Company: Speck Products
Model: CandyShell Grip
Compatible: iPhone 4/4S
Speck CandyShell Grip for iPhone 4/4S
To this day, Speck's CandyShell Grip remains one of our top-rated cases for the iPod touch 4G, so it's easy to understand why we're excited about the just-released CandyShell Grip for iPhone 4/4S ($35). The design is almost identical to the earlier version, save for the necessary modifications to fit the larger device. Lining the inside of the case is soft rubber, while the outside is composed of hard plastic. Unlike the standard CandyShell, the rubber extends to the back in four ridged patches, providing some extra grip. The case is available in four color combinations, and one of the only initial issues is the continued absence of screen protection; Speck makes up for the latter by providing four small pads around the front ridge to keep your screen from touching the ground.
As with the earlier version of the case, we genuinely like the overall design. It looks great, feels great, and is protective to boot. The plastic and rubber, like many of Speck’s other cases, are integrated very well together. We did notice, however, slightly rough trimming of the rubber around some of the edges. It’s not a deal breaker, but the cuts should be tightened to make an even better product.
There are a few notable differences between this version of the case and the one for the iPod touch. The biggest is regrettably negative: whereas most iPod touch cases, including CandyShell Grip, leave the bottom from the headphone port to the speaker fully exposed, the iPhone version of the case is more tightly tailored. It has individual openings for the speaker and mic, as well as the Dock Connector port. That center hole is large enough to accommodate many third party plugs as well as Apple’s. The material, however, is too thick to allow for an electronic connection to be made with Universal Dock accessories, which will certainly limit the case’s usability for some people.
The other major distinction is the camera hole. In mid-2011, Speck started to update its iPhone 4 cases with much larger openings around the rear camera and flash as opposed to the very tight cutouts of the past. That design has since propagated to almost all of its current lineup, including CandyShell Grip. While there’s an argument to be made that it helps prevent flash diffusion issues, it unquestionably leaves more of the fragile glass back panel exposed; you can decide for yourself whether the extra exposure is worthwhile for the potential improvements it may offer when using the iPhone 4/4S flash.
Apart from the issues of the extended camera hole and Universal Dock incompatibility, CandyShell Grip is a very good option for protecting your iPhone 4 or 4S. However, for many people, those are legitimate concerns, and the docking issues may really affect use of the device. Because of this, the case earns a slightly lower B+ rating than its iPod touch predecessor. If you’re willing to put up with those issues, you’ll likely be very happy with the nice looking design and materials, which provide unusually nice tactility for the otherwise slippery glass iPhones.