Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006


November 14, 2011 • Reviews

iPhone Gear Review: Cygnett Second Skin II, FlexiGel, and Ripple Cases

Cygnett makes enough iPhone cases and styles to satisfy any taste. To kick off the launch of the 4S, they released three new cases, the Second Skin II, FlexiGel, and Ripple. All three are fairly low-profile cases that provide basic grip and coverage on the iPhone 4 and 4s. Cygnett was kind enough to send us one each to review, and I’ve spent time giving each of them a shot. There are some key differences in style and material, so let’s look first at what they have in common, and then what makes each one different. I have a clear favorite in the bunch, but what I like may not be what fits your taste!

(top to bottom: Second Skin, FlexiGel, Ripple, iPhone 4S)

As I said, all the cases are somewhat minimal. None of them are rugged, but they do offer some abrasion protection. Corners are covered, and buttons are either covered or recessed into the case. While the screen is somewhat protected by a slight lip on each case, the case doesn’t have any built-in protection. However, Cygnett includes a screen protector along with a cleaning cloth and instructions, which is a very nice addition! Also, from my tests all of the cases were able to accommodate normal-size headphone jacks, along with the slightly oversized plug I use for the auxiliary cable in my car. Finally, Cygnett offers big cutouts on the camera hole for each case, so you don’t have to worry about interference with the flash on any of them. Now, on to the cases!

Second Skin II

This is the most minimal of the options. It’s made of silicon, and fits the iPhone, well, like a second skin. There is no gap or awkward spacing, all the cutouts line up perfectly. The mute switch cutout is a nice big oval, and while I don’t have an iPhone 4 handy, I would assume that is designed to accommodate either the 4s/Verizon 4 or the AT&T iPhone 4. Both the volume keys and the power button are covered, and I had no problems pressing them through the case. There’s also a nice wide cutout on the bottom for the dock connector. One nice touch: there’s only the smallest bit of Cygnett branding in one corner, so the case doesn’t feel like a flashy ad for the company.

While I liked the case, I had a few issues with it. One, the material is a lint magnet. If you carry your phone in a jeans pocket you’ll be plucking dust off it constantly. It’s also far too thin for my taste. It will protect your iPhone from basic wear, but I can’t see the thin material doing anything in the event of  a fall. Finally, the material is so flexible that you run the risk of a large bit of dirt or sand getting stuck in there and scratching up the phone.

So who would like this case? If you’re looking for a grippy material that gives you some basic iPhone protection without too much bulk, this is a great choice. At the price, it’s a fantastic choice.

MSRP: $14.99 from Cygnett

What I Like: Grippy; Fits the iPhone perfectly; Low profile gives some protection without much bulk

What Needs Improvement: Collects dust like crazy


Unlike the Second Skin, this case is made from TPU, so it’s flexible without being as floppy. It’s also translucent, so you can see the design of the iPhone through the case. The cutouts are nice and even, though the volume keys are left exposed. They are recessed in the case a bit, but it’s an odd design choice considering the power button is covered.

Along the bottom there are cutouts for the dock connector and speakers. I did not have any problems with my car charger fitting in there, but just keep in mind that certain dock connectors might be a tight fit. Again, there’s a tiny Cygnett logo on one side, but it’s nearly impossible to locate if you’re not looking for it. The lip on the case comes up slightly, and is stiff enough that it does seem like it would offer a small measure of protection if your phone went down face-first, but it’s not really a beefy enough case to offer much shock absorption.

The TPU material is grippier than a naked iPhone, but it doesn’t cling to fabric. That means you don’t end up with a super dusty case, but it does mean that the case could potentially slip out of a loose pocket. The other big downside to the material is that’s quite the fingerprint magnet. It’s very shiny, and you can very clearly see every spot where your fingers touch.

I liked this case. The translucency lets you show off the style of the iPhone, it adds some grip, and the color looks nice even on my black iPhone. I would imagine it would be even cooler looking on a white one!

MSRP: $14.99 from Cygnett, Purple pictured but also available in black and pink

What I Like: Protective design; Translucency shows off 4S; Adds grip to the phone

What Needs Improvement: Material is a fingerprint magnet

Ripple Case

I’ll be up front with my bias that this was my favorite of the Cygnett cases. The Ripple case is similar to the FlexiGel in that it’s a TPU-style case, but it’s a bit beefier than the FlexiGel. Not only is the case itself a bit thicker, it has “ripples” along the back to give it more texture. The inside has ridges too, which don’t really serve any protective purpose but give it some visual flair. The lip around the edge of the phone is thicker than on the FlexiGel too, so, again, even though I wouldn’t treat this case like it’s going to protect against catastrophe, it is fairly protective for everyday life.

Because the case hugs the iPhone so tightly, no debris or pocket lint sneaks in. Volume and power keys are covered, but I did find the power button is very stiff and tough to press in the case. I found it to be nicely grippy but it still slides in and out of my jeans without a problem. The ripples were really cool, though. If you’re right-handed like me, you probably hold your iPhone in your left hand. The ripples line up perfectly with your left hand, giving it a nice textural grip. It works if you hold it with your right hand as well, but not as well since the ripples run in the opposite direction.

The downside to the Ripple is that it’s the thickest of the cases. It’s not a huge difference, and no one’s going to mistake this case for a Otterbox, but in my opinion it crossed from “minimalist covering” to “full on case”. It smooths out the iPhone’s edges and it makes me feel more secure carrying it, but if you’re looking for something as close to a naked iPhone as possible, this case is not it. Also, just like the FlexiGel, the case collects fingerprints like mad.

MSRP: $16.99 from Cygnett, Black as pictured, blue is also available.

What I like: Comfortable to hold; Ripples add extra texture and grip; Covers the iPhone well

What Needs Improvement: Huge fingerprint magnet

So that’s the rundown on Cygnett’s new cases. From minimal to beefier, they offer multiple colors and styles for all tastes. For the price, especially when you consider the included screen protector kits, you can’t go wrong!

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