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CASE HISTORY

 

INTRO

It's been over a year since we looked at the cellphone case market, and what a change there's been. Rick Maybury has been trying a few out for size...

 

COPY

Last year What Cellphone published the UK's first ever in-depth survey of cellphone cases. It was a bit of a struggle, but we managed to come up with a dozen or so leather cases --  mainly black, and mostly dull --  costing between 20 and 50.

 

What a difference a year makes! This time around we're up to our elbows in cases of every imaginable colour, style and finish. There's everything from sober executive styles to extremes of wackiness and kitsch, selling from 10 upwards; cellphone cases just got interesting...

 

Whatever the style we're still concerned about quality of manufacture and finish. We check the positioning of holes and cut-outs for controls, earpiece, microphone, sounders and accessory/charger sockets, durability and of course, value for money. We award extra points for features like elasticated sides, so the case can accommodate fatter, high-capacity batteries, moreover we ruthlessly wiggle, jiggle and generally give clips, belt loops and fastenings a really hard time.

 

We could have filled the mag a couple of times over with all the cases now on the market, but you can take it as read that a good proportion of them are still boring black leather bags. We haven't ignored them completely, but we reckon the alternatives are the highlight of this year's cellphone case survey.

 

REVIEWS

 

ATEC 20-25.00

This range of hand-sewn cases hails from Italy. They're made from supple Nabuk leather; a variety of colours are available, including black and the range covers most  popular makes and models of phone. The cases have a strong smell; leather mixed in with a whiff of adhesive, fortunately the latter wears off quite quickly. The stitching on our sample was faultless, there were no loose ends. Cases are lined inside with soft velvet, and there's no protrusions to scratch the phone. The sides are elasticated and the belt clip on the back is made from sturdy spring steel. Fit and alignment are excellent. A classic design that looks, feels and (eventually), smells like a high quality item.

 

Design                                      ****                                          

Quality of manufacture    ****

Value                                        ****

VERDICT          90%

Contact Lemon Accessories (0973) 282104

 

CELLTEC  'SCHWING', 25.00

CellTec do all the usual black leather cases but this outrageous multi-coloured vinyl jobbie caught our eye. The 'Schwing' has a detachable leather wrist strap, the sides are elasticated and there's a stiff, vinyl-covered belt clip on the back. The material feels a bit clammy and the holes for the mouthpiece and earphone were slightly off-centre on our Nokia 2110 sample. Nevertheless the general standard of finish is fine. It might clash a bit with pin-stripes but come on, this is meant to be fun, great for clubbing, holidays and fashion statements...

 

Design                                      ***

Quality of manufacture    ***

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          80%

Contact CellTec Accessories, (01420) 538538

 

HAMA/SAMSONITE, 40.00

Here's a name you'll be familiar with. The Samsonite brand is synonymous with high-grade luggage but they're making quite an impact with their extensive range of  cellphone cases. We've been looking at distinctive two-tone burgundy and green designs for Ericsson and Nokia handsets, they cover most other models as well. The sides are not stretchy but the Ericsson case has room for a larger battery. Attention to detail is impressive, the quality of the fixings is better than average, and instead of Velcro there's press-studs. The finish is impeccable and hole alignment is spot-on. It's top-grade merchandise, and that's what you're paying for.

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    *****

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          85%

Contact Hama UK, (01256) 708110

 

KONDOR SUEDE CASE, 18-25.00

Kondor were the stars of last year's case survey, they were one of the first companies to break away from the black bag-syndrome. They've maintained their lead and built up an impressive range of coloured cases made from leather and suede. The piping on the suede cases is both good to look at, and practical; the standard of manufacture is excellent. The finish is good too with neat, even stitching, accurate hole alignment, elasticated sides and super-tough belt clips, with a Velcro catch, for added security. Good value, recommended.

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    ****

Value                                        *****

VERDICT          95%

Contact (01202) 486666

 

NEW FACE COMMUNICATIONS, 15.00

This might be just the job for anyone with one of those snazzy special edition phones. Instead of a transparent window exposing just the keyboard and display, the see-through panel on this case just keeps on going, all the way around in fact, so you can see the back of the phone too. New Face reckon they'll be covering most popular makes and models by the time you read this. The sides are elasticated, there's a belt clip on the back, with a wrist strap. The holes are all in the right places and the finish is generally good.  

