Microsoft's Xbox cloud gaming debut, the upshot of its endeavor with "xCloud" streaming, has steadily birthed a new market for mobile accessories. It's driven new controllers and cases oriented toward on-the-go streaming, many among the most innovative Xbox products in recent memory. Whether simple phone mounting clips or Nintendo Switch-inspired gamepads like the Razer Kishi, it's a space to watch as more peripheral makers pivot to streaming. OtterBox is the latest onboard, as one of the first established mobile players launching an Xbox lineup.
OtterBox unveiled its Xbox products at CES 2021 in January, with five accessories designed for iOS and Android users, anticipating the expected game-streaming boom ahead. They're what you'd expect from any mobile gaming range, with an assortment of protective cases and mounting clips. But this latest launch all comes down to execution, well-versed in mobile products, and delivering some top-end options for xCloud users.
OtterBox sent over its full Xbox accessories range ahead of launch, with preorders now live ahead of a scheduled February 22 ship date. Xbox cloud gaming remains in beta through its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, currently exclusive to Android, with an iOS beta expected to launch in 2021. OtterBox now supports the full spectrum of Xbox gamepads, including the Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox Elite Series 2 controllers — although the phone-specific gear is currently limited to the newest Samsung Galaxy S21 family and more recent iPhone models.
The standout inclusion is OtterBox's take on the phone clip, the essential accessory which mounts your phone to a standard Xbox controller. We've seen several variants hit the market over the past year, and it's a little crazy how this simple accessory continues to evolve, as new manufacturers shift attention. Until now, the officially licensed PowerA MOGA controller clip proved the best Xbox phone clip, with convenient thumbscrews and a versatile design, both ergonomic and easy to use.
OtterBox tops the competition with another Microsoft-backed design, eliminating several frustrations of the past. Its gaming clip includes an adjustable design featuring an easy locking mechanism dubbed "RapidAdjust," the easiest and fastest yet. It allows you to quickly flick a lever to position your phone, an immediate improvement over previous clips I've used. It's also quick to take on and off from the controller, hooking into the downward-facing accessories port, rather than clamping the entire device.
The clip also holds onto your phone with a familiar spring-loaded clamping system, although this time with three rubberized claws. It allows you to position the clip around your phone's volume and power buttons, a constant struggle with many alternatives out there.
The OtterBox Mobile Gaming Clip is one of the pricier "clip" options out there but compared to other Xbox accessories, it's affordable with a $30 RRP in the U.S. It joins the few that work great with all Xbox controllers, iterating on a simple concept and coming out on top. It could be the must-have gaming companion from the collection, especially when paired with other OtterBox accessories.
OtterBox is set to launch an accompanying hard-shell carry case, boxing up your gaming accessories into one place. It's only slightly larger than a controller, easy to slide into a backpack or carry standalone with a dedicated handle. This accessory isn't exactly suited for the current day when we're stuck at home, much like cloud gaming, where mobility plays a crucial role in that convenience. But once the pandemic winds down, I can see myself throwing this into my luggage to bring some games for the journey.
It ties everything into one place, with room for your Xbox controller, phone clip, and mesh pockets for optional extras like batteries and spare cables. OtterBox made various considerations for gaming, like a rubberized rear socket for USB controller charging and a magnetic flip-up stand (albeit somewhat gimmicky) for phones. But it's a premium product at $45, with robust hardware and fabrics, likely to keep your gear well-cushioned on the move.
The Easy Grip Controller Shell, a four-piece assemble casing fitted to either Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One gamepads, also makes its debut. It reinforces the controller for mobile use, avoiding the scuffs and scratches you can expect to accumulate, not dissimilar to your average phone case. It comes with two different grip types and still provides open access to batteries and the sync button, making this a relatively low-profile modification. It's just a shame this fails to protect common weak points like the bumpers and sticks in case of a drop, given the $40 asking price.
Gaming-oriented phone shells and screen protectors complete the Xbox range, compatible with top phones on the market. OtterBox flexes its know-how as an established player on mobile cases, delivering an all-black design that's thankfully not distinctly too "gamer." The primary distinctions come from heat-dissipating materials for cooling, with an antimicrobial exterior to protect against some bacteria. That won't compromise your device's silhouette, resulting in a rubberized, grippy surface that is even apt for a professional setting. It's just a great slimline case for $55, especially this Squid Ink Black colorway for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, even if not notably tailored to gaming.
OtterBox also reworked its screen protectors, designed to prevent shattering and scratches, saving your phone display in case of a rough fall. The privacy glass prevents onlookers from peeking at your screen off-angle but optimized for gaming with its horizontal polarization. It could be handy for sensitive and mature-rated content in a public setting, although the steep $50 asking price likely limits that audience.
Like all phone accessories, these cases and screen protectors are highly device-specific. While controller accessories cater to a limited number of models, the diverse phone market excludes all but the mainstream. Current preorders are limited exclusively to the new Samsung Galaxy S21 family, and some iPhone models, yet to receive full xCloud support due to a well-documented clash with Apple.
OtterBox looks to offer some of the best accessories you can find for Xbox cloud gaming, with a high standard for durability and lifetime warranties making these all recommend purchases if the products suit your needs. It's merely a shame we can't test these where they'd shine, while on the move — not a fault of the products, but the reality of the current world. The real promise of cloud gaming comes with its versatility, bringing your games to work, school, or international travels. And when the world allows, I expect these to find a place in my bag.
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