Otterbox Defender case damaged my iPhone 6 screen

iphone screen damaged from otterboxTitle pretty much says it all. I bought an Otterbox Defender case to protect my phone when I am out at jobsites or working outdoors when I want extra protection for my phone. I’ve had the phone about three weeks and have used the Defender case a total of three days at the most- usually I have my iPhone in a slim leather case.

Monday I noticed some kind of smudge mark on my iPhone’s screen- I attempted to clean it off but it would not come off. I tried some car wax to try to polish it off- but it did nothing. I could not figure out what would cause the mark- until I looked at the Otterbox case. On the front piece of the Otterbox case is a thin membrane material that covers the home button- exactly the same size as the marks on my iPhone’s screen. This material is not flush with the case, so it rubs against the screen and apparently will damage the protective coating on the screen.otterbox case

I emailed Otterbox some photos and a summary of my issue but received no response. So I put up a video showing the issue- shared my frustration on twitter and got a few responses from folks that have had the same problem.

Otterbox has yet to respond to my email. I did get a response from @OtterboxCS on Tiwitter- “Unfortunately as we are not the device manufacture, we are unable to provide a warranty or replacement on the device itself.” Translation- “Buzz off”.

Needless to say I will never purchase anything from Otterbox in the future. The crappy design of this case made the damage to the screen inevitable. Otterbox not taking 2 minutes to respond to my email, only using a canned twitter reply to deal with my complaint is enough to tell me they could care less if I am happy.  The irony is I purchased their case to protect my iPhone- yet their case has managed to permanently damage my new iPhone’s screen in just a few days.

The customer service folks at Otterbox didn’t have time to respond to my email, however they did take time to look me up on linkedin:

linkedinSo if you want to protect your phone from damage- please avoid using the Otterbox line of cases.

© 2014, Bill Gillam. All rights reserved.

64 Responses to Otterbox Defender case damaged my iPhone 6 screen

  1. Had the same problem with mine. I’m going to take it to a Genius Bar to see if they can clean it. I called Otterbox and they’re gonna send me another case. Once I get it I’m going try to get the plastic film off the case so I at least have drop protection again.

  2. Nick, I tried 409, Alchohol, Goof Off and car wax- nothing made a difference- the marking is permanent. I ended up putting a real glass screen protector on my iphone and returning the Otterbox. I bought a Pelican case to replace it.

    Based on Otterbox’s terrible design and worse customer service I will never purchase another product from them again.

  3. Terry Borkowski

    Defender case damaged iPhone 5 around earpiece with triangular indentation. Same response from otterbox. Will only warranty case. Will not purchase otterbox for iPhone 6. Should be a class action against otterbox for faulty design.

  4. I had the same problem with my iPhone 6 plus Otterbox Defender. I only had the case on for two days. Just awful.

  5. Had the exact same issue. Otterbox customer service stands behind its ridiculous warranty disclaimer. They should be sued. I have posted negative reviews everywhere I can (bestbuy, amazon etc.). Anywhere I find a review of this crappy case, I will put my real, but negative comments. They cannot walk away with this.

  6. I had this issue as well but was able to remove the marking with my thumb. They were stubborn but did come out. I cleaned the inside of the Otterbox with a soft cloth and alcohol and the marks have not come back.

  7. I have a samsung galaxy note 3 and dropped my phone on the corner near the stylus with the Otterbox Defender case cover only to have the phone dented in 2 places. The Otterbox Defender case does NOT protect your phone. Do NOT waste your money.

  8. this also happened to my new 6. I still have the otterbox case in my possession but unfortunately, like an idiot, i trusted that this model would be as good as my previous 5s i threw away the box that it came in, so i dont think i can even return it at best buy where i bought it now… i actually was able to get my phone replaced because luckily it was also having software issues. the easiest way out is to just use your apple care if it bothers you that much assuming you got yours at apple… also, just some advice to always buy your iphone through apple.. they replace for you more easily then a carrier would and stand by their product, as opposed to a carrier who will use an excuse and say “well were not the manufacturer”

  9. Same here. I put Otterbox Defender on my iPhone 6 a week ago and took it off due to trouble with the home button cover. Shocked to find glass around the home button with permanent imprint around it. UNBELIEVABLE!! It seems like micro scratches in the glass. So, why don’t we all get together and file a law suit? Seems to me Otterbox should be held liable. What do you folks think?

