Shopping for a case for my iPhone 3g has been a nightmare. I really enjoyed my case for my previous gen iPhone, the Inno case by Seidio. That case had everything I wanted. It was a hard sided case with a grippy texture to it so that the phone didn’t slip out of my hands. It was felt lined on the inside, so it didn’t chew up my phone and it fit around the bezel of the phone so that it could be used without peeling up a screen protector.
I know that’s a tall order for a case, but Seidio performed the job beautifully and then they brought out the Inno II for the iPhone 3g, which I honestly don’t like as much. There’s a hole in the back of the case to expose the apple on the back of the phone, which to me just screams dust and scratch magnet, and then there’s the fact that they’ve introduced new colors and I’m not really a fan of any of them. It’s just not as nice a case from my perspective on things. So here I am, shopping for something that I like as much as the Inno and so far, I’ve been disappointed.
But I think I’ve found something that may have changed my mind, just a little bit.
I ordered the Smartphone Experts HD Skin Case. I’ve purchased through them before, and the shopping experience has not changed. I was pleased with their shipping and the case came well packed. The images on the store didn’t make it completely clear what the case was made out of, but I suspected some sort of PVC or vinyl and I was right, this thing is vinyl. I haven’t actually seen a lot of cases made out of vinyl, but I was willing to give it a shot at the 20$ price tag on the store. Most iPhone 3g cases start at 30$ and work their way up, so I wasn’t expecting much from this case, but so far I’m not entirely disappointed.
Let’s start with the basics.
This is a skin case. It’s designed to be form fitting to the phone. These cases are usually made out of silicon or some other rubber like material that gets stuck on its way into your pocket. They should be snug, without being so tight that they are difficult to remove. The HD Skin case fits the iPhone 3g really well.
The only complaint that I’ve found about fit has to do with the bottom of the case beneath the home button. There is a small strip of vinyl there to cover the corners on the phone, but leave the home button exposed while still leaving the iPhone jack accessible. The vinyl here doesn’t fit quite as tightly as it does elsewhere and you can feel it moving when you hold the phone up to talk. Otherwise, it doesn’t give you any serious problems and the fit is good. I’ve used the case for a week and I’m not noticing any rubbing or damage to the phone itself as a result of a poor fit.
The vinyl on this case is thicker on the body of the phone than around the bezel, so the phone remains flat across the front with only a very slight edge that adds little bulk, but the vinyl gets thicker as the case moves away from the screen. Toward the back, it appears to add about an eighth of an inch of bulk, but it’s not really that noticeable when you hold it in your hand and I think that there are advantages to having the vinyl be thicker in these locations. I accidentally dropped my phone on a hardwood floor while it was inside this case and the phone bounced and landed on its back. There was absolutely no damage to the phone, though there were some surface scuffs on the case, but these rubbed away with the tip of my finger.
Appearance wise, this case is pretty slick. The color changes based on the direction you look at the case from. I ordered blue, but in some circumstances it looks purple. There are a variety of colors to choose from, including a smoke gray that I think would be appropriate for professional users so the range of colors is pretty nice. The back of the case is textured on the inside to give it a jewel cut appearance. I’ve received a lot of compliments on this from the ladies that I’ve shown the case to and the guys as well so it’s not something that makes it look too girly and it appeals to both genders. It also has a window to leave the Apple logo on the back of the 3g visible and yet it’s still covered so it remains protected from dust and scratches. It gives the case a unique look that is different from most readily available cases that you’ll find on store shelves. It also looks like a hard case, while having the ability to absorb shocks a bit better than most polycarbonate cases I have used, which makes the vinyl a neat choice, but best of all, it fixes the one thing that I’ve never been thrilled about with the iPhone.
iPhone does not come with a spot to hang stuff off of it. As a gadget loving girl, I find this to be a travesty and have threatened to drill holes in polycarbonate cases just so I could have my phone bling back. It was hard to get a good shot of it, but in the photo here you can see that there are two tiny holes in the case. They are located on the left side, near the bottom of the device. They are also reinforced with an extra thick portion of vinyl, and for those who always wished they could hang their iPhone off a lanyard, it comes with one in the box.
In terms of functionality, the entire front of the phone is exposed, leaving easy access to the touch screen and home button. There is a hole cut out on the side of the phone for the vibrate switch, but the vinyl here is thick and it’s really hard to flip the switch because the vinyl comes up over the side of the button. I found that I had to dig into the case with my fingernail in order to be able to flip the switch on and off. I think it would have been a bit smarter to make the vinyl in this location a bit thinner, as they did with the screen portion of the case, or at least bevel it somewhat so that the vibrate switch is easier to get to.
The volume buttons are protected underneath the vinyl case as is the top button. There is a hole at the top of the case for the headphone jack, but again, the vinyl is thick here. The buttons that are covered by the case are hard to depress, it takes some serious effort to lock and unlock the phone, as well as turn the volume up and down. Also, with the depth of the vinyl around the headphone jack, you have to go back to 1st gen iPhone living by using adapters or headphones that are designed to work specifically with iPhone because low profile elbow style headphone jacks can’t be used with iPhone with this case on it.
All in all, this case is a decent compromise for those who are looking for a case that leaves the front of the phone exposed, is moderately durable and affords the iPhone more impact protection than a similarly designed polycarbonate case might. However, those who are looking for the holy grail of iPhone cases that will do these things without hindering any of the functionality of their iPhone should keep looking and if you find that case, drop me a line.