|Reviewed By: Mike Northall on 20/07/2010
My first experience with a soft (rubbery) pda case was on my XdaII some years ago and, frankly, I hated it; I therefore had some strong preconceptions to overcome if I was going to like this new blue Soft Gel case.
The first thing that struck me was that it is a lot firmer than the "Soft Gel" name might suggest, not like the rubbery alternatives which I dislike so much. Being a harder material makes installing the device slightly more difficult than I expected but this should be seen as a good thing - the edges around the screen are rigid enough not to lift away when caught against obstructions, as in a pocket perhaps, it should be more resiliant to splitting and tearing.
Once the device is installed, the case it feels very snug, with nicely beveled edges round all the access holes for speaker, camera and so on. The power and volume buttons are completely concealed behind thinner sections of case with lightly embossed versions of the controls on the outside to aid locating, pressing the controls through the case was no more difficult than pressing the controls themselves. The front half of the case has a smooth, glossy finish while the entire rear half is given over to a matt, textured surface which provides a tactile and easy to hold aspect, not unlike the rear surface of the Desire itself, and helps stop the device sliding around in, say, the car. My one criticism: the seam along which the two surfaces meet, which travels round the entire edge of the case, was slightly raised on mine and felt a little sharp in the hand, resulting in a slight discomfort when gripped firmly, though not when just resting in the hand. This is easily rectified, however, by the judicious and careful application of a sharp craft knife blade along the edge and may well not apply to all cases.
When compared to my current "armoured" metal case, the Gel case is a good two or three mm thinner front to back and narrower side to side due to the lack of hinge, catch and belt clip mount point; the height is more or less the same. However, despite these only small differences in size, it feels much less bulky somehow, seeming very slender and quite similar to the bare device itself.
Around the screen area, in particular, the Gel case provides unhindered access to both screen and front buttons, while the raised edge provides good protection to all but a direct blow to the screen. The most extreme tip of the USB connector is marginally proud of the case, by perhaps a quarter mm, but you'd have to be seriously unlucky to have it strike the exact spot and do damage if you dropped your device.
Unlike the original rubbery XdaII case which so tainted my opinion of soft cases, this case's harder nature makes it much easier to keep in pockets since it doesn't get "caught" on the lining material, I had no difficulties getting it out of a wide range of pockets quickly - a great improvement. In addition, being a soft(er) and thicker material, it should absorb impacts better than some of the simpler rigid cases or thin rubbery ones.
So has this case changed my opinion of softer, non-rigid cases? I rather think it has - not of the soft rubbery ones, but certainly of these firm Gel ones. It is efficient in design, simple in nature and effective in use.
What is more, one of the most significant and important benefits of this case... it fits in my desk dock without modification! Yay! Admittedly it only just reaches the USB connector, meaning that it can be nudged out of contact relatively easily, but the case doesn't have to be removed each time I want to dock the Desire, and that is a really BIG plus.
Even though it only just reaches the USB contacts, the soft nature of the material actually reduces the wobbliness of the generic nature of the Desire dock aperture and, ironically, makes the device more stable, even though it doesn't slot in as far! If you're buying a dock for your Desire, get one of these cases at the same time - you won't regret it.
So, while I'm not sure that blue is really my colour and doesn't perhaps complement my Desire's colour scheme perfectly, I will still be using this case far more than I expected. I shall now only be using my metal case for those outside occasions when the lanyard and additional armour are convenient and/or necessary, I shall be using the Gel case exclusively around the office and home when the bulkier metal case is usually a little too inconvenient to use and the Desire usually ends up being naked.
4.75 Stars (rounded to 5)
Sent from my HTC Desire, it's not a fruit and doesn't have Windoze, it's an Android Linux phone... and it's packing Froyo too!