The Fitted Case provides good protection from bumps and drops, as well as a unique style. As long as you don’t need to use larger third-party cables and plugs, or use a dock-cradle accessory, the Fitted Case is a solid choice.
Editor’s note: The Black Tartan version of Speck’s Fitted 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 Fitted Case for iPhone 4 is unique among the cases Apple is offering through the iPhone 4 Case Program in that instead of being a single piece of flexible material that slips over or snaps onto your iPhone, the Fitted Case consists of two pieces of rigid, grippy plastic—front and back—that snap together to form a hardshell case. This design allows the Fitted Case to cover a bit more of the front of the iPhone than one-piece cases, and gives the case a rounder shape on the sides, but it also makes the Fitted Case more difficult to remove than other cases.
Once you place your iPhone 4 into the back piece of the Fitted Case and then snap on the front piece, the case covers the entire back of the phone and all four edges. As with the other cases Apple is giving away, the case features a “lip” around the front of the iPhone that provides some protection for the iPhone’s screen when you set the phone face-down on a table or desk. In fact, the Fitted Case’s lip is the deepest of any of the cases in the Program, keeping the iPhone’s screen the farthest from such flat surfaces. Of course, even this lip can’t protect the iPhone’s screen from direct blows—like the other cases, the Fitted Case leaves the screen exposed. And I did find the larger lip to occasionally get in the way when using an iPhone app that required me to touch or drag right up to the edge of the phone’s screen.
Like Belkin’s Shield Micra, the Fitted Case doesn’t cover any of the iPhone 4’s buttons or openings—the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons, Ring/Silent switch, headphone jack, both microphones, speaker, dock-connector port, camera, and LED flash are all exposed. (The other cases in Apple’s free-case program at least cover the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons.) But I found the Ring/Silent switch to be quite a bit easier to use in the Fitted Case compared to those cases that cover the volume buttons—their added protection results in a recessed Ring/Silent switch that’s difficult to flip.
On the other hand, as with most of Apple’s free-case offerings, the Fitted Case’s opening for the iPhone’s headphone jack isn’t large enough to accommodate some larger third-party headphone-plug casings, and the opening 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. (The Fitted Case does work with older Apple dock-connector cables, which have larger plugs than the cable that ships with the iPhone 4.)
Similarly, the Fitted Case 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. The Fitted Case can be removed, but it’s a bit of a hassle to do so.
Given that it’s part of the free-case program, the Fitted Case of course 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 Fitted Case should alleviate that specific reception issue.
Besides its two-piece hardshell design, the Fitted Case is also unique in that the rigid back panel of the case is covered in fabric. The case Apple offers for free sports a black-and-gray tartan design, but Speck offers seven other choices, as well.
The Fitted Case provides good protection from bumps and drops—except for blows to the screen, of course—and a unique style. Even after several test drops, the case’s two pieces stayed firmly together. As long as you don’t need to use larger third-party cables and plugs, or use a dock-cradle accessory, the Fitted Case is a solid choice.