Otterbox is known for its smartphone cases. They’re tough and durable like armor wrapped around an expensive and delicate piece of tech. Although the company has experience on that front, it’s venturing into the unknown with its gaming products.

Yes, Otterbox is getting into mobile gaming business with five items designed around smartphones. Like the cases, they’re mainly built with protection in mind and have different use cases — some being more practical than others. Here’s a first look and quick thoughts about each of them.

Mobile Gaming Clip — With cloud gaming gaining steam and more powerful processors, smartphones have become a serious platform for core gaming. Services such as Google Stadia show they can handle games such as “Cyberpunk 2077” and Microsoft has proven that the Xbox Series X remote play can be a lifesaver if you want to game while a family member is using the TV.

For these solutions to work, players need a dedicated smartphone controller or a smartphone holder that attaches to a controller players already own. While devices such as the Razer Kishi can be expensive prospects, claws or gaming clips are a more affordable alternative. Otterbox’s Mobile Gaming Clip offers more versatility than its peers.

First off, the clip can be used on an Xbox One or Xbox Series X controller. The RapidAdjust system lets users move the screen at comfortable viewing angles. A part of the clip can be removed and turned into a stand for tabletop gaming. It’s also big enough to fit an iPhone 12 Pro Max with the three-pronged claws holding it firmly in place without it accidentally pressing buttons.

Living up to the Otterbox reputation, the Clip feels rugged but it’s surprisingly light-weight at 66.8 grams. That means it doesn’t add too much weight to the gaming experience though I did use it with the controller on my lap. The smartphone adds most of the heft to the setup. As for the fit, it’s snug and holds up even when players are rapidly tapping on the face buttons so that it shakes the contraption. The one caveat is that the Clip does make it tougher to use the View and Menu buttons at the center of the controller.

Overall, the Mobile Gaming Clip, priced at $29.95, is a solid way to play games on the smartphones.

Gaming Carry Case — If you’re looking for a carrying case for your Xbox controller, Otterbox has players covered with this peripheral. It’s reminiscent of the ones that come with the Xbox Elite Wireless controller or the Astro C40 TR.

Ideally, this is for players who travel a lot and want to keep their controllers in good shape. The case has added functionality as the top part has a dedicated stand for smartphones. In the back, players have a sealable port that lets them charge a controller while it’s inside. It has extra pockets for wires and smaller accessories. It can even fit the Mobile Gaming Clip and a controller.

It’s not a case for everybody, but I imagine it would be most useful for frequent fliers. It costs $44.95.

Easy Grip Controller Shell — At first, I thought this was a bit overboard. Do people really need a shell for their controllers? But the more I thought about it, I can see the added protection being useful in a few cases.

The Easy Grip Controller Shell has a few positives going for it. At 61 grams, it doesn’t add too much weight to the Xbox controller. It also comes with textured grips that mostly cover the palms. I prefer the pebbly grips rather than the ridged one.

So who is this for? The $39.95 shell would be good for children or people with tempers. A hard cover would help protect the controller with young gamers who could be clumsy with devices. The extra protection would also be great for players who rage after a game and slam the controller to the ground. When I was younger, I used to be one of those players. If it weren’t so expensive, the added protection could be smart investment that would be the difference between a usable controller and the purchase of a new one for $60.

The Otterbox Easy Grip Gaming Case has CoolVergence technology that expels heat to decrease the risk of overheating during gameplay. It costs $54.95. (Otterbox)

Easy Grip Gaming Case — Otterbox works to its strength here. The case made for smartphone gaming doesn’t add too much bulk to the iPhone 12 Pro Max while also offering great protection. The case wraps around the whole device even covering the bottom. Meanwhile, the edges have a nice grip and the buttons controlling the power and volume are super responsive.

The big feature on this $54.95 case is the CoolVergence technology, which is supposed to help keep smartphones cool when running games that push the chips inside. It prevents overheating and keeps intensive games such as “Genshin Impact” running smoothly. That’s a big plus for gamers. Thankfully, the CoolVergence and case are thin enough that wireless charging works.

Keep in mind that though the CoolVergence is so supposed to dissipate heat coming from inside the smartphone. It won’t cool down the phone from heat sources from the outside. Despite that, this seems to be the most practical of all the Otterbox Gaming offerings.

Gaming Glass Privacy Guard — Even with Ceramic Shield glass on the iPhone 12, a screen protector is still useful to prevent scratching. Otterbox Gaming’s privacy guard adds an additional line of defense by making your screen dark to others who want to peek at what you’re doing.

When it comes to gaming, the privacy guard could be used to prevent screen hacking in local multiplayer games. When at an airport, it could stop nosey passers-by from seeing what game you’re playing. The Gaming Glass Privacy Guard is a little more expensive than its peers at $49.95.

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