capsule review

Speck's MightyVault and ToughShell are protective and convenient iPhone cases

At a Glance
  • Speck Products ToughShell for iPhone 4

  • Speck Products MightyVault for iPhone 4S/4

Speck's $50 ToughShell for iPhone 4 and $50 MightyVault for iPhone 4/4S each sport a similar clever build that the company calls a “one-piece gasketed design.” Although each appears to employ an impenetrable, hard-plastic design with a rubbery silicon edge, you can actually peel back the silicon layer, allowing the hinged plastic halves to open. But the rubbery edge stays attached, and the plastic halves don’t fully separate. I appreciate the effort to maintain a strong seal—and the added benefit of having no small parts to lose or break.

Speck's product information says that that while the MightyVault fits both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, the ToughShell fits only the 4S. However, I had no problem putting my iPhone 4S in the ToughShell.

The cases look almost identical and, indeed, the differences between them are mostly minor. To whit, the ToughShell’s provides separate, precise cutouts for the iPhone's earpiece/speaker, front-facing camera, and proximity sensor, while the MightyVault instead uses a single, stylistically shaped cutout that exposes all three. The only significant difference between the two cases is that the MightyVault includes a built-in, plastic screen-protection layer as part of the case itself; the ToughShell instead ships with an thin, adhesive screen protector.

With either case open, slipping your iPhone inside is simple; you then snap the case shut and thread the outer silicon layer back around the case again. Inside the plastic portion of each case sits a thin layer of cushioning—rubber on the ToughShell or TPU on the MightyVault.

Both cases employ button overlays atop the Sleep/Wake, Home, and volume buttons. With either case, I couldn’t feel the Home button depress much through its button overlay, though it still worked. The other buttons all offered the expected amount of give when pressed.

Both the ToughShell and the MightyVault include cutouts around the front and rear facing cameras, as well as for speakers and microphones. To get to the phone's headphone jack, Ring/Silent switch, or dock-connector port, you need to peel back rubbery covers. The thickness of this silicon layer makes toggling the Ring/Silent switch a bit tricky, as you need to squeeze your fingertip (or fingernail) into a tight space to reach the switch, but it’s manageable.

Each case includes a bulky, plastic, rotating belt-clip holster; the holster's clip can double as an iPhone stand. Your iPhone can face in or out when sitting in the holster, and the clip rotates a full 360 degrees. If you're a fan of holsters, this one works fine.

If you need serious protection, the ToughShell and MightyVault provide it, and they're the rare multi-layer iPhone cases that are quick and easy to put on and take off, thanks to their clever shared design.

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At a Glance
  • Speck Products ToughShell for iPhone 4

  • Speck Products MightyVault for iPhone 4S/4

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