Review: Speck CandyShell View for iPhone 4/4S
In general, we've been big fans of Speck's CandyShell cases for iPhone 4. CandyShell Flip is one of the highest rated cases on the site and has been the default protector for at least one of our editors. That's why we were excited when we saw CandyShell View ($40) at CES earlier this year, and finally got our hands on a completed unit and CEA Line Shows last week. Unfortunately, we were disappointed to discover that despite the cool implementation of a built-in kickstand, the case has a fatal flaw that sullies the name of the otherwise highly regarded line.
Before we discuss what’s seriously wrong in CandyShell View, there are certainly some things that we do like about this case. Like its predecessors, the case is made of hard plastic—this time with a less easily scuffed matte finish—plus an inner lining of soft rubber that extends to the corners and forms a lip around the glass screen. It’s one of the most protective combinations of materials around, and a big part of the reason we like these cases. The rubber has changed a little inside; it’s now flat again, rather than using a thinning dot pattern, as has been seen in earlier iPhone 4 versions of CandyShell. Because of this lining, CandyShell View also provides coverage for the Sleep/Wake button and volume buttons. There’s a combined opening for the headphone port and noise-canceling microphone, one for the rear camera and flash, and dedicated holes for the side switch, speaker, mic, and Dock Connector port. You should have no problem using even oversized accessories, as the cutouts have plenty of clearance.
The overall shape of the case is somewhat strange given how streamlined the prior CandyShells were. Unlike most alternatives, the back is actually wider than the front and the four edges are angled inwards to compensate, barely creating a trapezoid. Our guess is that this was a design compromise to accommodate the inclusion of a stand. It’s also worth mentioning that CandyShell View is only available in a single color scheme, which is black with gray accents.
We really like the kickstand on CandyShell View. At first glance, you might not even notice that it’s there, as the stand retracts fully into the case and sits completely flush with its bottom. Pulling on a grey nub at the bottom reveals the 2-1/4”-long spring-loaded plastic stand. A leg in the center fits into an indentation in the the back and holds it in place. Once extended, the kickstand allows both portrait and landscape viewing angles. We see the latter more useful than the former, since the recline in portrait mode is not likely to be deep enough for FaceTime calls. Push or pull on the leg and the stand retracts right back into the body of the shell. It’s a smart implementation and would be particularly useful for iPad cases—we’re hoping that Speck is working on this.
So what’s the big problem? Getting the case off of your iPhone 4. The sides of View do not have nearly as much give as previous versions of CandyShell. Putting the phone in the case involves simply pushing it in; it’s not too difficult. Removing it is not nearly as easy. Because there is so little flexibility, it is incredibly hard to get it out. We found that pushing at each of the four corners in succession was the best way, but it took a lot of pressure to push it out even a little bit. During the process, one of our editors heard what sounded like popping or cracking, leading us to feel seriously concerned about the iPhone 4’s glass. Even though the iPhone 4 emerged seemingly unscathed, no case should make removal such a difficult task, and we’re not sure how many pressurized exits a glass-bodied device can take. It bears mention at this point that CandyShell View’s bottom is not as Universal Dock-friendly as CandyShell Flip’s, so you will probably need to pull the iPhone 4 out to place it in certain speakers and other types of charging accessories.
CandyShell View could have been a home run for Speck. The stand is truly clever and the materials should provide a solid level of protection; View seems like a natural extension of a successful family of products. That said, the case’s unusual shape and the fear it creates during removal of the iPhone 4 really created some issues for us, diminishing our likelihood of using this or really wanting to put our iPhone 4s back into it. We hope that Speck revises the design for a subsequent iDevice—and we suspect that it will. As it is though, we cannot recommend CandyShell View, and it earns a C- rating.
Updated December 7, 2011: Speck has updated its lineup to support both the iPhone 4 and 4S. The new CandyShell View maintains the same price point, but now has a larger opening for the side switch to accommodate any model of the device. Unfortunately, Speck hasn’t made it any easier to get the iPhone out of the case, which was our biggest complaint against the original version.