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CASE STUDIES

 

INTRO

If you’ve got a cellphone you’re going to need some protection. Rick Maybury checks out a selection of carry-cases and holsters costing between £20 to £50

 

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There’s no doubt that a good quality carry case or holster is one of the single most useful accessories you can get for your mobile phone. Not only will it safeguard it against the inevitable knocks and bumps, it keeps it readily to hand, makes it comfortable to hold and provides a modicum of protection against theft or loss. There’s no shortage of cases on the market, to suite almost every make, model, and budget, though inevitably, you get what you pay for, and cheaper cases are sometimes made of inferior materials, they may not be a particularly good fit, or be very well finished.

 

If you’re in the market for a carry case, quality of manufacture is only one factor to bear in mind. There are at least two distinct styles to choose from. The most popular type is the soft carry case. These are usually made of thin pliable leather or suede, with strategically-placed holes and flaps, that allow the phone to be used whilst it is still inside the case. Most of them have straps or clips, so they can be worn on a belt. The other type is a holster; they’re usually a little bulkier than soft cases, and made from thicker, more rigid materials, but they can be more convenient if you need to get to the phone quickly. Holsters can be worn on the belt, or on a shoulder harness. They are usually dearer than soft carry cases but they do afford a greater degree of protection and security.

 

Carry cases design varies enormously, even amongst those intended for the same model of phone, and it can have a big impact on the phone’s performance and accessibility. It’s a good idea to take your phone along with you when buying a case, and actually try it for size. The positioning of holes, for the earpiece and microphone are crucial, but it’s surprising how often case designers forget to leave an opening for the ringer. In some instances -- in a noisy environment for example -- a call could be easily missed. It’s important to be able to get to the controls and keypad without too much fumbling about, and once again, it’s not unknown for soft carry cases to obscure, or worse still, press upon buttons; side-mounted volume controls are especially vulnerable. Access to the power/accessory socket is important too, otherwise the phone will have to be removed from the case every time the battery is recharged. Check also the location and strength of clips and straps, feel inside the case for any sharp metal protrusions or rivets which could scratch your phone. Finally, how well does it fit? Can you get the phone in and out of the case easily, and will there be enough room for the phone when it is fitted with a thicker high-capacity battery?

 

To help you decide we’ve been looking at a variety of cases from the better known accessory companies and some from the phone manufacturers themselves. To keep it as simple as possible we’ve confined our survey to cases and holsters designed for just three popular phones, that between them represent a broad cross section of shapes size and layout, they are the Ericsson Hotline, Motorola Micro TAC II, and Nokia 101. The cost of cases vary considerably, so shop around, where we have quoted a price it is inclusive of VAT.

 

AICO

Aico are comparative newcomers to the cellphone market, though they’ve been in the photographic and camcorder accessory business for a good few years. They launched their cellphone range late last year, it includes batteries, car power cords, and of course, cases. There’s five in the range, with a recommended selling price of £19.99 each, between them they cover the most popular models, including our three target phones. They are all made of trimmed black leather, with rigid belt clips and removable wrist straps on the back. All three have transparent panels at the front, so you can see the keypad and display, though the plastic material is a little on the thick side, which could restrict button access. They all have elasticated gussets at the sides, to allow for phones fitted with thicker, heavy-duty batteries. The quality of manufacture is reasonably good, the stitching is even, with no loose ends, though one of our samples had an untidy ruck along one seam, and one of the see-through panels was scratched. Overall they fitted well, with holes in all the right places

 

Design:                         ***

Quality of construction:            ***

Value for money:             ***

What Cellphone Verdict  85%

 

DIMENSION

Metra are another new name in the cellphone accessory business, they’ve been marketing their Dimension range of holsters since January this year. They have two types, the ‘Execuline’ made from a good quality black soft-grain leather, and the ‘Trendline’, which has a has a suede finish and is available in navy blue, green or brown.  The phone is kept in place by a flexible top flap that fastens on the front with a Velcro pad; there are cut-outs on the side, for easy access to the phone, and for the antenna. On the back there’s a springy belt clip which could do with being a little tighter, the holster tends to come away with the phone if worn on a thin belt. The holsters are made in Turkey and currently Metra cover between  80 to 90% of the mobile phones on the market, including some digital models. The standard of construction is excellent, both inside and out, and the prices at £19.99 for the Execuline, and £24.99 for the Trendline are very reasonable.

