A couple of years back, my family got me a Canon G10. The retailer gave us a free third party camera. Then came the advice from Canon that I needed to bring my camera overto their service center for a firmware update to correct a software bug. At the service center the staff showed me a nick on the side of the G10. This was reported in the service slip so I cannot say Canon damaged my camera. I quickly realized I was at fault because I used a standard compact camera case that didn’t really provide complete protection for what was an expensive gear. It didn’t take long and I looked around for a much better case that was specifically designed for my G10. What am I getting here?
We spend a fortune on stuff that add bling to our life. Many of these stuff no matter how durable are not designed to withstand the wear and tear of every day use. And many times we plan to keep these expensive things with us for some time.
So that was the logic when I got myself a Samsung Google Nexus. From an industrial design standpoint, it was a feat of engineering marvel: a very thin (measurement here) that came with a slightly curve glass panel (not sure how they managed to do that). The first thing I did was look for a case for the Nexus (I christined it ‘Nikki Heat’ cause it gets warm for no reason). And to my disappointment the only case available that had the contour of Nikki H were variants of the rubbery or silicone cases that are made mostly for decorative purpose. There was a leather case but it left 60% of the phone exposed.
So my quest for a case went on for over two months. It included a run to the famed Ap Liu Street in Shamshuipo (sometimes referred to as the electronic street) and the Golden Computer Arcade where street stalls were filled with hoards of mobile phone and tablet cases. I reckoned there were three variants specific for the likes of Nikki H. There is the silicon/plastic case, some made from aluminum, and another claiming to be made of genuine leather. Alas for the price of between $60 to $210, I just didn’t see spending this kind of money for what looked like cheap stuff. In desperation I even went to the Internet where I found a brand called Otterbox. I read the reviews and decided this may be the case for me. I checked for distributor(s) in Hong Kong, founded two and called one for list of retailers.
It took another three weeks before I finally got one from a retailer at LCX in Ocean Terminal onTsim Sha Tsui (TST). Before the cashier could wring in the payment, I had Nikki H wrapped in the Otterbox Commuter and I knew my hunt was over.
The actual case is made of two parts: an inner, soft silicone wrap-around shell; and an outer polycarbonate shell. The silicone shell pretty much covers most of the phone except for the camera/led flash, rear speaker and top and bottom mics. The covering for the USB and 3.5mm audio jack can be raised (soft flaps) to reveal the ports easy enough.The rest of the physical buttons, including volume and power are nicely covered. What holds the silicone shell firmly together is the outer polycarbonate shell. This is important since the phone itself could come off most other silicone cases easy enough, leaving the phone vulnerable to scratches should it fall.
Instructions are provided inside the carton box in case you don’t know how to assemble the case together. In reality, its so simple even my wife (but not my mom) could do it.
I bought the case for HK$273 or US$35. This is not that far off from some of the so called high-end silicone cases available for both iPhone and Samsung phones. Without a doubt the Otterbox Commuter series is well worth it. Nikki H without the case may have been very slim but I always felt like I’d drop it anytime because it felt slippery in my hand. The Otterbox Commuter case gives it the heft and stiffness I appreciate in such an expensive device.
Overall, I like the design, fit and finish of the case. The pieces fit together perfectly giving it the feeling of total protection. Afterall this is what you want to have… the feeling that your investment is protected from the day-to-day trashing and bashing that comes with using a device so portable and so vulnerable.

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