

This list isn’t exhaustive but it gives you an idea of the range of devices that you can get either of these covers for.

How to fit the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro onto your phone

The two phone cases are very easy to fit and you shouldn’t have any issues getting it onto your phone.

We also found that they fitted snugly with the device so there isn’t really any ‘wiggly room’ which is good so your phone is going to slide about inside the case. To fit both of the Otterbox Defender and the Defender Pro simply:

  • Take the layers and separate them
  • First, put your phone into the back section
  • Then put into the frame and push together
  • Lastly put into outer layer and make sure it covers all of your phone

That is all there is to it and if the instructions provided with the Defender and Defender Pro aren’t enough you’ll find countless videos online showing you how to fit these cases.

Comparing Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro pricing

Great Pick
Otterbox Defender
$39.96

If you need a new cover for your phone when taking part in outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, hunting, and kayaking this is the perfect option for you! A great balance of durability and price.

Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Otterbox.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. 11/26/2020 09:12 am GMT

There isn’t a massive difference in the pricing between these two cases and really the changes in cost are down to the device you use.

For example, a Defender or Defender Pro for the iPhone 11 is going to cost slightly more than one for the iPhone 6 due to the size.

Both are affordable and they aren’t extortionate for any means especially when you consider the added protection you are getting for your phone with these phone cases.

There are perhaps more cost-effective options out there but they probably don’t provide the same level of protection for outdoor pursuits.

Pros and Cons

Defender Pro

Pros

  • Offers high level of protection for your smartphone
  • Ideal for using on outdoor pursuits
  • Has several layers to protect your device
  • Comes with OtterArmor Microbial Defense
  • Good grip with the texture design
  • Available for a wide range of devices

Cons

  • Texture can collect a lot of dust and lint
  • Is heavier than the Defender

Defender

Pros

  • Will protect your smartphone against drops and scrapes
  • Lightweight and doesn’t weigh as much as the Defender Pro
  • Available for a wide range of devices
  • Has good grip so it shouldn’t slip out of your hand

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with OtterArmor Microbial Defense
  • Slightly less protection than the Defender Pro

Are there any alternatives?

Unicorn Beetle Pro

The Unicorn Beetle Pro is a worthy alternative to both the Otterbox Defender and the Defender Pro. It has consistently performed very well in various tests and even won CNETs best case scenario drop test as well.

The case has a multilayered TPU and polycarbonate material protection with a built in screen protector while the rotating belt holster is a nice addition.

The case has a really nice and sleek design too and you can fit it onto a wide variety of devices. You’ll be hard pressed to find a smartphone that this case doesn’t have a model for.

The grip with the Unicorn Beetle Pro is very good as well and it even comes in a bit cheaper than the Defender models from Otterbox. Overall a very decent case that offers protection and durability when in the great outdoors.

Spigen Rugged Armor

Another fairly inexpensive phone case that should help protect your device when climbing, hiking, kayaking or whatever outdoor pursuit you enjoy, the Spigen Rugged Armor offers a lot of protection.

You’ll find this brand of phone protector available for many devices including Apple and Samsung phones. It comes with a flexible TPU case and there is a raised lip which helps to protect the screen if dropped.

It absorbs shocks really well when dropped from various heights and the air cushion technology will help to avoid any nasty damages if your phone lands on a hard surface.

The tactile buttons on the edges mean you can use your phone easily so the functionality is good. Perhaps more designed for everyday use, it is a decent budget alternative to the Defender series from Otterbox so it is hard to go wrong with the Spigen Rugged Armor.

Frequently Asked Questions about Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro

Will the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro protect my phone from drops?

Both the Defender and the Defender Pro provide a high level of protection against dropping your smartphone. During tests they perform admirably from drops of up to 4 ft and while it isn’t guaranteed that your phone will be safe from a big height, they do provide very good shock absorption.

How long will the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro last?

There isn’t a surefire way to measure this because the longevity of these cases will depend on how often you use them and also how many bumps and shocks they suffer. That being said, the high quality construction means you shouldn’t need to replace either case in the short term.

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

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

Are the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro easy to fit?

Yes. You will get instructions with both the Otterbox Defender Pro and the Defender which will show you how to insert your smartphone. If you run into any issues there are many videos online that show you how to install these cases.

What is OtterArmor Microbial Defense?

This is a feature that is unique to the Defender Pro model. It is designed to protect the case from common germs which is a handy feature especially when you are outdoors where your hands will get dirty before you handle the case.

Will the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro fit my smartphone?

Probably. Both the Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro are available for a wide range of smartphones including iPhones from the iPhone 5 up, Samsung Galaxy’s from the S6 onwards as well as various other phones such as the Google Pixel.

Can I get an Otterbox Defender and Defender Pro fit my tablet?

Yes. There are tablet models available for both of these phone cases including the Samsung Galaxy Tab series.

Great Pick
Otterbox Defender
$39.96

If you need a new cover for your phone when taking part in outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, hunting, and kayaking this is the perfect option for you! A great balance of durability and price.

Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Otterbox.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. 11/26/2020 09:12 am GMT

Our Verdict: Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro – Which is better?

Ensuring that your smartphone has adequate protection when outdoors is paramount to avoid any nasty repair bills if you accidentally drop it.

Both the Defender and Defender Pro from Otterbox provide a high level of protection to a range of different smartphones.

Which one comes out on top?

The two cases are similarly priced and the cost you pay is going to depend on what model of phone you have as some are more expensive than others.

If you need a new cover for your phone when taking part in outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, hunting, and kayaking then we’d suggest opting for the Otterbox Defender Pro.

It is a jump up from the standard Defender model as it offers extra layers of protection. Both of these cases do have great drop protection but the Defender Pro is able to absorb shocks from a higher height. The fact that it comes with the unique OtterArmor Microbial Defense feature too is an added bonus.

There are some drawbacks such as the texture collecting dust and lint while it is also a heavier case than the Defender model which is something to think about if you want to travel ultra-light.

That being said, the Defender Series Pro is a fantastic piece of kit that will keep your smartphone protected regardless of what outdoor activity you’re pursuing.

Bottom Line: Most outdoor enthusiasts will be well served by the more affordable Otterbox Defender here, while the Defender Pro is a better option only if you are climbing / working at significant heights OR have some use for the microbial defense feature (working in a higher touch “people” business outdoors). 

Further Reading on Rugged Phone Cases

Other Gear to Consider

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