iPhone 4 Case Review: Speck ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 5
What's Hot: : Very rugged, and rugged-looking. Heavy-duty silicone outer skin provides unparalleled drop protection and feels great in your hand. Included holster holds your iPhone 4 very securely and doubles as a viewing stand. Both ports as well as the mute switch are recessed for drop protection, yet highly accessible. Thin, inner plastic shell can be used on its own for when you need a smaller, lighter phone.
What's Not: No flaps or plugs means it won't provide much protection against moisture. The silicone skin that helps to hold it in the holster also makes it very difficult to place it in the holster.
Speck has outdone themselves with the ToughSkin for iPhone 4. Being an owner of this case for the iPhone 3GS, I can say without reservation that this is their most durable case yet. While Speck can?t boast that this case provides the most protection available, that clearly wasn?t their goal. Protection and usability are at opposite ends of a sliding scale, and the ToughSkin does an excellent job of finding the sweet spot in the middle.
As with all rugged cases, the ToughSkin adds a significant amount of heft and girth to your relatively fragile iPhone 4. However, Speck has managed to add less than you?d expect while still providing serious drop protection. The secret is in the hard inner shell, which is thinner and lighter than that of the competition. They manage this by building a series of thick ridges into it. This is an ingenious design in that it gives the silicone cover something to grab onto without adding a lot of size on its own. As an added benefit, it also functions nicely all by itself for those times when you need something a little more subtle. As somebody who takes his phone out of its case at least once a day to stuff it into a runner?s armband, I really appreciate not having to disassemble an inner case (this one fits), as I have had to do with other rugged covers.
The ToughSkin has a great, stylishly rugged appearance. The silicone skin is covered with attention-getting ridges, and the yellow Speck logo on the back provides a nice contrast to what would otherwise be an all black case. Although I have tried a number of other cases that provide much more protection than the ToughSkin, they all failed to garner even a fraction of the attention that this one has received just sitting on my desk or attached to my hip. I don?t know how else to describe it; The Speck ToughSkin just looks cool.
The Speck ToughSkin is very well-made, and feels great in your hand due to the thick knobby silicone, which is stiffer and more substantial than most of the competition. Speck has chosen to leave the ports and mute switch uncovered (the volume, home, and standby buttons are all nicely covered), but heavily recessed. The downside of this is very little protection against moisture. The upside, however, is that you don?t have to dig, pry, or pluck at anything to get to your phone controls. A more effective moisture barrier might sound great; however, I found the tradeoff of protection for accessibility to be quite welcome. Having just transitioned from a more aggressive case I can tell you that I really got tired of peeling those tabs away to get to the docking and headphone ports. If you intend to carry your iPhone into a wet environment, you might want to find more protection; if your primary concern is drop protection, however, the ToughSkin may be right in your Goldilocks zone. The included holster adds a great deal of value to the case. It is a bit thinner than I would like, but it does a great job of retaining your phone until you want to pry it out and use it. The downside of this is that it is not easy to return to the holster due to the clips invariably finding their way between the silicone skin and the phone; Not a fatal flaw, but definitely an annoyance.
The Speck ToughSkin provides excellent drop protection and looks great while doing it. The absence of flaps or tabs covering the ports and mute switch means less protection but greater accessibility. Whether this is an acceptable tradeoff is going to be different for each of you, although I found it to be a nice balance. The ruggedly handsome style is certainly an attention-getter, and the added holster is a great value. Remember to purchase the correct version (AT&T or Verizon) as this case is NOT one-size-fits-all.