Otterbox’s Universe case turns your iPhone into a jack of all trades

Otterbox is well known for creating rugged tank-like cases for your mobile devices, but its newest case, the Universe Case System, is something different entirely. While it does resemble the company’s slim and fashionable iPhone Symmetry case, the difference is that the Universe has a removable plate on the back that covers a simple rail slot, which opens up a whole world of possibilities via modular accessories like a camera lens, battery pack, speaker, and more.

As a phone case, the Universe meets the rugged protection level that comes with the Otterbox name, certified by its Drop+ Protection battery of durability stress tests. The plain, hard-backed shell is lined with an anti-shock layer that’ll cushion your phone against everyday bumps and drops, while the raised beveled lip around the screen lifts and protects the front of your iPhone from scratches. The bottom of the case is largely left open, potentially allowing damage to occur near the ports or speaker, but this design allows for easier access to the Lightning port for third-party modules.

 

We were able to try a few of the modules out ourselves including a 32GB flash drive from SanDisk, a magnetic car vent mount from Nite Ize, and a handful of gear from Polar Pro: a monopod/tripod combo, external battery pack, slim wallet, and Bluetooth speaker. Our favorite picks by far were the battery pack and Bluetooth speaker for the sheer practicality of having an extended battery to last the whole day without plugging in and better sounding audio for sharing music than the iPhone’s built-in speaker. That said, the other accessories worked well, too. Each accessory utilized the modular slot for an integrated experience that felt intuitive and seamless. The accessories locked into place and felt secure in their position until we were ready to swap them out.

The best part of having the modular case is that you don’t have to take the case off to use with the various compatible accessories like the external battery pack, which would typically have its own dedicated case or be used as a completely separate unit. Judging by the modules that we tested, the system has a lot of potential for some really cool add-ons and is dead simple to use.

Otterbox has also hinted that these accessories would be forward compatible because future cases will use the same mounting system. When you get a new phone, you won’t have to get all new accessories; you’ll be able to snap in the same accessories to your upgraded phone and its corresponding Universe case. For now, the Universe is only available for the iPhone 6/6S and iPhone 6/6S Plus models, though we expect Otterbox to release a version for the iPhone 7, slated to be released this fall, and possibly other flagship phones from other manufacturers as well.

The Universe case is available in black or white but sold separately from the modules. Currently, there are 16 modules available on Otterbox’s website with plans for additional accessories to be released by the end of the year. The prices range from $20 for Polar Pro’s Slim Wallet to $300 for Seek’s thermal imaging camera. Tack on the price for the case at $50 for the iPhone 6/6S or $60 for the Plus models and the whole system can get a bit pricey. However, you can pick and choose the modules you want and not get stuck with one from a bundle that you’re not going to use. Now the only question is, how are you going to fit all those Universe modules in your pocket?

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