Review: Speck CandyShell Amped for iPhone 5/5s
Once again, Speck has taken its classic, award winning CandyShell design, and turned it into something new -- this time, it's CandyShell Amped ($45) for iPhone 5/5s. If it looks a lot like the classic co-molded rubber and glossy plastic case, that's because it is. The body is slightly thicker, though, because inside the rubber is an audio waveguide that makes the sound from your phone louder. This isn't the first time we've seen an case with passive audio amplification, but it is one of the most elegant. Speck currently has black, pink, and blue versions listed on its website.
Take a quick look at CandyShell Amped, and you likely won’t notice any difference from a standard version of the case. Upon closer inspection, however, there are details that make clear it’s something different. While Amped includes the same great button protection we’re used to, the bottom is a little different: the microphone, headphone port, and Lightning port are accessible, but the speaker is blocked off. It’s ported to the case’s left edge, behind the volume buttons, where there are 25 small openings.
In-between the iPhone’s speaker and the case’s opening, there’s a channel that widens from 0.2” to over 3”. This adds 0.28” to the thickness of the case, an amount that’s not negligible, making the phone half an inch thick. Without question, the audio is louder: at its highest levels, the system is actually almost painfully loud. Speck claims to equalize the sound, and promises fuller, richer, clearer audio. To our ears, the highs seemed slightly muddled, and there was no difference in the bass, but the mids really benefit from the enhancement.
Considering their prices and thinner bodies, we prefer the standard CandyShell and its same-sized variants to CandyShell Amped. Yes, this case does what it’s supposed to, offering much louder audio, and the case itself is still solid enough to merit our general recommendation. On the other hand, its appeal isn’t as broad as CandyShell’s, and the price is on the high end for iPhone cases. If you want the sonic boost without compromising much on a CandyShell design, consider Amped.