Review: iSkin Solo and Solo FX for iPhone 3G
Back in August, we reviewed a new semi-soft plastic case family from BTA Workshop/Jet Navy Collection called Illusion Cases, which we really liked due to their uniquely transparent and molded rear designs. However, we found some of these cases off-putting due to differences in the plastics they used; the Illusion Cases varied between gummy and smooth in texture. Now two better-known companies, iSkin and Marware, have released their own takes on the same general concept: iSkin's is called Solo ($30), and Marware's is called Flexi-Shell ($25). Editor's Note: In 2009, iSkin released a second version of Solo called Solo FX ($33), which differs from the original in offering a circular pattern in the back, and a mirror-finished screen protector. Photos of the new version are shown at the bottom of this review.
Solo and Flexi-Shell take nearly the same approach to iPhone 3G protection: both protect the device’s front with clear included film, then cover most of the sides, top, bottom, and back with a flexible plastic that holds its shape better than silicone and doesn’t feel as rubbery. Marware’s black and white versions are completely gloss-smooth, as are iSkin’s white and black cases, but its red and blue cases have ever so slight tack. None are as sticky as the better of the Illusion Cases, or even close to as bad as the worst of them in that regard.
Design-wise, Solo has only one thing—modest rear accent curves—separating it from the others, while Flexi-Shell has an utterly plain body save for its rear Marware logo. We think that Jet Navy’s diamond design is still the best of the bunch, as it makes the back of an iPhone 3G shine through like jewelry; the other two cases mostly obscure it.
Solo is the most protective of all of these cases. In addition to the screen protection, which iSkin includes and BTA Workshop doesn’t, it has the same top and side button covers found in the Illusion Cases, but absent from the Flexi-Shells. All three of the cases have headphone port holes that are too small (or, in Solo’s case, off-centered) for oversized plugs, but fine for Apple’s and similarly small alternatives; they also all work in Universal Docks and with most bottom-mounting accessories.
Unfortunately, all three of these options force you to compromise. iSkin’s Solo is the most expensive, but also the most protective. Marware’s has the best combination of pricing and feel, but the least to offer on looks. And Jet Navy’s version is the least protective, but the nicest looking of the bunch. Because of protection issues, we’d put Navy a small step below the others, which are both worthy of our B+ ratings, but all three of these products represent a very cool new category of iPhone cases. We’re looking forward to seeing the next generation of them become even better.
Editor’s Note: The six pictures above are of Solo FX, the second version of Solo, shown in its four standard colors. Each comes with the same silver mirrored screen protector.