The Speck CandyShell Grip case for the Lumia 920 is an attractive looking case at first glance, but remember that beauty is only skin deep. Actually using this case is not a pretty experience, and it won’t be kind to your wallet either. Unlike the name implies, there is nothing sweet about the CandyShell Grip. Read on to find out why.
The case costs $34.95 via Speck’s website and is less than a dollar cheaper via Amazon, but since I was in a particularly eager mood to have some new writing material, I went to the AT&T store and spent $38.00 ($41.61 with tax, I believe) there. Going into this purchase with no research on price or function, not to mention simply choosing the best-looking case and ignoring everything else, has already cost me (or you) at least $10 more than anything I could find with a quick search on Amazon.
Putting it on for the first time, though, didn’t get me very worried. The design is a single piece which simply flexes into place around the device, some sort of patented hybrid of softer material and harder (but still flexible) plastic. The dark-grey-on-white style is not what I’d call explosive, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned a few heads in the wild. The backside is decorated with lines of the softer material (the website nor the product packaging never mentions what these materials are), and they do the job of vastly improving one’s grip on the device. The case is rather unobtrusive, being both somewhat lightweight (34g by my measurement) and skinny, so actually using the phone is not hindered by much. In these aspects, the case is wonderful.
The fun stops here. Not two minutes after I put the case on, I want to take it back off, just to see if it is much trouble. It is. I actually believe the removal of the case from other, much more rounded phones, even a new iPhone, would be easier than from the much more pointed Lumia 920. In other words, I think Speck’s design team took the shape of the phone for granted and simply followed the normal procedure for making a new version of the CandyShell. The included pamphlet says to press with all fingers on the back of the case, then use the thumbs to press the top of the phone away from the case. This proved effective in causing my joints pain for a few minutes after a few unsuccessful attempts. Out of luck, I used my sturdy AAA member card to wedge underneath the top of the case and pry the phone out that way.
The case didn’t appreciate the torture. Many permanent indentions from my fingernails are embedded into the back of the soft-touch material on the back, and part of the softer material on the top-left corner has torn away from the hard plastic. It seems as if it were attached with heat and/or adhesive to the plastic. Either way, the tear actually happened before I even used the plastic card; my thumb literally tore it off, and that’s when I gave up and switched to the card. Think about what a hard corner hit might do as well.
Speaking of which, think of what that might do to the 920’s screen itself. The edges don’t extend past the screen at all, meaning a fairly level hit or a fairly nasty corner hit, one with enough force to compress the case material, will cause the screen surface to make some sort of contact with the surface your phone is landing on. The case simply does not offer proper protection from this sort of fall as many others do.
From a couple feet away, the fit-and-finish isn’t such a problem, but when you carefully poke around the case, it isn’t hard to find several things that seriously deduct from the quality of the product. Much of the grey material lining the front of the device and wrapping around corners warps out of line or has pieces of material sticking out, probably from the molding process used. You can also fairly easily pick out a single, cut line that circles the back of the case, as if the case were made of two larger parts to start with. The harder material already has scuffs and micro-scratches from two days of use. The price comes up on my mind again.
Also important to me is the fact that the case does not entirely block out the color of the front of the phone. While it is nearly impossible to do this for the camera region and both ends of the device, the red streaks across the front of the device made me have to change my WP8 theme from Amber (which two-tone color-matched my Pontiac) to red. Not even both high contrast choices could match the black/white combo and the red being vibrant enough to affect the total image.
Speck also makes a version of the CandyShell without those useful soft-touch grooves on the back, so you lose both the interesting design of the Grip edition case and the improved grip control over the naked 920. Just in case you weren’t annoyed enough already. It is also available via Speck’s website in red and black, with the same grey interior and accents, for $34.95.
Conclusion: Buy, Try, or Cry?
This case is $35+. That could be enough to cry about, but the sub-par qualities of the product in nearly every department, save some good looks, albeit from a distance, would make this case not worth buying for fifteen dollars. Steer well clear of the CandyShell Grip for the Lumia 920.