  10. Ugh… So this is the same problem I had with my iPhone 5S and my iPhone 4 before it. The case left huge indents around the ear speaker on both phones. When I got the case for the iPhone 6, I was very pleased… Until, of course, I saw the huge indent it made around the home button. Done with them. The next iPhone I get sure as hell isn’t going in an Otterbox. It’s just very annoying…

  11. I’m so ticked off because this happened to me. I’ve used a micro fiber cloth to somewhat get it off and it seemingly goes away but if I wipe it in the opposite direction the nasty scuff marks appear again. I’m mad to find out they don’t do anything about it.

  12. Have the permanent otter box marks on my iPhone 6 as well. Tried rubbing alcohol & all other sorts of things, and mark is still there.

    Really sucks, might try to get it replaced at apple.

  13. This happened to me as well. Was so proud to have the defender protecting my new iPhone 6. Had it on a total of a week. Took it off to see if dust got inside and found the marks around home button. And like others have tried everything and the marks keep coming back. Will never buy another otterbox again!

  14. I just got a brand new iphone6 from my work and they bought one of these cases for it. I installed it and used it for one day and didn’t like it as it made the phone too bulky in my pocket. I removed the case and there is the tell-tale mark from the case already on the phone screen. I reported it to my office manager and they are returning the case for a refund. Do not buy an Otterbox case.

  15. I had the same problem with the mark on the home screen and the mark where the camera and speaker are as well as tiny scratches all along the edge of the phone screen. I really wish I they would do something about it

  16. Ok, I see I am not the only one.
    Have the same issue on my iphone6plus.
    Bought a defender case. I thought it looked so good on the phone, plus that added sense of protection. Pulled off the case just to check the phone and found that similar square smudge. And yes, it appears to come off, but when I reapply a fingerprint it reappears.
    Yes, I’ll have to join the chorus and not buy another one of these cases.
    Shame, my 4s was really protected and otter box was a trusted name.

  17. Am not sure Otter is to blame here. Have you considered that APPLE is responsible for making an inferior iPhone6 screen? Lots of people are noticing their iPhone6 screens are scratching easily, and breaking. After 4 years using iPhone 4 and 5s, my iPhone 6 screen fractured within the first week! It does appear Apple wants to hold the title of “slimmest” phone, by making a thinner screen, and let the Consumers did into their pocket books to fix the screens. I spoke to two Apple Store managers who admitted the iPhone6 screen is a different design, which explains why it breaks and scratches so easily. Sad…Apply is happy to take your money, again and again and again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a class action lawsuit soon.

    • I’m by no means a Apple fan boy- but the damage to the phone screen is a direct result of the crappy design from Otterbox. My screen has not cracked or been damaged in any way since I made this video- other than the damage that occurred from using Otterbox’s case for the first few days.

  18. Same issue I was able to use a Drexel with a polish wheel to remove the markings. Won’t ever buy another otter box. Just to give talk a heads up.

  19. Same issue I was able to use a Dremal with a polish wheel to remove the markings. Won’t ever buy another otter box. Just to give talk a heads up.

  20. Orlando Arroyo

    The same happened to my iPad Air 2. Lesson learned. Never going to buy this type of case for any of my smartphones nor tablets.

  21. Mr Clean Magic Eraser took my marks away!

  22. Same here! I only had the case on my phone for about a week before returning it because I didn’t like the bulkiness. Now, about 7 months later the strange square mark around the home button is still there. I can’t believe it never wore off over that period! I have written Otterbox off as an option for future phone cases.

  23. i just wanted to tell everyone i also have the same issue with the ear piece indention on my Iphone 6.. it really shows up bad on the space grey model.. white model, not so much.

    Every otterbox case i’ve ever owned has damaged my phone in the same area,, the earpiece. Iphone 5, iphone 5S, iphone 6.. all had the same ear piece damage.

    i would buy a lifeproof case from day 1, but lifeproof always takes 6-9 months to get their case to market after the phone releases.

    Lifeproof needs to get on the ball and have cases ready day 1.. offer a case that’s not water proof or something.. geez, just get to market.

