By Andrew Liszewski
The demise of the Flip is proof once again that smartphones are doing their part when it comes to minimizing the number of things we have to carry around. But we still haven’t reached the day when we can leave the house with just a single item in hand. In addition to a smartphone we usually need to bring along a wallet or a handbag for carrying debit cards and ID, but thanks to Speck, even requiring those items could be a thing of the past.
We had a chance to try out their new CandyShell Card Case which was first shown at CES 2011 back in January, and as long as you’ve already put your wallet on a bit of a diet, it’s a handy way to reduce the number of things you have to cram in your pockets. More impressions, photos and our complete review after the jump.
At this point Speck is pretty well known to anyone with even a passing interest in gadgetry. The company sells cases for almost every popular device on the market today, and they were even chosen to provide a couple of options for Apple’s iPhone 4 free case promotion. So it goes without saying that their cases are definitely high quality. And while they usually tend to be pretty stylish too, their new CandyShell Card Case is all about functionality. I’m not saying it isn’t aesthetically pleasing or anything, it just seems like Speck took a simpler, cleaner approach when it came to its design.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything to nitpick about when it comes to the quality of the build and materials with Speck’s cases, but there is one thing I want to point out, since I’ve brought it up in past reviews. The CandyShell Card Case features a unibody design, and while that’s easily the most common type of case, I tend to prefer designs that split in two. I find them easier to install, and far easier to remove. Getting an iPhone 4 into this case wasn’t what I’d call a difficult task by any stretch of the imagination, but removing it certainly took some TLC and patience. It’s not like you’ll be popping it in and out all day though, and once the iPhone 4 is in there it’s definitely not coming out on its own.
And like with any case that isn’t sold out of the back of a sketchy van, the Speck CandyShell Card Case fits the iPhone 4 perfectly and has all of the requisite holes and cutaways providing access to the phone’s hardware buttons, dock connector and headphone port.
When using the iPhone the CandyShell Card Case looks just like the millions of other iPhone cases already on the market, but when you flip it over you discover its raison d’être. On the back it’s got a molded card slot that lets you store a stack of business cards or up to 3 plastic credit/debit/ID cards. Of course if you’re the type who uses their wallet as a filing cabinet the idea of only being able to bring 3 cards with you seems impossibly limiting. So I suspect the case is only going to appeal to minimalists who’ve already put their wallet on a diet, or banished it altogether. If you feel the need to always carry loyalty cards for every store in the tri-state area, I’m afraid this just isn’t for you.
On one side of the case you’ll find the slot for inserting your cards, and on the other is a small cut-away notch that lets you easily push them out with your thumb. In fact once the cards are completely inserted in the slot this is the only way you’ll be able to get them out. A rubber bump on the inside (visible in the empty case photo above) ensures the cards are kept in there via pressure and friction, and no amount of shaking the case is going to cause them to slide out on their own.
It unfortunately also means that you can only remove the card on top by itself. If you want access to the middle card, you’ll have to remove the top 2. And if you want access to the bottom card, all 3 are going to have to come out, which means you’re then annoyingly juggling 3 cards in hand. But the slot does what it’s supposed to do, and does it well. It protects your cards, holds them securely and also does a pretty good job of keeping them out of sight.
In fact the only real caveat to using the CandyShell Card Case is the fact that it adds a bit of extra thickness to your iPhone 4. I already avoid even the thinnest of cases altogether for this reason, but as you can see here with the cutaway that exposes the iPhone’s camera lens, the back of this case is pretty thick. You don’t really feel it when holding it in hand, but it becomes very noticeable when slipped into a pocket.
Overall the CandyShell Card Case does what it promises. It provides ample protection for the iPhone 4, and lets you carry around a small handful of plastic cards for those times when you want to step out with as minimal amount of stuff in your pockets as you can. I don’t think it’s a perfect alternative to carrying a wallet though, given its limited card capacity and the occasional difficulties I had with quickly removing a card, but it’s a nice alternative for certain occasions.
+ Provides a handy way for extreme minimalists to ditch their wallets.
+ High quality case design and construction provides a secure and snug fit for your iPhone 4 and cards.
+ Provides ample protection for the iPhone 4.
– Can only carry 3 cards at a time.
– You have to remove multiple cards to access the ones beneath the top card.
– Adds a bit of thickness to the iPhone 4.
– Unibody case design makes removing the iPhone 4 a bit difficult.
Speck CandyShell Card Case for the iPhone 4 – $39.95
If you have any questions about the CandyShell Card Case you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.