OtterBox jumps on the modular train with a stylish iPhone case

otterbox universe case system
When you think of OtterBox cases, you probably picture big, chunky rectangular blocks that completely mask the design of the phone it’s on. The phone case company is trying to extend this image to now include stylish and sleek products — meet the Universe Case System.

The Universe Case System is designed for the iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus, and the 6S Plus, but it’s is not about one phone case. It’s a platform that utilizes modules from various manufacturers like Square, Polar Pro, SanDisk, Seek Thermal, Goal Zero, and Olloclip. These modules attach to the back of the case, after you slide out a little plastic cover.

The case itself is $50, but the price will rack up once you start adding modules.

Right out of the bat, Polar Pro has a ton of modules for the OtterBox Universe, including the Tripper Tripod, a $50 tripod that can transform into a grip and extension pole; the Stance Compact Tripod, a $30 folding tripod; the PowerPack, a $50 battery pack; Beat Pulsar Wireless Mobile Speaker, a $60 speaker; the Fisheye, a $30 wide-angle lens; and more.

The bottom of the case is open and so is the front, leaving it open for damages in case you drop it. The sides of the case do offer additional bumper support, and the company says the Universe meets Certified Drop+ Protection standards. But protection isn’t the point with the Universe — OtterBox has opted for a something different, and it’s not like it needs another drop-proof case to add to its lineup.

Other modules add more functionality, like Square’s Contactless and Chip Reader, a $50 tool that lets small businesses accept payments from their phones; the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens, a $80 lens that lets you switch between fisheye, wide-angle, 10x and 15x lens; SanDisk’s iXpand Flash Drive, a module that adds up to 128GB of additional storage capacity; and more.

Modules for phones are becoming popular offerings from manufacturers — LG based its new G5 smartphone around its “Friends” platform. You can add modules like a camera grip with dedicated shutter and video record buttons, as well as one that enables high-definition audio. LG’s experiment doesn’t seem to have gained the traction it wanted, especially after it failed in offering most modules at launch.

Google is also experimenting with a modular phone from its Advanced Technology and Projects division. Project Ara wants to let people easily swap out cameras, speakers, battery packs, and more. A developer kit will be available this year, and Google first Project Ara phone will launch in 2017.

It’s hard to tell yet if consumers are interested in modular upgrades for their phones, but OtterBox has come out with a whole lot to choose from, and it’s likely that more modules will be on the way if the platform is successful.

The Universe Case System is available now in white and black on OtterBox’s website, but you’ll be able to buy it from Best Buy’s retail stores and Amazon on May 29.

Buy on Otterbox

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Mobile

The Mi Mix 3 is coming to the U.K. on January 16 for a bargain price

Xiaomi announced the Mi Mix 3, a smartphone with a massive screen, a cool slide-up camera module, up to 10GB of RAM, and in the future, a 5G connection. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Mobile

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Mobile

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.
Business

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Mobile

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Mobile

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Mobile

OpenTable points can now be used to whittle down cost of a hotel stay

Have some OpenTable Dining Points built up? Now those points can also be used to make your own hotel discounts. OpenTable is teaming up with Kayak to use points as discounts on participating hotels.
Mobile

The Razer Phone 2 will have a $100 off deal for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.