First off I will post my first take on the AGE Phonster. A Ukrainian company that had Kickstarted this phone “wearable” and I actually loved it first sight. The AGE team had Kickstarted another accessory in the past so I had confidence in this one coming through. Like many projects, this had a small delay in shipping due to the holidays and the backers timely answering of the said surveys. But in any case, backers are still receiving theirs to date.
When I received my Phonster “One”, meaning only had the case for a phone. And in my case a Nexus 6. If you are aware, this is a huge phone, heck it’s given the codename “Shamu”. I am using a Ringke Slim case with a dbrand skin adorned on the back. And during the campaign, I indicated the measurements and the AGE team simply said to go with the XL case they offered and I agreed. When I received it on the last day of December 2015, I was giddy! I loved the idea of the Phonster, freeing up the pockets and not having to use my Seidio belt clip, which I have to say works; I have been using Seidio belt clips for years with different cases for at least 4 years.
The initial presentation was ok, the box said “Kickstarter” but not pouch or instructions were included. Just a AGE card slipped into the front pocket of the phone case. When I took it out, my initial thought was it was like suspenders. Which isn’t a bad thing, but curious on how it would look and feel in day to day usage.
I immediately took to the Phonster. The practical use of the Phonster was great. The adjustment buckles were real easy to adjust and the back bands that make the suspender part felt fine. But the only thing was the squeaking! That squeaking due to the new leather is so loud. But wearing it for about a week has lessened the squeak a bit. The pull tab is indeed a bit too short, but I can deal with that part. The leather in my case is nice. It’s real leather but real stiff like you know leather can be. The magnets alone are not strong enough to hold the phone in the case. Good thing the AGE team decided to add the latch. It has saved my phone many of times in my usage. What I have found is that the leather on the latch has started to scratch due to me using my fingernails to guide middle of the latch hook in where it needs to be to be secure and then lastly guide the magnet latch in place. On the site and the Kickstarter campaign states that you can put keys in this thing. Maybe one or two keys with no real keychain, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that in fear of the keys slipping out. I am not really sure how to store the keys. Maybe I’m missing the true way? Not sure on that one.
I have read comments stating that the stitching was off and things were off center. I personally don’t see it and if I cannot see it, I highly doubt someone else will notice it too. Is the leather stiff? I think so, but with additional wear, the leather will break down a little to conform to me. I only see that if I do use this and sweat, that the color will bleed. I will need to do further testing to see in the summer or Texas spring.
- Ordering: Right now the kickstarter backers are getting their rewards at this point and of course any orders on their website will be delayed until the backers get their rewards. But if the kickstarter shipment is not going to change (I was informed by the AGE team that it was), the shipping time from Ukraine to Texas was 10 business days. Much like any order from China would take. The tracking info provided only tracked up to leaving the Ukraine, to the US; one of the coasts for customs check and then finally sending it on its merry way. So based on the kickstarter order and ship, right now give it a 2 out of 5 stars.
- Packaging: 2 out of 5 stars. I personally don’t really care about packaging but 1st impressions are everything! There were no instructions and no data indicating to go online or youtube channel to show how to fit and resize to a personal preference.
- Materials: Leather, stretchy suspender materials, slider clasps, buttons, hooks and magnets...magnets being the weakest point of contention here. The leather is stiff, but I believe will work out in a few weeks time of wearing. 3 out of 5.stars. Heavy deduction due to the latch system and scratching the leather of the latch due to correctly latching the case to ensure the phone won’t accidentally fall out. You can swap out different sizes, put another case on the other side for a wallet or second phone or swap the side where you want the phone case to be. the default for me is the right side. That is where I normally put the phone on the right side of the body in my case. This may be different for you.
- Ease of use: 5 out of 5. Conforming the Phonster to the size that fits you is as easy as it gets. The slider buckle is so smooth to operate and is like second nature when adjusting it due to the different types of clothing you wear. It’s perfect and of course the straps do get twisted every now and then, but it’s easy enough to move the metal D rings so that the strap sits flush on your body.
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. I absolutely love it. It is pretty comfortable to wear and you somewhat forget that you are wearing it, like suspenders on a suit. I love the color of the brown leather that I picked and works with most of my wardrobe. Because the phonster appears to be hand made, the look and the feel look like it. It has a nice rough look to it that blends well with a button down shirt which I wear almost everyday for work. Even with the squeaking leather.
