While skin cases are the more economical, basic means to protect your phone, the metal case may be the sturdiest means. Monaco manufactures a clam-shell, aluminum case that comes in silver or black - the Monaco Aluminum Hard Case for BlackJack II ($24.95). The case comes with a removable lug that can be screwed into the back and used with a belt swivel-clip. If you prefer pocket carry, the lug is removed to provide a smooth backing to the case.
The case covers the back, sides, top and bottom of the phone. A clear plastic window protects the screen but the keyboard is exposed. The case has cutouts for the camera, earpiece and microphone. The sides are exposed to allow access to the charging port and memory card slot. The interior of the case is padded to minimize the case from scratching the phone.
Installation is simple. You open the case and slide the phone into the case. The sides of the case slightly overlap the edges of the phone, creating rails that hold the phone securely in place. The padding may wear in a bit to loosen the case’s grip but the initial fit was tight; almost too tight. I was a little concerned at the stress these rails put on the phones casing.
The case does protect the phone really well by providing an armored shell. The cost of this protection is increased bulk and weight to the phone. This may not be as noticeable with larger phones but it was very noticeable with the Samsung BlackJack II.
Using the phone in the case was not a problem. I could hear callers and they could hear me without any problems. The screen brilliance was hindered a little with the plastic window but manageable.
I used the case with and without the swivel-clip. In the pocket, the Monaco reminded me of the size of older PDA’s from HP or Palm. It carried better in a jacket pocket than it did in a shirt pocket.
On the clip, it didn’t ride close to the hip and felt cumbersome. The case rides face out on the belt which negates any protection due to the exposed keyboard. While the exposed keyboard is the cases weakest point, to keep the case functional, it has to be exposed.
I would have rather seen this case use a slider clip, where the case slid into a belt carrier facing inward. This way the full metal backing would be exposed instead of the screen or keyboard.
I struggled to find a reason to like this case. For me, it adds too much bulk to the slim, lightweight Samsung BlackJack II. It was uncomfortable to wear on the belt and noticeably heavier in the pocket.
While the case didn’t meet my needs, I can see situations where I wouldn’t hesitate to use it. This case is a good way to protect your phone if you carry it loosely in a backpack, purse or briefcase. The case is sturdy enough to protect your phone from being bounced around with other items.
If you are traveling and need to carry your phone in a piece of carry-on luggage, the case is strong enough to protect the phone when the carry-on piece is crammed into the overhead storage compartment. At times I stow my phone away in my camera bag and I could see using the Monaco case to help protect the phone in this situation.
So while I wouldn’t consider the Monaco Aluminum Hard Case for BlackJack II ($24.95) for everyday use, I would consider it a “special needs” case when you need more protection than a leather case or rubber skin can offer.