OtterBox’s Dive Into Gaming Offers a Surprisingly Robust Solution for Cloud Services Like Stadia and xCloud

Illustration for article titled OtterBox’s Dive Into Gaming Offers a Surprisingly Robust Solution for Cloud Services Like Stadia and xCloud

Image: Otterbox

Otterbox Gaming Accessories | Otterbox

I’ve always been a fan of mobile gaming. While it’s gotten a misguided reputation from diehards who see it as inferior to console and PC, mobile gaming provides a flexible way to play. Originally, mobile was a destination for quick puzzle games that could help pass the time on a morning commute or midday bathroom panic attack at work. Now, the options are becoming limitless as cloud gaming finally starts to pick up steam. Google Stadia is finally on iOS and Microsoft’s own cloud service isn’t far behind. With that in mind, it’s as good a time as any to invest in a proper mobile setup.

In a bit of a CES surprise, an unlikely company stepped forward to break into mobile gaming accessories: OtterBox. Best known for its tough phone cases, the company partnered with Microsoft to create an entire line of products built with Xbox Game Pass in mind. With that line now available to pre-order, we were curious to see if the collaboration really offered much more than other accessories already do at a lower price. While not every individual piece of the product line may be necessary, OtterBox’s mobile gaming peripherals are perfectly suited to the brave new world of cloud gaming.

Illustration for article titled OtterBox’s Dive Into Gaming Offers a Surprisingly Robust Solution for Cloud Services Like Stadia and xCloud

Image: Giovanni Colantonio

There are five main pieces in OtterBox’s line: a phone case, gaming glass, an Xbox controller grip, a controller carrying case, and a mobile clip. Starting with the less essential pieces, the case is a fairly standard phone case that’s much slimmer than OtterBox’s usual thick plastic guardians. The hook here is that the case diverts heat away from the phone, theoretically boosting performance and avoiding overheats. It’s hard to say how much that makes a difference. I noticed the case itself felt warm after playing, but my phone still did as well. It definitely appears to be functioning, but the difference it makes on performance felt subtle. Still, for those who plan on playing AAA games on the go, every little bit helps.

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The real hook with the screen-peak reducing gaming glass is that it’s built with landscape orientation in mind as opposed to portrait. That means you’ll have an easier time hiding bloody games like Gears Tactics from nosy kids on the subway. Like the case, this is the kind of accessory that’s only necessary for people who are planning on turning their phone into a full-on handheld.

OtterBox’s line starts to get much more enticing from there. The controller grip is a neat add-on that’s compatible with the Xbox Series X|S controller. It’s essentially a shell that easily snaps around the controller and adds rubberized grips to the handles. Since getting one of the new Xbox wireless controllers, I’ve felt that it feels a little too smooth for my liking. The shell gives me a much firmer grip, making it feel a little less slippery. Add in a bit of sweat resistance and swappable handles and you’ve got a controller shell that’s really built for long play sessions. While it’s still a bit niche, it gives the Xbox controller that same sturdiness OtterBox’s phone cases are known for, which is great if you’re serious about going portable with it.

Illustration for article titled OtterBox’s Dive Into Gaming Offers a Surprisingly Robust Solution for Cloud Services Like Stadia and xCloud

Image: Giovanni Colantonio

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The whole package really starts to come together with the Xbox controller carrying case. The strong zip case is built to hold the Xbox controller with the grips and mobile clip attached. That makes it a perfect fit for those who want to go all-in on the product line, but it also features a few extra bells that are worthwhile. The case features an opening in its back, allowing for wire passthrough for easy charging. The top of the case also has a built-in phone stand, which essentially means that the case contains a built-in “tabletop stand” for your phone. This ultimately goes above and beyond your usual controller carrying case to create a fully on-the-go console setup.

The real star of the show is OtterBox’s mobile gaming clip, which is an impressive piece of engineering. Everything about it feels sturdier and more carefully thought out than your average clip. It tightly clasps around an Xbox controller and features a three-prong design on the clip itself, which offers more flexibility for phones with different side-button layouts. The arm can be easily adjusted to a number of angles, making it easy to find the perfect position. The clip doesn’t sacrifice security for flexibility either. The arm stays firmly in place once adjusted and the clip itself snaps into place without needing to loosen and tighten any nobs.

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Illustration for article titled OtterBox’s Dive Into Gaming Offers a Surprisingly Robust Solution for Cloud Services Like Stadia and xCloud

Image: Giovanni Colantonio

What’s especially impressive is how balanced the clip feels at any angle. With cheaper clips, I find myself constantly adjusting my phone’s angle to get the weight distribution just right. Here, I could tilt my phone back as far as it would go without ever feeling like I was tipping backwards. Once set, I never really had to think about adjusting it again.

However, my favorite feature might seem trivial at first glance. The actual phone clip can detach from the controller connector to become a table stand. When playing Apple Arcade visual novel South of the Circle, I found myself getting a surprising amount of use out of that. When I got up to cook dinner, I disconnected the clip and threw it on my counter to watch along while stirring some soup. That’s much more convenient than hunting for something to prop my phone up on. In general, the mobile clip offers a level of versatility that goes above and beyond what’s expected for a simple piece of plastic.

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The whole set comes together to form an excellent portable gaming solution, which makes it a bit disappointing that the products aren’t available as an all-in-one bundle. As it stands, buying everything individually is pricey, making it hard to take full advantage of the offerings. Still, the clip is unmatched and the Xbox controller case is a great value, even divorced from its mobile intent. For anyone who’s serious about getting into cloud gaming this year, OtterBox makes a strong case for tricking out your phone the same way you’d deck out your PC.


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