Speck makes some awesome cases for the iPhone lineup, and if you’ve been itching for a new one, don’t count these guys out.
You’ve probably seen plenty of people using Speck cases on their iPhones, and for the most part, the cases have retained the same design over the years, generation after generation – it’s a tried and true design so simplistic that there isn’t much that needs to be changed.
In this roundup, we’ll show you the pros and cons of some of Speck’s most popular iPhone cases, such as the CandyShell, CandyShell Grip, CandyShell Clear, and the MighyShell.
In these reviews, we’ll be showcasing cases that were provided to us by Speck and that are made for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus only because that’s the model of iPhone I have available to test these cases with. With that being said, the product may vary based on the iPhone model you’re using, such as the little brother iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus, or the even smaller yet iPhone 5s, 5, 5c, etc.
Also worth noting before we get started, although we’ll only be showcasing black versions of the cases below, it’s only because that’s what I particularly like the most; there are many different color options available from Speck and I encourage you to check out those choices if you’re remotely interested in a Speck case.
Speck CandyShell: protective & simplistic
The Speck CandyShell is one of the signature cases Speck has to offer. The exterior is made from high-gloss polycarbonate while the interior is made from an impact resistant rubberized thermoplastic polyurethane. The case comes in a variety of colors, but it also has a secondary color that is easily see in all four corners, surrounding the camera, ports, and screen, and even covering the buttons.
The CandyShell is made to be a case you can easily use on a day-to-day basis and for that reason, it’s a relatively slim case, only adding 0.16 inches of thickness to your iPhone, and it still exceeds military drop testing standards (MIL-STD-810G). The glossiness makes it super easy to pull the case out of your pocket, or even to side it in, whether your pants are tight or not.
Accessibility of iPhone hardware
What’s more is the case has a nice wide-open front to make accessing the screen, front-facing camera, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and Touch ID sensor all super easy. The wide cut makes using screen protectors super easy, such as the OtterBox Alpha Glass Privacy screen protector I’m using in the image above.
The bezel around the iPhone’s screen is raised slightly so you can place the iPhone face-down on a table without the glass ever coming in contact with the table. This is a great feature for when you place your iPhone face-down to prevent snoopers from seeing your notifications, and it gives you the peace of mind that your display don’t get scuffed from dust particles or friction.
The rear-facing camera is not disturbed by the case whatsoever, as the cut-out is precision cut to the size of the camera lens, and there will not be any issues with glare from the LED flash or microphone muffling.
The feel of the buttons
In terms of the case’s button responsiveness, the protective rubber boots are not a bother to using the iPhone’s buttons. Pressing the power button or volume buttons still feel like you’re pressing the naked device’s buttons. You feel a very responsive ‘click’ when you press any of the buttons, and it doesn’t give you that hard-to-press rubbery feeling that a lot of cases do. Even the ringer/silent switch is easy to access.
Accessibility of ports
The ports on the bottom of the device are precision cut to ensure all OEM accessories work with the case. I’ve had a variety of third-party accessories work too, although I have found that the 3.5mm headphone jack port is slightly restricted by the size of the opening and my Kilpsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers require removing the case to use. Some other third-party headphone jack accessories, such as my pair of Beats headphones, plug in just fine with the case installed.
Synopsis of Speck CandyShell
The Speck CandyShell makes a good case for the everyday iPhone user that demands protection without bulking up the iPhone too much. Its glossy look keeps the iPhone looking shiny, and it makes accessing the iPhone in tight pants a lot easier because its reduces friction against the fabric of pants.
There are some shortcomings to the CandyShell, such as how vulnerable the back of the case is to scratching, scuffing, and collecting fingerprints and dust, as well as the problem with my speaker system not fitting into the 3.5mm headphone jack without a third-party adapter to make it fit, but despite these minor issues, I think the case has a really nice design and a good drop protection rating.
