By Andrew Liszewski
I tend to avoid using a case with my iPhone for the simple reason they add a bit too much bulk for my liking. It’s just a personal preference, but I do admire that accessory manufacturers go out of their way to design cases that strike a good balance between minimal bulk and maximum protection. Except when it comes to Speck’s ToughSkin case for the iPhone 4. It throws that balance way out of whack with a design that provides maximum protection, and let me emphasize maximum here, while seemingly not caring one iota that the iPhone gains a few pant sizes as a result.
But if you’re the clumsy type, and don’t mind putting up with a bit of extra padding for the insurance your iPhone 4 will survive a nasty tumble, then Speck’s ToughSkin case is certainly right up your alley. More after the jump.
Another thing I’m not particularly fond of when it comes to some cases is how difficult they can be to install. And getting the iPhone 4 into Speck’s ToughSkin case is kind of like the scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie and Randy get dressed for their walk to school. You start with the underwear and work your way out to the full snowsuit from there. But in this case the ‘underwear’ is a thin plastic shell that easily snaps onto the iPhone 4.
As far as protection goes this inner case doesn’t provide nearly as much as the full getup. It will protect your iPhone from scratches, bumps and nicks, but it’s just a thin, plastic shell and isn’t something you’ll want to rely on all the time. But I think it’s actually designed to do a bit more than just provide minimal protection. When you flip it over you’ll discover a series of raised plastic ridges on the back which might reveal another one of the inner case’s raison d’être. They seem a little pointless until you continue the bundling up process and add the ToughSkin’s outer layer.
It’s made of a soft, thick rubber and when you put it on you’ll find that the plastic ridges on the inner case line up with its own ridges which seem to help it stay in place. Otherwise, because it’s made of soft rubber, I feel it would have the tendency to shift around.
At this point the iPhone 4 is fully dressed and unfortunately stops being something thin and svelte that you can easily slip into your pocket. But at the same time it also feels like it’s gained superhero-like powers and could easily survive a multi-story fall from a tall building. (But it probably won’t! So don’t try and it claim OhGizmo! told you to do it.)
And like with any case the ToughSkin still provides access to all of the iPhone’s ports, openings and buttons, but since it’s so thick it can sometimes be difficult to press them. As you can see in the above shot the mute button ends up being pretty sunken, and while it’s not a huge inconvenience to jam a finger in there to slide it on or off, I feel it’s still worth mentioning.
When flipped over you’ll find the same raised ridge design of the inner plastic case mirrored on the back of the outer rubber case. Like I said before I’m assuming it helps the rubber case stay in place, but the ridges also let it flex and bend under the pressure of an impact so that it can absorb more energy, transferring less of it to your fragile iPhone inside.
And since when fully dressed your ToughSkin protected iPhone 4 is probably not going to easily slip into your front or back jeans’ pocket anymore, Speck includes an additional hard plastic clip that can be attached to your belt providing easy access to your phone at all times. But I do find it a little ironic that a case explicitly designed to provide extra protection for your phone also happens to require you to carry it in a manner where it’s more likely to get bumped or fall. Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Speck ToughCase is available now for $39.95 in your choice of black, black, black or black. And short of entombing your iPhone 4 in layers and layers of bubble wrap, I’m fairly certain you’re not going to find a protective case that’s as effective as this one that still actually lets you use your phone.