I enjoy writing reviews, especially when given the chance to really put a product through its paces. And now that I have been abusing my BlackBerry 8300 Curve for just over two months (I can barely keep it out of my hands!), I'm primed to get crack’n on my backlog of accessory and software reviews for the Curve. So let’s dive right into it with an in-depth look at Seidio’s Rubberized Spring Clip Swivel Holster for an Un-Skinned BlackBerry 8300.
Skin, Case, Holster – Covering Your Curve is a Necessity
Seeing a Holster or Case packaged alongside a new BlackBerry is quickly becoming a part of RIM history. My AT&T Curve came with no protective cover of any kind, and due to the arguably rushed/premature launch of the 8300 it appeared the aftermarket manufacturers had very little notice to begin their development work resulting in an initial lack of case options for the Curve. For the first three weeks of ownership I was actually forced to carry my Curve around in a cloth sunglass bag I had lying around from an old pair of Spy’s (which made answering calls an incredibly slow process!) for fear of damaging my newly acquired precious gem.
After three weeks of coping with a naked/case-less berry, I finally got my hands on RIM’s OEM BlackBerry Leather Swivel Holster for the Curve (review to come), which immediately proved to be a lot better than a sunglass bag. But while the BlackBerry Holster does a good job of protecting the Curve, I personally am not a big fan of the puffy-lambskin-leather-with-magnetic-flap-look. It's a bit dated, but the holster I actually find myself still benchmarking all others to is the OEM holster that came with my BlackBerry 8700 (which did come in the same box as the phone!). It was slim and always made for fast one-handed access to the phone, which are the two I really value in a holster but unfortunately are the two characteristics the BlackBerry Leather Swivel Holster lacks.
I was now a month into using my Curve, and while I loved the device (I don’t think you could pay me to switch back to the 8700!) I still didn’t feel quite at home with it. Something wasn’t quite right. But early into month two there came a knock at my door and in walked the mailman bearing a gift that was much more than just a brown box – he delivered to me the ability to finally be at one with my Curve in the form of the newly released Seidio Swivel Holster for an Un-Skinned Curve.
First Looks – Don’t Judge a Holster by its Packaging!
When it comes to Seidio, I assume they save their money on packaging in favor of putting it into their products. While a company like Vaja packages their cases in what must be a $15 box (I keep every Vaja box I have – I literally cannot bring myself to throw any away ) Seidio’s packaging consists of a standard brown box, some packing filler, and in this case the Swivel Holster concealed in a generic, clear plastic bag (I threw the packaging in the garbage before I even contemplated taking a picture of it). While I personally don’t mind this approach to packaging products, it might be worth it for Seidio to develop some sort of cost-effective yet stylish packaging solution, just to keep bloggers like me from always having to bring up this point!
Seidio Swivel Holster for Un-Skinned 8300 Overview
When picking up the holster, the first thing you notice is how light in weight this case is. Just for fun, I busted out my kitchen scale for some comparisons - the Seidio holster weighed in at a 38 grams (just over an ounce), as opposed to the OEM Holster at 62 grams (just over two ounces). Although, now that I think about it, in the battle of lightweight supremacy the real winner here is my old sunglass bag, which weighed in at a feather-light 10 grams.
The Seidio Swivel Holster achieves this light-weight feat by way of its low-profile design and thin construction. The high impact, rubber coated Polycarbonate case is barely more than a millimeter in thickness, and there’s only as much material in the case as is needed to get the job done. With the case designed for the Curve’s display to be placed face in, when viewing from the back/camera-side you can barely tell there is a case at all!
This slim design leaves all of the Curve’s side buttons and ports accessible (headset jack, serial connector, volume control, mute), which was definitely not the case with the BlackBerry OEM swivel holster or my sunglass bag for that matter. Seidio has also perfected the overall texture of the case, with the rubberized coating providing good grip, resistance to scratches, durability and good looks, which provides an overall impression of quality. Without a doubt it beats the heck out of the hard plastic found on my trusty old 8700 holster.
The clip attachment which goes over the device has been improved with extra tension, providing added security in ensuring your new Curve never takes an unplanned tumble to the ground. The swivel clip on the back also has good tension and is long in length – also ensuring it will securely clip over today’s trend of wide belts. Or, if you are like me, and like to wear your holster on your front jean’s pocket, you will find the length of the clip to be more than adequate in keeping your berry firmly planted.
The ingenuity in the design of this holster well justifies the $29.95 price tag it carries. You are not paying for material costs here (there is barely anything to it); rather, you are paying for the engineering that went into removing all of the unnecessary materials from this holster!