  24. Otter box ruined my IPhone 5s screen. I bought an otter box defender case the same day I bought my 5s and two week later I noticed dirt was getting under the crappy built in screen protector. When I took the case off it had imbedded dirt in to my screen and scratched it all up. The irony is I bought this case to protect my phone only for it to mess it up. To add insult to injury the case was over $50 and otter box wouldn’t even respond to my email. Never again will I buy a product from them and will always steer people away from them.

  25. I am so disgusted with the otter box defender Case, my phone is damaged, the nasty film it left is horrible ! I will no longer Purchase anything from otter box again, they have yet to say anything about this issue. It’s ok! There losing a lot of customer over something hat simple as finding A resolution for this issue. We pay to much money for these phones! Anyone that sees this try the Tech 21 patriot case… It’s excellent!


    OK, I was going to get an Otterbox for my new 6S but now I’m not. What is everybody looking at for a replacement?

  27. Can someone elaborate on the ear piece indentation that some are reporting? Is this the bottom part of the iPhone with the headphone jack? Or the top of the phone where you listen out from?

    Is this indentation on the glass? As in a marking around the ear phone piece?

  28. Same issue, took the case off to clean the dust under the cover screen after just a couple of weeks and found the mark!! So I buy a case to protect it from marking and the case CAUSES marks!! WTF! Did they not test this thing?? Pure amateurs! DON’T BUY!

  29. Jasmine Florentine

    Also the same problem. Call them up yesterday twice, the first time before I searched google and realized this was a known problem, the second time to tell them that this was a known problem. They just offered to send me more free cases.

    Pretty pissed, because I don’t know what to do about that mark. I assume polishing it will just take off more of the coating?

  30. I just thought i would show you guys the damage. I just now took off my case to sell it on ebay (upgrading to the 6S) and took some photo’s to show you guys the damage.

    This same ring around the ear piece has shown up on my past 3 iphones with otterbox defender. I would buy another case, but nobody else makes a good belt clip case on launch day. Lifeproof cases are always -3-4 months late and even then, lifeproof is owned by otterbox.

    Here are pictures of the damage first hand. I did ask a otterbox rep if the new iphone 6s cases have fixed the problem, and like always, the otterbox rep says “oh really?! i have never heard of that problem, your the first person to have this issue”

    Earpiece Ring:!9256&authkey=!AAa2gwqbCjUfsYY&v=3&ithint=photo%2cJPG

    Touch ID damage:!9256&authkey=!AAa2gwqbCjUfsYY&v=3&ithint=photo%2cJPG

    Neither will come off, it’s permanent damage. and i take my phone out of the case and clean it once per month with microfiber cloth and Bryson’s screen Cleaner

    We should start a class action lawsuit.

  31. Andrew Bonnevie

    I have exactly the same problem with the markings on my iPhone 6. One thing that happens though is that the touch screen goes crazy from time to time when I am writing a message or typing something up and it presses letters on its own. As a matter of fact, this is my second iPhone 6 that the same otter box has broken. I should have learned from the first one that broke, but I used the case again after I got the new one(just this week). Not sure how to go about this but I think we should collectively put out a class action suit. It’s not fair. My first iPhone 6 was bought with the otterbox early this year, the second one I just bought 2 weeks ago and I can’t use it because the touch screen is not working properly.

    • I just got a brand spanking new I phone 6 from the Apple Store. Experiencing the same problem with the phone “ghost dialing numbers. The Apple store people said if I experienced the same problem with my new phone as the old to ask my cell carrier for a new sim card. I will be picking that up today and will report back.

      • Replacing the sim card appears to have solved the ghost dialing issue. The other issue I had after using the otter box defender case, besides the permanent mark on the screen that everyone has experienced, is that the screen sensor that disables dialing when you put the phone next to your face was malfunctioning. If I had phone call that lasted more than 5 minutes, the screen would go blank and was unresponsive to touch. the only way to end a call or use the phone was to shut it off completely. So this is another symptom others who have used the defender should watch for.

