Looking a lot like SeeThru for iPhone 4, Speck’s GemShell ($30) is a welcome release for iPhone 5 users seeking solid, transparent protection. While there is some rubber in the design, the body is mostly clear, hard plastic — a very reflective material, but totally see-through. Those familiar with the company’s CandyShell line will find a lot of similarities with this one, minus the full interior rubber lining.
GemShell is a single-piece case, notably lacking the flip-open bottom cover offered by Speck’s CandyShell Flip. The rubber comes into play at the corners, over the buttons, and around the screen, where it forms a protective lip, but is so well-integrated that the separate materials are almost indistinguishable, unless you look very closely. While it’s as tall and wide as CandyShell, it isn’t quite as deep, which is attributable to the lack of a rubber lining inside. We weren’t surprised to find that the buttons feel great, with full tactility, as if they weren’t covered. As with most of the company’s lineup, there are openings for the ports on the bottom, in between arrays of holes exposing the speaker and microphone.
If you like the design of CandyShell, but want a case that shows off the iPhone underneath, GemShell is the way to go. You do lose a layer of protection, which is something of a drawback if you’re looking for added shock protection, but a full rubber lining just wouldn’t work visually in a totally clear protector. Everything else lives up to the standards Speck has set, and we’re quite happy with the result. It’s a very good case, and easily earns our strong general recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPhone 5