Review: OtterBox Symmetry for iPhone 6

The world of iPhone cases is vast, of course. Every street corner, every vendor. Every pattern known to man - yet invariably made in a similar fashion, with the in-situ cases made from hard plastic or TPU. And above it all strides the phone case colossus that is OtterBox, one of the biggest brands and best known for designs that can take extreme punishment. This is their new offering for the iPhone 6 and it 'does exactly what it says on the tin', at the expense of increasing the cased thickness to 12mm. Job done, though.

Yes, it seems sacrilegious to encase the iPhone's smooth aluminium lines in plastic and neoprene, not least because it almost doubles the thickness, but if you drop your phone once a month (which seems about average for iPhone owners across the globe who try to use the device 'naked') then a case is the only way to go, protecting against unsightly dings to the metal and a probable shattered screen.

The Symmetry design looks similar to other OtterBox rugged designs, in that there's an outer hard shell and an inner soft one, giving the best of both worlds in terms of protection, yet in this case the two materials aren't separate - they're bonded together and you have to manoeuvre the iPhone 6 into it. Easing the metal past the pressure of the outer shell and the clawing neoprene turns out to be somewhat tricky, but once in place there's a feeling that your iPhone is set for life - whatever gets thrown at it.

In fact, the Symmetry (obviously) doesn't waterproof your phone, since the ports are all open, but in terms of drops and shocks, the OtterBox design is all-protecting. Moreover, with the neoprene rim and textured plastic back, your iPhone 6 just got grippier, so it's less likely that you'll drop it in the first place, so it's a win-win.

The cutouts around the periphery are well textured and each big enough for connections where appropriate. The OtterBox folk have been designing cases for a while and it shows. Importantly, the moulded button covers on each side are also superbly executed - it's not a chore to try and press through these onto the iPhone's native buttons beneath.

In use, I much prefer the 12mm, protected feel than the 7mm naked experience. Yes, the latter looks great in adverts and in the boardroom, but when you're actually mobile and using a phone in the real world, the more protection the better and in my test period never did I once even come close to losing my grip on the Symmetry design here.

The design is available in various colour schemes, but the colourful 'Floral Pond' one here perfectly suits the iOS 8 default theme, I think. It's perhaps aimed at women more than men, but at last count there were fourteen colours and designs for the Symmetry, right down to jet black, so there's clearly something appropriate for every iPhone 6 user.

The only slight caveat is that getting the iPhone 6 out of the Symmetry case isn't for the faint-hearted - think getting a bicycle tire off a wheel rim. Strong fingernails, iron-strength-digits and patience are the order of the day - my best time, even with practice, was still almost a minute. This is not a case that you can slip on and off in a trice because you're 'on a big day out'. The Symmetry design is to be installed and left on, day and night. Just a friendly warning.

Of course, with the degree of protection all round you may not want to remove the phone, in which case it really is job done all round. At £30 in the UK, this is an expensive option but then it's a heck of a lot cheaper than a screen replacement for an iPhone, so still comes highly recommended. (Case supplied by MobileFun in the UK)


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