Recently I purchased an Otterbox from Ebay. The price was right, and in the pictures, everything looked viable. Unfortunately, when it came, I could tell something just wasn’t right. Now, I understand that not everyone has another Otterbox Defender in their house to go by. Luckily, my DH has one, so I did. But for those of you who don’t, here are things to look for in your new Otterbox and how to tell if it is real or a knock off version of the real thing.
The knock off is actually very convincing. It looks like the real thing, and it cost online about the same as others (on Ebay-regularly or in store they would be about $20 more). When I received it, it just didn’t “feel” right. The outer casing didn’t feel like my DH’s, the clear screen cover was cloudy (and couldn’t be cleaned), the clip was cheaply made, and the picture was poorly placed/worn/cheaply done. The outer cover also failed to fit the plastic casing that comes with the defender and the buttons were extremely hard to push. In turn, I lost battery life, had a hard time seeing my screen (it was not clear/looked dimmed), and I felt very uneasy carrying my phone anywhere in fear that it would break even with this case on.
Seeing the differences between my husband and my phone, I proceeded to look at our cases. Mine had a clearly marked “Made in China” sign in it and his “Made in USA”. Red flags flew in my mind. I immediately called Otterbox. They assured me my case was real and thanked me for acting as a “watch dog” of sorts. Then they proceeded to look for anything that may be wrong with my case so they could replace it. Honestly, I didn’t mind. It was a new case. What I found out on their website, though, is typically they will ask for an item being returned/replaced to be sent to them after pictures are taken of the inner stamp and outercase color/defect.
Although I am grateful to have the real deal on my phone and I am no longer uncomfortable with my case and it’s ability to protect, I am going to share different ways to know if what you are getting is real. (Please note, if it says “Made in China” or “Made in Mexico” it does not instantly make it a knock off-Otterbox representatives have informed me that they do manufacture in those areas and they also state the same online. (otterbox.com)
Here are the differences:
1. Fit/screen cover quality
Although it is impossible to tell in this photo (My fault), the fit of the case was different. Both cases were snug, but the faux case was a thicker plastic that was harder to put together/take apart and the phone did not sit right in the case as far as camera placement and where the speaker fell. From first glance, the inside of both cases are identical, except one was made in China, the other here in the US. Another thing to look for is cloudy appearance when putting the case on your phone. Your screen should be crystal clear when it is on, it should not seem dimmed. I had to turn my brightness way up while I had the faux case because it made it looked dim and cloudy.
The real Otterbox is on the left and the knock off is on the right. The faux is on top and the real is on the bottom. Notice how the fake case is actually Darker than the real case. Not having seen the real in person before ( I had tried for weeks and kept showing up five minutes too late, that’s why I resigned myself to Ebay), the design and color really did not look off to me online. The scratching and scuffing in the middle happened within days of owning my case. Below the pics of my cases, is a picture of my DH’s case. He has had his case since Christmas and there is still no scuffing, and he is way more abusive of his phone than I am since his goes to work in a factory with him etc. (the white look on the corner was my flash-sorry!)
3. Picture quality/scuffing
Using the above pictures, you can also see scuffing around the outside of the case where the picture lays on the outer case. That was there when it arrived and also it was “dented” or wrinkled near the mic hole and the gray is darker also. On the genuine Otterbox you can see that the picture is clearer, lays flat, and the gray is a lighter version than the faux case.
4. Outer case feel/shape
To explain this, I can’t really use pictures. When I received the knock off case, the outside cover (goes around the plastic casing) was firm and felt plasticy. The real thing is more formable and feels like it has a little grip. It feels rubbery, not hard. The buttons on the faux case were also extremely hard to push and it was almost impossible to shut my phone off or turn the volume up/down without removing the case. The real case is easy to use and it doesn’t feel like I have to use both hands to turn it up/down or turn the screen off etc. It should be easy to use. If it isn’t, you may have a knockoff. (Claiming it isn’t real can not include just that, other factors are involved.)
The Pictures above show just how hard to tell the difference it can be. They look almost identical. Some details are more obvious than others. The largest difference in looks between the fake and the real Otterbox Defender is the fake does not lay flat, and the fake does not have any space between the case and the button, where there is room for the button to move on the real case. At face value they look very much alike.
