Aside from something ridiculously expensive like the offerings from Vaja (which are beautiful and I love, but: money!), I am constantly looking for a good case for my iPhone. I like a slim case, but with some protection. I like having a bezel in front of the screen, so that I can lay it face down at need. I also like cases with a little additional functionality — one with card slots, for example, or one with a built-in stand. And last, I like them to have a good feel to them; I carry my iPhone literally everywhere, and if the case has a bad tactile feel, it’s going to get annoying pretty quickly.
I just recently got myself the iPhone 5 and have been looking for a good case to fit my needs. We heard from the folks offering the Shell Holster Combo; it’s technically for Verizon, but the iPhone 5 doesn’t have any form factor differences between the Verizon and AT&T models, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. See what I think below!
Here’s what the manufacturer says about this case:
Protect your iPhone 5 with this rubberized Shell Holster Combo from Verizon Wireless. This all-in-one solution features a hard shell cover and belt clip holster. The hard shell features a built-in belt clip in the for hands-free media viewing. The matching holster belt clip attaches securely to your belt, bag or purse. With the face-in design of the holster, the iPhone 5’s screen is protected. The rubberized texture of this combo provides added grip and durability. With the iPhone 5 Shell Holster Combo, your phone is protected against daily wear and tear.
First is the feel; this is a nice-feeling case overall. It’s rubberized, so it has a decent level of grip, although to my tastes it’s just a wee bit slippery. My Ballistic case, for example, has a slightly better feel. But as a compromise between “so grippy it’s hard to get out of your pocket” and “so slippery an idiot like Doug will drop it multiple times a day,” it’s in that comfortable middle ground; I have no complaints on that score.
This case is small; it’s a shell, so it doesn’t add much bulk and hardly any weight to your phone. Of course this means that it doesn’t offer a lot of protection against random droppage, but again, that’s a compromise that you have to decide for yourself if you are willing to make. For me, again, it’s a wee bit too unproductive, but for a shell case I would judge it to be pretty average. A shell is a shell, after all.
Besides which, this is a holster case; the idea is that you are going to be carrying it on your hip most of the time; in that regard, it’s just fine. Like a lot of holster cases these days, this one has your phone facing screen-in for additional protection, and the inside of the holster itself has a felt-like lining to provide additional screen protection. Overall, I like how this feels on the hip; the holster rotates 90 degrees each way, providing you a choice of vertical or horizontal carrying, and the ratchets that hold it in place for rotation feel nice and firm; I never felt that the phone was going to unexpectedly rotate without my wanting it to.
I quite liked how easy it was to slide my phone in and out of the holster; a slight press on the button or pull inward at the top of the case releases it to slide out; a little practice made it very easy. and sliding it back in was incredibly easy. I never got the feeling that my phone was going to pop out accidentally. From a hip-carrying perspective, I found it durn near perfect.
On the case itself, there are cutaways for the camera on the back and the buttons on the side (on large cutaway for the mute and volume buttons). Both the bottom and top of the phone are cut away completely for access to the charging port, speakers, headphone jack, and power button. I would have preferred a little more protection both at the top and bottom, so I would mark this case down for that. (But again, it’s a shell case, so bear that in mind.) The lack of protection is made up for in many ways by the fact that access to all the buttons is very easy indeed; No being forced to use fingernails because of deep cutaways on this case, definitely.
In many ways what encouraged me to buy the case was the built-in stand on the back. I like to read or watch videos while I eat, and having a stand is a big attraction. For this case, the stand is a two-piece job that folds out of the back of the case. You can use it in both portrait and landscape mode, but it is much more stable in landscape mode (unsurprisingly), and I always felt a little anxious when I had it in portrait. Still, it felt solid enough, and I never got the feeling that it was going to fold up on me and flop my phone to the table.
One disadvantage is that the stand snaps very tightly to the back of the case, and (as opposed to the buttons, ironically!) you have to use your fingernails to pry it open. It’s not a big deal, but I did find it annoying as I keep my fingernails very short for typing and playing the piano. Still, having a stand handy is really nice, and is one of the reasons I keep swapping in this case as my daily case.
Overall I quite liked this case, and often swap it in and out with my Ballistic case. I am not ordinarily a fan of holster cases–I don’t like attaching things to my hip, generally, not even employee ID badges — but I like how easy it is to get in and out of the holster, and I like having the stand
What it is: Verizon iPhone 5 Shell Holster Combo
MSRP: $29.95 (currently on sale for $17.95)
What I Like: Small form factor; easy access to buttons; quick holster access; stand
What Needs Improvement: A bit more protection; a more sturdy stand and more stable in portrait mode
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample