As many of you know, I have been desperately searching for a case for my Sprint Mogul. I have tested cases by a variety of manufacturers, but never found the “perfect” case. Who knows, maybe it is simply not out there, but I am not ready to give up yet. Today, I have the fourth of four PDAir cases I was sent to review. While the other three were variations on leather cases (pouch, flip, and book styles) this one is a hard shell aluminum metal case. I like this kind of case because it offers the promise of significantly more protection. Let’s take a closer look.
I have always liked hard metal cases for my devices. I am constantly dropping them, and the extra protection a hunk of aircraft grade aluminum offers is very enticing to me. Of course, the drawback here is the extra girth this adds to my device. It is a trade-off which has typically ended in me searching for a new case. The extra weight and size just never seemed to outweigh the extra protection offered by the metal case. Not so with PDAir. This case offers all of the protection of a metal case, while only minimally adding to the girth of your device. Once I had my Mogul in the case, I hardly even noticed it was there.
As I mentioned, the case itself is constructed from aircraft grade aluminum, which is both lightweight and extremely durable. Exactly the kind of environment you will want for your beautiful new device. The case itself is constructed from two solid pieces of aluminum, connected by a hinge on one side. This construction helps ensure your case will not bend or split apart upon impact. Like I said, this is some extremely solid construction.
One of the most important factors in a case like this is the ability to access all of the controls without removing your device fro the case. I thought PDAir did a great job here. All of the controls wide cutouts, each of which provides access to a group of buttons, rather than a single button. This ensures you will not be trying to squeeze a fingernail through a tiny opening to get to the buttons. Each button is as accessible as it would have been without the case. There are even cutouts for the camera, speakerphone, stylus, memory card, and miniUSB connection.
In fact, the only complaint I had here was that the hinge was a little too close to the upper buttons on the left hand side (the scroll wheel and OK button). This made it a bit hard to access the buttons when the lid was opened. It would have been nice if the hinge had been moved down lower on the side, or even moved to the right side of the case.
On the opposite side from the hinge is the clasp which holds the case shut. This is a fantastic clasp which has a ridge on the inside that grips two raised areas on the side of the case. This holds the case securely shut at all times. Not only did the case stay shut, I actually found it could be a bit too tight, making it difficult to open the case when I needed to. Nonetheless, I would rather have it too tight than not tight enough, which could cause it to spring open unexpectedly and drop my device to the ground.
All of this brings us to the screen…or as I call it, how to turn your Windows Mobile Professional device into a Windows Mobile Standard Device. You see, the case has a clear plastic cover over the screen. This makes the touch screen completely inaccessible, meaning in order to access the touch screen controls, you must open the case. This can be awkward, because there is not an easy way to hold it with the case open. Frankly, I was dismayed by this plastic cover and wish there had been an easy way to remove it. This was probably one of the best cases I have ever used for my Mogul, but the inaccessibility of the touch screen, especially in these days of gesture controls, makes this case simply unusable for me. I do hope that PDAir will consider redesigning this case to make the touch screen accessible when the case is closed. Otherwise, this one will soon end up in my “Box of Unused Cases”.
Let’s take a quick look inside the case. With the Mogul removed, you can see the thin lining of Neoprene on both the back and lid. This serves several purposes. Most importantly, it acts as a shock absorber, ensuring that if you drop it, the case will absorb the brunt of the blow, not your device. Second, it protects your device from scratches. Finally, because the Neoprene is slightly malleable, it ensures that the case will firmly grip and protect your device.
The case also includes a belt clip, which screws into a hole in the back of the case. This is a slightly better than average belt clip, which will swivel 360 degrees. Personally, I hate wearing my device on my belt, because I am too prone to breaking the clip and sending my device flying. So, I tend to avoid this feature, and was happy to find that the clip is completely removable. It is available, however, should you want to use it, and seemed to grip well.
What I Liked: Sturdy construction and firm grip ensures that your device is well protected. Easy access to all buttons and controls. Removable belt clip.
What Needs Improvement: The plastic window over the screen is the only thing keeping this from becoming my new everyday case.
Where to Buy: PDAir