Speck SmartView Flex case for iPhone 5
Art of the iPhone’s Rating: ★★★☆☆
(3 stars out of 5)
Review Summary: The Speck SmartFlex View has a cleverly designed built-in stand that disappears when not in use. While the stand is great, the View’s thin plastic shell doesn’t offer much in the way of shock absorption. We place a premium on shock absorption and protection for our case ratings, but if you can get by without it, the View is an otherwise well-designed case.
Reviewed by: Art of the iPhone
The Speck SmartFlex View case ($20) for the iPhone 5 has one of the better designs for a built-in stand I’ve seen. I’ve reviewed iPhone case/stand combos before, and it’s surprising how useful the stand becomes—once, that is, you get used to the fact there’s always a stand there to use.
What’s so clever about the the SmartFlex View’s stand is that it retracts and disappears into the case when not in use—impressive because the SmartFlex is a slim case with very little room to hide a stand. When you want to use the stand, you simply pull it out like a retractable stick of gum. The stand can prop up the iPhone in both landscape or portrait orientation (it’s limited to a total of 3 angles).
Protection. The SmartFlex is a thin, hard-plastic case, and as a slim-style case, the SmartFlex doesn’t offer much shock absorption, and thus it won’t do much to protect your iPhone 5 if you accidentally drop it. Its thin plastic means it’s mostly good for protecting against everyday wear and tear. I will point out, however, that the inside of the case lacks a soft lining, which could lead to the case itself scratching the iPhone through subtle abrasion over time.
The front of the case has a rim that sticks up about a half millimeter above the iPhone’s screen, which will prevent the screen from touching surfaces when laid down on its screen side—always a nice bonus, as the screen gets dirty enough as is.
Build quality. As mentioned, the Speck is made of thin hard plastic. While this type of common polycarbonate plastic has shown to be quite durable for use in iPhone cases in the past, it’s the retractable stand that worries me. It’s feels quite flimsy, and the hinge that allows it to function feels like it could be easily broken.
Fit & Feel. The SmartFlex View feels impressively solid and tight once it’s on the iPhone—there is no creakiness to the plastic—when on, it feels like it becomes one with the iPhone. The case is also pleasant to hold in the hand thanks to its smoothly rounded corners that make a nice break from the iPhone 5’s sharp edges. Overall, the iPhone 5 becomes more comfortable to hold in the hand with the case on than without. And because it’s a slim-style case, it adds very little bulk and weight to the superslim iPhone 5.
The SmartFlex is available in 4 different colors: black (which I am reviewing here), blue, gray, and purple.
Accessibility. The SmartFlex’s overall excellent design continues when it comes to making sure you can use all of the iPhone’s functions as expected. There are cutouts for both the lightning port and headphones on the bottom that allow them to be used without obstruction. The case covers the iPhone’s volume and sleep/wake buttons with its own simulated plastic buttons, but these buttons still work accurately when pressed, without the need for additional pressure. The only slight annoyance is that the ringer switch is a bit harder to flip, as you have to dig down with your finger tip to reach it. It’s a minor issue and not really a bother in real-life use.
Speck SmartFlex View’s distinguishing feature is a cleverly designed stand that retracts into the case and essentially disappears until needed again. It’s one of the better designed case/stand combos out there, bested only by the Zerochroma Teatro stand/cases. The SmartFlex View’s only flaw is its lack of protective qualities due to its thin, hard-plastic construction. If you’re looking for a slim-style case and you don’t care about shock absorption, the SmartFlex View, with its excellent stand, is an excellent choice.
- Retractable stand stays hidden when not in use.
- Smooth feel with rounded corners.
- Good accessibility to iPhone’s buttons and ports.
- Thin, hard plastic means no shock absorption.
- No lining inside means the hard plastic can scratch the iPhone through subtle abrasion over time.