Review: Speck iPhone Cases with RadTech ClearCal

Speck Product iPhone cases paired with ClearCal is a fit! (August 22nd, 2008)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Speck Products and RadTech

Price: $9.95 to $24.95 US

The Good

  • ClearCal: Easy to apply. Scratch-resistant. Long-lasting. PixelSkin for iPhone 3G: Thick case retains shape and fit. Easy to hold. Fun colors. SkinPro for iPhone 2G: Includes stand Slim fit.

The Bad

  • ClearCal: Smudges easily although easy to clean. May not repel sharp objects. PixelSkin for iPhone 3G: Doesnít protect screen. Still a bit slippery. Could use a leash. SkinPro for iPhone 2G: No protection for screen. Bulky. Speck doesnít recommend it for the 3G because some sensors may be covered up.

I just bought my first iPhone 3G, and like a Mom with a newborn baby, I wanted to protect it carefully. There are so many products on the market; it's hard to tell which one meets all my needs. I learned the hard way with my newborn that product marketing is not always sound and have a basement full of underused safety baby products that didn't cut the mustard.

I started with the well-known Speck Products cases. Neither the Skin-Pro nor the PixelSkin comes with any kind of screen protection, so I first applied a RadTech ClearCal for iPhone transparent Mylar sheet, which is very thin and feels tough.

RadTech ClearCal

The easy to install ClearCal has hold-tabs to help you remove the front and back of the adhesive surface. It smudges very easily, but a quick wipe with the edge of my T-shirt cleans it. It can be reapplied several times without leaving sticky residue. RadTech says it has a "blemish-healing effect" that hides minor scratches and surface defects. I took a scissors to the surface and although I could see the scratch even after rubbing it, it isn't noticeable when I powered up. After a few weeks of use, I don't notice any scratches, and it should last years; possibly longer than the iPhone itself.


ClearCal Front and Back

Designed for both 2G and 3G phones, the ClearCal offers a front protector sheet for both models, but the back for the 2G iPhone only. The 3G back, because of its rounded surface cannot use their protector sheet. You can purchase the screen protector only ($9.95) or a front and back protector for the iPhone 2G ($17.95). MacNN Star Rating: 4.5 stars.

Speck PixelSkin

I first tried out the PixelSkin for the iPhone 3G. This is similar to the iPhone 2G ArmorSkin, without the holster. My Blueberry Blue skin installed easily; I slid the bottom of my iPhone in through the screen cutout and pulled the top corners around it. Billed as "fun, flexible protection," the lightweight 4-ounce skin slips easily onto my phone. It protects the push-through button covers for the Sleep/Wake, Home and volume buttons, and exposes the ports and camera. One report says the hole for non-Apple headphone plugs may be a bit snug, but I didn't have any problem with the couple of headphones I plugged into the iPhone.
PixelSkin photo

PixelSkin for iPhone 3G

The tough 2mm thick PixelSkin doesn't slip off the iPhone at all. Its textured tile pattern allows for some grip, although I think it is still a little slippery, but my iPhone would be safe in most accidental drops, although the screen is still vulnerable. As the mom of a 4-year-old with lightning-quick grab hands for shiny new toys that come in Blueberry Blue, I would like to have had a leash installed for extra security. Other kid-friendly colors are Spearmint Green, Sherbet Pink, Huckleberry Purple, and Corncob Yellow, plus Licorice Black and Marshmallow White. Interestingly enough, more women seem to like the PixelSkin than men. MacNN Star Rating: 4.5 stars.

Still, I find the PixelSkin a little bulky to slip into my pocket or a smaller purse, so I also tested the Skin-Pro, a "rugged case and holster with stand" for the iPhone. Unfortunately, this is made for the 2G, but I tried it anyway.

Speck iPhone 2G SkinPro

The SkinPro silicone skin comes in black or a milky-clear color, but the polycarbonate plastic hard case holster only comes in black. It offers a more rubbery, grippy feel than the PixelSkin, and fits like a wetsuit for a slim profile. It's easy to slip around the iPhone, and stays put. You don't have to remove the case to sync with the cable or dock.

SkinPro photo

SkinPro for iPhone 2G

The holster works nicely as a horizontal or vertical stand once I figured out how to push the clip into the little hole. The holster features a click-swivel belt clip that fits easily onto my belt or along a purse pocket for easy grab. I considered the holster clip a tad loose fitting, and wouldn't trust it to hold my iPhone safely, but then again, it wasn't made for the iPhone 3G. The case weighs significantly more than the PixelSkin at 4.6 oz and is much more bulky too.

While I wouldn't use the belt clip, one of my friends loves the belt clip, and said it is easy to clip on and off and is more lightweight than other leather holsters. I'm not big on placing phones on my hip, anyway. Speck Products does not recommend using the SkinPro with the iPhone 3G because they carefully create products for specific iPods to make sure all the ports are clear and deliver protection where most needed. MacNN Star Rating: 4 stars.

Other Options

I suppose a new iPhone deserves a new case anyway. If the PixelSkin doesn't jazz you, consider the tried and true $34.95 ToughSkin for 3G, which features thicker edges with rubberized corner bumpers for extra shock absorption. Another option is the popular SeeThru, a $29.95 hard shell case and stand that comes in candy colors with a removable bottom for docking.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Product Reviews Editor

by Sandra Miller


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