iSkin Fuze for iPhone 3G
Based upon the prior Fuze case for the original iPhone, iSkin's new Fuze for iPhone 3G ($45) is a two-piece case that combines several materials -- soft touch rubber-coated hard plastic, pure rubber, metallic-finished plastic, and clear hard plastic -- into a very substantially protective design. Literally everything on the iPhone 3G is covered except for the ringer switch, headphone port, speakers, microphone, and camera, with smart rubber button covers and an integrated clear screen protector built into the front and rear shells. Three colors are available, with the black, red, or silver front bezels spilling over onto the sides, but not the all-black back.
From a cosmetic standpoint, the new Fuze is an improvement on its predecessor; it’s obvious that iSkin has found ways to make its prior components all look better than they did in the prior generation. But those changes are basically skin deep, and saddled with other issues. Fuze’s screen protector initially appears to be a major improvement on the previous one, a piece of integrated plastic rather than film. Unfortunately, iSkin—intentionally, we were told—designed it with a glue to be user-removable from the rest of the shell. In two of our three shells, the protector started to separate from the rest of the shell rather than staying in place; it held firm on the third, and slightly decreased screen sensitivity. Though it mightn’t have looked as good, film would have produced better results. Other prior-generation features, including a part-time bottom port protector that flips open for docking or accessories, have been carried over intact.
As with iSkin’s Duo touch, Fuze has for whatever reason become $5 more expensive this generation without making any significant improvement in functionality, hitting a $45 asking price that is almost ridiculous by rubber and plastic case standards—those concerned about protecting their iPhones could almost afford to buy an iPod shuffle, instead. Had the new Fuze improved overall on its predecessor or preserved its pricing, it would have rated higher, but as-is, it’s too expensive and the screen protection issue was a show-stopper. Consider it only if you love the design, or iSkin changes the screen coverage.