Do I recommend this? Yes! I love it to death and will be with me with years to come. I love it so much that I decided to go for the gusto and placed an order for the large case, wallet and sport strap as well. So time will definitely tell if sweat and odors and color bleeding do indeed happen with this leather. Where? At age.com/ua
The LD West Original Holster
Soon after I started wearing the AGE Phonster from Kickstarter, I read comments from another backer that they were looking for product reviews of the Phonster and while nothing came up for the Phonster, another product did. This is the LD West Holster from a company in Canada. Initial looks comparing the two, I said the case in the back part leaves your device exposed a bit and that may lead to breakage. And the quality of the materials in comparison the the Phonster looked different and based on the images and reviews I have seen online and youtube vids from various bloggers, I said that the Phonster overall looked like a better product based on personal usage. I researched LD West a bit more, and ended up talking with LD West customer service and had a conversation about measurements that I was trying to figure out to see if my Nexus 6 would fit with the Ringke Slim case installed. Eventually I gave my measurements to the LD rep because the chart they have for reference to determine the size needed only listed the phone types and not measurements. And based on the measurements, LD West concluded that my Nexus 6 with the provided measurements would indeed fit their current large case. LD West will release an extra large size (again no idea on dimensions) mid 2016. And based on the conversation with the rep, I was given a link to their brown version which was on sale. It was a deal that I could not refuse. The LD West Holster comprises of the large phone case and a wallet with its own case (medium?). This is a standard set you get with whichever color variant you choose. Also splurged 5 dollars to express ship the order. I placed my order on Monday afternoon.
Within the next day, I got a shipment notification that a label was created from DHL. Then later on at the end of the day, DHL tracking said that the package is to be delivered the very next day. Ok shipping was all together 25usd. So ok, that worked out and I didn’t mind spending the shipping cash because of the deal I got on it. And lo and behold, the package was waiting for me the very next business day when I went home for lunch. A welcomed surprise! I had my beloved Phonster on was ready to compare it, even though it’s not apples to apples. I mean the largest case LD West has at this point is the large and I have an XL phonster case. And I have a wallet and case along with a large case for the LD West side of things. Like I stated earlier, I have the Phonster order in and will not ship until after 1/18/16 due to them working hard to get all the backers rewards out before the pre-orders are filled on the site. Transit time expected if they are still using the same courier for shipping out of the Ukraine, about 12-15 business days from the 18th of January.
Upon carefully opening the DHL packaging, the LD West logo on the black box that I have seen numerous times on youtube have adorned my garage on a bright afternoon. And I have to say the presentation looks awesome. Much like the presentation of a nice belt in a box. Upon opening the box, I was greeted with a note to look at the install videos before detaching. Under it was a small drawstring back with the LD West logo and inside was the goodies. The materials used is listed as vegan leather, meaning imitation leather. That doesn’t mean that they skimped on quality, what it means that for their research, they opted to use the vegan leather because in their tests, real leather colors will bleed in hot weather and retain odors. I have yet to see this happen on the Phonster, but hey, I put it out there.
Upon unwrapping the back strap, I inspected the button snaps and adjustment buckles. The back strap looks cushioned and there are no D rings attached to it. It seems to be stitched into the back plate with some padding. With this type of set up, no squeaks! And to compare as close to apples to apples with the Phonster, I opted to remove the wallet side which is the left side and kept the phone case on the right side. But before putting it on, I had to try the large case to see if my massive Nexus 6 with RIngke slim case would fit. And found that it did! Yes, the phone does stick out of the top where the clasp is but the clasp folds over the phone without issue to secure the case inside. And also the back part is exposed as well. But the case has the back opening face up. I think to push it out from the other side in case your phone is shoved in real good, which you have to be really, really careful not to accidentally push your phone out too fast where you pop it out of the case and falls to the floor. But in my case, the phone fit in perfectly and has a bit of space for a somewhat thicker case. I have a Spigen surface case and will test out to see if that case fits in there or not. I have tried the Spigen Ultra hybrid case and that fits in and closes the magnetic clasp without issue as well. So I am happy with the correct info supplied by LD West so far!
