One of the most popular case companies, Seido, was quick to release cases for the HTC Thunderbolt. Among the most affordable is the Innocase II Surface. Does this product truly protect your Thunderbolt?
You may have never heard of Seido. While the company has numerous products and a strong online presence, it's less frequently found in retail stores. It also doesn't create flashy cases like companies such as Otterbox, which keeps many Seido cases out of the spotlight.
Even so, Seido has a strong reputation as a manufacturer of smartphone accessories. The Seido Innocase II Surface for the HTC Thunderbolt is a revision of a design that's already been released for other smartphones. Let's see if the case's maturity is to its benefit.
Simple is the word that best describes the Surface case for the HTC Thunderbolt. Seido offers the case in various colors including black, blue, green, dark red and purple. However, color is the only notable aesthetic trait of any Surface case, as there aren't any other distingushing features.
This means the cases aren't particularly sexy, but that's a mixed blessing. While the Surface case won't impress your friends, it won't attract much attention, either. It's a good case for people who are worried that their smartphone might attract pick-pockets, and it's also an excellent choice for professionals who think a simple case will improve their image.
The Surface case arrives in two pieces, a large upper half and a small lower half. Installation is simply a matter of placing these pieces over your Thunderbolt and snapping them together. Alignment of the pieces can be a tad fussy at first, but overall the installation is easy and takes just a minute or two.
Removing the case is another matter. The instructions state that removal is accomplished by pressing in the center of the bottom end and pulling each end from the other. It seems so easy, and it's technically correct. However, removal takes significant pulling and tugging, and you'll probably need five minutes to wiggle the ends apart. It's an annoying process if you only want to remove the battery.
The Surface case comes with cut-outs for all of the Thunderbolt's important functions including the camera, the kick-stand and the ports/buttons. All of these cut-outs function properly, including the kick-stand. Even with the case installed, the stand keeps the phone steady.
HTC's Thunderbolt isn't a light or small phone to begin with, and the Surface does add some additional bulk. With the case installed the Thunderbolt looks like one chunky piece of hardware. The in-hand feel is not significantly impacted, however. Indeed, it's probably better with the case installed due to the soft textured finish which provides additional grip to anyone holding the device. A Thunderbolt with the Surface installed is unlikely to just slip from your hands and fall to the floor.
Any decent case needs to provide solid protection for the phone inside, particularly when the phone is a large and easily dropped device like the Thunderbolt.
Fortunately, the Surface excels in this area. Although the plastic has a somewhat soft-touch feel, it is actually quite hard and thick. No scratch will have a chance of getting through the Surface unless you attack it with a butcher knife, and most drops will be readily absorbed as well.
Scratches caused by the case itself can be an issue with some products, but not the Surface. It includes a soft interior lining that protects your Thunderbolt from the case's hard plastic. The only potential protection issue is the force required to take the case apart, as was explained previously.
Should you buy the Seido Innocase II Surface for the HTC Thunderbolt?
That depends on what you want from your HTC Thunderbolt case. The Surface is not an attractive case and it is not the thinnest or lightest. For many consumers these are traits that matter, and the Surface's failures in this area will be serious marks against it. Buying this case will do nothing to make your Thunderbolt sexy, nor will it do anything to make the phone feel smaller in your pocket.
On the other hand, the Surface offers excellent protection - the best you'll find without resorting to large speciality cases that are impractical for use outside of specific high-risk situations. In addition to this, there are many beneficial ergonomic traits. The case feels great in the user's hand, doesn't easily slip, and provides a hard outer shell with a soft interior that will protect against all sorts of scratches and damage.
The price of the case is $16.39 on Amazon as of July 2011, down from a full MSRP of $29.95. The full price would certainly be a stretch, but at under $20 this case is a bargain. If you need a solid, functional case, the Surface will serve you well.