As they’re part of the same family, these cases all share the same basic design with CandyShell as the base model. At first glance, CandyShell is almost identical to the iPhone 4/4S version down to the rubber lines at the corners. It combines an inner layer of soft, shock-absorbent rubber with an outer casing of glossy hard plastic. The shell feels slightly thinner than before, but there’s still enough to protect the iPhone from most minor accidents. Speck uses the rubber to provide coverage for the buttons along the edges of the device, and uses tapered cutouts for the side switch, camera, headphone port, and Lightning port while the speaker and microphone are exposed through a series of dots along the bottom edge. The case feels really nice in the hand and is particularly complementary to the thinness of the iPhone 5.
Flip is identical to the standard CandyShell save for two differences: first, the standard CandyShell is just a hair thinner—barely enough to be noticed. Second, the bottom inch and a half or so flips open along a rubber-lined hinge, exposing that portion of the phone, which may end up being handy whenever docking accessories become available for the iPhone 5, as it certainly was with the 4 and 4S. As compared with the prior CandyShell Flip, the iPhone 5 version’s hinge rubber now extends from the back to the sides of the case. Previously, the sides were simply plastic.
CandyShell Grip saw the biggest change of the bunch, but it still isn’t significantly different. It simply takes the same CandyShell body and adds four patches of raised rubber lines. Last time, they were single panels with indentations, and now there are 20 individual lines. They don’t add any bulk, but do make the case slightly less likely to slip out of your hand or off a surface.
All of the CandyShell models come in an impressive number of colors; they’re cosmetically attractive, though as we’ve noted in the past, all three quickly begin to show scratches in the plastic and scuffs in the rubber, small issues we’ve noted in the past. Of the three models, CandyShell Flip remains our favorite. Although iPhone 5 docking isn’t currently a concern, it may be once manufacturers have a chance to develop their accessories, and Flip will be best positioned for broad compatibility. This case is also still the easiest to remove the iPhone from, if needed. It’s still not the perfect case, but it’s pretty darn close, and the two-tone color schemes look quite nice. It’s easy to highly recommend it with an A- rating. CandyShell and CandyShell Grip fall just a hair short of that mark, but they’re great cases in their own right. Because docking isn’t a concern right now, and it’s possible that Lightning accessories will work just fine with these designs—just as Lightning cables do today—we wouldn’t penalize or think twice about them for any potential issues there. Flip is the safest pick, but the regular CandyShell and CandyShell Grip both earn the same A- rating for their equally nice designs. Speck deserves kudos for another impressive lineup.
Updated February 24, 2013: Speck has unveiled a new version of CandyShell called CandyShell Inked ($40). Identical to the standard model in build, it offers wrap-around graphics, all under a durable, scratch-resistant coating. Five different patterns are being advertised for launch.
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