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Decoding OtterBox and LifeProof cases for iPhone XS and XS Max


I’m a freak relating to instances for smartphones.

If I see a member of the family or a good friend operating round with an unprotected machine, my first intuition, after recovering from a panic assault, is to suit that individual’s machine with a case.

I normally have a number of fashions sitting in my “case field,” and if the case matches, it is happening the telephone in the event you present up at my home with out one.

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I used to say that any case on a smartphone is better than no case at all. The main thing you really need to be concerned with is bezel elevation to prevent the phone from falling flat on the screen and taking a direct impact.

Secondary to that concern, you want edge rigidity and shock absorption to buffer against hits on the side and corners.

Prior to the introduction of edge screen designs first seen in devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, adopted by final yr’s iPhone X and this yr’s XS and XS Max, I might have maintained that sure, placed on a case, any case.

However given how fragile the design is of this specific telephone, and the way a lot this factor dents your pockets if you purchase it, and god forbid need to restore it after drop injury, I will have to alter my thoughts on that one.

You need essentially the most protecting design cash should purchase.

Protecting instances

There are a number of firms specializing in excessive machine safety. One is UAG, and it is a superb firm with nice case merchandise. The Monarch is a superb alternative for safeguarding your new $1,000+ machine.

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UAG Monarch for iPhone XS Max

Otter Products is the opposite main participant on this market, and I’m an enormous fan of its choices. When I’m requested by family and friends which case to get, an Otter case is at all times my first reply.

My colleague, Matt Miller, has written a nice overview of OtterBox’s offerings for XS and XS Max.

Otter historically had one ultra-protective design, which is the Defender. And, for years, I solely used Defenders irrespective of which machine I had. I nonetheless solely use Defender on the iPad Professional, as a result of it is the one case I belief on that machine proper now.

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You might simply go get a Defender Series Pro (or the original Defender) for your iPhone XS. You’ll be very protected with that call and my work can be performed. It is a rugged, confirmed design, so it is virtually a no brainer.

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OtterBox Defender Sequence Professional for iPhone XS Max

However over the previous few years, Otter has actually expanded its line of case designs not simply in its personal branded choices but in addition with its acquisition of LifeProof, which was as soon as a fierce competitor.

LifeProof instances as soon as distinguished themselves from OtterBox instances in that they have been concentrating on sporty life-style clients, with an emphasis on waterproofing. So, their instances have been at all times just a little bit costlier than the OtterBox designs. The FRE, specifically, is the LifeProof flagship.

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Let’s go through the LifeProof lineup for iPhone XS and XS Max since it is a relatively easy decision matrix.

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LifeProof’s case lineup for iPhone XS and XS Max

For iPhone X, XS, and XS Max, LifeProof introduced two new case designs: the SLAM and NEXT. Based on closer examination, these seem to be very similar two-piece clamshell designs, although, from the samples I received, I noticed that the NEXT had considerably more bumper material on it.

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Each are very tight becoming designs and supply ample bezel elevation and facet/nook impression safety. Nevertheless, neither are waterproof or present extra display screen safety for scratches or entrance impacts.

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LifeProof NEXT for iPhone XS Max

I used each instances for a few day, and I might say that the NEXT felt thicker, however it’s not sufficient of a distinction for me to sacrifice shock absorption with the SLAM — though the SLAM can accommodate Alpha Glass, just like the OtterBox Defender and the Pursuit, which we are going to get to momentarily.

Personally, if I used to be inclined to get one in all these two instances, I might get NEXT.

Waterproof instances

The iPhone XS and XS Max are already IP68 waterproof and may survive 30 minutes of immersion at depths of two meters, so if the first concern is being dropped with often being rained on, NEXT is what I might go along with.

Nevertheless, nothing is so easy relating to making case suggestions for iPhone XS and XS Max.

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I’ve not but obtained the iPhone XS Max model of FRE, as the corporate did not have a manufacturing pattern prepared but, however I do have FRE put in on my Pixel 2, and I had one on my Samsung Galaxy S8+. So, we will infer that the general design goes to be comparable.

