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Monaco Sleeve Type Case for Centro

Thu May 8, 2008 - 11:11 AM EDT - By Andre Kibbe


Until recently, finding one’s preferred style of case for the Centro was not easy. After all, the Centro was a new product, and we had to undergo the usual excruciating wait for accessories unique to our particular tastes to roll off the assembly line.

A few short months later, it’s possible to find just about any kind of case for the Centro that we can imagine: clear acrylic cases, rubberized skins, organizer cases, side pouches and more. Take a look at Centro Depot sometime to see the full variety of options available.

Most of the cases that have arrived on my doorstep to review have been molded cases, but it’s the soft cases that interest me most. Nothing beats a good leather case. Today, Monaco’s Sleeve Type Case for Centro is campaigning for my approval. Let’s take a closer look.

Design and Usability

Aesthetically, this is a lovely case. Made of black cowhide leather with white overstitching for a visible trim, the Monaco has a nice handmade look and feel. The soft leather stretches perfectly so that you’ve essentially broken in the case after a single use. It’s not necessary to exert much force to slip the Centro in place, even the first time. The stitches apparently keep the case from overstretching, so there’s never much slack.

The case itself is a three-piece construction. The main expanse of leather covers the Centro’s front and perimeter, with openings for the screen and keyboard, then the usual array of cutouts. This piece is sewn to a padded base covering the Centro’s back, securing at the top with a button closure reaching over from the front piece to the base. Finally, a small threaded receptacle for the swivel clip bolt is stitched into the outside of the base.

The threaded receptacle is a common feature on Monaco cases. You simply screw the swivel clip bolt on or off to switch between clip-ready and clipless. What’s more common on other cases is to have a two-piece assembly where one half mounts on the inside of the case and snaps through to the other half that mounts on the outside, which takes several times longer to attach and detach. Monaco’s design is more intuitive.

The belt clip itself is a standard, 360-degree non-ratcheting type. Unfortunately, the angle can’t be locked for horizontal mounting, which seems to be the preferred way of wearing a cell phone on the hip these days.

For those more interested in the case than the clip, it’s worth pointing out that the Monaco is slightly less pocketable than other soft cases I’ve tested. The padded base is about 2mm thick, and is fairly rigid. Since it doesn’t contour to the Centro’s curvatures, the base adds more bulk than the average, making it a tighter fit in one’s front pocket.

The opening for the screen has no shield. Some people prefer a windowed opening, but I find that plastic screens that aren’t in complete contact with the touchscreen provide an uneven touch response, especially toward the edges.

The opening for the keyboard is the best of all of the soft cases I’ve tested, for a subtle reason: the portion of leather that wraps around the bottom edge of the Centro gives the keyboard’s bottom row full clearance. With other cases, even good ones, their bottom front portion tends to hike up against the bottom keys, which can be annoying when you’re trying to create a text message.

Another “best of” (or “first of”?) award goes to the Monaco’s cutout provisions, which account for every last port, button, key and switch the Centro features. Most of the Centro cases I’ve tested are about 90% complete in the cutout department. Frequent omissions are cutouts for the IR port and the microSD bay—usually the latter. It’s nice to see that not every case designer considers these expendable.


My only real gripe with the Monaco case is the old-school 360-degree swivel clip. It would be ideal to have the option of wearing the case sideways, locked into position.

But everything else is absolutely terrific. This is a beautiful case, with a more lo-fi, organic touch than most competing products. The artful overstitching and soft texture are a refreshing alternative to the many molded cases I’ve reviewed, but what’s more noteworthy is the value it offers for the price. It’s a very elegant and impressive case that’s a steal at $24.95. But the design and craftsmanship that have gone into this case make it a compelling purchase at any price.

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Design 5
Usability 5
Protection 4
Cost/Benefit 5
(not an average)
  • Attractive handmade look and feel
  • Includes cutouts for IR port and memory card bay
  • Leather stretches easily without creating excessive slack
  • Bolt for swivel clip simple and quick to detach
  • Cons
  • 360-degree swivel clip cannot lock to a preferred angle
  • Padded base makes wearing in pocket a tighter fit than many Centro cases
  • No shield for screen

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