Appletell review – iPhone 3G case round-up

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iPhone 3G casesThere’s a theory in the scientific community that if the world is ever wiped out by nuclear holocaust, the cockroaches alone will survive to repopulate the planet. I’m all for this, because a planet of walking, sentient cockroaches sounds crazy cool, and because if humans ever do destroy our ability to survive, then the cockroaches deserve their chance in the driver’s seat.

What the scientists are missing, though, is that there’s another creature with an even stronger ability to adapt and survive. Change its habitat, change its food supply, smash it with a hammer…doesn’t matter. It’ll survive. It’ll continue to grow and populate, and it’ll always do its best to match your purse. I’m talking, of course, about the iPhone case. Here are some for the new iPhone 3G. No need to be creeped out by them, but best to keep a can of Raid handy.


Speck PixelSkinActually, you may need to be creeped out by the Speck PixelSkin ($24.95). My wife was, anyway. When I showed her the case, her immediate response was, “That’s so ugly. Why would anyone want it?” The correct answer to this is anyone who’s more interested in protection than aesthetics. The PixelSkin is made of thick silicone with a grid pattern carved into the back and sites. This provides a comfortable grip and offers solid protection, and it may actually look clunkier than it is. The fit is nice, and it doesn’t make your iPhone feel as large as you think it might.

The camera, headphone jack, dock area and silencer are all open, while the home button, volume controls and on/off switch are covered with a membrane thinner than the rest of the case. You can press them through the case with only a bit more effort than if there was no covering at all, so that’s not a problem. However, there’s no screen protector, and no method of attaching it to your person (belt clip, lanyard, etc.)

If you can get around the design, there are numerous colors from which to choose: licorice black, spearmint green, sherbet pink, huckleberry purple, marshmallow white, corncob yellow, blueberry blue. Tasty, huh? The corncob yellow color actually does look a bit like corn on the cob, so at least it’s accurate. Design aside, though, the PixelSkin offers solid protection, but the lack of a screen cover or any form of attachment accessory limits its overall appeal.


PDO TopSkinPDO offers a similar case with their TopSkin ($19.99). The design is a bit more common, with a subtle micro-texture along the edges to improve your grip. The colors are more pedestrian, too, with names like black, blue, pink and white. I guess the marketing team was on a retreat the day they mixed the dyes.

Unlike the PixelSkin, the dock and headphone jack aren’t always open. Instead, they’re covered with silicon flaps that are easily pulled back when you need access to them. Even better, the TopSkin comes with an adhesive screen protector and a belt clip attachment that’s oddly hard to remove (we put a slight tear in the back of our review unit when removing the belt clip…maybe it’s not supposed to come off?).

The nice blend of protection and functionality combined with a less intrusive design (not to mention the excellent price point) makes the TopSkin a great choice for a soft shell iPod case.


JAVOedge JAVOskinBut that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also look at JAVOedge’s JAVOskin ($19.95). This case is kind of a happy medium between the TopSkin and the PixelSkin, offering a texture similar to (but more subtle than) the PixelSkin, but including the functionality of the TopSkin. Instead of a belt clip here, though, we get a lanyard attachment. JAVO also includes a small micro swipe you can attach to the case for handy use when you need to clean the screen. Having this “wiper puff” dangling about when you’re using the phone is kind of annoying, but it’s great to have it when your screen starts to look grubby. Unfortunately, the JAVOskin doesn’t come screen protection.

The JAVOskin is the only silicon case in this round-up that is completely open across the board; even the on/off and volume buttons aren’t covered. The case doesn’t overlap the top and bottom of the phone, but just lips over the edges, so your home button is also not covered. The front protection, therefore, is compromised, but the back of your iPhone will remain scratch/smudge free.

The subtle design is hurt a bit by the fact that the case only comes in black or white. But if you want your iPhone to retain its color and provide some basic protection without hampering access to the various buttons and ports, the JAVOskin will work for you.


