Speck PixelSkin HD Case for iPhone 5/5s: High Marks

| In-Depth Review

The Speck PixelSkin HD case for the iPhone 5/5s is not designed to let the iPhone's color show through, but if you don't care about that and want superior protection, ease of use, attractive color choices and great grip, this is a superb case.

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There are lots of different kinds of cases, and there are lots of different kinds of people. Some iPhone customers may have a space gray and black iPhone, and showing off the native color is the last thing on their minds. Those users may want convenience, protection, grip and style.

This case delivers on all counts.

Convenience. This case slips on and off better than most iPhone cases I've reviewed, but poses no risk to accidentally come off. That's because it's made of a stiff Silicone that has just the right give and strength. To that end, I tested the stiffness of the push through buttons, and the material gives nicely. That means you won't reach for the Tylenol after you've changed the volume frequently.

Protection. The soft Silicone gives just a little and can absorb some shock -- in contrast to the polycarbonate cases that offer scratch protection but will likely crack if dropped on a hard surface. (It's happened to me.) This kind of soft Silicone can absorb a shock and keep on looking good. The raised, wraparound edges around the front mean that you can place the iPhone face down without the display coming in contact with a surface.

The colors, grip and design are excellent.

Grip. The pixelated skin and soft Silicone also provide a very good grip. Unlike some of the smooth, polished polycarbonate cases, this case has a warm, soft, grippy feel, but it's texture is such that it won't pick up lint, like a softer case or its cousin. (See "iPhone 4S: Speck PixelSkin Case is Solid.")

Style. This case looks exceptionally good. It stays look good looking because it doesn't pick up much lint, the surface isn't susceptible to scratches and the pixelated design looks very attractive. One negative here is that there's no circular aperture for the Apple logo. However, it does have a blackened edge around the camera/flash aperture to absorb reflections. I like small touches like that.

This case comes in some really rich but low-key colors, gray, red, purple (shown here), blue and black. The "HD" indicates that the pixels are smaller than the similar product, "PixelSkin," and those cases are a bit softer and pliable. (See the review, linked just above.)

Unlike some cases that clutter the design with lettering,
Speck keeps the logo on the inside.

Packaging

I look at the packaging because the quality of the packaging reflects the manufacturer's pride in the product. If the packaging is shoddy, the product may be also.

This package is decently made and easy to open and close. The company's address and warranty information (1 year) are printed on the back. The features and intended iPhone (5/5s) are clearly marked. You can open the case and inspect the product in a store non-destructively. That's important because a lot of customer dissatisfaction comes from getting something unexpected and disappointing.

Shipping is free, and there's a 30-day unconditional guarantee.

Summary

If you're not interested in a case that shows off the iPhone native color, but you'd rather be discreet and have a practical, affordable case that offers convenience and protection, this one is a great pick. Unlike many cases I review, this one has no serious negatives, and Speck appears to support it well. Finally, some companies, like Speck, just seem to have a more refined sense of design than others.

And here's the real acid test. My wife has grabbed it for her iPhone 5 and won't give it up.

Product: PixelSkin HD

Company: Speck

List Price: US$29.95

Pros:

Very good protection and grip.  Easy to remove. Push through buttons aren't stiff. Attractive colors. Anti-reflection edge of camera port. Will stay looking good. Doesn't gather much lint.

Cons:

No aperture on back for Apple logo.

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Comments

ctopher

I’ve had this case (black) almost as long as I’ve had my 5 (purchased soon after launch). I always thought of it as a basic as they come, no frills case. I wish it were more pliable, but then, I’ve had it this long and it seems to get the job done. I like it because I can lay the phone down screen up or down and it stays flat and doesn’t move.

I’m a phone in my front pocket kind of person, and this case doesn’t add much bulk but it does protect the iPhone. I’ve dropped my phone a few times and I haven’t had any trouble. (lucky?)

Before I got an AUX cable that was slim, I used to pull the phone out of the case when I would connect it to my car stereo. Even so, the iPhone still stays snug in the case. It has been around the world and it still looks as boring as it did the day I bought it smile

Your con? I guess you had to have one, but since you said this case does not “show off” the iPhone, who needs to show off the logo?

SierraHotel

This is the case I received from Apple during “antenna gate”. It is now on my iPhone 4S. It still looks like new. One feature the article does not mention: the case edge around the front face of the phone protrudes out enough to protect the face of the phone when it is dropped on a flat surface. I have dropped my phone on sidewalks/parking lots numerous times….but have never damaged the screen.

One caution: I understand that the Speck branded cases are copied ruthlessly in China, down to and including the packaging. I have even seen complaints that some of those sold on Amazon are not real Specks. There is a big difference between the the fakes and the real ones, especially regarding fit. I would not buy one except from Apple or Speck’s site.

John Martellaro

SierraHotel: Actually I did mention that feature in the “Protection” paragraph.

vamountains

OH, my gosh… this is the ultimate case, in my opinion..

I stumbled on it way back 2 yrs ago (for my iPhone4) - I bought a Mac from wegenermedia.com and they tossed it in as a “thank you” option.  In hindsight they should’ve charged me $50 for it - it’d be worth every penny! I dropped my phone DOZENS of times with nary a ding!

Then I got an iPhone 4s, moved it over to that phone. dropped my phone out of the work truck WHILE DRIVING, and no damage.  Dropped it down a flight of concrete stairs.  no damage.

So yes, when the iPhone 5 came out, there was no way I was going to see my phone in ANY OTHER case.  it absolutely freakin rocks!

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