1. The Review
Smartphones are getting thinner and sleeker. Some have rubberized surfaces, some have polished surfaces. No matter what the surface looks and feels like - a thinner phone is easier to drop and seems like it would be more likely to break. That means that protecting your investment is more important now than ever. Thankfully, there are some amazing cases out in the marketplace that not only protect your phone, but also wrap it in luxurious leathers.
One of these manufacturers is Piel Frama - a Spanish company whose cases have been reviewed quite favorably on this site before.
The BlackBerry Pearl is, arguably, one of the hottest phones on the market now and falls into the category of small, thin and somewhat fragile feeling. A case is a good idea, but it has to look good because the phone is so slick looking. How does Piel Frama's offering for the BlackBerry Pearl stand up to our rigorous testing?
Piel Frama made its first steps in manufacturing leather covers for mobile phones in 1984, but have been manufacturing leather goods since 1945. Nowadays, Piel Frama is seen as a very prestigious company by the entire PDAs and phones industries, offering the finest quality products that exist on the market.
All their products are hand-made, using a variety of elaborate processes. Each piece is under very strict quality control.
The different molds are made from hard cartons, which are then used to cut by hand the different parts for the PDA leather case. Once all the necessary pieces are ready, leather craftsmen assemble them like a jigsaw puzzle. Piel Frama uses a glue that is not harmful to the environment, while the thread used to sew the leather covers is made of 100 % polyester (much more durable than cotton). This thread is made by Gutermann, a leading textile company from Germany.
The type of leather used to make the PDA cases is cow hide. Top grade quality, this leather comes from Spain, giving Piel Frama the opportunity to select the best. The leather does not come from big cows, but rather from veal (these are young cows whose hide has not been damaged or scratched). Piel Frama's leathers is ECOLOGICAL because it is tanned and finished with natural products and biodegradable organic substances, which guarantee minimum impact on the environment.
The Piel Frama case for the BlackBerry Pearl is a traditional "Flip Over" design. When closed, the case covers the entirety of the Pearl and is secured with a snap at the bottom. When open, the user has access to all the important features of the Pearl.
The first thing you notice is the attention to detail and the "feel" and smell of the leather. This is a beautiful piece of work - the leather is soft to hold and very nice to look at. The stitching is impeccable and each cutout is perfect. There are cutouts on the side for the convenience keys, volume buttons, earphone jack and charging port, cutouts on the front for the speaker and LED, a cutout on the bottom for the microphone and on the back for the camera.
The front flap of the case seems to have some extra padding for security and there is a little slot where you could put some cash or notes. The back is a harder leather and attached is their patented belt clip which I have long felt is the least obtrusive and best designed in the industry.
As I said above, this is a beautiful piece of art. Stitching, cutouts, seams and craftsmanship in general are just beautiful. You can truly tell that this is a handcrafted case. There are many leathers to choose from - different styles and colors and I can only imagine that each will be just as beautifully crafted as the cow hide version I received.
The case is beautiful to look at, hold and use. The real issue here is that the Pearl is so nice to look at out of the case, I was reluctant to put it in the case. Thankfully, the case really doesn't add appreciative bulk to the Pearl. My only issue that for a Smartphone, I much prefer the "drop down" style of a case than a flip over one. A drop down case is easier to just open and talk on and it doesn't go over the camera when opened.
While I appreciated the cutouts for the camera, when the case is opened and flipped down, it covers the lens anyway. The other small issue is that the thin piece of leather which goes across the bottom of the screen can interfere with upwards movements on the trackball - not a big deal, but something to get used to.
That is my only complaint with this case - it is just beautiful. It protects the Pearl without adding too much bulk, it is very nice to hold and luxurious to look at. The belt clip allows easy attachment and removal from your belt. Piel Frama is truly one of the "elite" when it comes to fine leather cases and their prices are very reasonable, considering the quality of the product.
- Beautiful leather and craftsmanship
- impeccable attention to detail
- good protection
- Trackball is somewhat blocked at the top and the case when open blocks the camera lens
Piel Frama Fine leather cases for the BlackBerry Pearl sell for about US$65.00 and up, based on the conversion rates for the Euro.