I used to think that installing a skin on my iPhone was unnecessary. After all, I pretty much always keep it in some sort of a case and a skin takes away from iPhones natural good looks. Right?
I quickly changed my mind after my iPhone took an unfortunate four-foot fall onto pavement. While I was running. You see, it only takes one incident like that to realize that a case alone is not always enough. Every time I see the gashes (yes, plural) in the top corners of my iPhone it reminds me of the cruel reality of gravity.
The perfect combination of skin and holster appears to be the ToughSkin for iPhone from Speck Products (US$30). It combines a silicone skin (in a pretty innocuous black, I might add) that protects iPhone from most bumps and drops with a click-in holster that attaches to the skin so that you can wear it on your belt. The ToughSkin also comes in a less-likable clear.
The skin itself is super strong with extra padding on the corners and cut outs for the mute button and camera lens. While not super tacky, the silicone skin does attract its share of dust and lint, but utilizing the belt clip helps to keep the lint problem to a minimum.
The nice part about the ToughSkin is its 360-degree swivel clip/stand holster combo. Vertical holsters don't work particularly well with me, so I like that I can orient the ToughSkin in a horizontal configuration on my belt. The holster itself keeps a fairly tight grip on the ToughSkin but it's not immune to popping out if you catch it on something, so be careful. The stand configuration turns the holster's belt clip into a pop-out leg for a better viewing angle for video content–but I didn't find myself using it much.
When I keep my iPhone in my pocket, it's harder to grab when someone's calling but better protected. When wearing my iPhone on my belt, it's a lot easier to answer when ringing but it's also more susceptible to being introduced to the sidewalk when it's fumbled. It's a tradeoff folks. The ToughSkin isn't perfect, but it's the right combination of protective skin and holster to meet my needs quite nicely.
If you're more of a leather case type of person, I previously reviewed the HipCase from DLO on 17 July 2007. If you like more of a pure holster case (without the silicone skin) check out my review of the Speck Holster Pro from 09 July 2007.