Opinion pieces are so much fun. I could literally spend all day selling someone on why I love something and possibly persuade them to invest in it as well, but at the end of the day, isn’t it all just an opinion? Or is it?
Fact: most case manufacturers have given BlackBerry 10 devices after the Z10 the cold shoulder. Some have even flat out told us that they would never (in so many words) support the BlackBerry Passport. Fact: Seidio has not shunned us. They gave us the first real solution for the BlackBerry Passport in the form of the Surface Case, available with or without a holster. Many of us were elated upon learning of its release and rushed to buy it since that was the only insurance policy we could obtain for our off-contract devices. Opinion: there are many people who love a good case and/or holster for ANY device, regardless of appearance or unwieldy size. Opinion: personally, I love a bulky rugged case. It just screams tough, and in my line of work, it’s the only way to fly.
Yeah, life was good with the Surface Case for the BlackBerry Passport, but then Seidio had to take things a step further. They just released the Convert Add-On Kit which takes the existing Surface Case purchase (sans holster, doesn’t matter) and adds a silicone core, outer plastic exoskeleton, and an amazing holster that rivals anything to come out of the OtterBox camp. Currently, they are running a promotional price on the kit, so it will only set you back 20 dollars to transform your Passport into a rugged handheld computer that feels more sturdy in the hands. For those who have not purchased a Surface Case, you will need to buy the Convert Combo Case which is more than double that cost, but for a device that cost us hundreds of dollars, what’s a few more Andrew Jacksons?
The features that this upgrade presents are more than just protection. To illustrate, I’ll start with the silicone core. This core adds dust covers to all ports on the Passport, to include a cover for the camera lens when not in use. Another welcome improvement upon installation of the silicone core is the raised power and volume rocker buttons that are far easier to press than before. Finally, the core provides a considerably raised edge around the front that keeps the screen from making direct contact with a flat surface to the tune of nearly 4mm. Does such a cushion interfere with swipe gestures? Not at all. The silicone core has a very soft texture to it and flows naturally with each intended movement.
Looking at the plastic exoskeleton you’ll see that it doesn’t bring much to the table except for the fact that it reinforces the silicone core. You will notice that there is a hole in the back of it. What’s that for? The camera lens dust cover flips down and has a notch in it that fits into the hole to “pin” it down while using the camera. I have to add that I have yet to see another case manufacturer include such a consideration. It doesn’t seem like an important aspect, but if you have ever scratched a camera lens, you’d know that it is more expensive to replace that than the display.
The third and final piece of the Convert Add-On Kit (excluding the supplied screen protector) is the holster. The holster has some things to it that require a closer look in order to really appreciate it. On the top, there is a retaining clip that fits across the top of the device when holstered and prevents the device from popping out of the holster accidentally. There is also a slide lock on the back of the retaining clip to keep it from being lifted as a fail safe. The belt clip is a removable clip with a slide lock of its own as well (located on the inside of the holster). When removed, the holster is compatible with the QUEST mounting system created by Seidio. This takes your BlackBerry Passport to a whole new level in terms of terrain and activities. Two more notes on the holster: the device CAN also fit in it facing out (when done so carefully), and there is a built in magnet to put the phone to sleep while in the holster. If you’re like me and prefer to leave your Passport in the holster facing out at all times, you’re going to need to pop that magnet out using a really small slotted screwdriver or knife. It won’t break anything to do so, and the magnet can always be reinstalled if necessary. Removal of the magnet allows the phone to be awake while in the holster and to be turned on/off manually.
Overall, this is a case that I was dying to have, and now that I’ve had some time with it, I can say that it improves my BlackBerry Passport experience both in protection and grip. I know a large and heavy case isn’t for everyone, but in the off-chance that there is another person out there who has been scouring the Internet for a reliable BlackBerry Passport rugged case, this is the one you want. Although a bit snug, I still had no trouble fitting my BlackBerry Passport into my front pants pocket when outfitted with the case and holster. Seidio has invested a lot of time and thought into the design of this kit and that becomes apparent the minute you first hold it. The Convert Add-On Kit is currently only available for the original Passport (not the AT&T version), but it looks like Seidio is already hard at work on a solution for that version as well. You can buy the Convert Add-On Kit directly from Seidio’s website at seidioonline.com.