OtterBox Symmetry vs. Commuter: What Are the Differences?

So, you’ve recently received your brand new iPhone 12 Pro Max. You spent a huge chunk of your pay on this device. Naturally, you want to protect your investment. Of course, you’re not just going for any case. You want the best. That’s why you look at one of the most established case makers—Otterbox.

But, when you search for them, you get a ton of options. Which should you choose? To help you decide, take a look at this comparison. See the difference between OtterBox Symmetry and Commuter cases for yourself.


A Smartphone Protected by a Case During Winter

If you’re looking at which of the two protects your phone better, the Commuter case takes the win. This combo case offers two layers of protection—a hard outer case and a soft inner layer.

The layers work together by both absorbing impacts and deflecting sharp objects. This combination provides excellent protection for your smartphone. Furthermore, the Commuter case has a port cover, ensuring that your phone’s charging port won’t get any debris in it.

Beyond physical protection, the external case is also impregnated with silver-based additives. This helps stop microbial growth. Although it doesn’t protect your screen, it still prevents common bacteria from sticking to your case and being picked up by your phone.

OtterBox Commuter and Symmetry Cases for the iPhone 12 Pro Max
Image Credits: OtterBox | OtterBox

The Symmetry case, on the other hand, is a single-piece case. This makes it easy to install and remove, as compared to the Commuter line. It’s also a lot slimmer. Despite that, it still offers comparative protection.

If you’re going to look at their specification, both of these cases are DROP+ rated. According to OtterBox, this rating can withstand thrice as many drops as the MIL-STD-801G 516.6 military standard. They also both have raised beveled edges. This ensures that the screen and the camera lenses won’t be affected if you drop your phone.

Both cases add thickness to your phone. But even so, the phone remains slim and pocketable. They let you grip your phone better, reducing your risk of dropping it due to slippery hands. It’s just not recommended to use the Commuter case with extra tight pockets, as they’re slightly thicker than the Symmetry line.

Style and Variety

OtterBox Commuter Series Colors
Image Credit: OtterBox

For some people, smartphones aren’t just tools. They can also be fashion statements and conversation pieces. However, others prefer their phones to be low-profile and anonymous. The Commuter case is perfect if you value protection over anything else. They also have four options—Black, Bespoke Way Blue, Ballet Way Pink, and Ocean Way—if you want a different color but need better protection.

The Symmetry cases, on the other hand, have four lines. They have the Symmetry Case, Clear Case, Graphics, and Clear Case with MagSafe. The Symmetry case comes with four color options: Black, Earl Grey, Cake Pop Pink, and Rock Candy Blue.

OtterBox Symmetry Case Colors
Image Credit: OtterBox

If your phone has a unique rear design or color, you could go for the Clear case. You can choose between Clear, Stardust Glitter, Wallflower Graphic, or Moon Walker Graphic. And for the adventurous souls out there, OtterBox offers the Symmetry Graphics case. You can choose between the Enigma or Shell-Shocked Graphic.

Lastly, if you own a MagSafe Charger and want to use it without removing the case, you should opt for the Symmetry Series+ Clear Case with MagSafe. It’s specifically designed for use with Apple’s MagSafe charger and comes in two options: Clear or Stardust Glitter.

The Symmetry line gives you a total of twelve designs to choose from. Its slimmer, less bulky form also gives your phone a sleeker look.


Different iPhone Models

There are simply too many phones out there for OtterBox to make a case for each one. So, if you’re using a less popular model, there might not be an available case for you. Furthermore, some cases might not fully support a phone’s features.

So, before you choose a protective case, ensure that it works with the accessories you use on your phone.

Available Models

The Commuter Series can protect the latest phones from Apple, Samsung, OnePlus, Google, Motorola, LG, Asus, and T-Mobile. The Symmetry Series is also available for the same phones, except for Asus and T-Mobile.

Wireless Charging

Wireless Charging iPhone

Both cases are designed to be compatible with wireless charging. However, they work best with wireless chargers from OtterBox. You might run into issues with third-party chargers, especially with the Commuter Case. Due to its dual-layer design, your wireless charger should have greater power or range to work.

The Symmetry Case occasionally runs into similar problems. But, its thinner design than the Commuter means this is a less prevalent problem. If wireless charging is vital for you, consider getting a charger from OtterBox, as it’s specifically designed to work with their cases.


If you have a MagSafe Charger and want to use it, you have no choice but to use the Symmetry Series+ Clear Case with MagSafe. It’s the only compatible case in both lines that will attach to a MagSafe Charger.


Man sitting on the grass with a cellphone in hand

Both cases are designed to be as unintrusive as possible. However, they still do affect how you use your phone. The first is its thickness. Adding a case can add up to 50 percent more thickness to your phone. This is especially true with the Commuter Series, with its dual-layers and thicker bumpers.

A case’s thick edges can also intrude with the experience of using a phone. If you have large fingers, the Commuter’s wider bumpers might make it difficult for you to swipe up. You might also have a more difficult time reaching the silent switch because of its thicker edges.

If protection is your priority, the Commuter will outdo the Symmetry case anytime. But, if you want something a bit more stylish with more options, you should go for the latter.

More Style or More Protection?

More style or more protection?

Image Credit: OtterBoxBoth the Symmetry and the Commuter case offer protection at roughly the same price. But, you have to consider your use when choosing the best case for you. Do you need something that can withstand rough conditions? Or, do you want something that offers a bit less protection but more style?

For most everyday users, the Symmetry case is more than enough. But, if you know you have butterfingers or work in a rough and tumble environment, then the Commuter case will be the best protection for your phone.

Image Credit: OtterBox


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