Using the Holster
Is pretty simple. To place your Curve into the holster you need to know two things: one, the bottom of your BlackBerry 8300 must be inserted into the holster first; and two, make sure you insert your Curve into the holster with the display/keyboard facing in. When wearing the holster even for the first time, it was very easy to insert the device into the holster with one hand. With the bottom of the BlackBerry first inserted in the holster, a firm yet gentle push is all that’s required for the clip attachment to move up and over the device, firmly securing it in place with a gentle “snapping” sound. A well-placed magnet located within the bottom portion of the casing puts your Curve into standby/sleep mode when the device is placed in the holster, helping to extend battery life considerably.
Where I did run into a learning curve (pun intended!), however, was with removing my Curve from the holster with one hand. Thinking back to my trusty old 8700 holster yet again, all I ever needed to do was put a bit of pressure on the bottom of the berry with my fingertips, and in sliding my hand upwards the berry would slide out of the holster easily (which while I loved this ease of accessibility do think a lot of 8700s ended up meeting their demise from this OEM holster by overeager hands that accidentally sent their devices flying into the air). Because the one-handed motion I was habituated to did not apply to this particular Seidio holster, for the first three days I found myself using two hands. I would reach over to the holster (worn on my right pocket) with my left hand in order to “lift” up on the clip attachment, which would then allow my right hand to grasp the berry and pull it outwards from the holster for use.
72 hours of semi-aggravation later (of course I blamed the holster and not myself), the motion finally came to me – use my right thumb to lift up on the clip and my index finger to pull the BlackBerry away from the holster and into my hand. EASY. With true one-handed operation mastered, I finally became at one with my BlackBerry Curve. The little something that I felt wasn’t quite right with my Curve actually had nothing to do with the device itself; rather, it was the lack of an easy-to-use case!
One Month Later
After a month of putting Seidio’s Rubberized Spring Clip Swivel Holster for an Un-Skinned BlackBerry 8300 (what a mouthful! Maybe Seidio should work on their names a bit along with their packaging! Something short and cool, like “el Diablo”) through daily use I can confidently say I love using this holster.
As mentioned, the first three days were slightly aggravating as I kept fumbling around with two hands to get the BlackBerry out, but after mastering one-handed operation I quickly decided that my trusty old 8700 OEM holster was no longer the benchmark by which I will measure holsters. Way to go Seidio! The one-handed motion required to get the Curve out of its holster is very smooth and secure – upon removing it from the holster the device is immediately and firmly in your hand, which I think will result in few, if any, unplanned trips to the floor. And after a month of use the holster still looks as mint condition as the day I received it (it still even has the red sticker that says "PDA Face in Design" on the inner felt liner).
I honestly thought I would be wrapping up this review with nothing but 100% positive comments on Seidio’s first holster for the BlackBerry Curve, but as I wrote this review, and fumbled around with my holster and berry between paragraphs, I stumbled upon two issues – one fairly major, and one minor.
Major Issue: I noticed the clip attachment that slides over the top of the berry to keep it in place has done some damage to my Curve’s case. The grey plastic on the backside of the Curve’s case as well as the black rubberized strip that goes across the top have been scuffed/scratched. My guess here would be that the added tension Seidio put into the clip attachment to improve the security of the device was just a bit more than the Curve’s materials were ready for. Seidio has just released a new Holster for the 8300 that accommodates a Skinned BlackBerry Curve, which may be the ideal route to take if you want to keep your Curve permanently in mint condition.
Minor Issue: I noticed the hinge pin that slides through the spring clip attachment managed to slide out of its casing by a 1/16 of an inch. A very minor issue which was easily rectified once identified – the pin slid back into the spring/casing easily with a firm press of my fingers. I guess this minor issue could turn into a more major issue if the pin slid all the way out and the spring clip detached, but the odds are you would notice this long before that could ever happen.
I’m the type of guy who typically takes “extreme care” of his new toys for the first two months post purchase, and after that uses them the way the way they were intended to be used (i.e. beats the heck out of them!). Luckily I was 3 days past owning my Curve for two months before noticing the scuffs, so the minor damage my 8300 incurred from using this Seidio holster hasn’t upset me too much. Scuffs on a BlackBerry are like a badge of honor - honestly, if your berry stays in pristine condition for too long you can't legitimately call yourself a “CrackBerry”.
All things considered, I am a big fan of Seidio’s Rubberized Spring Clip Swivel Holster for an Un-Skinned BlackBerry 8300. If you want to wear your Curve on your belt or pocket, and are the type of person who is constantly slamming the phone in and out of the holster all day long, this design is for you. Your berry will be held securely in place with the critical components protected, yet your phone can still be removed from the holster in a moment’s notice with a quick flick of the thumb.
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