Are Otterbox Cases Waterproof?

by David Jones on July 30, 2020

Whether you’re kayaking, surfing, traveling to the beach, or any other water-related activity, let’s face it: you’re bringing your phone with you. And while snapping selfies by the lake is awesome, there’s always the fear creeping into the back of our minds about what might happen if our phone drops in the drink. Thankfully, there are a number of cellphone cases available which can provide protection. One of the more notable cases, of course, is the Otterbox waterproof case.

The question of course is this. Are Otterbox waterproof cases really waterproof or just water resistant? How much protection are you really getting? And is there a better option?

Okay, that’s more than one question but they’re all important. Let’s dive in.


Are Otterbox Waterproof Cases Really Waterproof?

Otterbox has been a go-to phone case for a long time, due to its rugged durability and a multitude of YouTubers doing drop tests from great heights which leave the phone (and case) intact. Hard falls notwithstanding, they also offer decent protection from the elements, including rain, snow, mud, dirt, etc. Not sure about hailstorms but probably yes.

Waterproof has always been a dubious claim in the consumer products space. Namely, what does that mean and to what extent? We’ve all seen fancy watches claim to be waterproof up to certain depth but hey, who’s taking their Rolex scuba diving?

The Otterbox Defender series, for example, leaves a decent portion of your phone exposed so “water resistant” is probably a more accurate way of putting it. That means dropping it in the drink is probably not recommended and likely to ruin your phone and your day.


How much protection are you really getting?

If you are searching for an Otterbox waterproof case, you might run into some issues depending on the level of protection you’re looking for. The ports and buttons can be securely plugged which can offer a pretty good amount of protection. That said, there’s still some exposure to be had and it’s not explicitly designed to be 100% waterproof.

What does this mean? Well, incidental splashes of water from rain or surf are probably not a huge concern. Even a quick dunk (i.e. dropping your phone into the water but quickly snatching that bad boy up) is probably okay.

However, if you’re looking to protect your phone from being submerged (i.e. if you take a dunk while kayaking, surfing, boating, etc); or, if you want to actually use your phone underwater for taking photos or videos, then the Otterbox probably isn’t ideally suited for this.

Is there a better option?

Otterbox is a fine product but if you’re looking for the best waterproof protection for accidents or intentional underwater use, there are better options available. If you’re looking for more than “okay,” Calicase, for example, is specifically designed for these purposes.

Lightweight and buoyant (it floats!), the Calicase is IPX8 Certified for up to 100 feet underwater. Perfect for capturing and producing underwater content. Even if your goal is simply to protect your phone rather than use it underwater, Calicase has you covered (literally) with up to 100 ft of underwater protection.

This means you can bring your phone with you on your boating, kayaking, or surfing adventures without having to worry about the water ruining your trip.