Review: Speck HandyShell for iPad mini
Two years ago, Speck debuted its HandyShell iPad case, and now it has gone back to the style with HandyShell for iPad mini ($50). Now available at a slightly lower price, this version of the case is essentially the same, but smaller. It continues to feature a prominent rear kickstand that roughly doubles the device's thickness, and serves as a carrying handle should you want to hold the mini that way.
HandyShell combines a hard plastic back with a soft plastic frame that wraps around the edges, to the front of the iPad mini. Unlike the earliest versions of the full-sized HandyShell we reviewed, this one has a matte finish that we prefer a little bit more. The case wraps around all of the mini’s metal, leaving only nicely-tailored holes for ports, the rear camera, and the side switch, with tiny dots to ventilate the speakers. We’re thankful that the buttons remain super responsive, and that large Lightning and headphone plugs can fit without issue. As a case, HandyShell is a success.
What makes this one different from the pack is the namesake handle. On our review unit, it’s bright red, contrasting with the black body. The almost-five-inch long oval rests flat against the back of the case, right in the center, and is partially obscured by raised walls. A cutout allows you to lift the handle up, where it can serve a few purposes. You can carry the iPad mini this way, which may not be totally practical, but works. More importantly, you can use the handle as a stand in either portrait or landscape orientation. The former gives you angles of anywhere from 90° to flat, while the landscape viewing position ranges from about 65° to 70°. There’s enough tension in the handle that it’ll easily hold whatever position you choose, but not so much that you’ll have any issue adjusting it.
Except for its lack of screen protection and high price, we found the first version of HandyShell to be quite good. With HandyShell for iPad mini, Speck hasn’t addressed either issue, but offers an equally good case. It’s a thoroughly protective option with a highly useful stand built in. The thickness may matter to some, but we’d call it acceptable, especially since it’s only part of the case that’s raised higher. It’s the price that’s the big issue; this version only costs $5 less than the full-sized iPad model, which was itself too expensive. That’s why it earns the same B+ rating. The case is very much worth your consideration, but not necessarily at that price.