Several years ago, silicone rubber iPod cases became so generic and commoditized that we all but stopped caring about them. But then something positive happened: the industry’s better case makers stepped up and started thinking more about how to improve the textures, protectiveness, and finish of their designs, compellingly distinguishing them from their poorly made throwaway competitors. Consequently, the iPhone and iPhone 3G have enjoyed a number of legitimately good and great new rubber case designs, four of which we’re looking at in separate reviews today. They vary in price from $20 to $40, and diverge widely in features and looks. This review focuses on iSkin’s Revo2 ($40).
There’s good news and bad news for fans of iSkin’s premium silicone rubber cases this year: after the release of the original Revo for iPhone in 2007, the Canadian company has made substantial improvements to a design that we felt was good but not great. But a few issues that dogged the prior Revo are still found in Revo2, leaving us anxious for a sequel to the company’s superior Fuze design.
The original Revo introduced a few novel ideas into the world of iPhone cases: it was the first to offer two different colors of rubber in a single case, the first to include two different types of screen protectors, and the only case we can recall with an integrated clear plastic cover for the iPhone’s camera. Revo2 is generally an advance. This time, it’s the first triple-tone rubber case we’ve seen, with a combination of a base color, a black front bezel, and clear rubber surrounding the ear speaker. There are fewer colors than in last year’s model—four versus six—but the color combinations are better here, and come in blue, red, clear, and black base versions.
Two semi-improvements are found in the case’s approach to protection. Carried over from the prior Revo is a hard plastic face protector that can be placed on the screen, behind the case, or in the original packaging if you don’t want to carry it around. We’re not big fans of this protector, as it’s unwieldy and adds little functionality beyond what you’d get from a good piece of clear film. To that end, iSkin also includes a film protector for the screen; last year, there was some wonky privacy film in the original package, which in addition to dimming the screen didn’t do a great job of enhancing privacy. Revo2 replaces it with a simpler piece of anti-glare film instead.
The other improvement of sorts is Revo2’s port coverage. Rather than packing in a separate Dock Connector port cover, iSkin now integrates it into the bottom of the case as a part-time flap. We didn’t have a problem flipping it open to use the iPhone 3G in Universal Dock accessories, and the similarly-covered headphone port also did just fine with the largest headphone plugs we have on hand. Complete coverage is provided for the volume, Sleep/Wake, and Home buttons; the ringer switch, speakers, microphone, and camera are all left fully exposed but a millimeter or more recessed. Only the camera takes a step back in this regard, which is unfortunate as the iPhone’s lens is easy to scuff to the point of diminishing your photography. But then, the face gets slightly better coverage thanks to the new clear rubber top coating over the proximity and ambient light sensors; thankfully, the rubber didn’t interfere significantly with the iPhone 3G’s ability to work as a phone in our testing.
Where the problem comes in with Revo2 is in the screen sensitivity. We found that using the included anti-glare film diminished the screen’s touch accuracy, and under certain conditions appeared to make parts of the screen unable to respond to our touches. Pulling the film off seemed to solve the problem. As with last year’s model, we’d gladly give up the hard plastic screen cover and the too-thick rectangle of film for a simple thin piece of full-face film. It would cut down the price and improve the case’s performance.
While Revo2 improves in some ways on its predecessor, it’s not entirely superior and has a few little issues—largely in screen protection—that make it less than an ideal silicone case, despite its attractive design. The steep $40 asking price is higher than that of any other rubber iPhone 3G case on the market, despite the fact that you don’t get items such as a belt clip or video viewing stand in this package. As such, you’ll really have to ask yourself whether it’s worth compromising on screen convenience for this case’s looks, or whether it’s smarter to hold off in favor of a competitor, or the impending iPhone 3G version of Fuze. We fall into the latter camp.
Company and Price
Company: iSkin, Inc.
Compatible: iPhone 3G