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    ***

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          80%

Contact New Face Communications 0181-951 4535

 

ORA, 20

Are Ora getting all trendy? It very much looks like it. They've just introduced a range of coloured leather cases that, like the rest of their accessories, fits just about everything on the market. The style doesn't seem to be significantly different from their regular black cases, but there's nothing wrong with that. They're all well made, the stitching is even, and the holes line up. They're fitted with springy belt clips and detachable wrist straps. Good solid stuff.

 

Design                                      ****                                          

Quality of manufacture    ****

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          88%

Contact Ora, (01296) 415445,

 

 

P. J. LEATHERCRAFT, 13 - 25.00

There's something for everyone in the P.J. Leathercraft range. In addition to all the usual coloured leather styles they have fake crocodile and snake-skin, plus red, green and gold glitter finishes. P.J.L actually have two ranges, the standard and executive, that between them cover pretty well all the phones on the market. They also do shoulder holsters and belt pouches too, available in the same amazing assortment of textures and colours. All of the samples we've seen have been finished to a good standard, though the stitching was a bit wonky around the belt-clips on a couple of them. Hole alignment is generally good and most cases have elasticated sides.

 

Design                                      ****                              

Quality of manufacture    ***

Value                                        ****

VERDICT          82%

Contact P.J. Leathercraft (01278) 723360

 

THE TANYARD COLLECTION 20-25.00

If you thought snake and alligator-skin was a bit OTT then take a look at the Tanyard collection. How about Zebra, Leopard, Tiger and spotty dog! Yes, they do a Dalmatian finish as well, plus about 40 others, from coloured leather, to gold lame, and denim. The cases themselves are made to a good standard, all the usual features -- elasticated sides, steel belt clips etc. -- but there are exposed metal rivets inside. They're slightly recessed, and smooth, but we'd still rather they'd been covered up.

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    ***

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          92%

Contact Tanyard (01458) 442371

 

VEGA, 40-60.00

Vega need no introduction, they make the toughest, butchest belt and shoulder holsters on the market. They're also amongst the dearest but just feel the thickness of the leather, the quality of the stitching, finish and the smell of that Italian leather. There's a Vega holster fit just about every phone, and now they've started doing cases for spare batteries as well; prices for those start at 25. The design of the holsters doesn't change much from year to year but we've noticed they're now using plastic belt clips, presumably to reduce chafing. What a load of softies, we say bring back those metal clips.

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    *****

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          90%

Contact Vega, (01706) 44177     

 

VIVANCO, 25

Vivanco's Business Class case range looks really smooth. A soft supple leather is used for the semi-rigid front and rear panels; they're more like wallets than cases. All of the holes lined up perfectly on our Nokia 2110 sample. The top flap is fastened with press studs, it's a shame the rivets aren't covered up as they might scratch the battery pack. The sides are not elasticated, so phones with heavy duty batteries are a squeeze. A touch pricey but a timeless design that's built to last.

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    ***

Value                                        ***

VERDICT          80%

Contact Vivanco UK, (01442) 231616

 

VOCALL, 15-25.00

Vocall do all the standard-issue black and coloured leather cases, and very good they are too, but we've looking at a couple of their latest products. They're holsters, made from leather, denim, nubuck and suede, in a range of colours that includes the ever-popular black, burgundy and British Racing Green, plus some really lurid shades, for bright young things. There's four sizes of holster, that Vocall reckon cover most types of phone. They're simply made, the standard of finish is good and being holsters, there's no need to worry about holes and cut-outs. Worth considering. 

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    *****

Value                                        ****      

VERDICT          91%

Contact Apex Distribution (01707) 266222

 

WESTSTAR CONNECTIONS 9-40.00

Weststar is another company with something to suit all tastes, no matter how weird they may be.... In addition to all the fake animal and reptile skins they do a couple of tartan cases as well, (we're not sure which clan...). They have a huge range, the designs are pretty straightforward, though the 'Wonderbag' style for Ericsson handsets is unusual and rather neat. The standard of manufacture and finish is generally fine, and all the cases we've tried fit well. They're good value too, prices for basic coloured suede and leather cases start at under 10.

 

Design                                      ****

Quality of manufacture    ****

Value                                        *****     

VERDICT          94%

Contact Weststar Connections, 0181-903 3903

 

---end---

 ( R. Maybury 1996 1107

 


 

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