N95 Cases

by brendan on 08/16/2008

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new phone. A Nokia N95. N95-3 to be exact. The “-3” is a sort of a version number. It means my phone is compatibile with 850/1900Mhz UMTS/HDSPA, aka USA 3G. The N95-1 was released in Europe, and only compatible with the Euro flavor of 3G. So the N95-3 is the USA version of the phone, basically.

The first thing I did after I ordered it, before the package even arrived, was start looking for a case. And reliable case information wasn’t terribly easy to come by. This phone is not carried by any US wireless companies, so there isn’t much of a market for accessories here. And Nokia does have two flagship stores in this country, Chicago and NYC, but I’m not near either of them. So I had to resort to other blogs and review sites, and find a case without getting to play with it first. For the sake of other N95 owners out there, I want to share what I found.

holster 1
Silicon Cases
Silicon cases, or skins, fit onto the phone and stay on. You don’t remove them to use the phone, so it’s important to have full phone functionality through the case. They’re good because they protect the phone well – a case that’s always on is safer for the phone. But they’re bad because they’re usually ugly, and dirt/dust sticks to them. If you bought the phone at all for aesthetics, you lose some of that when you wrap it in silicon.

There are no shortage of silicon cases on eBay, some as cheap as $1 USD or less. But you have to be careful to not go too cheap, at least when it comes to quality. The N95 is a dual slider, meaning it can slide up to reveal the number pad, or slide down to reveal the media controls. A case would need to fit precisely so as to not impede the movement of that slider. I passed on the eBay silicon cases. I did find what seemed to be a higher quality silicon case from BoxWave, you can get it from Amazon (click here for link). I didn’t purchase it, but if the prices comes down I will.

holster 1
Holster/Hip Cases
For me, wearing your phone on your belt isn’t particularly attractive. But for my job as a “roving” tech guy, a holster is the way to go. I clip it to my belt in the morning, and I don’t have to worry about leaving it in my desk or on a shelf or a drawer around the office. It’s unattractive yes, but I’m at work. I’m not being paid to be attractive. So a holster made my list. I took a chance on a cheapie from eBay, and so far that’s paid off nicely. The case was a bit tight when I first got it, but after a couple of days use it fits perfectly. And for $13 including shipping, it was a steal. The seller’s name was BestSources, you can find his eBay store here. I highly recommend. Check out pictures of the holster with my phone here.

CP-208 2
Slip/Pocket Cases
These cases look good, but they’re less utilitarian than the other types. They do protect well, but you typically remove the phone to use it. Not wanting to have to wear my phone on my belt at all times, I wanted a “slip in” case for use on the weekends. Something I could throw into a pocket or a bag without worrying about the phone. I found two options direct from Nokia.

The Nokia CP-191. It’s a hard leather case that your phone clips into, and the front cover flips open to reveal the phone. Being from Nokia it is bound to fit like a glove, but I couldn’t figure out how I would hold the phone to my head while it was in the case. The flip open cover would probably cover part of my face, and if I was constantly removing the phone I could risk scratching from the clips. I passed.

(Another Nokia model, the CP-235, has a similar design and likiliness to cover your face. Click here for a picture from Flickr user Andrew Currie, of the case covering half of his face)

The Nokia CP-208. It’s a soft leather case, with an elastic band that keeps the cover closed. As a bonus, it also comes with a small credit card/license wallet that that fits into the case with the phone. The catch is that this particular case is made for the N95-4, an N95 version that is slighly longer than mine. The other size specs are almost identical, so I gave it a shot. And I have to say, I’m not dissapointed. The case does have a bit of room at the top, but since it’s a soft case the phone doesn’t really move around. The leather also seems to be of decent quality, which I think I’d expect from an actual Nokia branded case. You can get it online from buy.com or Amazon. Click here to see pictures of the case with my phone. I like it, and if you have a N95-3 you won’t be unhappy with it. If the extra space at the end if the case is a big deal, you can always put a chap-stic or something in it.

holster 1
Crystal Cases
These are hard cases that snap on to your phone, usually clear. They’re nice because you can still see the phone, and the hard case will protect against scratches. But the cheap ones are very breakable. I dropped a phone with a cheap crystal case on it once; the phone was fine but the case was destroyed. I suppose if they’re cheap then you can buy several, but I would get annoyed with that.

