CrackBerry Idol - Aloha Joe

Using the Case-Mate Fuel and Aquapac Case

In keeping up with the Aloha Joe motto "Carpe Diem" (Latin for "Seize the Day")...I am constantly on the go, and lead a pretty active lifestyle. Whether it be hiking the slopes of Diamond Head Crater, surfing the breaks on the North Shore, or just chillin' with a Corona in hand at the family beach house; I have found two things:

  1. My BB has gotten wet and/or submerged in the ocean, the pool, a goblet of Corona, a glass Grey Goose and Patron more times than I care to remember... and
  2. Even though BlackBerry has a phenomenal battery life, I still find myself taking my BlackBerry's battery to the brink of death in about 2 days.

Thus, this week I will be reviewing two items that will hopefully bring an end to my BlackBerry worries:

  • AquaPac Waterproof Case (BlackBerry Bold 9700)
  • Case-Mate Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack Holster (BlackBerry Bold 9700)

*Note: This is NOT a comparative review. No comparisons will be made between these two items, as they compliment one another rather than compete with each other.

AquaPac Waterproof Case

I am not really one for boundaries or restrictions, hence, I have never really relied upon and/or used a case or holster for my BlackBerry devices. However, like everything in life, there are exceptions. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is inevitable that somehow, somewhere, and someday your BlackBerry will have a close call with water in some shape or form (ie. ocean, pool, rain, etc.) While I do have a few other waterproof cases, which are designed for the water-sports enthusiast, I haven't had the pleasure of using the AquaPac, until now. I wanted to see how it compared to what I normally use. Thus, came the hardest part of this review...deciding how to test the product?...Showering, Swimming, Water Skiing, Paddle Boarding, Shark Caging??? What was I thinking?...I'm Aloha Joe...it has to be SURFING!

Aquapac

SPECS/TOUTED FEATURES:

  • Submersible to 15ft/5m
  • 3-year global warranty
  • Clear rear panel for taking pics and video w/ device
  • Strong neck cord
  • Allows BlackBerry to float in water

FIELD TEST FUNCTIONALITY: (3 hour session)

Prior to placing your BlackBerry or anything of value in ANY waterproof case/bag/etc., one should conduct the following test:

1. Place a paper towel, tissue, or toilet paper in the case
2. Seal the case to the manufacturers specifications
3. Completely submerge the sealed case in water for about 10-20 min
4. Remove the case from the water
5. Open the case and inspect the paper towel, tissue, or toilet paper
*If the contents are dry, then the case is MOST LIKELY safe for your valued item(s)

At first glance this Aquapac looks like nothing more than a Ziploc on a lanyard. While my review takes into account, style and design, my focal point is/was whether or not Aquapac could protect my phone from water, salt, and sand exposure during vigorous water activities. I placed my BlackBerry Bold 9700 in the Aquapac Waterproof Case and secured the fastening latches as specified. Then I "tethering" (if you read my first review...this would be definition #1) the case to the rear of my surfboard. After a 3-hour surf session, Aquapac kept my BlackBerry dry and safe from water damage. I also got great water footage from my BlackBerry (some of which, was used in the video review).

The only problem I experienced is that, due to Hawaii's humid climate, moisture in the air inside the case can condense into water droplets. This problem can be resolved by placing a sachet of desiccant (available online from Aquapac) inside the case. This will absorb any such moisture, keeping the contents completely dry. In humid climates, it's strongly suggested that you use these sachets with all Aquapac cases.

PROS:

  • Submersible to 15ft/5m
  • 3-year global warranty
  • Clear rear panel for taking pics and video w/ device
  • Strong neck cord
  • Allows BlackBerry to float in water

CONS:

  • In humid climates, moisture in the air inside the case can condense into H2O droplets
  • Item only offered in one color scheme

RATING:

While Aquapac gets nothing for style points, it definitely did its job and kept my BlackBerry safe from any water damage. Aquapac is available on shopcrackberry.com for $24.95.

Aquapac Waterproof Case gets Aloha Joe's 3 out of 5 surfboard rating:

Aloha Joe Surfboard

Case-Mate Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack

Like many of you, my BlackBerry is always with me, and I seem to be constantly on it for both business and leisure. Between the two, my BlackBerry's battery takes a beating on a daily basis. Though I have no complaints, as BlackBerry has a phenomenal battery life, I thought that I would give Case-Mate's Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack/Holster a whirl.

Case-Mate Fuel Case

SPECS/TOUTED FEATURES:

  • talk time: up to 9 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold life
  • internet use: up to 7 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • video playback: up to 8 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • audio playback: up to 24 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • standby time: up to 250 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • holster can be charge via a pc connected USB or a wall charger
  • a fully charged Fuel holster can charge your 9700 from 75% battery power to 100% in about 30 minutes.

Case-Mate Fuel Case

FIELD TEST FUNCTIONALITY: (test conducted 3x/Figures are an average of the 3)

Upon first impressions, the "Fuel" appears to be sturdy and solid in construction with a strong 180-degree ratcheting belt clip. However, upon closer inspection, I was a bit disappointed at how weak FUEL's phone retention clip appeared to be. I was equally as disappointed to see that my BlackBerry could only be placed in the holster "facing outward", offering no screen protection.

During the limited 3 days that I had to review this item (due to the time it takes to ship items to the middle of the Pacific), I put Fuel through a mini "Field Functionality Test". As BlackBerry's standard battery life in itself is touted at GSM - up to 21 days/504 hours, UMTS - up to 17 days/408 hours; with only 3 days to evaluate this product, I did not have the time required to verify all of Case-Mate's touted features (i.e. features listed as "additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life). However, I ran through what I, as a "normal consumer" would be most concerned about:

  • Fuel holster took 5 hrs./15 min. to fully recharge
    (holster can be charge via a pc connected USB or wall charger)
  • Fuel charged my BlackBerry from 5% to 78% in about 1hr/25 min. (at which time Fuel needed a recharge)
  • Charged my BlackBerry from 75% to 100% in about 1hr/20min.

Case-Mate Fuel Case

During the 2nd day of evaluating the Fuel, my BlackBerry dislodged from the holster and fell to the ground. I find that this is attributed to the weak retention clip of the Fuel. My Bold now boast 3 battle scars...oh well I guess it's all in the line of duty for a CrackBerry Idol.

PROS:

  • Fuel Holster has an On/Off switch; so you can decide when, where, and if you want to recharge your BlackBerry
  • It provides a quick re-fueling of your BB when fully charged.
  • Takes only a few minutes to recharge the BB
  • Is a holster and provides a quick extra charge when you are low on power
  • Can be charged with a Micro USB wall charger or USB for PC

CONS:

  • After continued normal usage, the retention clip becomes loose, and tends to allow your BlackBerry to fall out of the holster, even if slightly tapped or brushed against
  • Holster does not provide face/screen protection for your BlackBerry. Your BlackBerry can ONLY be loaded/secured in this holster with the screen facing outward.
  • The price is quite high $74.95
  • I could not get Fuel to recharge battery when it went below 5% battery life or if your BlackBerry is completely depleted/dead
  • Case is a bit bulky

Rating:

While FUEL does an amazing job at keeping my BlackBerry "fueled" and ready for action; first and foremost, it is a Holster, and as such I would expect this or any other holster to secure my BlackBerry safely. I was disappointed...who am I fooling?...I was devastated when my BlackBerry was dislodged from the holster and fell to the ground. This would be the first (and hopefully the last) "battle scar" that this 9700 would have to endure. Case-Mate Fuel is available at shopcrackberry.com for $74.95. Case-Mate's Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack gets Aloha Joe's 2 out of 5 surfboard rating: