Shortly after tossing my damaged screen protector in the trash, I got Proporta’s Alu-Leather Flip Type Case in the mail. After all that talk about protection, this case looked ready to fit the bill right out of the box. The cover was rigid, lightweight aluminum, and the 8800 fit nice and tight into two beefy bracers on the side, and a tough stubby one at the bottom. The flap clipped shut with a snappy little magnet near the bottom, and the inside of the top flap flashed some of the aluminum emblazoned with the Proporta logo.
That bugged me a bit until I found out why the bare metal was showing â€“ a safeguard in BlackBerrys turns off the screen whenever anything with a magnetic field gets close, so when you close the flap, the BlackBerry shuts down. It also means your most recently-received message pops up as soon as you open it. Very slick.
The first thing to go awry was the lack of a belt clip. After poking around on the site, I find that you have to ask Proporta for them
specifically with your order, even though they’re tossed in for free. Never really fancied myself the holstered-BlackBerry corporate type anyhow, so I let it slide.
If I was one of those types, though, I would be more than happy to carry this sucker on my hip. The leather’s good quality, very classy, nice stitching. There’s a little Proporta logo in the corner which irked me a bit after seeing the other one on the inside before, but like all subliminal advertising, you forget it’s there after a bit. After taking off a little sticker pointing me towards Proporta for repairs and other services, the leather underneath got messed up from the adhesive. When the built-in advertisements start effecting the quality of the product, a company’s got to start reconsidering how much self-branding they want to have.
Once I got my BlackBerry in there, I almost felt like punching it, just to see how strong those braces were. It really is a tight squeeze getting the 8800 installed, but once it’s in, it’s solid. Most of the time I left the BlackBerry in the case, since it was a chore prying the device out just to take a call or text. Of course, this meant the whole case came along for the ride whenever I used it, which posed some issues which I’ll discuss in a bit.
I let the Proporta folks know that the case had come safe and sound, sans clip, and my regret about having to toss out the screen protector from the last review. Right away they sent me not only a belt clip, but a fresh screen for my 8800. That’s customer service. The belt clip installation was quick and painless: unscrew the back, screw in the knobby.
There were a few issues here, that I’m not sure were unavoidable from a design standpoint. For one, the braces hug the sides of the keypad extremely close. They don’t overlap the keys, but they do place a barrier where your thumbs would usually reach in for the outside columns of keys. The result is having to curl your thumbs over top rather than come in from the sides like they normally do, making for slightly awkward typing.
Similarly, the convenience key becomes way less convenient, as it’s blocked off from around-the-back access by the rear cover that extends just a wee bit too far past the edge. As mentioned, I had the whole case in hand whenever making a call, which resulted in the bottom strap sometimes getting in the way. Lastly, the indicator light was totally covered, so you’re relying on audio or vibration alerts for new messages.
It has to be said that all of these setbacks just comes with the terrain – if you’re looking to get all-around protection for your BlackBerry, a little cumbersomeness is the price you’ve got to pay. I couldn’t imagine any way of repositioning the braces while maintaining the same security and strength.
For awhile before getting the belt clip, I tried carrying the whole thing, case and all, in my pocket, which just didn’t happen. It was nice and bulky enough to toss into my backpack without any worries of damage or scratching. The top flap folds all the way back for handy desktop use, but is only really helpful without the clip knob screwed in.
I wasn’t quite ready to bust out a BB gun on this one, but I did run it through a few test drops at waist height, and the BlackBerry 8800 wasn’t any worse for wear.
After slipping the BlackBerry out of the Alu-Leather case, it felt good to have my device back down to its usual slimness. This case really is an all-or-nothing affair. Horizontal holsters that let you pull your BlackBerry out on its own would be a fine lightweight alternative, but I’m not sure if form-fitting cases would offer the same degree of protection. All in all, Proporta’s Alu-Leather case gives solid all-around protection, and be damned the costs of girdth. If you’re in an environment that has plenty of hazards, but you still want to keep your classy fashion sense, this is the accessory for you. 4 bulletproof vests out of five.