As a general overview, here are some of the pros and cons of the case:
- Exceeds military (MIL-STD-810G) drop testing standards
- Sleek looking and thin profile for portability
- Glossy finish makes it easy to stuff into a pocket and pull out
- Very responsive button covers retain OEM-style ‘click’ feeling
- Bezel prevents screen scratches when placed face-down on a table
- Lots of room for third-party screen protectors
- Glossy finish is prone to scratching over time
- Glossy finish can make it difficult to grip larger iPhones
- Glossy finish is a fingerprint and dust magnet
- Limited accessibility to some ports makes third-party accessories hit or miss
If you asked me about the Speck CandyShell, I’d say it was a cool case, but I’d recommend you keep reading this post for better options. I rate it at about a 3.5/5 because it’s a good case, but Speck has some better ones to offer. The Speck CandyShell can be had on Amazon for $15.34.
Speck CandyShell Grip: a grippier take on protective & simplistic
The CandyShell Grip is probably what I would consider Speck’s most well-known iPhone case; it’s by far the most-seen Speck case that I come across on a daily basis while I’m out in public. It’s also worth noting that the CandyShell Grip is essentially exactly the same as the CandyShell case we just showed you above, except that it has been given a grippy rear surface to help anyone with butter-fingers from dropping their iPhone all the time.
The grips across the back of the case are rubberized, and they prevent the iPhone from sliding around on the table all the time. What’s more is if you have a larger iPhone, such as the iPhone 6 Plus that I’m using, the grips make it so much easier for anyone who has smaller hands to use their iPhone with just one hand instead of two.
Just like the basic CandyShell, the CandyShell grip is a relatively thin case at just 0.17 inches thick, but it still exceeds the military drop testing standards (MIL-STD-810G) that will keep your iPhone safe from falls. The extra 0.01 inch of thickness with the CandyShell Grip comes from the grips added to the back of the case.
Accessibility of iPhone hardware
Just like the CandyShell, you get the same wide-open access to the front of the iPhone for using Touch ID, the touch screen, and the front-facing sensors and camera. A raised bezel around the perimeter of the display prevents the glass from ever coming into contact with table surfaces and causing friction that would otherwise leave scuffs and marks.
The rear cut-out for the rear-facing camera is even the same as the CandyShell, providing the same great precision fit and not interfering with any of your photography or videography as you use your iPhone.
Same great clicky button feel
Like the original CandyShell, the CandyShell Grip has the same incredibly responsive buttons, and you can still feel every light click the buttons make when you press on them despite being covered by protective rubber boots. The ringer/silent switch is well surrounded by protection, but isn’t difficult to access either.
You’ll notice those grips even wrap around to the sides, and this really helps with their effectiveness when you’re holding your iPhone with one hand.
Like the CandyShell, the CandyShell Grip’s port holes are decently-sized, and the only one we really had issues with was the 3.5mm headphone jack since certain speakers would not fit. Many third-party Lightning cables, on the other hand, are able to squeeze right into the large opening Speck has in this case, and the bottom speaker and microphone even sound great through the case.
Synopsis of the Speck GandyShell Grip
The Speck CandyShell grip is my favorite iPhone case that I’ve used over the years. I love how it keeps a slim profile and how the grips prevent me from dropping the iPhone when I use it while out and about. You get great drop protection with the case, and it even has a unique and distinctive look that really bring out the colors of the iPhone itself.
I’m still a little peeved that my speaker system plug won’t fit into the 3.5mm headphone jack port because the hole is slightly too small in diameter, but this is my favorite day-to-day iPhone case and I just use a cheap third-party headphone jack adapter I bought from Ebay to make my speakers work with the case.
Here are some of the pros and cons I can think of for this case:
- Exceeds military (MIL-STD-810G) drop testing standards
- Has a unique and pleasing look
- Grippy rear and edges help keep the iPhone from sliding out of your hands
- Buttons are very responsive despite being covered
- Screen-surrounding bezel prevents friction against table surfaces
- Wide-open front makes installing third-party screen protectors possible
- Slim profile makes portability super convenient
- Glossy finish is a dust and fingerprint magnet
- Grips can make putting your iPhone in your pocket difficult if the pockets are tight
- Limited accessibility to headphone jack means some speakers or headphones won’t fit
Because I personally enjoy the grips, I have to rate this one slightly higher than the CandyShell at 4/5. The Speck CandyShell Grip can be had on Amazon for $20.58.
Speck CandyShell Clear: where minimalism meets durability
Many times when asking people about the case they use, they go completely against the idea of defending their iPhone and just want something thin and minimalistic because they want to be able to see the beautiful engineering that went into their iPhones.