I then sized it a bit and put it on like a t-shirt, just like how I put on the Phonester. Tried the dual set up, which feels quite comfy and then took it off and snapped the two snaps together and that worked out perfect. I then needed to tighten the left side, where I took the wallet and case off to accommodate the lack of case and attempted to do so. And unlike the smooth Phonster slider buckle, the LD West Holster has a clasp mechanism. And I have to say is a bit of pain. Especially if you have it on. And numerous times, I had to go and take the LD West holster off to resize and test repeatedly, where in the Phonster, I did not unless I was adjusting the back straps. But once I got it to the size that was good for me, it fit like a glove. And after wearing it for a day, so far, I have to say because of the cushioned back plate of the LD West holster, it felt a lot more comfortable and natural. And no squeaking!
I was initially hesitant in ordering because of their really aggressive no return policy. I mean if I provided the measurements and turned out that the phone did not fit, then I was out my cost. That is a real let down and risk to take on an accessory that cost close to a 120 USD.
- Ordering: I was speaking to a rep via email thoughout the ordering process so it was easy to see what the deal was the rep was speaking about. I had questions about shipping and if a signature was needed for the package and was told that it is up to the driver to leave it if they decide to. So it’s out of their hands. 5 out of 5 stars with helpfulness even before the sale.
- Packaging:This is where first impressions are important to most people, especially if giving this as a gift. LD West has it pretty much in the bag. The box and small drawstring bag exudes quality and you can tell you spent money on it due to the packaging. 5 out of 5 stars there.
- Materials: NOT Leather. It’s Vegan Leather. AKA not real leather. LD West decided this route because of the risk of the leather bleeding the colors in hot humid areas and also vegan leather is said not to retain odors. However saying this, the quality of the vegan leather is still great. The wallet and case is gravy and is really a nice addition. I just have too much cards in my wallet to replace my current one. The magnets that hold the clasp and phone in are strong. I tested this with my phone and indeed does not come out on some rigorous shaking. In using the Phonster with only the magnets and not latching it, the phone easily slips out the case and the Phonster’s strap does nothing to keep it housed safely if one was bending over to pick something up. So for this I give LD West 4 out of 5 stars. Not 5 out of 5 because I have a soft spot for actual leather.
- Ease of use: The magnets are awesome, the adjustable clasps are not. I always have issues adjusting on the fly, where the Phonster is a simple breeze to adjust with their buckles. It may be me, in adjusting in how to actually do it properly, but there shouldn’t be a learning curve to resize in my opinion. The stretchy straps twist as well, so it’s on par with everything, 3 out of 5 stars.
Overall I give it 4 out of 5 stars as well. With the clasps giving me a hard time and the vegan leather compared to real leather it’s really a toss up between the two. They each have pros and cons and both are different enough to use. I am ok with having two sets to change it up. And also wearing the LD west, I have to reiterate was real comfortable to wear. Not sure if it was because of the back plate being stiched with no real metal hardware may be the reason, but I don’t really know. I do know that the LD West holster does not squeak! Using it has been good as well. It doesn’t have the total coverage of the Phonster but it is a bit more comfortable to wear.
Would I recommend this? Yes! Which would I recommend, the AGE Phonster or LD West? Hard to say. The stitching and leather of the Phonster looks and feels great and has a custom look to it. Almost to the extent of stem punkish, where the LD West holster feels like something a person on a motorbike would wear. Pricewise the AGE Phonster Full, which consists of the wallet and two cases along with the sport strap is $150 usd before shipping. Where the LD West set comes with a wallet and case standard, but no sport strap, they don’t use one comes in starting at $119, depending on the color.
If you want something NOW, I would recommend the LD West holster and suggest open a line of communication of what you want and size of your device prior to ordering due to their return policy, which is they have none. LD West ships from Canada and maybe due to that I got my item in a business day. Pretty quick turn around there. Where to get one? LDWest.com
I will need to test both further, especially when my other components come in from AGE. Then I can compare more so with the wallets. I hope you enjoyed my comparisons and please let me know if you have questions! Thanks for reading!
Here's the link to the album, which I add pics here and there....
Below are some sample pics of my cases.