 

Design:                         ****

Quality of construction:            ****

Value for money:             *****

What Cellphone Verdict  93%

 

 

ERICSSON

Ericsson market their cases through a separate mail-order company and they sell for around £23.50. The standard of manufacture is high, they’re a very good fit and are embossed with Ericsson logos back and front. The design is straightforward, the front and back panels are made from stiffish black leather, the sides are elasticated. The front has a see-through panel, so you can get at the keypad and the top flap is held in place by Velcro pads. The belt clip on the back is made of springy steel, it’s on the small side, so it may not hang well on wider belts. The case isn’t lined but there are no protrusions, and it’s very well finished. It’s only a few pounds dearer than most accessory cases, so it’s worth considering.

 

Design:                         *****

Quality of construction:            *****

Value for money:             ****

What Cellphone Verdict  95%

 

 

KONDOR

Very snazzy! Kondor cases are made from a supple leather and come in a range of colours, including black-trimmed British racing green, burgundy, gold, navy blue, red and of course black; there’s also a pair of rather gaudy orange-coloured cases for the Motorola MR1 and Nokia 2140. All of the cases are lined, they have elasticated sides with spring-steel belt clips, detachable wrist straps, a transparent front panel and velcro-fastrening top flaps. The hole alignment on samples we’ve tried was spot-on and the general quality of manufacture and finish was excellent. The obvious question is how much is all this fancy coloured leather going to cost? Relax, Kondor’s cases are actually no dearer than normal, in fact the all black ones are cheaper than average with a suggested selling price of less than £18.00; the coloured cases sell for just £23.50, which makes them outstanding value for money. Reccomended,  if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.

 

Design:                         *****

Quality of construction:            *****

Value for money:             *****

What Cellphone Verdict  98%

 

MOTOROLA

to come.....

Design:                        

Quality of construction:    

Value for money:            

What Cellphone Verdict

 

NOKIA

We had expected that phone manufacturers own cases would be very well made, but not especially good value. Not so in the case of Nokia’s offerings, we were right about the quality, but their soft cases can work out cheaper than ones from the accessory companies. They market two cases and two holsters for the 101, (and for most of their other phones as well). The two soft cases are made from a really soft leather, the larger one is a coverall-design, halfway between a case and a holster, it has a Velcro-fastened belt loop on the back and a top-fastening flap. Inside it’s lined with a soft velvet-like material. The other case has a more functional feel to it, more like a glove than a case, open at the front for easy button access, and with zippered sides. Our only complaint is that neither of them have elasticated sides. The two holsters are made from a much thicker, stiffer leather. The larger one has a chrome buckle fixing at the front, for added security, and a tough, springy belt clip on the back, the second one is a very simple design, with elastic side panels and a press-stud fixed belt loop on the back.  If you’ve got a Nokia phone why look elsewhere?

                       

Design:                         ****                              

Quality of construction:            *****

Value for money:             *****

What Cellphone Verdict  96%

 

ORA

Ora are probably the best known cellphone accessory company in the UK. They have at least one, (and in some instances two or more) cases and holsters for virtually every type of phone, including digital handsets. Their soft cases are made from black leather and the samples we’ve tried were all very snug fits, with elasticated sides to accommodate thicker batteries. They have transparent front panels that give good access to the keyboard and controls; holes and openings are all correctly aligned. All of the cases have an inner lining, the top flaps are held in place with Velcro pads and trimmed with brass tabs, to resist wear and make them easier to open. On the back there are strong spring steel belt clips. The holsters are semi-rigid, made from black leather with Velcro-fastened top flaps and strong belt clips. All of their cases and holsters are very well made and finished, and usually good value too, though shop around, prices vary.

