Sunday, November 21, 2010

Garminfone hard plastic case

I recently purchased a Garminfone from T-Mobile.  I made the switch from an iPhone 2G because I dropped the iPhone and cracked the screen.   After that experience I decided that it wasn't going to happen to my Garminfone. Unfortunately, the Garminfone hasn't sold very well so there aren't very many companies making cases for it.  I decided to try a case from Ebay that's sold by Wireless Accessories.  If you search on eBay for "garminfone case fire burn orange" you will find it.

Here are a few pictures.

I couldn't find any reviews on the case so I wasn't sure what to expect.  The case is relatively attractive and it comes in a variety of colors.  The case material is a hard plastic and it comes in either a shiny or rubberized finish.  I went with the rubberized version because I didn't want it slipping out of my hand.  The case comes in two pieces that snap together.  Once you snap it together it's really difficult to get apart again.   The phone fits very snugly in the case.  The openings for the speaker and camera are well placed and the case isn't terribly bulky.

Unfortunately, those are the only nice things that I can say about it.  When I bought it I figured that it probably wouldn't work with the stock car mount.  From the 3rd picture you can see that there's a round hump on the back of phone.  This is apparently designed to be used with a belt clip.  The problem is that it sticks out about an 1/8 of an inch.  Without a case the phone snaps tightly into the car mount, but with the case it's too thick.  On top of that the opening for the mount isn't wide enough (see picture 4).  The mount is about 1/2 of an inch wider than the opening in the case.  I don't even know why they bothered cutting an opening for it.

The first thing that I noticed when I put the phone into the case was that it was really hard to turn the phone on.  The case fits very snugly, and the opening for the power button is large enough to easily access the button.  It's really hard to explain, but the case compresses the phone in manner that makes the button not work properly.  Without the case the power button will move about 1/6 of an inch.  With the case it moves less than 1/32 of an inch so it's really frustrating to use.  I get the distinct impression that the manufacturer never actually tried the case on a real phone.   They must have only tested it against a demo phone.  This flaw pretty much makes the case worthless.

So to summarize:

  • Looks nice
  • Solidly built with a nice feel
  • Slim fitting case
  • Cheap ~$8
  • The case is too thick to use with the stock mount
  • THe opening in the case it too narrow for the car mount
  • The case is too snug so you can't turn on the phone properly.