The Speck FabShell Luxe is a form-fitting hard shell for the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S that aims to stand out and be unique with a genuine leather trim that coats the sides and the back of the case.
Its reinforced, one-piece construction promises to be super strong and shock absorbent, protecting your device from scratches, scuffs, and drops. It features rubber buttons for your sleep/wake button and volume rocker, and provides access to your mute switch, headphone jack, camera, and dock connector.
The FabShell Luxe comes in black, “cognac” (tan), burgundy, and “hunter green,” and offers a one-year warranty. But is it worth its $50 price tag?
Hard shells like this are the most popular style of iPhone case there is, so it’s great to see one that attempts to be unique by adding a level of elegance and sophistication with that genuine leather trim. It looks good on the iPhone, and like all of Speck’s iPhone cases, it fits incredible well.
The FabShell’s form-fitting rubber is the perfect thickness; it provides you with great protection against the elements, without adding too much bulk to your iPhone — like some hard shell cases do.
The same can be said about the rubber lip that wraps around the front edge of your iPhone: It’s not too thick, so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, and it provides just enough protection to the edges of your device without intruding too much onto its front.
There’s a nice, big cutout for the camera which ensures there’s no reflection from the LED flash, and there are rubber buttons for the sleep/wake button, and the volume buttons, which make them easy to get to; they’re not buried inside the case.
The biggest problem with the FabShell Luxe is its price tag. Sure, it has a fancy leather trim, but $50 is a lot for a basic hard shell case. Speck’s regular FabShell, which has a fabric trim rather than a leather one, sells for $35, so you’re paying an extra $15 for that little bit of leather.
And unlike other Speck cases, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the FabShell Luxe’s build quality. It’s incredible strong and robust, but I found that the leather trim starts to peel away at the edges after a while. This has happened in a number of places on my case, and I’ve been very careful with it.
Finally, because the FabShell Luxe has a leather trim, it does scratch. Slide it across your desk with a bit of grit underneath it and the leather will mark.
As a regular hard shell case, the FabShell Luxe is great. It’s super strong and it fits great, and I admire it for trying something new with the leather trim. But in my opinion, it’s too expensive, especially since that leather trim scratches easily, and peels away at the corners — which isn’t what I’ve come to expect from Speck products.
[xrr rating = 40%].