Originality is generally a good thing when it comes to iPhone cases. Most companies stick to simple, symmetrical designs with basic shapes, resulting in a lot of products that look pretty similar to one another. At first, we weren’t sure what to think about Itskins’ Fusion Carbon Core for iPhone 5 ($26). Introduced at $32, the case combines rubber, plastic, and a sheet that the company claims to be real carbon fiber into a somewhat odd-looking, but not unattractive case. We approve of it for the most part, although certain elements do limit accessory access. The case comes packed with a sheet of screen film, a cloth, a squeegee, and a carrying case.
As with many cases we’ve seen, Fusion Carbon Core uses plastic for structure, then rubber for shock absorbency and flexibility. Rather than plastic covering the rubber though, the soft material is fully exposed along the left and right edges, pointing in from the front and back at natural-feeling angles. There’s colored plastic at the top and the bottom, interlocking with the rubber. Unfortunately, the corners extend past the edges of the case, meaning there’s a good chance Fusion Carbon Core won’t fit in many docking accessories. The single opening for the I/O on the bottom is also too narrow for some angled headphone connectors.
Sleep/Wake and volume button coverage is included, and executed properly. And on the back, underneath a thin sheet of laminate, is what the Itskins simply calls “carbon,” interrupted by a strangely shaped camera hole. It’s hard to believe that the premium carbon fiber material would go for such a low cost—usually it commands multiples of Fusion Carbon Core’s price—but the company has confirmed that it is. The price comes from Itskins’ desire to provide affordable access to premium cases.
It’s clear that Itskins has designers on hand who are willing to buck the common trends in the industry, with curves and an overall shape not quite like anything we’ve seen in the past, plus the use of expensive materials in an inexpensive case. The result is an eye-catching case that actually feels good, provides proper protection, and comes with extras for a lower-than-average price. The only real downside is accessory compatibility, a factor that’s becoming less of an issue as wireless accessories become more prevalent, but an issue nonetheless. Fusion Carbon Core is worthy of our strong general recommendation, and if you like carbon fiber, it’s a strong contender for your next case.
Company and Price
Model: Fusion Carbon Core
Compatible: iPhone 5