Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPhone 4/4S
Speck MightyVault for iPhone 4/4S
MightyVault for iPhone 4/4S ($50) is Speck's latest swing at an ultra-protective case, borrowing heavily from its earlier ToughShell -- a case that itself was an improved take on ToughSkin. In fact, the two most recent cases are so similar that they could be mistaken for rebranded versions of one another. However, there are small actual differences between the two designs, and as both are currently available from Speck's online store, it appears the company sees them as two separate products.
Like ToughShell, MightyVault combines layers of plastic and rubber to enhance the feel and overall protectiveness—while adding significant bulk to the iPhone 4/4S. It uses the same hinged two-piece design, held together and covered around the edge with a thick rubber band. Rather than a ribbed texture, however, this one is smoother with a simple seam running down the middle. It looks much less rugged, which may or may not be preferred depending on your tastes. Button and port coverage is almost identical, with all of the buttons—including the Home button—protected with rubber, and flip-open protectors over the headphone port, Dock Connector, and side switch. If you don’t have long nails, they can be somewhat tricky to open, and the one on top gave us particular trouble. Also like ToughShell, MightyVault comes with a large belt clip that seems a bit superfluous these days, but is appreciated nonetheless.
Rather than using separate openings for the front camera, earpiece, and sensor, Speck went with one large hole tailored around the lot of them on this one. It also chose to use the larger camera hole that we’ve seen on almost all of its more recent cases. But the biggest difference is screen coverage. ToughShell came with a sheet of screen protector film, which was appreciated but optional on the user’s end. MightyVault, on the other hand, has a permanent sheet of thin, glossy plastic built into its front half, an obvious ease-of-installation benefit until and unless you damage the film in some way.
While we find the design of the case to be quite smart, there were some real issues with the outer rubber band. On our review unit, it seemed just a bit too large. It fits into the grooves of the plastic case, but extra material seemed to prevent a perfect seal. In addition, the band pulls away from the rest of the case more easily than it should. We found this to be particularly troublesome because the rubber sticks to the inside of pants pockets and often emerged disheveled. We also saw quite a bit of dust and lint sticking to the white material.
MightyVault is clearly an update to ToughShell, but it’s hard to call it a definite improvement. Like the original, we appreciate the design and engineering of this one, and the new screen protector is certainly an added benefit. Unfortunately, the less than stellar execution of the rubber ring makes it more difficult to recommend this particular model. Overall, the case is good enough to earn our general recommendation, but it’s important to be aware that if the tolerances aren’t tightened up in future production runs, users who pocket their iPhones may be at least somewhat annoyed by the design.