Review: Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro for BlackBerry

By Al Sacco on 25 Sep 2008 11:52 am
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Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro

There are countless reasons why BlackBerry users might desire some extra privacy. A businessman checking his e-mail during a flight could want to shield his device from the prying eyes of the curious teenagers seated around him; or on the flip side, one of those same teenagers might not fancy the guy in the suit with the 8830 watching as he attempts to make BrickBreaker history.  Average Joe BlackBerry, who's peeping the latest Kim Kardashian celebrity BlackBerry sightings at work, just might like to keep that to himself.

Whatever the motivation, Case Mate's Privacy Screen Pro, which sells for $14.95 at ShopCrackBerry.com, promises to help ensure that whatever you may be doing with your BlackBerry remains your own business.  According to Case Mate, the screen provides enhanced device security by blocking display visibility from any angle that's more than 45 degrees, horizontally or vertically, from the center of your display. This holds true based on my experiences with the product.  On the whole, the privacy screen does exactly what it's supposed to and more.

Though I was a bit skeptical at first—I love the brightness of my display and didn't want to do anything to affect that—the screen has been on my BlackBerry Curve for more than a month now.  It's not perfect, though, and if applied carelessly at first, it may never fit correctly or stay put again.  Is the Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro for you?  Read on for an answer.

But first, some quick product information from Case Mate:

  • Provides crystal clear viewing without creating a dimming haze
  • Static cling design is easy to install and will not leave a residue on your screen like other brands
  • Offers visibility both horizontally and vertically, not just in one direction
  • Screen can be cleaned simply by holding it under running water, and the process will not affect static cling adhesion to your phone
  • Fits the BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Pearl, Blackberry 8830 and 8800, BlackBerry 8700, BlackJack I & II, Moto Q and other cell phones with screens 2-inches x 1.6-inches or smaller

Initial Impressions

When I first removed Case Mate's Privacy Screen Pro from its minimalistic packaging—it comes in what looks like a few pieces of decorated cardboard folded over onto each other—I couldn't help but think, "This is it?" The privacy screen is 2 inches by 1.6 inches when new. It comes with only a tiny piece of graph paper to help fit it to your screen, a cloth for cleaning your display before application, and a "soft applicator card" that's really just another piece of small, stiff cardboard that can be used to exile any air bubbles that make their way between the screen and your display during installation—though my American Express card did this job more efficiently.

Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro
The Privacy Screen Unboxed

It didn't take long, however, for me to realize that good things really do come in small—and in this case, thin—packages.  After a few days of getting used to Privacy Screen Pro, it was clear that even though its purpose is obviously to increase BlackBerry users' privacy, it also serves as a very functional screen guard.

Privacy Screen Pro Installation and Removal

Initially, I had trouble getting the privacy screen on just the way I wanted it, without any smudges or bubbles between it and my BlackBerry display, though running through the process a few times largely solved this problem. 

Privacy Screen Pro attaches to your device via static cling, so no glue or additional adhesive is required, and there's no messy residue left behind after it's removed—except, perhaps, for a bit of noggin-goo build-up around the edges, but we'll get to that later in the review.

I followed Case Mate's directions to a tee: I measured my display using a ruler, cut the piece of graph paper to size and used it to trim the privacy screen, then cleaned my display thoroughly before peeling away a thin plastic layer from the screen and applying it to my device.  Still, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't install the privacy screen without at least one or two smudges between it and my display.  Eventually, I just had to get used to them.

Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro
The Privacy Screen 'Installed' on my Curve

The first few times I applied Privacy Screen Pro to my display, it was a bit off-centered because I was focusing more on installing it without getting any fingerprints or smudges on the screen than on precise placement.  After carrying my BlackBerry around in my pocket with the slightly misaligned screen, the protruding corners—the ones that weren't exactly centered—started to curl and bend back.  Those corners then began to catch on whatever they touched, most often the inside of my pocket, resulting in the screen being accidentally pulled off any time one of the corners caught. Granted, the corners bent because I didn't initially apply the screen as well as I could've, but even if you install it perfectly, those corners are still going to bend and catch eventually. 

Removing Case Mate's Privacy Screen Pro couldn't be easier; you simply grab a corner and pull it off.  As mentioned above, the screen leaves no residue because no adhesive is necessary.  But you'll still likely need to thoroughly clean your display upon removal, if you left the privacy screen in place for any extended period of time, because face grease and head sweat—otherwise known as "noggin-goo"—will have built up around the edges, at least if you're anything like me.

Form and Function

Privacy Screen Pro is both small and lightweight, and it's unobtrusive when installed correctly—at least until its corners start to bend.  In fact, it would take a close inspection of an equipped BlackBerry to see that a privacy screen was present.

Most importantly, the product does what it's supposed to. As soon as you rotate a BlackBerry fitted with the privacy screen, visibility reduces until you hit a 45-degree-angle. The screen then appears to be blank.

After first equipping my BlackBerry with the Privacy Screen Pro, I was a bit disappointed because despite Case Mate's claims to the contrary, it does dim the brightness and clarity of your display a bit, especially since BlackBerry users themselves aren't always looking at their device from the dead center, and any movement to either side reduces visibility. But after a day or so of using the new screen, it became clear that the minor losses of display vibrancy and clarity were well worth the added privacy and protection benefits.

Different BlackBerry devices have displays with varying amounts of curvature.  For example, the Curve and 88xx screens are less contoured and flatter than the display on the Pearl.  Though I can't be sure because I never applied my Privacy Screen Pro to a Pearl, I'd be willing to bet the issue with the corners bending and catching is even worse for Pearl users because the curvature of their displays is more significant.

