The BlackBerry Pearl underwent a few changes in the casing, most notably a re-jiggered camera orientation and an externally-accessible microSD slot. As a result, OtterBox had another go at their Pearl case, featuring a few changes. For one, the mini-USB and headphone slots have been changed a bit, so each jack has its own opening. The upgrade to a 3.5 mm headphone jack makes it more likely that one will be more in use than the other, so I can see why the case change was made. The sharp edges that I had mentioned before around this area are gone, making flipping the slots open and closed a breeze.
Of course the lack of microSD card access is a bit of a pain. The casing doesn’t support the external slot, meaning you have to crack the whole case open to get there. On the one hand, you wouldn’t really expect folks to be hot-swapping penny-sized memory cards in an environment that demands an OtterBox, but on the other, once you’re somewhere fairly safe, disassembling the whole OtterBox can be a hassle, especially if you plan on taking that card out again any time soon.
You might notice that shiny little metal bit on the casing. That’s a magnet that now puts your BlackBerry into holster mode when it’s clipped in. I remember being wowed by this back in the Proporta Alu-Leather case review for the BlackBerry 8800, but now it’s a feature I look for in every case. It’s worth noting that this is an earlier version of the case and the magnet is now on the other side, so the sensor near the battery can better detect everything.
On the whole, it’s a bit of a let down that there’s no extra opening for the microSD slot, but magnet on the case more than counterbalances it. A few slight tweaks, like a bit of a bevel around the indicator LED also show that this case has been finely polished since its last iteration. I definitely look forward to what OtterBox will have to offer once the BlackBerry Bold comes out. If you’re interested in hearing about some of their work behind the scenes, we talked with OtterBox about just that, as well as their development of the Defender Series in a recent BlackBerry Cool podcast. On the whole, OtterBox offers some great cases if your BlackBerry needs heavy-duty protection. If you’re interested, you can pick one of these up for $49.95.