5. The Clip
Fake Real Fake Real Fake
Real Real Fake
The clip was one of the hardest things to distinguish from the other. The differences were very subtle. You will notice that the fake clip is more deliberate with their stamping near the outside corner, but the stamping throughout the clip otherwise is sporadic, and a bit thin. Another subtle difference to look at is the detail around the outside corners where they have squares stamped out. The Real has an L shape in the top left hand corner, where the fake sticks to the square shape around the whole case clip. The clip sizes are a little different as well, the fake is actually larger than the real clip. Also, when you try to re-adjust the way your clip faces (whether your phone sits up and down when clipped or side to side, easier put horizontal or vertical) the real clip is very hard to adjust, I believe that is in an attempt to keep the phone from “spinning” as they do with some cases. The fake case clip is also hard to adjust, but not as much so as the real clip.
6. The Box
I will go into more detail on this because in most Ebay post, they put more box pictures than anything else. Pay close attention to the differences. If I had known of them, I would have paid more for a different case opposed to getting a fake case. I would also like to point out, that if you end up with a fake case, or purchase a “new case” and it comes used, Otterbox is not obligated to replace your case. I happened to get “lucky” so to speak when getting my case replaced.
The first thing I would like to point out is the top and bottom of the box. The first real red flag should be drawn if there is no metallic sticker on the top displaying the Otter logo. A genuine Otterbox should have this sticker whether found in store or online. The handle is also a bit different. The real otterbox has a thinner, more shiny handle while the faux Otterbox box has a thicker handle that looks more grainy. The second thing to stand out is the UPC code. I had never taken the time to look at the UPC code before now, so I point this out now in an attempt to help others. The UPC code above the scan code should be made up of all numbers. The faux box clearly has a long code made up of both letters and numbers along the top. The bottom UPC is a little harder to go by since as long as it has ten numbers as with other codes, it won’t be as simple to detect. In my case, special care was taken to assure the first five numbers matched to a T.
The back of the faux box will look almost identical to the real box and it will be hard to tell in pictures if it is real or not. In person the writing will be duller and harder to read.
Again, the fake and real Otterbox box look scarily similar in pictures and in person. The scan codes are a little different (if you have real and fake next to the other, the difference is subtle, but exists) and the color green used for the band is different. (I will show further below) The writing used look almost exact minus the fake looks darker in pictures than the real does. The insert put into the fake and real Otterbox packaging is also very similar making it difficult to tell the difference between real and faux. I will show further in a moment.
Fake Real Top: Fake Bottom: Real
If you look closely, you will notice a size difference between the fake and real box. The fake Otterbox packaging is actually a bit taller. The color difference for the bands is also more obvious now. The fake will be a darker, more olive colored green while the real is more of a medium kelly green. It is a little more obvious that the faux box has a darker scan code than the real box does and that helps show differences in the code itself.
Also using the above pictures, you may see some subtle differences in the inserts that come in the box. The picture looks extremely similar, but it would be a safe assumption that even if printer ink was lower/higher the images would look alike. I highly doubt that someone sits there penciling in the color on the map. The fake insert will have darker ink and be less filled in while the real insert will be more filled in but have a lighter ink. If you have already gotten an Otterbox Defender, the insert should be folded in half first then quartered. There will be an Otterbox logo on the front and back if folded properly. The faux insert looks exactly like the real insert (minus the map ink I already mentioned) except that it will not be folded properly. When you first attempt to unfold it, you will find it opens in half into a quarter instead of out into two quarters. When you go to fold the fake it will fold into sides before it folds in half where the true Otterbox insert will fold into half before it quarters.
I understand that some of these sound petty or for strange things to look for, but it could save you time/money. I recommend if purchasing an Otterbox (or anything else for that matter) from Ebay, and can’t tell if it is real etc message the seller for pictures of the box, upc codes etc because online it will be what you have to go by. I would like to point out again that cases are made in Mexico, China, and the US so it is almost impossible to go soley based on the Made in marking. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of your case, you can email or call Otterbox. (Contact info can be found at https://otterbox.com under the support tab or at the bottom of the page)
If you find that your case is indeed a fake, you can contact Ebay and resolve through them, and I recommend contacting the seller first and see if they are willing to resolve the issue or work with you. (they may not be aware as well) If they won’t work with you, go directly to Ebay and make sure to point out advertising such as “New” exact item, etc so that Ebay can best help you. (replacement, money back, banning seller etc) You may find if you talk to Otterbox directly they may work with you as well to get you the correct product as well. They will ask for product pictures and to see the stamps in the outer case and clip.
Please note: If you order from Ebay and they have NO stamps whatsoever etc you won’t need to go by this list at all. You indeed have an illegal knock off… (there will be two circles on both the outer shell and the clip with numbers etc and the “Made in” logo)
I hope this was helpful and keeps others from making the same mistake I did.