For the last week or so I’ve been playing with a new OtterBox product called the uniVERSE case. It’s a modular system that allows users to swap in and out various accessories that are made to slickly mount to the case.
The company has partnered with makers of various smartphone products— camera lenses, speakers, tripods, card readers, battery packs, etc— and each has made a module that easily attaches to the new uniVERSE case.
The case itself is your standard OtterBox protective case, with the company’s familiar matte rubber material and looking not unlike its other offerings. It’s a one piece design, though, and doesn’t have screen or full port protection other than a raised bezel and coverings on the volume and power switches. It’s similar to the company’s Symmetry case line.
The difference is a small plate that slides out of the back, leaving a shallow recess where various modules can then slide in. The idea is that your one OtterBox case can now accommodate mounting the majority of popular accessory types quickly and on the fly, so long as you stick to the accessories that support the uniVERSE mounting system. Fortunately most of the accessories I tried with the case were high-quality…
With my review unit I received a battery module ($49), a stereo speaker module ($59) and a compact tripod/selfie-stick ($49) all made by PolarPro, as well as a Lightning flash drive from SanDisk ($59+), and lastly, a Nite Ize Steelie magnet vent mount for the car ($39). Add in the $60 OtterBox case itself and the uniVERSE accessory setup I had was worth around $320. But each of the accessory modules will be sold separately so you can grow the setup at your own pace.
Each are products the companies already sell, but they’ve been fitted with the uniVERSE mount. Some implementations seem to be better than others. The mount on the Polar Pro battery case I had, for instance, doesn’t get in the way of the design and allowed the battery to attach snuggly to the device in a way that would have previously required a dedicated case or a magnetic solution. And being able to quickly remove that battery when not in use is a huge plus over carrying around a bulky battery case or portable battery all day.
But other implementations, like the SanDisk Lightning drive, use a housing for the accessory that make it bulkier than the standard version (pictured above). Sure, you get the benefits of mounting with the case, but the SanDisk Lightning drive (I reviewed the original product here) is already made to be compatible with most cases in its original form.
The mount for the Polar Pro tripod I had allows the iPhone to be attached in landscape or portrait views. The other accessory modules I had— the stereo speakers and the magnetic dash mount— both worked great as far as mounting to the case goes.
The accessories attach snuggly to the case, and even with the heavier products like the stereo speakers and battery pack, I had no fear of the accessories coming loose and falling out. But the fact that it’s just using a tongue and groove-like joint for the mount made out of the same plastic as the case gives me a bit of fear it could experience wear-and-tear after repeatedly changing the modules in and out over time.
Other modules the company will have available include a camera lens from Olloclip, a Square contactless reader, a Wi-Fi booster from Influx, a Manatee Works StingRay barcode scanner, and a thermal infrared camera and adapter from Seek (you can see the full list below).
Investing in the case system certainly means you’ll limit yourself when it comes to selection. But the good news is that the accessories OtterBox sent over are for the most part high-quality and top of their range. The modules also are not priced any higher than the accessory would cost without the system— we’ll be reviewing each more in-depth in the future.
The case itself will come in black and white color options for iPhone 6/6s ($50) and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus ($60) when it launches May 29 at Otterbox.com, Amazon, BestBuy and the usual retailers. The accessories will only be available in black for now (except for products already available in white like Square).
The full list of modules that will be available is below:
- Square Contactless & Chip Reader, $49.99 – accept every way each customer likes to pay including credit cards and contactless payments on the go
- olloclip 4-in-1 lens, $79.99 – enhance every shot with the world’s most-awarded mobile lens. Switch quickly and easily between fisheye, wide-angle, 10x and 15x lens options
- SanDisk iXpand™ Flash Drive, $59.99 to $119.99 – quickly and easily free up space on iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus with 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of additional capacity3
- Nite Ize Steelie Vent Mount Kit, $39.99 – easily mount iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus to a vehicle vent for hands-free use
- Goal Zero Slide Battery, starting at $59.99 – add a full additional charge to iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6/6s Plus battery life
- Manatee Works StingRay Barcode Scanner, $95 – stay on top of inventory with a barcode scanner that stays in reach
- Seek Thermal Compact Camera and Seek Case, starting at $249 – connect, detect and now further protect the most advanced thermal imaging camera designed for smartphones
- Influx WiFi Booster, $39.99 – boost wifi to download, stream and watch anywhere and everywhere4
- PolarPro Trippler Tripod, $49.99 – capture epic pics with this tripod that transforms into grip and extension pole
- PolarPro Stance Compact Tripod, $29.99 – take steady shots anywhere with this folding tripod
- PolarPro PowerPack Removable Battery Pack, $49.99 – charge up to talk, text and capture every moment without interruption
- PolarPro Beat Pulsar Wireless Mobile Speaker, $59.99 – rock and roll on the go
- PolarPro Fisheye Wide-Angle Lens, $29.99 – shoot the whole scene with this wide-angle lens
- PolarPro Trail Blazer Armband, $34.99 – run, hike and bike while iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus stay protected and in an arm’s reach – literally
- PolarPro Stash Slim Mobile Wallet, $19.99 – ditch the wallet and stash cash directly on the uniVERSE case