FEATURE: 01.04.21 – If you’re looking for a durable yet ultra slim and stylish smartphone case to protect your iPhone, especially if you’re the type who tends to drop their phone a lot, there’s one manufacturer of cases that’s got you covered.
It’s a new year and if you’re tire of the same old look that your iPhone is sporting but don’t intend to let go of it yet and upgrade to an iPhone 12, your best bet is to get a new case for your phone. One of the best makers of a number of different types of cases to fit your style and suit your needs is San Mateo, California-based company Speck.
In addition to cases for smartphones, Speck also covers your tablets as well as notebook computers (plus, they sell bags too!). As far as Apple products go? Aside from the iPhone (of course), the company offers coverage for the iPad, the Mac — from the MacBook and MacBook Air, to the MacBook Pro — and they even cover the iPod touch and AirPods too (believe it or not!).
Get A ‘Grip’ On Yourself
I’m no stranger to cases from Speck. Before I owned ones for my iPhone, I had the company’s SeeThru Satin case — since rebranded as the SmartShell — first for my 11-inch MacBook Air and later for my older 15-inch MacBook Pro. Compared to the regular SeeThru cases which are transparent and glossy (and slippery as a result), its counterpart is translucent and has a matte finish with a rubberized coating which gives you a grip when holding onto your Apple notebook computer during transport (or when slipping it into a laptop bag or backpack while on the go).
But my discovery of the “Grip” series of smartphone cases from Speck was purely by accident.
I was admiring the phone case that my dad had on his iPhone 8 because it had these stylized rubber grips on the sides and back (reminiscent of the SeeThru Satin case in a way). I don’t quite know what it was about it but, being a visually impaired iPhone user, having a more tactile feel just somehow enhances the overall experience of using a smartphone with something like that on it. So after finding out the make and model — the Presidio Grip — which was from the same company, Speck (of course), who made the CandyShell case I already had on my original iPhone SE (2016 model) that I owned at the time, I upgraded to the similarly styled CandyShell Grip.
When I upgraded to a new Apple smartphone back in May of last year, the second generation iPhone SE (2020 model), I knew without a doubt what style of cases I was going to get for my phone: a CandyShell Grip from Speck.
However, after purchasing the CandyShell Grip for my phone, I found out that while compatible with the iPhone 7 and 8 (as labeled on the product box) and thus, the second generation iPhone SE (which has the same body as the iPhone 8)? It has an opening on the bottom left corner of the case for the headphone jack as it was originally designed for the iPhone 6 and 6s and subsequently the iPhone 7 and 8 despite those latter two models not having a headphone jack onboard (I guess Speck didn’t think it was cost effective nor necessary to update the design for such a minor discrepancy as an extraneous hole on the case).
That caused me to get the Presidio Grip instead, the original case from Speck which led me to the “Grip” series in the first place!
CandyShell Grip vs. Presidio Grip
These two products share a similar set of features, key among them (of course), the rubber grips found on the sides and back of the case — designed for texting, gaming, and photography (although the company uses the word “selfies”) — with only a few design tweaks setting each one apart. Since the CandyShell Grip is the older model, I’ll focus on the Presidio Grip for this mini product review of sorts.
The following are details which Speck provides on its website for the Presidio Grip:
- two layers of protection against drops of up to ten feet
- protective no-slip grip
- scratch resistant finish
- raised bezel screen protection
- slim design
- Qi wireless charging compatible
- lab tested durability
The major differences between the Presidio Grip and the CandyShell Grip are the new matte finish on the former of the two (which resists scratches) versus the glossy one on the latter. Also, the newer model improves on protection and is even slimmer than before. Of note is that the older version featured military grade drop protection — certified to meet or exceed MIL STD-810G drop test standards — which, in comparison, its successor far exceeds.
Although both cases feature rubber grips on the sides and back of the case, with the Presidio Grip, it goes straight down from top to bottom whereas on the CandyShell Grip, there is a gap in the middle. In addition, the pattern and feel of the newer model is different with thinner ridges that are angled versus them being thicker and horizontally oriented on the previous iteration.
Furthermore, the Presidio Grip only has the company’s logo — a “spark” (a stylized asterisk) — in the top right corner on the back of the case just above the rubber grips whereas on the CandyShell Grip, the company name and logo are emblazoned down the center sideways. Instead, on the newer model, the same is now found inside the case where it can not be seen once the phone is placed in it (I think that was a huge mistake and they should’ve done it vice versa, putting the spark on the interior and Speck plus the logo on the exterior for brand recognition).
Personally? Between the two models, I liked the design of the CandyShell Grip much better because of how much more of a grip you get on your phone due to the thickness of the rubber grips and the way that they are oriented (in comparison, the Presidio Grip felt a little more slippery in my hands). Also, I think I like the glossy coating rather than the matte finish. What’s more, although I can’t see it, I think having the company name and logo emblazoned in the center on the backside of the case is much more attractive than just a spark on the top right corner of the case (if you didn’t know what that asterisk represented, you, or others, wouldn’t know it was a case from Speck!).
If it was not for the opening in the case for the headphone jack on the CandyShell Grip, I certainly would have stuck with it rather than opting for the Presidio Grip for my phone (not to mention, it being cheaper than the newer model since it is a previous generation product).
A Breakthrough Product From Speck
The Presidio Grip is part of a family of cases from Speck which made its debut back in September 2016 to coincide with the announcement of the iPhone 7. According to the company in a press release, Presidio is the slimmest and most protective line of cases they’ve ever designed.
Unique to the Presidio line of smartphone cases is Speck’s innovative technology — the IMPACTIUM™ Shock Barrier — which is a dynamic shock absorbing material that is co-molded with the case’s polycarbonate shell and formed into ridges on the inside perimeter of the case that, when dropped, compress on impact to absorb and disperse shock. These smartphone cases also undergo a range of tests other than for just drops to demonstrate they can endure both extreme and everyday wear and tear. Additional tests include: UV tests, scratch and hardness tests, chemical tests, and environmental tests.
“Presidio represents a significant breakthrough for the Speck design team. It is the most protective case we’ve built, and adds 20 percent less bulk to your device than CandyShell, which is already the standard for slim impact protection,” said Speck’s design chief, Bryan Hynecek, in the press release.
According to the company in its press release (and on its product website), every Presidio Grip case is backed by Speck’s limited lifetime warranty. Additionally, purchasing a product directly from Speck gets you free shipping and no hassle returns. Depending on the Apple smartphone model that you have, prices will vary for the CandyShell Grip case (iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6s) and the Presidio Grip case (iPhone 7 all the way up to the new iPhone 12).
You can purchase a CandyShell Grip or Presidio Grip — or any other style from an assortment of different cases — directly from Speck by visiting the company’s official website at: speckproducts.com (I got mine for way less on eBay but beware… make sure you “Get a spark, not a dud!”). First time buyers can receive a discount of up to 30% off any product of your choice when you sign up with a valid email address.