FRE is LifeProof’s tried and true waterproof case design, which additionally incorporates a everlasting scratch protector that could be a versatile movie. That is the case that historically supplied model differentiation from OtterBox and the Defender.

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LifeProof FRE for Samsung Galaxy S8


(Picture: Jason Perlow/ZDNet)

Now, with iPhone XS and XS Max already being pretty waterproof to start with, it could appear that FRE is overkill.

Maybe, I might are likely to agree with this — if we weren’t speaking a few $1,000+ machine that prices $275 to $400 to exchange the display screen no matter whether or not you obtain the factor outright or you’re making lease funds on the Upgrade Program.

On iPhone XS and XS Max, FRE has a watertight lightning cost connector door latch along with a everlasting display screen/scratch protector. I am unsure how mandatory that is, however in the event you spend time close to the water or on the seaside, it is perhaps a good suggestion to have this characteristic.

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Moreover, given the truth that you are actually consistently rubbing your finger with nails on the display screen itself as an alternative of pushing a bodily dwelling button, I’m inclined to say display screen protector on an iPhone XS or XS Max is a requirement.

You simply spent $1,000 or extra on a telephone, get the $80 case.

Finished, proper? Neglect SLAM and NEXT. Get the FRE.

Not so quick.

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OtterBox Pursuit case outfitted with Alpha Glass. The brand new safety commonplace for iPhone XS?


(Picture: Jason Perlow/ZDNet)

With the iPhone X, and now the XS and XS Max, Otter has launched a brand new high-end case, the Pursuit.

It seems that the corporate has created one thing of a fusion design between Defender and FRE. It basically merged the DNA between the 2 firms with this product.

In response to the corporate, the Pursuit is a stronger case than Defender with out the extra bulk.

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It is actually extra LifeProof than an Otter when it comes to general appears to be like, however it is not inherently waterproof. The FRE nonetheless gives extra waterproofing. Pursuit would not have a water-resistant lightning latch; it has a rubber tab just like the Defender as an alternative.

So, is the FRE nonetheless higher for the cash? Effectively, no.

Scratch resistant instances

All the brand new OtterBox instances (and the LifeProof SLAM) for iPhone XS and XS Max can accommodate the Alpha Glass accent, which offers extra scratch and impression safety for $39 extra.

Can you purchase a third-party scratch resistant movie to placed on a Pursuit? Positive. However then you need to get a FRE. It is cheaper.

Would you reasonably have extra glass as an alternative? By way of aesthetic it positively appears to be like higher and is simpler to scrub, and I feel the few further microns of glass provides me extra peace of thoughts.

I see no level in utilizing both Defender or Pursuit (or SLAM) with out Alpha Glass. So, actually, when it comes to general determination matrix of which case to purchase, for my part, it comes all the way down to:

  1. You desire a holster and full rubberization and the tried and true Otter design (Defender/Professional + Alpha Glass)
  2. You need it to be skinny however nonetheless extremely protecting (Pursuit + Alpha Glass, SLAM + Alpha Glass, or NEXT)
  3. You need it to be extra waterproof than what the machine offers out of the field, and also you need scratch safety however not extra display screen impression safety (FRE)

I spoke with Otter reps and requested them why the corporate merely didn’t consolidate the product strains or exchange the prevailing Defender with Pursuit and a Pursuit holster.

Otter and Lifeproof have already consolidated their e-commerce websites in addition to the kind of packaging used so as to fulfill provider shelf area show necessities and in-store advertising wants.

That is very very similar to a Ferrari/Maserati or a Cadillac/Buick factor. Identical firm, similar engineering ideas, and certain the identical manufacturing strains. Completely different manufacturers interesting to comparable however totally different legacy clients.

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I feel the corporate may have simply made an FRE that may use Alpha Glass versus the built-in movie, after which it may simply put totally different branding on it for the OtterBox model together with a holster. That is what I might have performed, personally.

I’ve to imagine Otter has performed its market analysis and decided that not everybody desires a real glass protector and that a specific amount of consumers, notably within the vertical market area (development, army, and so on.), need the extra psychological protection of full rubberization with the standard Defender design.

With any of those three case designs, you are in good palms. Which one are you planning to make use of? Speak Again and Let Me Know.

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