Review: Speck CandyShell Flip for iPhone 4/4S
Speck's CandyShell iPhone case series has been one of our favorites for years, with the iPhone 3G/3GS version winning our Case of the Year Award for 2009. CandyShell Flip ($35) is an unexpected second version in this line for iPhone 4, now with a flap at the bottom that's capable of rendering the case more compatible with docks, plug-in electronics, and non-Apple cables. No screen protection is included with these cases. Four two-tone color options are available, and the version we reviewed currently supports only the GSM iPhone 4; an updated revision will remedy that issue.
The basic design features of the case have not changed significantly over the years. CandyShell Flip is composed of two layers: an inner layer of soft, shock-absorbent rubber and an outer layer of hard glossy plastic. Plastic covers the back and all the sides of the iPhone, while the rubber extends outwards to the four corners, front lip, volume buttons, and Sleep/Wake Button. By combining these materials together, Speck effectively protects almost all of the iPhone 4’s glass and metal body, including buttons, which is excellent, though the case’s glossy rear surface quickly develops a patina from surface scratches. It is of note that the rubber touching the back of the iPhone features a small hole pattern. Previous iPhone 3G/3GS and iPod touch 2G/3G versions of CandyShell did not have this same design; it reduces rubber and thereby the case’s weight without impacting protection.
Speck’s biggest improvement here over the basic CandyShell is in accessory support, through both a larger opening for the Dock Connector and the previously noted rear flap—the headphone port is compatible with all but the largest plugs we’ve tested, and Universal Docks, including Apple’s, work without any need to open the flap. Room for cables and docks is always a concern with cases, and Speck has ensured that almost any recent Dock Connector cable will work while the iPhone 4 is fully encased. For those cables that do not fit, or for docking with non-Universal Dock accessories, the rubber-hinged flap is of great benefit. Located roughly one inch from the bottom of the case, it allows the user to fold the bottom section of the case up and towards the back of the iPhone. The hinge allows a full 180 degrees of flexibility, meaning that the only docks or accessories that would prove to be an issue would be those with tall backs extending behind their Dock Connectors.
One small downside that we saw after extended use of the first version of CandyShell Flip was a peeling of the rubber where the inner lip surrounds the screen. While this didn’t affect usability in any way, it suggested quality control issues. A newer iteration of the case we tested does not demonstrate this same problem.
If Speck wanted to broaden the appeal of CandyShell Flip, there are a few steps it could take. First, it could make the case available in the same eight colors as the standard CandyShell for a greater variety of options; the current four picks are generally good, but limited. The addition of a screen protector, which was included with previous models, would also be of benefit. It may even make sense for Speck to discontinue the standard model altogether in favor of the CandyShell Flip; after all, they currently cost the same price, and the Flip is arguably more usable without adding any significant weaknesses.
Overall, we were extremely happy to see Speck continue with a winning design while innovating to make it even better—in most regards. The build and protectiveness of CandyShell Flip make it a standout choice for the iPhone 4, and the addition of the flap shows a conscious commitment towards greater accessory compatibility, without significantly compromising the case’s protection or thickness. Our only issues are the rubber peeling, a cosmetic problem that appears to have been remedied, and the lack of screen protection. That being said, we would certainly recommend CandyShell Flip as one of the very best of the current crop of iPhone 4 cases.
Updated December 7, 2011: Speck has updated its lineup to support both the iPhone 4 and 4S. The new CandyShell Flip maintains the same price point, but has the huge camera hole opening that the company is using on most of its cases now, as well as a larger opening for the side switch. We presented the iPhone 4 version our Case of the Year Award for 2011, and this model is certainly worthy of the same high recommendation.