The Bottom Line

The Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro has one sole purpose: To make it difficult for nosy strangers to peek over your shoulder and see what's on your BlackBerry's display.  On that account, the product is very efficient. It also works very well as a screen protector, and it's inexpensive at just $14.99.  Installing Privacy Screen Pro just right may take a few practice runs, but it's well worth the time, because faulty installations will eventually lead to bent corners and a privacy screen that won't stay put.

Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro Review Summary:
Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro
Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro Ratings



Pros:

  • Works just as advertised when applied correctly
  • Inexpensive at just $14.95
  • Not only provides privacy, but protects display
  • Can be easily removed without a mess
  • Fits a wide variety of devices

Cons:

  • It's somewhat difficult to apply without smudges, bubbles
  • Once corners bend, they can't be repaired and screen slides and peels easily
  • Slightly dims screen brightness, clarity
Buy Now:
Purchase the Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro in the CrackBerry.com Store >>
18 comments

Jarod Toups

Do we know if this can be equipped with the Otterbox Defender case?

Al Sacco

Hey Jarod,

The OtterBox Defender series of BlackBerry cases is made up of three components: a thin clear-plastic "sleeve" that covers the display, keyboard and back of your device; a hard plastic exoskeleton-thingee; and a silicon outer shell.

I never use the inner plastic sleeve with my OtterBox, so I didn't have any issues using it along with the Privacy Screen Pro. In fact, they're a nice combination. But using both the privacy screen and the OtterBox's plastic screen cover together is not ideal.

AS

MarieKCox

I bought this hunk of junk and tried it on my Curve. I can't believe anyone would give this thing a 4.8. The display becomes blurry and virtually unreadable when using this privacy screen. Its a privacy screen alright, it makes it so the owner can't even read what's on the display. Not only did it not adhere well to my display, but like this reviewer wrote, it starts to unstick at the corners and makes it susceptible to being ripped or torn off. Save your money.

Al Sacco

Hi Marie,

I have to respectfully disagree. As mentioned in the review, I've been using Privacy Screen Pro for more than a month, and I assure you, I can see my display just fine.

If you want your screen to be at its brightest, this product may not be for you. But if you're looking for a bit of extra privacy, Case Mate's privacy screen is a valuable solution.

AS

ipod screen replacement

I agree. The screen offers excellent protection with that one small drawback. If you value your screen life, I'd recommend this product.

Alexd

This product was weird at first but the point is to make your phone able to be viewed straight on I don not feel it dimmed my screen a bit and provides great privacy. It might not be for everyone I guess

TarenB

I agree with Marie. I felt like I needed glasses once I put on the screen protector. It became blurry and the crystal clear resolution that I once got, went down the drain. There was no question as far as "getting used to it." I took it off immediately. The privacy aspect works but other than that, it's impossible to see without getting a head ache

t.ro

I bought this and was stunned and disappointed to see that this screen is so "private" that you can't see anything through it yourself when viewing straight on. It doesn't just "dim" the display, but so horribly fogs the screen, you can only BARELY see anything.

I had purchased for the Bold, and will try it out with that when ATT lets us have it, but will be frustrated if this "protector" suffocates the Bold's gorgeous display as well.

Was my first purchase with Crackberry and still fret for a refund! A definite bummer.

Privacy Screen Rocks

I purchased this item over three weeks ago and have to say that initially it was weird and it took some getting used to, but overall love the privacy. Yes it does dim the screen and yes you have to look at it dead on. But to me it is worth it. I working in a high traffic area with people all around me. I need to be sure that what I am reading and typing is kept hush. This device most def helps with that.
I have this Privacy Screen installed on my 8120 with no issues with it curling at corners. I recommend this item to anyone concerned about privacy!! Kudos to Casemate!! Cheers!

Queen4111

This screen provides PRIVACY that you need.
Two thumps UP!!

Anonymous

I have one of these on my curve and it is by far the best addition to my bberry.

Alexd

Great product love it. Love that people cant see my phone anymore its awesome. I was skeptical at first but it turns out this thing works great. No one really can see my phone unless the like put their face in front of mine. Highly reco. And it does NOT dim the screen at all its crystal clear I use water on it about once a week.. It is a lil sticky at first but then after a while it worked out.

Love great for any use from girlfriends to coworkers to just plain people who think they can look at my phone bc its a blackberry.

bx2md

I have to admit it works great for me....
it resembles the same as a screen as a atm
it's worth every penny

EddieBoze

These are not new technology. They have been around for ages. I bought a MAGI-PRIVACY SCREEN similar to this device for my pearl and it is very good. I like it most when i'm on the metro as i can prepare my e-mails without the world watching. I wouldnt dream of being without one now.

GynormousMellon

Very clear viewing. At first I didn't take off the exterior plastic and it was horrible to see through. Once I realised what I did, I removed the second plastic cover and it works great. Just remember that the plastic cover HAS to be removed from BOTH sides

f3nixryzyng

i was really worried about losing image clarity untill i realised that a slightly darker screen was worth the ability to hide what i'm doing on my bb... easy choice for me.

thanks for the review.

f3nixryzyng

i was really worried about losing image clarity untill i realised that a slightly darker screen was worth the ability to hide what i'm doing on my bb... easy choice for me.

thanks for the review.

jstarett

I bought this screen and had to get rid of it because it was too think and was affecting my proximity sensor