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Mobility Digest Review: ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4

Touch capacitive devices like the iPhone 4 are great until you drop them. If that tragedy ever befalls you then you may have a shattered screen or at best a hairline crack. Either one of these scenarios is a bad one; it’s better to be pro-active in protecting one’s iPhone 4.

Today we will look at a case designed to protect the iPhone 4 from life’s daily traumas. Speck the well known and highly regarded Apple mobile device peripheral maker have released the ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4. This rugged case was created to be multifunctional with its rubberized exterior, inner hard shell case and belt clip holster that doubles as a viewing stand.

Author: Tom Ratas

Vendor: Speck

Price: $39

Overall Rating: 3/5

Roller derby queens, rodeo clowns and demolition derby drivers aren’t the only ones who get their share of bumps and bruises: our phones do, too. Protect yours with the new and improved ToughSkin, our ultra-strong case for iPhone 4 with textured, rubberized skin, and a thin, inner plastic shell for reinforced protection. This most rugged of iPhone accessories also includes a detachable holster/belt clip that doubles as a viewing stand.


-Rugged and tough dual-layer iPhone 4 protection

-Rubberized and textured exterior for maximum protection and grip

-Durable protective hard inner case can also be used separately

-Detachable holster with rotating belt clip also works as a viewing stand

Materials: Nylon & Silicone & Polycarbonate (PC)

What’s in the Box?

The ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 arrives in a white and orange cardboard box with a plastic clamshell within protecting the case.

Inside the box we find the case, belt holster, ShieldView and its installation instructions. It is primarily colored black save for an orange Speck logo on the back of the rubbery case.

The ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 is composed of two sections – a razor thin hard inner case and a rubberized textured exterior covering. The inner shell case can be used by itself or with the padded external rubber exterior. Speck created the inner case using Polycarbonate while choosing Silicone for the rubbery cover.

For carrying the ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 around Speck provides a multifunction belt clip/holster. This holster has a rotating belt clip, which can double as a viewing stand; besides providing protection the ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 also is a functional case.

If your iPhone 4 is does not sport a screen protector then the included ShieldView provides a nice screen shield which is a static cling type meaning there is no residue when removed.

Impressions / Review:

Installation involves snapping the inner case onto the iPhone 4. If you wish to use it as a slim hard shell case then you can stop at this point. Raised ridges found on the back of this shell provide an improved grip for the user. While this shell is impressively thin it seems pretty durable.

One major issue I had with it was trying to remove it. The shell rests so closely to the iPhone 4 that gaining an edge took several minutes of attempting to slide my nail under it. Once I gained this foothold I had to use a coin to pry the rest of the shell of the iPhone 4.

For those desiring more durable protection then insert the hard shell protected iPhone 4 into the rubber exterior of the ToughSkin. This silicone material is fairly thick and is designed to make the ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 match up with the OtterBoxes and Ballistic cases of the world.

Speck placed textured notches and ridges on this outer shell as well for an improved grip. Rubber button nubs cover the power and volume buttons while the headphone jack, mute switch and dock connector/speakers are exposed via openings in the shell. Due to the size of the rubbery outer shell these controls are deeply recessed making them difficult to easily access.

On the back we find an opening for the iPhone 4 camera.

The case wraps around face of the iPhone 4 protecting the device when laying face down on a surface. On the back of the ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 is an opening for the camera. I felt pretty secure that my iPhone 4 was safe nestled in this case.

While both components of the case seem well constructed, the belt clip/holster seems flimsy and not well designed. It is made of a semi-flexible nylon material which seems strange as most belt clip/holsters are fairly rigid and solid.

Although the clip allows the iPhone 4 to rest facing or outward and doubles as a horizontal stand, it does not seem to work as intended. The stand involves pulling the belt clip back until it locks into place; unfortunately the clip snapped out the lock several times when I tested it.

Besides this problem there were a couple of occasions the clip and holster separated sending the phone and case tumbling towards the ground. Thank god the case worked as advertised.

In addition I found the belt clip uncomfortable to wear as the clip’s edges would dig into my hip at times.


Usually my impression of Speck products is fairly positive but the ToughSkin Case for iPhone 4 seems half baked as it has several design flaws. While the case will definitely protect the iPhone 4 its other features come up short. The hard to remove inner shell, the finicky belt clip/stand and break away holster are all issues that make me yearn for an OtterBox case.

Hopefully Speck will go back to the drawing board and fix these issues for their next heavy duty iPhone 4 case.


+Two layers of protection

+Provides excellent protection

+Includes iPhone 4 screen shield


-Deep recessed buttons/controls

-Holster seems flimsy

-Stand clip does not stay in position

-Holster digs into users hip

-Hard to remove inner shell