A Hard Skin Case to Protect Your BlackBerry Bold In Style
There's no shortage of BlackBerry Bold 9000 skins and cases on the market today. Finding the one that's best for you is really a matter of personal preference. But if you're looking for a minimalistic case that offers decent protection without adding any significant bulk to your Research In Motion (RIM) Bold smartphone, you'll find a friend in the Seidio Innocase Surface.
The Bold Innocase is good looking, adds a much-needed degree of "sturdiness" to the Bold's less-than-rock-solid build, and fully protects its chrome bezel from scratches and other aesthetic damage. However, it's high price; hard, non-malleable plastic, which makes accessing depressed convenience keys and other buttons somewhat difficult; and a few unfortunate design flaws mean the case is far from perfect.
Overall, I was pleased with the Seidio Innocase Surface for Bold-it has become my new case of choice and my Bold is wearing it as I write this post-but I've got quite a bit of constructive criticism for Seidio, as well. Hit the jump for the specifics.
Seidio Innocase in Your Face - My Likes
My favorite thing about the Seidio Innocase Surface for BlackBerry Bold 9000 is extra feeling of solidity it provides for my device. Many Bold users are likely familiar with the "creaking" and shifting that often takes place due to the poor fit between the Bold's default faux-leather battery cover, the device's chrome bezel and the rest of its body.
I'm not sure if this is a problem across the Board or if it's related to one Bold manufacturer, but my device's battery cover has creaked and shifted slightly since I first started using it. And it's annoying to say the least. However, fitting a new Seidio Innocase Surface onto my Bold nearly does away with both the creaking and slight sideways back-and-forth motion of the battery cover, because it fits tightly and holds the battery cover in place more sturdily. (CrackBerry Kevin also made a similar observation after he first fitted his Storm with a Seidio Innocase II Surface.)
In addition to making the Bold feel more solid, the Seidio Innocase Surface is also quite good looking, and it thankfully doesn't change the general aesthetic of the Bold too much. It does completely hide the shiny chrome bezel that encircles the handheld, to protect it, but is also fully covers the fake leather battery cover that ships with the device-my least favorite part of the Bold. Depending on whether or not you like the default Bold battery cover, this could be a positive or a negative quality. It also comes in black, gray, blue, burgundy and pink so you can match your Bold to your outfit, mood, whatever. (Folks interested in the Seidio Innocase Surface for Bold, but who'd prefer a see-through plastic option, should check out the Seidio Innocase Crystal, which is clear plastic and almost identical to the Surface.)
The Innocase Surface is very thin; in fact, it's just one millimeter thick, according to Seidio, so it doesn't add much size or weight to your Bold. The case is made of textured plastic that's not exactly too slippery, but it is smooth.
And it fits very well; once you put the Seidio Innocase Surface on your BlackBerry Bold 9000, it's not coming off accidently, unless you drop it just right on a hard surface. Even then, the Innocase Surface ought not to pop off. I never dropped my device from any significant distance, but it fell out of my pocket a couple of times during the weeks I've employed it, and the case didn't budge.
The Innocase Surface also doesn't block any of your Bold's jacks or ports, though it does make them difficult to access--more on that coming up.
It works with Seidio's $29.95 Innocase Holster, so you've got options if you need need a belt-clip and not just a skin/case. (I don't use holsters, and therefore, cannot comment on the Innocase Surface and Holster combo.)
Finally, I appreciate how Seidio's Innocase Surface has a "lip" that hangs slightly over the edges of my Bold's display, but doesn't at all block the LED message indicator or front-facing speaker port. This is particularly useful for me, as I use a BodyGuardz screen cover along with the Innocase Surface, to help protect my screen from scratches. The Innocase Surface does a great job protecting the Bold's bezel and various other components, but it completely ignores the device's display. Thankfully, the case works great along with third-party screen protectors, as its lip covers the edges of the thin plastic protectors and helps reduce unwanted peeling. (You can pick up a BodyGuardz protector for $24.95 or a three-pack of SPE BlackBerry Bold screen protectors from the CrackBerry shop for just $14.95.)
