I've tested a lot of iPhone cases -- I lost count after around a dozen -- in the past year. Some I've liked, some I've hated, and some I neither liked nor hated. I used the ones I liked best -- such as the iFrogz Luxe and RadTech ARC -- for weeks on end. I used others for just a day or two before finding some fatal flaw that made them unacceptable for me. But I digress...
I've been using the three variations of iSkin solo cases -- the solo, solo FX, and solo FX SE -- exclusively for nearly two months and like them so much I don't want to even try other cases. That's got to tell you something.
The iSkin solo (left), solo FX (middle), and solo FX SE (right).
All three models share many features. For example, all three are made out of some kind of cool flexible vinyl-like material that makes them easy to put on and remove. All three are slim enough that they work in most docks, but also thick enough to offer better protection than many thin-shell cases. All three cover the volume control and power button while leaving the docking port, headphone jack, and camera uncovered, which, in my opinion, strikes a nice balance between protection and usability. All three include optional film screen protectors. And all three have a nice "hand feel" that makes it less likely your iPhone will slip out of your hand as well as giving it a bit of "grip" when you set it down. So they don't slide around as much as a naked iPhone when placed on a flat or inclined surface.
Those are the similarities; here are the (minor) differences:
The iSkin solo (shown above) sells for $29.99. It has a glossy finish, comes in the four colors shown -- Puma (opaque black), Baron (translucent red), NightCrawler (translucent blue) and Angel (opaque white) -- and includes a clear film screen protector.
The iSkin solo FX (shown above) sells for $32.99.It also has a glossy finish but with the addition of a "designer pattern," comes in the five colors shown -- Breeze (translucent blue), Lush (translucent green), Passion (translucent red), Sunset (translucent orange) and Vive (translucent purple -- and includes a mirror film screen protector.
The iSkin solo FX SE (shown above) sells for $34.99. It has a matte finish with an "elegant textured feel," comes in the three colors shown -- Onyx (translucent black), Cosmo (translucent pink) and Ice (clear frosted) -- and includes both clear and mirror film screen protectors. Another notable feature of the FX SE model is that it's the only one made with Microban, an antimicrobial that helps inhibit the growth of stain and odor causing bacteria on the case.
I've tried all three and I prefer the solo FX SE and not just because it has Microban, mind you.Frankly, I have no idea if or how well Microban works so I wouldn't base my decision solely on its inclusion. The reason I prefer the solo FX SE is that I really like the way the matte finish feels and the way the translucency allows me to enjoy the beauty of my iPhone right through the case while knowing it's well protected.
I think the thing I like best about all three models is that after a couple of months they show virtually no wear and tear -- no scuffs, scratches, or discoloration. I can't say that about most of the cases I've tested. I also like the material used -- it's flexible and feels great in my hand or pocket. Finally, while the case is a little thicker than most hard shell cases, it's not so thick that it inhibits using my iPhone with most of my accessories (speakers, chargers, MobiValet, MovieWedge, etc.).
The only thing I might complain about is that I occasionally have difficulty flicking the Ring/Silent switch due to the combination of my short fingernails and fat fingers. That said, most of the time I don't have a problem using a thumb or finger nail to operate the switch.
The Bottom Line
The iSkin solo cases aren't the cheapest ones around but you get what you pay for. These cases look great, aren't easily damaged, protect your iPhone at least as well as other cases (and probably better), and they feel great in your hand. You can't ask for much more than that in your iPhone case, can you?
Wait! There is One More Thing…
When the nice folks at iSkin heard I was planning a review, they offered to provide us with ten solo FX SE cases to give away to our readers. I assure you they had no idea what my review might say nor was my opinion influenced one bit by their generosity (though I do think it's cool that they're willing to donate some cases for us to give away to readers).
And so, gentle reader, if you want to win one of the ten cases, here's what to do:
Send me an email of 100 words or less and convince me you should be one of the ten lucky winners. The authors of the ten essays I consider "the best" will receive an iSkin solo FX SE case in their choice of color.
Here are the official rules:
- I will be the sole judge of which ten essays are the "best."
- Entries should be sent to: [email protected]
- The decisions of the judge are final.
- One entry per person.
- No whining.
- No bribes will be accepted so don't bother trying -- I can't be bought.
- The deadline for entries is noon Wednesday January 13, which is exactly one week from today.
- Creativity counts so try to be creative or at least clever.
- Humor counts, so if you can't be creative or clever, at least try to make me laugh.
- Be sure to include your snail mail address so we can send you your case if you win.
- Be sure to include your choice of case color -- Onyx (translucent black), Cosmo (translucent pink) or Ice (clear frosted) -- in case you win.
- Winners will be notified by email and their names will be posted in the comments for this review within 5 days of the deadline.
So? What are you waiting for? You can't win if you don't play!