Speck’s CandyShell Clear provides the best of both worlds in this respect by providing users with a protective case that still provides the outstanding military (MIL-STD-810G) drop test protection standard, but also lets you see clearly through to the other side, so you can see every inch, nook, and cranny of your beautiful iPhone.
The CandyShell Clear is a one-piece snap-on case, but you can definitely tell that it’s two pieces infused into one. The outside of the case is a harder clear polycarbonate shell, while the inside of the case is a softer clear impact-resistant TPU jacket made to cradle your iPhone.
Every part of this case, from the back, to the top, to the sides, to the buttons, is going to be clear and see-through.
Accessibility of the iPhone hardware
Like any other CandyShell series case from Speck, the front of the case is wide-open, giving you full access to the screen, Touch ID sensor, front-facing camera, front-facing microphone, ambient light sensor, and proximity sensor. You can also use a third-party screen protector with this case with no problem at all, and the same bezel is present that protects your screen from placing the iPhone face-down on table surfaces.
The dimensions of the case cutout for the rear-facing camera, LED flash, and rear microphone are also the same, and don’t get in the way of your hardware.
Buttons… buttons… buttons… ports…
The power button, as well as the volume buttons, are covered with a clear rubberized protective boot. The buttons are easy to press through the case, and you’ll still feel the responsive ‘clicky’ feel you’d expect to feel without a case installed at all.
The ringer/silent switch is easily accessed as well. All of the dimensions of the cut-outs for the ringer/silent switch, Lightning port, headphone jack, and speaker grille are all the same as any other CandyShell series case and have the same advantages and shortcomings.
Synopsis of the Speck CandyShell Clear
I’ve always been pretty wary of clear cases. I’ve always thought they’ve looked pretty gaudy, but I’ll be the first to admit that I was very impressed with the CandyShell Clear.
I still found myself with the same third-party accessory fitment issues with the 3.5mm headphone jack that I’ve had with all the other Speck cases in this review, but with a cheap little accessory, I can get around that pretty easily.
Overall, the protective features and see-through features of this case pair well together to create a minimalist’s dream case.
We’ll walk you through some of the pros and cons of the case below:
- Comes with a protective military (MIL-STD-810G) drop test rating
- Clear design will attract minimalists who want to see their iPhone
- Bezel protects screen from being placed face-down on table surfaces
- Button presses are still responsive through the case’s protective button boots
- Works with third-party screen protectors
- Glossy plastic shows scratches and scuffs easily
- Glossy plastic attracts dust and fingerprints
- Glossy plastic makes pulling case in and out of pockets easy
- Clear TPU is susceptible to yellowing over time
- Headphone jack suffers some accessibility problems with some accessories
Because you have to be a part of a specific niche to like clear cases, I’m going to have to say I still like black-colored cases more. In terms of minimalism, the case is about the same thickness as other CandyShell cases, but since you can see your iPhone through it, your iPhone will feel a little more naked. I’m rating the case a 3.5/5 and you can pick on up on Amazon for $34.97.
Speck MightyShell: when durability is your main concern
The Speck MightyShell is Speck’s best technology in one case; this is the head honcho of protection out of what Speck has to offer. With double the protection of the military (MIL-STD-810G) drop test standard, this case provides excellent protection from dropping, crushing, and bumping.
Many of Speck’s cases outlined above use a softer polycarbonate that is flexible enough to absorb impact, but the Speck MightyShell uses a very hard polycarbonate outer shell and a soft rubberized TPU inner core that are merged together into a one-piece snap-on case similar to what you’d see in the leading protective cases on the market made to absorb shock.
The back of the case has a rougher texture to it, which is slightly grippy, and prevents fingerprints and dust from appearing everywhere.
Even though the MightyShell has double the drop protection as any of the other cases outlined in this post, it’s still unbelievably thin, adding only 0.18 inches to the thickness of your iPhone. The sides of the case are made from the same rubberized TPU material as the interior of the case is, which helps you grip your iPhone easily despite the hard plastic backing. This soft-edged design makes this case effective against drops where sides or corners of the iPhone strike the ground first.