 

Design:                         ****

Quality of construction:            ****

Value for money:             ****

What Cellphone Verdict  93%

 

 

PRO-TECH

Although the general design is satisfactory the Pro-Tech samples supplied to us were indifferently finished; all had loose threads or uneven stitching, mis-aligned trim or wonky velcro pads. The cases are made from black leather with elasticated side gussets; some are lined, others are not. The cases for the Micro TAC and Ericsson phones had exposed metal rivets inside holding the spring belt clips in place, the rivet heads are smooth but eventually metal to plastic contact between the rivet and the phone would ultimately result in abrasion. 

 

Design:                         ***                               

Quality of construction:            **

Value for money:             ***

What Cellphone Verdict  70%

 

 

SATCHEL

Satchel are one of a growing number of companies to introduce a little colour into their range. Their Tanyard cases are available in burgundy, navy blue and green, as well as good old black. The design is fairly conventional, with a see-through panel on the front, elasticated sides and Velcro-fastened top-flap, but they’re very well finished, lined, and sturdily built with strong steel belt-clips on the back. They sell for around £20, an average sort of price, but neat little touches, like brass trim on the top flaps, embossed logos and the draw-string bags they’re supplied give them a edge over the competition. Worth considering. 

 

Design:                         ****                              

Quality of construction:            *****

Value for money:             ****

What Cellphone Verdict  97%

 

 

VEGA

Vega’s tough-looking leather holsters have already become something of a design classic in the cellphone accessory market. They’re designed and built --  and we do mean built -- in Italy from thick, top-grade leather. Everything about them says quality, from the stitching to the smell! The sides have concealed elastic panels and the phone is held in place by a strap fastened by a press-stud. On the back there’s a broad steel clip and an integral belt-loop. There are around twenty different sizes in the range, with more being added all the time, and they cost £39.95 each. Vega also do a  range of holsters with shoulder harnesses, these sell for £49.95. Both shoulder and belt-worn holsters are available in a black or tan finish. Vega have recently introduced a new suede case, these also have elasticated sides and come in a burgundy or navy finish, the price is £39.95. Expensive maybe, but they’re never going to wear out, and quality never goes out of style.

 

Design:                         *****

Quality of construction:            *****

Value for money:             ****

What Cellphone Verdict  95%

 

VIVANCO

Vivanco market a wide range of soft cases, covering most popular models. Their ‘Business Class’ cases, selling for around £30, have semi rigid front and back panels with transparent panels at the front, giving good access to the keypad and controls. The side panels are not elasticated, so phones with heavy-duty batteries can be a tight fit. The top flap is fastened with press-studs, the backs of the poppers are not covered and may possibly mark the phone case. On the back there’s a strong steel belt clip and removable wrist strap. Vivanco’s standard cases are made from soft black leather, this time with elasticated sides and Velcro fastenings, they have a reccomended selling price of around £20.00. Vivanco also market a range of simple protective leather pouches, with no exterior fittings, these will be selling for £10.99.

 

Design:                         ***

Quality of construction:            ****

Value for money:             ***

What Cellphone Verdict  88%

 

 

VOCALL

Vocall market cases for a wide range of phones, though they do not have one for the Ericsson Hotline. The ones for the Micro TAC and Nokia 101 were both very well made, and very similar in appearance and design to the Ora cases, right down to the brass-trimming on the flaps, though in this instance they’re embossed with Vocall’s logo. Both cases have strong belt clips, though the one on the Micro TAC case is a little more substantial. The suggested retail prices of these cases is £19.99, which all things considered, seems fair.

 

Design:                         ****

Quality of construction:            ****

Value for money:             ****

What Cellphone Verdict  93%

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1995 1303

 

 


 

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