To put it mildly, silicone rubber iPhone cases tend to be very similar from company to company, and that trend has only accelerated with the iPhone 3G: everyone has embraced the general idea of covering most of the device’s back and sides with rubber, then leaving the screen open to be protected by film. As a result, the only differences between rubber cases are three in number: the amount of rubber used to cover the iPhone 3G, the way the rubber has been molded, and the price at which the finished product is sold.
Today, we’re looking at five rubber cases from four different companies. Gecko Gear’s iPhone Glove, Incipio’s dermaSHOT for iPhone 3G, JAVOedge’s Indented JAVOSkin, and iFrogz’ Treadz Case for iPhone 3G ($15) are all basic rubber cases that fit the above description, while Incipio’s more deluxe Silicrylic adds a hard rear frame to the rubber skin for decorative and shock-absorbant purposes.
As with earlier versions of the Treadz case, this one is made from black rubber and designed to look like the bottom of a car tire, complete with significant rear traction grooves and small, similar markings on the front. iFrogz has cut plain, large holes in the case’s top, bottom, front and left side, exposing virtually all of these iPhone 3G surfaces, but compensates by including a clear film screen protector that covers virtually all of the device’s face. While the Home button is left exposed, it’s several millimeters beneath a thick layer of surrounding rubber; the same thickness protects most of the other somewhat overly exposed parts, as well.
The two biggest advantages Treadz has over other silicone rubber competitors are design and pricing. Unlike the almost-generic Incipio and JAVOedge designs, iFrogz is in the game to win with a $15 asking price—$5 less than competitors, despite the fact that Treadz offers at least comparable and in some cases superior protection.
While the tire-styled design is love it or hate it from the get-go, and the grooves tend to pick up more than their fair share of dust, there’s no doubt that more thought and detail work has gone into Treadz’ appearance than most $15 cases out there. Its only issue visually is a little bulge around the edges of the iPhone 3G screen.
One flip side to the low price is the case’s lack of frills. Unlike the more expensive dermaSHOT, you won’t find a video stand or a cleaning cloth packed in; you also won’t see the more aggressive protection or distinctive styling of a premium-priced case such as iSkin’s Revo2. But that’s to be expected at this price level; iFrogz actually does better for the dollar here than most of the companies that are charging more.
While we wouldn’t put Treadz on our high recommendation pedestal thanks to small omissions in protection and fit, the $15 price tag is unquestionably appealing.