  32. So this iphone 6 was my first smart phone. I didn’t dare take it out of the house and kept it in its case until my Otter box Defender case came. Initially very happy, but then I saw this video one week into having my otter box case. When I opened the case to clean out lint, noticed the same problem. I bought the otter box defender case because everyone swore by otter box. Apparently their cases were originally made in The USA but are now made in China and Mexico. When I see some one with an iphone 6 defender case, I show them my phone and tell them to google this site. When in any store, I show people my phone and warn them about otter box.
    It is crazy that more review sites are not letting people know that the defender case damages the iphone 6 and since the iphone 6s is a hair larger, no doubt iphone 6s users will suffer the same fate.

    There has to be a class action law suit coming…

    I will never buy anything otter box again.

    I just purchased a Griffin Survivor Journey and a Moshi ivisor AG for my new iphone 6. I will comment again when I get them as to if they work together and how well they work.

    Thanks Bill-

    • Well, got the moshi ivsor ag today and while it is a good screen protector, it diffracts the light coming off the screen so that the display looks like one of the first color screen laptops. Haven’t received my Griffin case yet, but no doubts it will be compatible with the moshi ivisor covers. Next question is, will the griffin survivor journey be compatible with the cinder gorilla glass cover?
      will let you know. PS, was at the Verizon store today and played Bill’s youtube video for the employees…

      • Still waiting on that cinder screen cover, but so far, very happy with the Griffin Survivor Journey. It’s on Cupert’s (maker of Cinder) list of cases that work with the cinder, so excited to get it. Will report back when it arrives…

        Bill, what case are you using now?

        • John,
          I initially moved to a pelican case and was pretty happy with it. I am now using a Urban Armor Gear case with a real glass screen protector- I’m really happy with it.

          I’m still amazed at the way otterbox handled this whole mess.

          Happy Holidays!

          • Will check it out Bill. I was really excited to get the cinder cover from Cupert, but what a joke… Not only did they send me a defective item, it’s turned into a complete nightmare trying to get a new replacement cover or a refund. I have given up with Cupert and will just eat the cost. Cant warn others highly enough to avoid doing business with them.

  33. Still very happy with my Griffin survivor case. Will be getting a better glass cover from Moshi. Again anyone reading this should avoid Cupert like the plague…

    • Update on Cupert:
      They sent me a new screen cover. This time I held it up to the light to see all the debris that comes on the the adhesive side. Used their little dust removal sticker to remove the debris, but between cleaning off the crud that comes on it and using the other little sticker you are supposed to use where you have removed the debris, you end up with air bubbles galore that can’t be pushed out.

      I can’t warn people enough to stay away from this company and this product.

      Still going to try a glass screen from Moshi before I call it quits with slim cases and glass covers…

  34. As regards Otterbox, I ‘m right with you on the disbelief factor. They may have fixed the problem by now, but since they are unwilling to admit they sold cases that damage iphones, there is no way to know. Like Cupert, I will never buy anything Otterbox again-

  35. Hi. Do any of you know an easy way to take off the Touch ID membrane? I bought an Otterbox Defender for my iPhone 6 and I don’t want to risk my phone getting damaged and I don’t want to return it, so I just want to know a good way to take it off. Thanks in advance.

  36. Michael Rockwell

    Hello all, I have a Samsung Note 5 with the exact same problem. I found out because I removed the case to retrieve the serial number on the back for a warranty repair. I am going to try to contact a lawyer for a possible class action lawsuit over this. They have no interest in helping us. Hopefully they will be found responsible and forced to repair our phones.

  37. Droid turbo and same issue. Should have spent more and gotten a LifeProof. OtterBox let’s grit in under the protector and then it’s like sandpaper on the screen.

  38. Does the earpiece chipping affect your ability to trade in the phone through upgrade programs? Verizon is offering 400.00 for a 5s trade in. I’m wondering if the markings around the earpiece would give them reason to not honor the promotional price. The trade in questions only ask about cracks on the screen, not micro-chips in the screen.

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  41. Guys! Same thing happen to me. I had a very long conversation with Otterbox. Regardless of what they claimed, and regardless of the fine print, they false advertise, and false advertise like crazy. They know they can be sued, they also know they have a flaud product. If enough of us reach out to apple, and tech reviewers/bloggers we should be able to put the word out. They gave me any 3 otterbox products of my choosing to keep my mouth shut. However, I wont 😉

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  49. I have the same issue but the back of my iPhone 6 has got dings and scratches all over the back and I’ve never took it out of the case except when I clean it I will never buy outter box again

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