Review: Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case for the BlackBerry 8800, 8820, 8830 Series Smartphone

By Tom Able-Green on 4 Oct 2007 11:17 am EDT
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Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case for the BlackBerry 8800 Series

Quality Doesn't Have to Mean Expensive
Every BlackBerry user should try and protect their device rather than see it get ruined by constant use (or is it abuse?!). Between top pouches, side pouches, holsters, hard cases, skins and more, a plethora of choices are available that can more than adequately do the job. With each style of casing having its own pros and cons, you may find yourself having to try a few different options out before ultimately finding the perfect case that works best for your particular needs.

The time had come for me to try an open face leather case. When I received Smartphone Expert’s Open Face Case for my BlackBerry 8800, I knew I knew I was looking at a winner – with a price tag of only $19.95, I could immediate tell this case offered great value. The Cream/Brandy combination I received looks rich, but like all Smartphone Experts cases the Open Face Leather case comes in a variety of popular colors. And if you're not an 8800 user, don't worry - Smartphone Experts also offers this case for the BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Pearl.

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
The Cream Brandy Color Combo Looks Great!

Design
On immediate inspection, you can see the stitching around the whole case and it adds a nice touch to the already impressive quality of the leather. On the reverse of the case sits the darker leather (Brandy). This is also where the belt clip is attached. Smartphone Experts have taken great care to make sure this is a secure part of the case and again with stitching around the clip this adds extra security. Turning the case around, your eye immediately gets drawn to the protection that will be provided around the BlackBerry’s display. I didn’t realize this immediately, but Smartphone Experts have actually incorporated a metal beading into the leather surrounding the screen. The case is very rigid and the felt lining on the inside of the case further increases its overall protection and appearance.

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
Felt Lining Improves Protection and Makes it Easier to
Insert and Remove the BlackBerry

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
The Beading Around the Screen Improves Protection
and Keeps the Case in Place

The perimeter of the case features several cut outs for the BlackBerry 8800’s various ports and controls (volume, convenience key and headphone socket, mute/standby, LED, etc.). On the top, there is a very secure snap closure strap which helps enclose the Blackberry 8800 snugly.

Finally, the all-important 360* belt clip can be snapped on horizontally or vertically once attached on your belt.
The Snap Closure Worked Well

Finally, the all-important 360 degree belt clip can be snapped on horizontally or vertically once attached on your belt.

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Case
Close Up of the Ratcheting Belt Clip and Fine Detailing

Fit & Finish
Sliding the Blackberry 8800 into the case is very simple. The case provides a snug fit, and the inner felt lining aides in the process of inserting and removing the BlackBerry from the case. The ear speaker cut out of the case is exactly where you need it to be as is the speakerphone cut out. I did have to move the area around the screen a little bit where the metal beading positions itself. Once set in place, its stays happily. The more the case is used, the better it becomes. It almost betters with age, like a fine wine.

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
It's a Nice Snug Fit

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
Volume Up/Down is Easily Accessible

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
Headset and USB Ports and Left Side Convenience
Key Are Also Easily Accessible

Ease of Use and Aesthetics
Having used this case for nearly 2 weeks now, I can’t imagine not having it. Its slim form helps keep any bulkiness down and even when the case is clipped onto a belt, it doesn’t feel clumsy or out of place. The belt clip allows easy access to removing the BlackBerry from the waist for use, and though initially I was not overly impressed by the look of the clip, I was proved wrong. The clipping in and out quickly became second nature.

Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
At first glance, I Thought the Clip Looked to be on the 'Awkward' Side.
I was Wrong. It Worked Just Fine!

There aren’t many down sides to this case, and you really do get value for money. The only negative I found was potentially in my choice of color – the Cream color is light and can get dirty quite quickly. When the case is always open to the elements, this is bound to happen, but I found a quick wipe with a damp cloth makes it look like new all over. Don’t confuse getting ‘dirty’ with ‘worn’ however. The quality leather Smartphone Experts uses ensures that this case will last a long time.

The case is able to provide great protection to the Blackberry 8800, and after all, that’s the whole point of it. There is ample room around the edges to allow full use of the QWERTY Keyboard and Trackball. Even when charging, there would be no reason to remove the BlackBerry from the case. The cut outs have certainly been well placed.

Conclusion
After really not knowing which sort of case I wanted for my Blackberry 8800, I know I have found a great case that provides plenty of protection and everyday ease of use. I have been able to use the case on and off my belt. I have carried the Blackberry in my pocket with jeans. I have even dropped it (thank you metal beading!) and the case still stands strong.

Every review has to have at least one gripe though. For this review, it’s the packaging. Like Seidio does with their cases, Smartphone Experts packages their Open Face Leather Case in a simplistic plastic bag. Considering the caliber of the product, I feel this does not do the case justice (a neatly designed Box is in order). On the other hand, if cheap packaging is what helps keep the purchase price down then I’m all for it. As a colleague has said – don’t judge a book by its cover…

With their Open Face Leather Case, Smartphone Experts have created quality and craftsmanship at a reasonable price. This is especially true when compared to some of the other open face leather cases available on the market. Why spend twice as much on a more expensive case when you could save the money, or if you just have to spend big bucks, have two of these cases (in two different colors!) for the same price? I think I’ll go for the Cocoa Brandy next!

SPE 8800 Review Summary:
Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case
Ratings

Pros:

  • Quality of Leather and Stitching
  • Attention to Detail shown in the case's design and profile
  • Excellent Protection for an open face case
  • Snug Fit

Cons:

  • Cream Color gets dirty easily
  • Even More Colors Would be Nice

Neutral:

  • Ratcheting clip looks a bit 'cheap', but works just fine

Buy Now:
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Review: Smartphone Experts OpenFace Leather Case for the BlackBerry 8800, 8820, 8830 Series Smartphone

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