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New OtterBox modular case turns your iPhone into a multi-purpose tool

Derek Walter | July 18, 2016
Snap in a set of speakers, a fresh battery, or boost your camera with this modular-friendly case.

Need to extend the capabilities of your iPhone? Grab an accessory. Add-ons like battery packs, camera lenses, and speakers all promise to make the iPhone an even more central part of many aspects of your life—and they succeed.

The experience with many, however, has been a little clunky. Rugged mobile case manufacturer OtterBox thinks it’s solved this problem with a rather clever system of  add-ons to its new Universe Case System. This system consists of various accessory modulars that you can attach to your iPhone via its protective case.

I took several modules out for a test run to try out the experience with my iPhone 6s, but there are plenty more than what I mention here—OtterBox has partnered with other companies and now offers everything from a Square payments reader to the Influx Wi-Fi booster. The effort by OtterBox is one of the most comprehensive initiatives to try and make finding and attaching modules to your iPhone a seamless process. You can check the full list of products if you want a peek at what’s to come.

Here’s how it works.

The case

When you think OtterBox, you usually envision a small tank that turns your iPhone into an unwieldy beast. Not so with the Universe Case ($49.95 to $59.95 MSRP, $44.95 on Amazon), which is similar to the more slimmed-down Commuter Series that has been popular for the iPhone and various other smartphones.

The Universe Case comes in white (called Snowcapped) or black, which should pair nicely with the accompanying color of your iPhone 6/6s or 6/6s Plus.

otterbox case
Derek Walter

This isn’t your father’s Otterbox case that was built to be worn on a belt clip. 

The back features a removable slot for all of the supported modules to slide into. It’s a little tough to remove, requiring a firm pull to get the slot off. But the case is extremely durable, easy to grip, and in the great OtterBox tradition able to withstand drops or tosses from a toddler.

To use the modules, you slide them into the slot on the back. They stay on firmly, requiring quite the tug to remove them. But rest assured, nothing will separate them from the case throughout your day, no matter which one you’ve decided to slap in there.

PolarPro PowerPack Removable Battery Pack 

This $50 add-on was my favorite. It snaps onto the back of the case and supplies much-needed replenishment to your iPhone. I found it took me from 20 percent to 83 percent with a full battery charge. Results varied under different circumstances, but in all it’s a pretty reliable way to bring your iPhone back to life if it’s teetering on the edge.


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