Review: Speck CandyShell Wrap for iPad 2
Well before Apple introduced the iPad Smart Cover, Speck released an iPad case called CandyShell Wrap, which added an extremely useful folding lid-slash-stand to the company's signature hard plastic and rubber case CandyShell. Pricey at $60 but undeniably useful for users who wanted almost complete tablet protection with the option of an as-needed stand, CandyShell Wrap was one of the best cases released for the original iPad, but regrettably arrived months too late for our annual Best of the Year Awards. Thankfully, Speck has released an updated and less expensive iPad 2 version of CandyShell Wrap ($55), and it's so well-designed that it's certainly in the running for top honors this year -- it improves in almost every way on its predecessor, and falls short of perfection only in a few small ways.
The new CandyShell Wrap consists of two pieces: a glossy hard plastic and matte rubber holder for the iPad 2, wonderfully contoured to match Apple’s new curves, and a detachable front lid that’s primarily hard plastic on the outside and rubber on the inside. Speck’s lid is the reason CandyShell Wrap is an alternative to the iPad Smart Cover: while it doesn’t include Smart Cover-style magnets—one of the only glaring issues with this case—this lid makes three improvements on the original iPad’s version.
First, it now ingeniously slides into a T-shaped groove on the tablet’s left side, reducing the original’s awkward bar-like thickness; second, it uses a much smaller tab that more easily secures its triangular stand position; and third, it adds an interior micro-suction strip that attaches to the iPad 2’s screen, keeping the lid closed. While none of these elements makes up for the missing magnets, they come very close to offering Smart Cover-quality functionality at a decidedly more reasonable price.
We keep referencing the Smart Cover because CandyShell Wrap efficiently achieves what Apple didn’t bother to do with its design—Speck’s case offers nearly complete protection for the iPad 2, critically with a lot more anti-drop resilience and front bezel coverage than shell-styled cases we’ve tested in the past. Used by itself, the bottom half of CandyShell Wrap is great as a playthrough case, providing instant access to the iPad 2’s screen, coverage of its top and side buttons, and perfectly tailored holes for its headphone port, microphone, rear camera, and Dock Connector.
Additionally, rather than just leaving the bottom speaker purely exposed, Speck has also created a waveguide-like hole that offers some protection and a little amplification, too. And then there’s the flip-open bottom accessory panel, a carryover from past CandyShells that enables CandyShell Wrap to work with Apple’s iPad 2 Dock—an extremely rare degree of accessory compatibility that even Speck’s earlier PixelSkin HD Wrap couldn’t muster. Most accessories will work just fine with CandyShell Wrap’s tailored Dock Connector port hole, but if you’re concerned about others, this case has the ability to accommodate everything.
CandyShell Wrap’s other issues are relatively modest. As with the first version, this one is presently offered only in a glossy black version, which will instantly begin to show all of the fingerprints, hairline scratches, and dust that it’s keeping off of your iPad 2. While it goes without saying that other colors and a matte plastic version would be welcome, it should be noted that the case’s long-term durability is otherwise high; we’ve had the first version of Wrap in torture-testing conditions for months, and the only thing that’s wrong with it is the patina of scratches.
A new issue is a result of Speck’s microsuction strip: frequent users of the front lid will note that it sticks a little to surfaces the opened iPad 2 is laid upon; you’ll also have to wipe the strip down on occasion to keep it at its adhesive peak. Once again, magnets would have made this sequel to CandyShell Wrap even better.
Small issues aside, CandyShell Wrap for iPad 2 is one of the very best cases we’ve yet tested for Apple’s tablet computers. For $55, Speck is delivering a combination of a great playthrough case and a highly useful, fully detachable lid that together provide nearly complete protection and stand functionality—a much better value and choice than Apple’s iPad Smart Covers, as well as virtually all of the Smart Cover alternatives we’ve previously tested. While CandyShell Wrap does add more thickness to the iPad 2 than some of its rivals, this is purely attributable to the protective rubber core, which keeps the tablet safer on all sides than more common, thinner plastic shells. Magnets and additional color options would certainly make CandyShell Wrap even better, but as is, this case is worthy of a high recommendation, and one of very few iPad 2 cases that we’d trust every day with the safety of our own devices.