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

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.


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.


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.


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



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.


No aperture on back for Apple logo.