At a Glance
The PixelSkin HD provides decent (non-screen) protection without adding much bulk to your iPhone.
Editor’s note: The black version of the PixelSkin HD Case is one of the cases included in Apple’s iPhone 4 Case Program. For a list of all the cases offered as part of this program, as well as reviews of those cases, check out our Free iPhone 4 Case Collection.
Speck’s PixelSkin HD Case for iPhone 4 consists of a single piece of semi-rigid thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which makes the PixelSkin HD feel like a stiffer version of a silicone “skin” case. The case covers the back and all four edges of the iPhone 4, wrapping slightly around the front. This front lip offers a bit of protection for the iPhone’s screen when you place the phone face-down on a desk or table, although the PixelSkin HD leaves the iPhone’s screen exposed.
You operate the phone’s volume buttons and Sleep/Wake button through the case, while the Ring/Silent switch, headphone jack, top microphone, bottom microphone, speaker, and dock-connector port are exposed for easier access. There’s also an adequate opening for the iPhone’s camera lens and LED flash.
The phone’s controls work well through the case, although the Ring/Silent switch may be difficult to flip if you’ve got large fingers. And as with most of the cases offered through the free-case program, the opening for the iPhone’s headphone jack isn’t large enough to accommodate some larger third-party headphone-plug casings, and the opening at the bottom of the case for the iPhone’s dock-connector port isn’t large enough to fit bulkier dock-connector plugs, such as the one on Griffin’s 3 Meter USB to Dock Cable or CableJive’s Dock Extender Cable. However, unlike Apple’s iPhone 4 Bumper, the PixelSkin HD at least works with older Apple dock-connector cables.
Similarly, like most iPhone cases, the PixelSkin HD prevents you from placing your encased iPhone 4 in most dock-cradle accessories without a third-party adapter such as SendStation’s Dock Extender or the aforementioned Dock Extender Cable. Alternatively, you can remove your phone from the case when you want to use a dock-cradle accessory—the PixelSkin HD is relatively easy to remove.
The PixelSkin HD covers the spot in the lower-left corner of the iPhone where two of its external antennas meet. If you’ve experienced reception problems due to your hand bridging those antennas, the PixelSkin HD should alleviate that specific reception issue.
The PixelSkin HD’s back offers a subtle pixel pattern over a glossy background, giving the otherwise plain case a bit of style. Like the rubber used on Griffin’s Reveal Etch, the PixelSkin HD’s TPU feels “dry” compared to silicone-skin cases—it’s easier than silicone to slide in and out of a pocket without getting stuck—but offers a better grip than that of a bare iPhone. The case offers moderate protection against minor drops and bumps to the sides and back of the phone.
As with all the cases Apple chose for its free-case program, the PixelSkin HD provides decent (non-screen) protection without adding much bulk to your iPhone. If you’re looking for a silicone-skin-like case and Griffin’s Motif is a bit too flashy, the PixelSkin HD is a solid, if undistinguished, alternative.