Accessibility of iPhone hardware
Just like any of Speck’s other cases, the MightyShell includes that bezel all around the screen to prevent the iPhone’s glass from ever coming in contact with any surfaces when you place it face-down on tables, counters, or shelves. The entire front of the device is exposed, giving you unhindered access to the touch screen (with or without a screen protector), Touch ID sensor, front-facing camera, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and front-facing speaker.
The rear-facing camera has a cut-out large enough that the case will never interfere with taking photos or videos, and the rear-facing microphone and LED flash are also well exposed so you can get the most out of them without any interference from the case.
The MightyShell has a somewhat different design for the protective rubber boots that cover the power and volume buttons. We’d like to note that although the buttons still provide you with that nice clicky feedback you’d feel if you were using your iPhone without a case at all, the buttons are recessed further into the case’s body, making access to them feel a little more restricted than they would in, say, the CandyShell Grip.
Because of the recessed design, the soft button boots feel spongier against the harder protective bezel. Still, it doesn’t really make the buttons any harder to press, but it just doesn’t feel as snappy as other cases noted in this post. I suppose that’s just a trade-off you have to make for the additional protection.
The ringer/silent switch, on the other hand, is very easy to reach through the window the case gives you to turn it on or off.
Accessibility of ports
As far as the ports go, Speck seems to have given the cut-outs the exact same dimensions as any of the company’s other cases, which means although you can hear sound easily from the bottom speaker, experience clear voice with the bottom microphone, and use various third-party Lightning connector accessories without trouble, the 3.5mm headphone jack is still limited to only certain accessories because the cut-out isn’t quite large enough for some speakers or headphones.
OEM EarPods, Beats accessories, and various headphones and speakers will work fine, but the 3.5mm headphone jack connector for my Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 sound system is relatively fat, and just can’t plug in completely without removing the case or buying a separate 3.5mm adapter that fits.
Synopsis of the Speck MightyShell
The Speck MightyShell, despite the few shortcomings it has, is quickly becoming my favorite daily driver as my iPhone case. It has double the drop protection of the CandyShell Grip that love so much, and it’s only 0.01 inches thicker.
The port shortcomings could be an issue for some users who don’t want to remove their case all the time to use speakers with headphone jacks that are too fat for the hole, but this accessory is cheap and helps a lot. As far as my gripe with the recessed buttons goes, although they feel different from the CandyShell Grip, they’re not awful, and I’ve already gotten used to them for the most part.
Below, we’ll outline some of the pros and cons of the case:
- Twice the drop protection of any other MIL-STD-810G-rated Speck case
- Rougher materials give the case more durability from scratches
- Resists fingerprints, smudges, and dust particles
- Buttons retain ‘clicky’ feel even though they’re covered by rubber boots
- Compatibility with third-party screen protectors
- Bezel surrounds screen to protect it from surfaces
- headphone jack accessibility is limited to certain accessories without an adapter
- Lack of rear grips makes the case feel slippery when holding it a certain way
- Buttons are recessed into the bezel and takes getting used to
To me, this case is right up there in quality with the Speck CandyShell Grip, and I’ve been using it nonstop all week. The shortcomings of the case are quickly made up for with having double the drop protection in the same low-profile design, and I’m giving this case a 4.5/5 rating. You can grab this case from Amazon for $37.19.
Which Speck case should you get?
If you’re into Speck’s cases, it all comes down to what one you’d like to use on a daily basis. Every case really has a purpose in the lineup, and will appeal to certain users.
If you’re a minimalist, I would point you in the direction of of the CandyShell Clear because your iPhone will look naked while still having good drop protection. If you wear tighter pants, the CandyShell will make a good choice because it’s easy to slip in and out of a tight pocket. Those with butter-fingers should look at the CandyShell Grip, because it’s intended to give you a better grip of your phone so you don’t drop it by accident.
If you’re more into the department of protection like I am, then you might consider getting the MightyShell, which offers double the drop protection of any of the aforementioned Speck cases and is still relatively thin. Right now, the MightyShell is earning a lot of points for me, and I’m currently using it as of this writing.
Speck even offers a wide variety of colorful CandyShell cases in a series called “Inked” that can meet your stringent color requirements. If you’ve got a colorful personality, I’d recommend checking those out as well from Speck’s website.
What is your favorite Speck case? Share in the comments.