A nice twist on the crystal case is the Alu-Crystal case by Proporta. It is a crystal front, with an aluminum back. So it allows you to see the face, which is nice, and the metal back will take much more of a beating than all crystal cases. I didn’t get one, but the reviews I read were almost all positive.

Other Cases
The Invisible Shield, by Zagg. It’s like a screen protector, a film, that you can get for your entire phone. It is so thin and transparent that it adds no bulk to the phone, which is nice. The problem is that it doesn’t work, at least not for me. I bought their shield that was custom cut for my phone. It comes on a piece of paper, like stickers, that you peel and affix to the phone. Simple, right? Not really. I tried and failed 4 times to apply the screen protector. It bubbled up, wouldn’t affix when I wanted and did affix when I didn’t. There is an application lubricant and squeegee in the box, but they didn’t help. It certainly could be just me, but I’ve never had a problem with the half-dozen other protectors I’ve applied to other devices. All was not lost though. I applied the pieces to the back of my phone and they work perfectly. It adds a bit of gloss to the normally matte finish, but for the protection I don’t mind. As for the pieces that fit to the front of my phone, they turned brown after 3 days so I pulled them off. I don’t recommend this product, especially for the high price.

Another company to consider is Vaja. They make a beautiful case for the N95 called the Grip. Little more than a leather shell that finds only on the back of the phone, it provides nice protection and adds a look without killing the existing style of the phone. It comes in dozens of colors and with or without a belt clip, and even with a name or logo if you like. What’s the catch? It starts at $60 USD and goes up. A bit pricey.

The link to find pictures of my phone and cases is in the post, but if you missed it you can click here.

Wow, that was a long post. I hope it will be useful to somebody. Enjoy your phone!

Want more N95 info, and from people that might actually know what they’re talking about? Try the forum at N95Users.com. Do a search and you’ll find almost any N95 topic you can think of.

There are 4 comments in this article:

  1. 08/30/2008truckamok says:

    Let’s say (God, forbid) you were a Sprint customer and weren’t going anywhere anytime soon and rank iPods and iPhones right up there with genital herpes and Vienna sausages, what kind of phone would you get?

  2. 08/30/2008brendan says:

    I’ve had several HTC phones, and I liked them all, so I’d say you should give the HTC Touch a look.

    One of my co-workers has a Samsung Insinct, and that’s a pretty slick phone. I was in the car with him the other day and he was watching CNN live on the phone. Plus it’s got GPS, which is great for hiking or stalking.

    Whichever phone you get, if it has GPS – do NOT pay for any kind of GPS service from Sprint. Just download Google Maps mobile to your phone for free and it will work almost as good as a Garmin or a Tom Tom.

  3. 09/7/2008truckamok says:

    Sweet. Thanks. I’m leaning toward the Instinct because I can get fatty rebates from Sprint since I haven’t upgraded my phone in about 3 years. I hear the web browser sucks but that’s not really what I need my phone for. I need it to make phone calls, check my email, listen to music while running and taking pictures of loose dogs in my neighborhood so that I can somehow use them against their owners.

    Your GPS tip is good too, although Sprint offers what they call a ‘Simply Everything’ plan for $99 that includes all that jazz, and since I’m pretty much paying that already, that’s probably the way to go.

  4. 09/7/2008brendan says:

    Yeah, I heard the browser sucks too. There are a few people that have gotten Opera Mini to work on the phone, do a Google search and see if it’s something you can run.

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