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Back of the Transform Shell case
Side and corner view of the Transform Shell case
The BlackBerry Z10 launces today in the US and as you go to pick one up, you may want to try out some accessories. I have been testing the BlackBerry Flip Shell, Transform Shell, Mini Stereo Speaker, and Battery Charger Bundle.
Z10 Flip Shell
I ordered a red Z10 Flip Shell from CrackBerry.com as soon as I picked up the Z10 at the launch event. It hasn't shipped yet and after using one for a couple weeks I don't think it is the case for my needs.
The Flip Shell case has a hard plastic shell that covers the back and sides of the Z10, with openings for the camera, power button, volume buttons, microUSB port, HDMI port, and charging port on the bottom.
The flip cover part passes through a slot in the back hard shell and then wraps around to cover the front display of the Z10. The top part that flips looks very similar to an iPad cover, with a couple sections that make folding easier.
You fold back the front cover and it sets up into two landscape viewing positions. I understand that this case works with the upcoming Z10 dock as well, but I have not tested that out yet.
The Flip Shell is a very well-made case, but I am not sure I like having to flip the cover around to the back for calls and such. The next case I checked out is the one I really like, and I hope to change my order to the next cae instead. It is available in white, black, and red for $34.99.
Transform Hard Shell
I thought the Transform Hard Shell case was simply a hard shell like I have seen on other devices, but it is much better than that and is now my preferred case.
The Transform Hard Shell is a very simple case, just one piece that is hard plastic on the outside with a soft silicone layer on the inside. There are two slits down the middle of the silicone and if you look on the back you will see the hard shell is two distinct pieces held together in the middle by the silicone inner lining.
The split back is designed so that you can take one side off of your Z10 and bend it back to prop up the Z10 to view media. I am a big fan of kickstands on phones, but very few have these today, so I look for cases that prop up my phones in the same manner.
The case is held in place at the four corners where the hard plastic comes up to cover the sides. Silicone inside protects the phone and helps hold it in place. I have not had an issue at all with the case not holding my Z10 in place.
The Transform Hard Shell is my preferred Z10 case so far. It is simple, provides a kickstand experience, protects the back and corners, and barely adds anything to the size of the Z10. It is available in black, red, and white for $34.99.
Z10 Battery Charger Bundle
One of the nice things about the Z10 for the traveler is the removable battery. Some people won't buy a phone without one so the Z10 is a good option to consider. I usually buy extra batteries when I have a device that supports it, but only need them when I am out in the field.
The problem with having an extra battery is remembering to swap it out every once in a while so you can charge it up. The Z10 Battery Charger Bundle solves that problem and also helps you out in another way: The package comes with a battery charger and an extra Z10 LS1 battery. Unfortunately, the eval unit sent for me to check out didn't come with a battery, so I had to use the one inside to test out the charger. I ordered one of these from CrackBerry.com too, but it is a hot item and regularly out of stock.
The charger has the BlackBerry logo embedded on the back and feels like a rather elegant accessory. A small plastic door opens up to reveal the battery slot. You simply slide the battery inside, making sure to match the "+" and "-" signs on the battery with those printed on the charger. Close the door and then plug in the microUSB cable to charge up the battery.
There is a small button just above the microUSB port on the top of the charger. When you press the button, you will see a very small indicator light (shown in this gallery) that glows green (100%), yellow (25-75%), or red (<25%).
A very cool reason to have this accessory is that it also serves as a portable battery pack for the Z10, other accessories (like the Mini Stereo Speaker), or other devices that use microUSB to charge. Along the one side there is a hidden cable that you flip out to charge devices. It's great to have this cable built in since most portable battery packs require you to carry a cable separately. The cable is just about two inches long, so the charger will be next to your device.
The Z10 battery charger bundle is available for $49.99, and when you consider its functionality and the fact that it includes an extra LS1 battery that costs $34.99 by itself, this is both a great deal and the accessory to have.
BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker
The BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker is available for $99.99 and is one of the smallest portable Bluetooth speakers I have ever tested. It is designed to easily clip onto your bag's shoulder strap and includes speakerphone functionality.
BlackBerry makes solid accessories and this one continues that trend. The speakers are under a hard plastic shell in an elongated horseshoe form factor where the speaker unit serves as a clip with no external pieces needed. There is a warning not to pry the opening apart more than 5 mm. I was able to slide it on my shoulder strap easily and it seems to be held in place securely.
On the right side you will find the power switch that also serves as the indicator light for the charging status. There is a mic opening on this side as well.
The left side is reserved for the microUSB port and 3.5mm headset jack. I understand that the headset jack is provided so you can play audio files on your BlackBerry through your stereo system or headset, but I don't see why you wouldn't just go directly from your BlackBerry without having the Bluetooth speaker in the middle.
On the bottom, where the clip opens up, you will find three buttons for volume down/previous, play/pause/call, and volume up/next. It took a bit of learning to remember which one was volume up and which was volume down since they sit side-by-side.
You press and hold the volume buttons to advance songs. The play/pause button is used for pairing mode as well.
The play/pause button is also used for call management to assist in making calls, ending calls, answering calls, toggle mute, redial, and more.
The speaker sounds good and though it can't compete with the larger Bluetooth speakers, it is designed to be a much more portable solution and it fits that role well.