Written by: Jason Kresge, Photos by: Joanna M. Kresge
Typically, product reviews for smart phone cases relate only for that specific phone, however some companies adapt their one product across numerous devices – the Incipio Silicrylic is one such product. Today we’ll be looking at the Incipio Silicrylic on three devices; the HTC Droid Incredible, the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 4.
The Incipio Silicrylic is a two-part case – the inner layer is a durable silicone, while the outer layer is a plastic shell. In theory, this gives you the benefits of each style of case. The silicone offers better shock absorption, but the plastic cases offer better looks (due to being molded to any design), and a better fit in the pocket due to not gripping the cloth. The Incipio Silicrylic, and other cases like it, such as the Seidio Active, manage this balance very well. You truly do get the better shock absorption from the inner silicone layer, and the better pocketability of the plastic shell from the outer layer. We’ve also seen from companies like Speck that an outer shell can be made to look attractive with the Candy Shell line as an example. However, you do lose some utility, as the Incipio Edge line is a two-piece where the bottom third slides off to allow for docking when needed. You can’t get this functionality on a two-material case.
So, how does the Incipio Silicrylic stack up as a case? It is durable, very durable. Even though the silicone feels thin and flimsy compared to other silicone cases, and the plastic shell is an ultra thin skeleton, both parts seem to last. My wife has used the Silicrylic on her iPhone 3G since 2008. The case’s reliability caused her to buy again for her iPhone 4, as well as caused me to consider it for my HTC Droid Incredible. The one knock that we both have is that the plastic case has a matte layer that can chip. Unlike the peeling of the Seidio Active, however, this is only noticeable under close inspection.
When placed on your phone, the silicone layer wraps around the edges to protect the front and sides of the device, however the plastic shell does not extend past the sides to cover any part of the front. The benefit to this is that it does not visibly trap lint at the edge of the screen as some two-layer cases, such as the Seidio Active and others like it, tend to do. The downside is that there is minor difficulty with using the edge of the screen in some cases. Personally, I often have difficulty hitting the far left keyboard buttons in portrait mode when typing right handed. Also, while the iPhone’s main button is easily accessible, the Droid Incredible’s optical trackpad is not. It can be pressed with little difficulty, but using it to navigate is a bit laborious due to the silicone. My primary use for the optical trackpad is fine text editing as well as navigating the recovery menu, two things that most users may not even bother with.
The back of the device is covered by the silicone layer, and then further covered by the plastic shell. In each case, the plastic shell is altered to go with the style of the phone itself. The iPhone 3G version is simply a clear X-clamp, allowing the curved back design to show. The iPhone 4’s version makes the X-Clamp design a bit thicker to better deal with the squared design of the phone. The HTC Droid Incredible uses a unique design that allows the layered back of the phone to show.
Each one of the plastic shells pictured above has a small chip in it, and as I stated, it takes close inspection. On the Droid Incredible, the chip is in the upper right, halfway between the speaker hole and the top of the phone.
Like all cases, the Incipio Silicrylic has to deal with protecting the phone’s buttons while also retaining their functionality. I personally like the approach that Incipio took here; first, the material that covers the buttons is more firm than the rest of the silicone; secondly, the material molded to look like a button itself.
As you can see above, the HTC Droid Incredible gets a volume button with a divider in the middle. This design makes it feel like two buttons, making operation much easier without having to look at the phone. This is in stark contrast to the Seidio Active, which uses one rubberized rectangle, which is neither responsive, nor easy to use blind. This is also an improvement over the phone’s design, as a naked Droid Incredible just has one long rocker rather than a divided one.
The design of the iPhone 3G is mostly similar to the HTC Droid Incredible. However, while it is molded, it is not harder than the rest of the silicone material. It is also not elevated above the surrounding material, making it more difficult to use than the Incredible’s cases, but still easy to use. Lastly, this is also just a covering of the design rather than an improvement, as the underlying rocker has a similar recessed divider to make it look like two buttons.
The iPhone 4 design is more similar to that of the Incredible in that the buttons feel molded and harder than the surrounding material. They are also raised above the surrounding material making blind operation that much easier.
In all three cases, the power button on the top of each device is the same as the volume buttons on the side. The plastic case has a matte finish, with the iPhone 4’s case also offering a soft-touch coating that feels nice in the hands. Despite the exposed silicone on the back, the HTC Droid Incredible’s version will slide into a pocket as well as almost any hard case, but has the added advantage of also having more grip when laying on its back on a flat surface. The case also does a good job of recessing the Incredible’s obnoxious protruding camera lens.
One other concern that many people have with these two-layer cases is the amount of bulk that they add. Due to the thinner material, these cases add very little bulk. They are nowhere near as thick as an Otterbox, nor are they even as thick as a Seidio.
In conclusion, the Incipio Silicrylic is an ideal case for those looking for good protection, good looks, a nice feel without too much bulk, yet still fits easily into your pocket. The downsides are the potential for interference with touch operations at the edge of the screen, as well as interfering with the optical trackpad on some models.