Review: iSkin Solo FX for iPad mini
iSkin's Solo line stretches back years, so it's not surprising to see it come to the iPad mini in the form of Solo FX ($40). Like the cases before it, this one is a rubbery playthrough-style option. It's designed to be used by itself, and not with a Smart Cover, unlike the larger Solo Smart. iSkin does include protection for the front though, in the form of its ProTouch Titan High-Impact Screen Film, which the company claims can withstand even a blow from a hammer.
The basic shape of the case is pretty much the same as any other playthrough case, but iSkin put some of its own tweaks on it. To start, a patterned print on the outside of the case adds a subtle visual element, as well as a little bit of grip. The same goes for the raised waves coming up about five inches from the bottom on either side. Blue, black, purple, pink, and red versions are available, each of which is translucent.
As a case of this style should, Solo FX includes full volume and Sleep/Wake button protection, without reducing the tactility. It leaves the headphone port, microphone, iSight camera, side switch, and speakers fully exposed, but includes an attached, flip-open protector for the Lightning port. You can push it into place and it’ll hold until you lift it away for charging. The lip around the screen isn’t overly large, but does add a level of protection.
That lip is augmented by the included Titan film. A little bit thicker than the average screen film, iSkin says “its advanced, multi-layered composition strengthen the iPad’s LCD screen which helps to resist impact.” At the top is a single hole for the FaceTime camera, but at the bottom the company went with a scoop to expose the Home button. It’s perfectly clear, but you will have to wipe away fingerprint smudges from time to time. On its website and in person at the 2013 CES, iSkin illustrates the strength of the film by installing it on an iPhone and hitting it with a hammer. While we didn’t replicate these tests, the inclusion of screen film is usually a good thing, and in this case it may offer even more protection than most.
We’ve seen really good rubber playthrough cases for the iPad mini for half the price of Solo FX, but none has included screen film or Lightning port protection, nor have they had the same degree of style. This one looks quite nice, and fits just as well as can be expected. For those concerned about a high level of protection for their displays, the Titan film will be an appreciated bonus; iSkin told us it has a $25 retail value. As such, it earns our flat B rating. Especially if the film is important to you, it’s a good option; you’re paying more, but getting more.