The Speck CandyShell ($16) is a glossy, dual-layer case for the iPhone 4 whose surface we found to be so easily scratched and scuffed, it took on a look of several years of wear in just one week of our testing. The case’s durability issues are a shame too, because the case provides otherwise excellent protection for the iPhone 4. But in the end, we can’t recommend this case, even at a bargain price.
The CandyShell is the type of case that greatly benefits from glammed-up marketing photos, with its glossy surface and smooth curves. But in real-life usage, we found the case too easily became scratched and scuffed from basic actions like laying it on a table or storing it in pockets. In fact, as if foreshadowing its durability issues, our CandyShell case came “pre-installed” with numerous lines of scratches on its glossy black exterior, right out of the packaging.
If the case could stand up to regular wear and tear, it’d be a good-looking case. Its exterior matches the iPhone 4’s gloss note for note, and the case has stylish trim made of silicone rubber. The silicone rubber also lines the interior of the case to prevent the hard plastic exterior from scratching the iPhone. The silicone peaks through the hard plastic exterior on the corners of the iPhone as well as sticking up a millimeter above the edges iPhone’s screen, adding some protection for the front glass should the iPhone land on that side.
Unfortunately for the CandyShell, it has another disastorous design flaw beyond its durability issues: the case makes the iPhone’s ringer switch nearly impossible to access. I had to jam my fingernail into the narrow opening the case provides to access the switch. And despite my effort (and some pain), I could still just barely flip the switch. When we experience a design element like this, we wonder if some of these manufacturers ever actually use their own cases.
The CandyShell does excel in at least one area: protection. It’s a dual-layer case that combes an interior silicone layer with an exterior hard-plastic layer. We think Speck has achieved the perfect thickness for the necessary compromise between protection and maintaining the iPhone 4’s thinness. Overall, the case offers exellent shock absorption. And, the case has a silicone rubber rim that sticks up a quarter of an inch above the iPhone’s screen, taking on some impact should the iPhone drop on that side.
The Speck CandyShell‘s ($16) glossy hard-plastic exterior is simply the most scratchable surface we’ve seen in an iPhone case. After just a few days of use, the case looked like it had been dragged down the highyway—the amount of scratches and scuffs it gathered from storing it in pockets and on tables was astonishing. Combine that with a major design flaw that limits access to the iPhone’s ringer switch, and even the case’s excellent dual-layer protection can’t lead us to recommend this case. We rate the CandyShell a 4.0 out of 10.