Many of the early cases we’ve seen for the iPhone 5c have been some variation on the basic rubber protector, usually clear. iSkin is among the companies getting in on that trend, with two different options. Exo ($30) is the more rugged of them, while Flex ($25) is more along the lines of what we’ve come to expect. Its otherwise plain design is offset by a variety of available patterns, including a black carbon fiber-looking finish. Both cases come with a microfiber cloth and pre-moistened cleaning swab.
Coming in “galaxy black” or “ice frost,” Exo is larger than many cases, but we wouldn’t go so far as to call it bulky. Instead of a single depth of rubber around the iPhone’s body, this one is molded with six raised columns running down the back, as well as enhanced bottom corners, offering extra shock absorption.
These elements not only make the case more protective, but give Exo a design that stands out.
We’ve come to expect a certain level of button and port protection from this kind of case. Exo’s Sleep/Wake and volume button coverage isn’t as great as we might hope, as it dampens the clicking sensation rather significantly, but not to the point where you can’t feel it at all. On the bottom, however, iSkin outdoes many competitors. A flip-open protector helps keep debris from getting into the Lightning port while it’s not in use, while the headphone port, mic, and speaker are left exposed. Seeing as it protected one of the ports, we’re somewhat surprised iSkin didn’t go for the other as well. One is better than none though, and leaving the headphone port exposed isn’t an unreasonable compromise; it’s used more often than the Lightning port.
Flex is a simpler case; it’s more of what we’re used to seeing. Available in clear, it can also be had in the above-mentioned black carbon fiber finish, a translucent carbon fiber, or clear with hearts. The Lightning port cover is missing, so instead there are just three holes along the bottom edge. As for the button coverage, it’s a mixed bag. The volume controls are better than on Exo, but the Sleep/Wake button is worse. In our testing, we weren’t able to actually feel when we were depressing it, although it did click down all the way. While this factor isn’t an absolute deal breaker, it is disappointing.
If we had to choose between one of these two options, Exo would be our pick.