All cell phone cases involve some tradeoff. As a rule, the more protection they offer, the more cumbersome they are to wear. Thicker materials add bulk, often making the phones they sheathe awkward or unwieldy in use, not to mention more conspicuous than may be fashionable for non-geeks. Those attracted to their phones unique form factor usually have to choose between case designs that compromise or change the contouring beyond recognition.
As the companys brand name implies, Body Gloves métier is preserving their host products unique form factors. The Scuba Case is their first attempt at skinning the
Centro in the style consistent with the rest of their product line. Lets see how it fares.
Like most cases, the Scuba is a two-part product comprised of the case itself and a swivel clip. The Scuba Cases namesake matte black neoprene skin is water resistant, but dont make calls underwater just yet.
The case is only available in black, and given Body Gloves product history aside from womens swimwear, likely to stay that way. The silver trim on the black skin compliments the black Centro perfectly, making the case almost invisible when clad, looking almost more transparent than clear acrylic alternatives. Body Glove could score a lot of brownie points with red Centro owners by providing a red-skinned version, but the black exterior of the existing case might actually accentuate the intensity of the red model where the color peeps through, in a burlesque fashion.
The swivel knob that settles into the belt clip is removable from the case. The plate securing the knob is located under a flap inside the back of the case, and snaps off with no aggressive effort.
The belt clip looks rather ordinary, without much to distinguish it on first handling except its sturdy, precision molding. The quick-release button is located on the bottom front instead of the usual top rear, so be warned not to keep trying to yank the phone out of the clip without realizing this.
Very easy to overlook on the clip, is for my money, the Scubas coolest feature. The back plate contains a two-position kickstand for mounting the Centro upright. A couple of acrylic cases sport this appendage, but its unique among clips and soft cases. The kickstand facilitates using the Centro for watching videos, reading copy, timing work or study sessions, and a host of other applications.
Those of us who migrated from the Treo 755p realize that the Centro is essentially the same phone, but with one decisive difference: its easier to pocket. Between Treos I had a brief affair with a Palm OS clamshell, the Samsung i500, and despite the vastly more current technology of the 650 (Bluetooth, a high-resolution screen, memory card expansion), I was willing for months to forgo the latter for the i500s smaller profile. For the same reason Ive resisted encasing the Centro with anything that prevented me from putting the phone in my front pocket, but the Body Glove with the clip knob removed has a thin enough skin to make no noticeable difference in the Centros pocket fit, while adding protection against coins, keys or earbuds.
The neoprene skin feels great in the hand, and its traction is a terrific consolation for 755p expatriates missing the Treos soft-touch paint. The Centros slick shell always felt like a drop waiting to happen.
The cutout placements are well considered, and in nearly all instances align perfectly with the components they accommodate. The only minor exception is the bottom cutout for the Athena connector and the microphone jack. The Athena has sufficient clearance, but the jack side usually takes some stretching and adjusting to ensure that the jack is fully inserted.
The Body Glove provides cutouts for the:
- 5-way navigator
- Ringer mute switch
- Infrared port
- Status light
- Front speaker
- Volume controls
- Customizable side button
- Athena connector and microphone jack
- Lanyard connector
- Camera and self-portrait mirror
- Stylus silo
- Rear speaker (includes vinyl mesh)
No cutout exists for the memory card slot, a common omission among cases for some reason. Also lacking are ones for the Talk and Power/End buttons. Since those buttons are mounted flush with their neighboring buttons on the Centro, the plastic shields continuous surface provides no tactile cues to distinguish between them without looking. Ideally a caller could end a call by feeling for the End buttons cutout.
The screen shield has a couple of issues. A gap of about 2mm exists between the shield and the screen, and has a tendency to collect dust and require frequent cleaning. The surface tension of the shield requires additional pressure when using the stylus to close the gap, which risks scoring or streaking the shield over time. But if youre like me, and use the stylus infrequently, that should be a non-issue.
Unless youre looking for a rigid, impact-resistant design, the Scuba Case is the near-perfect solution for the Centro. Its one of the few cases that lends itself to maintaining the Centros aesthetics and pocketability. Heavy stylus users might consider a different solution, like a holster or hard case that exposes the screen, adding a third-party screen protector. The case alone is close to ideal, but the detachable clip knob and the clips adjustable kickstand make this product remarkable more useful than most competing cases.
Perfectly form fitting
Removable clip knob for case-only use
Well placed cutouts for most hardware functions
Extremely useful kickstand
|Not impact resistant
Gap between screen and shield collects dust and requires additional pressure from stylus
No cutout from microSD slot
Only available in black