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Tips REVIEW: Seidio Active Case & Holster

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by Bek, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Bek

    Bek Android Expert
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    Almost a week ago, UPS showed up with a gift from Seidio - an ACTIVE case & spring holster combo for the Motorola Photon 4G. After spending a week using the case, here is my detailed review.


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    I've been using Seidio products since the Palm Pre was released and have always appreciated their quality and sturdy products. So my expectations for their Photon 4G ACTIVE case offering were quite high. Unboxing and initially looking everything over, I was pleased to see that their signature build quality remained.


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    Installing the case onto the phone is super easy. My initial impressions were that it fit the phone very snugly and securely. As with any case, the more secure you want your phone, the more you must sacrifice in size. This case is no exception. Subjectively, it does not really make the phone feel much wider, but I definitely notice the increase in thickness. I don't have a caliper to measure, but it is thick enough where it almost dissuades me from carrying the phone in the front pocket of my jeans. I really like that the rubber material offers just the right amount of grip for my preferences. The plastic half of the case is not slick either, giving me great confidence when holding the phone that it won't slip out of my butterfingers.

    One thing I immediately noticed were the raised buttons. The buttons are sturdy enough that pressing them gives very positive feedback and does not feel mushy at all. I really like how the power button feels even more than without the case, as I felt the power button was always kind of a pain to get to since it was recessed. The volume and camera buttons also benefit. And the buttons are not raised "too far" such that I would hit them accidentally either. It's just right.

    The cut-outs in the case for the USB & HDMI ports, headphone jack, camera, and kickstand are precise and accurate. Because the Photon's HDMI & USB ports are so close to one another, I see why Seidio was forced to just have one large cut-out for the two ports. This is really the only "weak point" in the whole case, but I cannot fault Seidio for Motorola's design choices.


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    While not surprising, it is unfortunate that getting the kickstand out is a real pain. I'd call it next to impossible if you don't have any nails. But that tradeoff is to be expected with thicker, sturdier cases. But if you can get it out, then the phone looks good.


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    Moving onto the spring holster, it too feels sturdy and well built. The springs on both the phone latch and belt clip are strong and secure. The phone locks in positively and is not loose at all. The belt clip rotates into 7 different positions, depending on your personal preference. I prefer to keep mine rotated fully clockwise for right-handed horizontal carry.

    Unfortunately, I did find one negative here. Unless the belt clip was rotated fully to the right or left (for horizontal carry), the belt clip was loose and had about 10 degrees of play in each other position. I informed Seidio of this, who told me that this was unique to my sample belt holster. They offerred to replace it for free, but I declined since it doesn't affect me. I view this only as a minor nuisance that only affects those who prefer vertical or angled carry.


    After using the ACTIVE case & holster for the past week, I can say that the ACTIVE case does what it's supposed to - protect my phone. It's sturdy and solid. The rubber does attract lint and dust, but that's yet another tradeoff of this particular material. When holstered, I had no issues feeling the phone vibrate, which has been an issue with looser, poorly-built holsters.

    However, I do have one significant usability issue with the belt holster. With each and every prior belt holster, I was always able to reholster my phone with one hand, simply by inserting the lower half of the phone, then pushing inward. The belt clip latch would simply be pushed out of the way and snap back in place. But due to two subtle differences in the latch, the tip of the latch frequently catches the lip of the ACTIVE case. It got caught more than half the times I reholstered the phone - far too frequently which makes this a significant issue in my book.


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    I analyzed the latch on this case vs the Seidio case for the Epic and noticed two subtle yet significant design differences.

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    Photon (left) & Epic (right)

    If you look closely, the tip of the latch on the Photon is longer. The angle of the "face" of the latch is also sharper and more acute. Those two design differences means that the bottom of the phone must be FULLY seated, before pushing inward, else the latch will catch the case. I reported this back to Seidio, who informed me that their ACTIVE cases and holsters were meant to be reholstered by manually lifting the latch. I think this is utterly preposterous but they stuck to their guns. So I've taken matters into my own hands, used a Dremel tool, and both shortened the length of the latch and changed the angel of the latch face. That has thankfully solved my reholstering issues.


    In summary, I am happy with the ACTIVE case. It's sturdy, solid, and protects my phone. However, I'm not as happy with the holster, due to the reholstering issue outlined above. After reading Seidio's response, I took a quick informal poll amongst my friends and coworkers. Of the 8 that responded to me, NO ONE reholsters their phone with two hands - everyone does it the same way I do. Thankfully my Dremel modification resolved the issue for me. I can only hope that Seidio takes my feedback into account and revises their holster design.


    Case: 9/10
    Holster: 4/10 (8/10 after I corrected the reholstering issue)



    Disclosure: I want to fully disclose that I got this free from Seidio, in exchange for doing a detailed review write-up. But I only agreed to do so as long as I retained the freedom to speak freely, honestly, and unbiased. I will say though, that I've been using Seidio products for a long time and am a fan of their products, so take it for what you will.
     

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  2. Bek

    Bek Android Expert
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    And here's my full review! [​IMG]
     
  3. apisto

    apisto Lurker
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    Bek, thank you very much for this review. It is very helpful.

    I have one further question for anyone with this case:

    Is it fully functional with the Motorola branded car dock? I have read that the Seidio SURFACE case is not compatible.

    Perhaps it works with just the rubber piece if the plastic part of the cover is not used?
     

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