A few weeks ago I reviewed the Rocketfish Hardcover Shell for the HTC Surround. While the shell has been working fine, the glossy finish was beginning to show wear, especially on the back. So I decided to try out the HTC branded hardcover shell case. Like the Rocketfish, the HTC shell has cutouts in all the appropriate places for; buttons, connectors, camera, speakers and microphones. I think HTC did a little better job here, making each cutout very sharp and professional looking. The case itself is made of a material a bit softer and more pliable than the Rocketfish case, which is a harder plastic. As such, the Rocketfish case has tabs in the 4 corners of the front & back shell that grip the phones faces. While the HTC case has what appear to be tabs in the four corners of the back shell, they don’t roll over the edge of the phone as the Rocketfish shell did. And there are no tabs on the front shell; just a smooth friction fit.
The HTC shell has a soft matte finish, identical to the actual battery cover for the phone, making it really easy to grip (but a bear for cases – more later), unlike the Rocketfish which has a high gloss finish that shows ever scratch. The back and front shell pieces snapped on with little effort. The back shell has a nice HTC debossed logo. The first thing I noticed with this new shell is that there is only a 1mm gap between the back and front shells, allowing just enough room for the slide out speaker to move smoothly. The Rocketfish left a gap of several millimeters and I was actually a bit concerned that the corner tabs might have been holding the phone apart just a tad. All of the cutouts on the HTC case line up perfectly and the phone looks really good in this shell, almost like a neoprene slip over case that you would typically see on an iPhone. Both cases would not let me fully insert a 3.5mm headphone plug, leaving about 2mm exposed, but the headphones worked fine in either case. I think the HTC shell also reveals just a little more on the front so you get to see an outline of the chrome bezel that borders the Surround’s screen. Very nice.
Overall I prefer the feel and fit of the HTC Shell over the Rocketfish. While a bit pricey at $29.95 (vs. $24.95 for the Rocketfish) the overall design of the HTC shell warrants the extra 5 bucks. Available at AT&T retail outlets and online.
BELT CASE BLUES
I like to wear my phone with a belt clip case when out about town and don’t want to remove the hard shell when I use the belt case so finding a proper fitting case has been a challenge. I was happy to discover that my existing (Tilt 2) Nite Ize vertical & horizontal cases, and Naztech horizontal leather case all worked with my Surround and Rocketfish Hard Shell. To get away from the Velcro rip of the Niti Ize cases I have also tried out several eBay leather cases recently, mainly designed for the HD2 and Evo. Of the three I tried I found one that worked well, but was disappointed tonight when my Surround and HTC Shell would not fit well in almost “all” of my cases. Checked the measurements and width/thickness of the two different branded shells are within .010 so that’s not the problem. This issue is that the slippery surface of the Rocketfish shell made sliding the phone into “not so perfect fitting” cases nice and smooth, but with the grippy finish of the HTC shell, the results are entirely different. Got a BlueDot leather vertical case today and it’s almost loose enough to be comfortable. All my cases now have oversized blocks of wood in them to try and get that extra 2-3mm out of it. Maybe in a couple days I will be able to salvage a few of these. If not, guess I can always include six cases when I eventually sell my last Tilt2. Oh well.