by Doug Morse
In the Beginning
Well, I thought I sit down this morning with my cup of tea and tell you about the Speck ToughSkin (store link, $29.95). Due to errands and just plain procrastination, the tea is cold. Anyhow, that’s enough about the start to my day and on to the review because things are certainly looking up. The Spec ToughSkin is a two part solution. The first is a ‘ruggedized’ silicon layer that fits snuggly around your iPhone. Then there is a plastic holster attached to a belt clip. The entire iPhone case can be plunked into the holster clip on your belt. This is, in theory, a best of both worlds scenario, or as Speck puts it ‘best case’ scenario. So I’ll start with the silicon case itself.
Speck isn’t kidding when they call this thing ruggedized. The ridges on the sides are seriously thick. Your fingers will slip nicely between each ridge whether held in the left or right hand. The extra thick layer also extends to the edges of the front around the screen to the top and bottom of the case and covers about a third of the area on the back. Speck made the wise choice to create cut outs only where necessary. The screen is of course exposed (but get a screen protector) as well as the front speaker and motion sensor. The home button is covered though Speck makes an improvement to Apple’s option. There is a small raised square to provide tactile feedback and grip. Other cut outs include the bottom connector and speakers as well as camera, ringer switch, and headphone jack. The volume switch and power switch are covered in silicone though are still easy to operate. The case does add a bit of resistance to these switches, but I prefer protection wherever you can get it.
All in all, the case portion of the Tough Skin is excellent. I am not entirely convinced about the frosted clear color, thought he black looks more attractive.
Now that’s Cool
When looking at items, I usually just throw them on and try them for a week or two without reading the Phone Different store blurbs. I get around to it, well, now when I’m setting fingers to keyboard. One of the bullet points on the product page is “belt clip/stand for viewing” Yet even on the information, photos and packaging itself there is not a single good explanation. Simply, you can create a stand out of the belt clip. The clip portion itself clips back so the whole unit will stand upright at around 45 degrees. This adds yet another screen full of information to your day. Just a second ago I pressed home and slid for the weather. It’s like an additional little widget right on the desk. If someone calls, the caller ID is right there without having to lift a finger to get to the phone. The way the phone sits, the bottom speakers aren’t covered and this would be a great speakerphone set up.
But wait, there’s more! A quick trip to Speck’s website encouraged me to try the stand on its side. So if you need that landscape mode, you have it. On a train trip or some such, you have your own portable entertainment center so you can watch the latest episode of Lost.
While wearing the combo around town, you’ll want to face the screen in towards the screen sized part of the beltclip holster to get maximum protection. If you’re using ear buds, you could easily pick up a call while wearing the iPhone and never take it out of the clip (then of course return to your music).
If you do bump into the corner of a piece of furntiature,a s I did, it is possible to dislodge the entire iPhone from the clip. However the case really offers solid protection and will protect the iPhone from reasonably minor mishaps.
Another feature of the clip is full 360 degree ratcheting, though the mechanism is very resistant and loud. I’m used to a simple soft ratchet so when I sit down I can swivel the device a bit if need be.
Going in to this review, I thought the $29.95 was a bit steep for the Speck Toughskin. I wasn’t convinced the plastic clip/holster was worth the extra dough. It certainly is. By facing the Phone in you get maximum protection. The stand option is awesome offering easy access to all iPhone functions such as Calendar, weather and whatever you might need both when the computer is off or it is inconvenient to open up yet another program window. You also get a mini entertainment center. Although I’m not a huge fan of the frosted clear, the black will match both the iPhone and black plastic clip with aplomb.
The ratcheting mechanism is too stiff and loud, though better to have the option than not. The phone can still be dislodged from the clip should you bump it against anything.
All in all though, a versatile and protective offering that should be strongly considered should you like the flexible option this combination affords. Highly recommended.