Griffin WaveThe world isn’t made of just silicon, however, and Griffin would like to emphasize that point with two hard case offerings. The first of these is the Wave ($24.99, or two for $34.99). The Wave comprises two pieces of plastic that snap together in a helix, or wave, pattern (get it?) around your iPhone. All ports and controls are open, obviously, as this is a hard plastic shell. The case itself has nothing to protect the iPhone’s screen or home button, but it does come with a thin polycarbonate insert that sits underneath the lip of the case. The benefit here is that you don’t need to worry about any adhesive’s mucking up your screen. The drawback is that the cover can sit a bit loosely.

There are no attachments for affixing the iPhone to your person, but that’s not the main drawback. Rather, it’s that I couldn’t get the two plastic pieces to fit well around the iPhone 3G. No manner of positioning would help the pieces come together properly, creating a gap where they’re supposed to meet. This doesn’t hamper the protection, and there was no risk of the two pieces disconnecting, but it still bothered me.

One thing of note, though, is that if you get a two pack (or even get all four colors), you can create some interesting color combinations. That may help the case feel more personal, but it won’t help its functionality.

Nu Form

Griffin Nu FormA better choice for hard shell cases is Griffin’s Nu Form ($24.99). This case is also hurt by the fact there’s no belt clip or lanyard of which to speak, but it makes up for it in other ways. Like the Wave, it comes with the thin polycarbonate sheet for screen protection. Also like the Wave, it’s made of hard plastic. But that’s where the similarities end. Rather than snap together back to front, the two pieces that comprise the Nu Form connect from top to bottom. The top piece covers about three-fourths of the iPhone, with the bottom part covering the rest. The pieces came together nicely, no gap.

The reason this is so cool is that you don’t need to completely remove the iPhone from the case in order to sit it in a dock. Rather, you just remove the bottom part. The top part stays in place and continues to hold the screen protector. When you’re ready to take your iPhone with you again, simply slide the bottom piece back on and you’re all set.

The Nu Form only comes in black or white models, but each has a nice, subtle design that brings some life to the case while retaining a professional look. It’s all very well done, and is my current favorite of all the hard shell cases I’ve tried.


The big question, of course, is which of these you’d most want to have repopulate the planet after the nuclear radiation subsides. The PDO TopSkin will probably create the most diverse and functional race of cases. The PixelSkin may be the toughest, but I have a feeling it’d take much longer to rediscover fire, the wheel and such. When all is said and done, though, I’m going with the Nu Form. It’ll provide the best looking and speediest race of iPod creatures, while…

Ah never mind. This analogy is getting stupid. Let’s just cut to the ratings.

See more iPhone 3G case reviews.

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  • Quicknik

    The author's wife is right-on about that PixelSkin: it's heinous. And anybody who's going to prioritize practicality to the complete detriment of aesthetics has NO business owning Apple products. *shudder*

  • Adam Berger

    When I used a hard case with my original iPhone the dust that settled inside ended up scratching the silver bezel around the phone. Given that I am not chancing another hard case with my new 3G — I love the suede jacket from Waterfield Design

  • JT

    Best case out there, even since the Gen 1 iPhone, is the iSkin. Hands down better than any of these. Can't believe it wasn't mentioned.

  • Kirk Hiner

    We'll be covering the revo for the original iPhone in an upcoming round-up.

  • Jason

    I have tried different iPhone cases since I am so paranoid about getting scratch on my iPhone. Best case I had was Cretouch's ultra slim case. Good thing about this case is, as the name tells, its slim design fit so it doesn't make the phone look bulky. Take a look at <a href="cretouch.com"></a&#62;.

  • Casia

    I too love the Suede Jacket from waterfield designs. i love their camera case too – so original!

  • Ronnie Williams

    Many people don’t like the idea of constantly taking their iPhone in and out of a case; they want something that’s convenient for constant use. For those people I personally recommend Sena’s Dockable Case for iPhone 3G, one of the best <a href="iphone" rel="nofollow">">iphone 3G accessories. It is a sleek leather package that keeps the phone safe without sacrificing usability.