Review: Speck PixelSkin for iPhone 3G
Officially less than a week old, Apple's iPhone 3G already has its first collection of protective cases, designed to shield the device against scratch and scuff damage, as well as fingerprints and smudges. Today, we're doing brief reviews of the first dozen iPhone 3G cases, some of which are modestly redesigned versions of original iPhone designs, and others completely new to this device. This review covers Speck Products' PixelSkin for iPhone 3G ($25).
Though it wasn’t the perfect case, we will confess to having a thing for the original ArmorSkin design—a rubber case with a unique square block texture that wrapped around the top, sides, and back. This year, ArmorSkin has been renamed to PixelSkin, dropped $5 in price, offered in more colors, and stripped of two pack-ins. The resulting product isn’t quite up to last year’s version in our view, but it’s still a highly unique and fun case.
Last year’s ArmorSkin and this year’s PixelSkin provide exactly the same coverage for an iPhone’s top, sides, back, and bottom, with headphone port, ringer switch, camera and bottom holes, plus push-through button covers for the Sleep/Wake, Home, and volume buttons. While all of this is generally very positive, the PixelSkin headphone port’s size hasn’t been expanded to provide compatibility with non-Apple headphone plugs—you’ll need to either really squeeze your favorite plug or slice the case—and the front of the case is a little different, too.
Speck has removed some of the rubber on the case’s face around the ear speaker, and doesn’t offer any form of film or other screen protection. It has also dropped a belt clip holster that was previously included in ArmorSkin, so the case no longer mounts on a belt or props up for widescreen video viewing. On a more positive note, the case’s bottom is open in a way that offers complete accessory compatibility, including problem-free docking with Apple-standard Universal Docks.
The only major benefit of PixelSkin over ArmorSkin is the expanded array of color options. Seven colors, including black, green, pink, purple, white, blue and yellow, are now available, up from black or milky white in the original iPhone version. All of the case colors except for black are bright and eye-catching, and use the same grid-styled texture as ArmorSkin, which we really continue to like on both grippiness and looks. Though we appreciate all of these color options, we wouldn’t have minded some muted variants as well, and continue to wish that there was a completely clear version—our favorite ArmorSkin color for iPod nano and iPod classic, which unfortunately only made it to the iPhone in a milky variant.
Overall, PixelSkin is a nice case that stands out a lot more on looks and texture than on protection or frills. We consider it worthy of our general recommendation; additional protection and headphone port compatibility would have elevated it higher in our ratings for the price.