At a Glance
The ToughSkin offers excellent drop protection, but it’s far too difficult to remove an iPhone from the case.
Speck Products’s $40 ToughSkin for iPhone 4 aims to provide extra protection against shock by combining a rubbery outer case with a hard-plastic inner shell. You snap your iPad into the shell first—a straightforward procedure—then slip the rubber case over it.
With your phone properly clad in both the plastic shell and the outer rubber case, your iPhone’s two cameras remain unobscured; all its buttons and ports are similarly accessible, and most are easy to use. However, the Ring/Silent switch is tough to operate with the ToughSkin on. The ToughSkin isn’t the only rugged iPhone 4 case to exhibit this problem—the further recessed that little switch becomes inside a case, the harder it is to access.
The case’s rubber edges smartly extend beyond the screen in front to better protect the front of the iPhone during a face-down fall. The ToughSkin also comes with a screen protector the Speck calls ShieldView. Like all screen protectors, it’s a bit frustrating to apply, but seems to serve its purpose. I’m not fond of such adhesive protectors myself, but if you like them, this one seems typical.
The case also includes a plastic holster with a belt clip. The clip rotates 360 degrees, and you can also fold it out to use it as a kickstand. I found that the holster made my iPhone 4 bulkier and heavier than I could accept for daily wear, although if you like keeping your iPhone on your belt, the convenience combined with the ToughSkin’s protection may make the bulk worth it.
Overall, the ToughSkin worked well, and seemingly offered excellent drop protection. Of course, as with all rugged cases, you can’t place your iPhone in a dock-cradle accessory without removing the phone from the case. And therein lies the one significant problem that keeps me from recommending this case: Removing the plastic inner shell from my iPhone 4 was both painful and difficult. Swear words were uttered. A knife was used. My iPhone is now scratched at the spot where I used the knife to pry the case off. A call to Speck’s support department for assistance—before I went to the knife—was unhelpful, as the representative told me she was unsure of the best way to remove the case. So unless you intend to leave the ToughSkin on your iPhone 4 forever, you’ll be happier with a case that’s easier to remove, even if it’s not quite as protective.