Seidio Innocase Off Base - My Dislikes
My number one gripe about the Seidio Innocase Surface for BlackBerry Bold relates to its steep price tag. The case retails for $29.95. In my opinion, that's at least $10 too much. If it were up to me, I'd price the Innocase Surface case at $19.95, the holster at $24.95, and a combination of the two at $39.95.
My second complaint about the Innocase Surface for Bold relates to how its design affects some of the Bold's most basic functionality. For example, the case has a thin plastic bar that goes horizontally across the face of your Bold, directly above the trackball and atop the thin built-in bar that separates the Bold's display from the device's physical buttons.
I've always found even the built-in bar to be a bit annoying, as it gets in the way of my thumb whenever I scroll upward on the trackball. The Seidio Innocase Surface for Bold more than doubles the size of this bar with a protective strip of its own, further obstructing the natural upward movement of your thumb on the trackball. In all honesty, it didn't take me too long to get used to the size of the new bar, and now I hardly notice it, but it was annoying at first, and I could see this being a major turnoff for some folks.
The rigid plastic case also makes pressing the Bold's device-top Mute and right-side convenience and volume keys more difficult than I'd like, as the openings for each are narrow and the buttons are tough to get at. I have large, thick fingers, so this might not be as much of an issue for Bold owners with tiny digits, but it still bugs me after more than three weeks of use. I don't use any sort of holster with my BlackBerry Bold, so it's important that I remember to hit my device's Mute key to put it in standby before pocketing it. The Seidio Innocase Surface for Bold can make this frustratingly difficult.
The Innocase Surface design also makes it harder to use the Bold's three far left keys (Q, A, and ALT) and the three far-right buttons (P, DEL, Return), as the edges of the case are raised higher than the buttons. The product would be more functional if its sides dipped in just a bit around the outermost keys.
Inserting and removing microSD media cards while the Innocase Surface is in place is a pain, as it makes an already awkward-to-access port even more so.
Removing the Innocase Surface for Bold once it's in place is also somewhat of a challenge especially when it's new. To fit a Bold with the case, you place your device in the Innocase back cover, where it sits snuggly. Next, you put the top half onto the device and squeeze around the edges until a number of tiny, plastic "latches" click. That's all fine and good, easy really. But removing the case is a whole different story. You've got to wedge something between the two pieces of plastic and then just pull and pull until they (sometimes violently) snap apart. Every time I did this, I feared that the thin plastic case would snap, but it hasn't yet. Still, I wish the case were easier to remove and replace, as I'm constantly pulling my Bold's battery, and I need to repeatedly remove my case to do so.
Finally, the Seidio Innocase Surface is composed of hard plastic instead of some sort of rubbery substance, and it doesn't provide great shock protection-it's also a just bit slippery. The Innocase Surface's hard exterior serves well to protect your device from scratches and such, but it won't do much to protect your Bold from repeated drops and other impact.
The Seidio Innocase Surface for BlackBerry Bold 9000 is a great option for users seeking a skin/case that provides basic protection from scratches but won't drastically affect the appearance of the device nor add much bulk.
But at $29.95, it's overpriced. Still, $30 is within reach from many Bold users, and despite it's excessive price tag and a few less-than-ideal design features, the Innocase Surface the Bold will suit the needs of the average Bold owner. (It's worth noting that the Innocase Surface is now my Bold protection of choice.)
The Innocase can take a bit of getting used to, but it's worth the time and patience. And it also works along with the Seidio Innocase holster-sold separately.
Al Sacco is a staff writer with CIO.com. His Mobile WorkHorse blog was recently nominated for a Jesse H. Neal Award for excellence in business journalism.
Summary: Seidio Innocase Surface for BlackBerry Bold 9000
- Makes Bold feel more solid, but doesn't add too much bulk
- Good looking and functional
- Fits Seidio's Innocase Holster (sold separately)
- Doesn't block any device ports, i.e., headphone jack, mini USB, speakers, etc.
- Certain elements of design make navigation/typing awkward at first
- Doesn't provide great shock/impact protection
- Innocase can be difficult to remove
Design and Function: 3/5
Fit and Finish: 4/5
Ease of Use: 4/5
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