Get A Grip With Speck’s HandyShell Case For iPad & iPad Mini [Review]

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The Speck HandyShell for iPad and iPad mini is a protective case with an integrated multi-function utility handle that lets you hold it, mount it, stand it, and hang it. It allows you to use your device in new ways in all kinds of situations.

HandyShell by Speck
Category: Cases
Works With: iPad/iPad mini
Price: $54.95

It has a hard plastic back with impact-resistant, “bump-proof” rubber sides that protect the edges of your iPad from dings and drops, and extend around to the front to protect its display. So if your iPad falls flat on its face, the HandyShell will take the brunt of the impact — not your screen.

As you would expect, the HandyShell makes all of your ports, buttons, and cameras easily accessible, and it’s available in a number of colors. But at just under $55, is it a little too expensive?

The Good

Like all Speck cases, the HandyShell’s built quality is great. It’s made of strong, durable plastic that fits like a glove, and even the plastic handle attached to its back is incredibly robust. I had suspected that it would be broken off within a couple of days once my kids had gotten hold of it, but it’s significantly stronger than I first thought.

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Portrait.

The HandyShell has a hard back and soft, rubber sides, which not only provide you with additional grip, but also promise to protect your iPad from those inevitable drops. There’s quite a sizable rubber lip around the front of the device, too, which should protect your display — providing it’s placed (or dropped) on a flat surface.

The HandyShell leaves your Lightning connector completely open, but your speakers — along with the sleep/wake and volume buttons — are protected. This prevents all the lint and fluff in the bottom of your bag from getting jammed inside the tiny holes.

The HandyShell isn’t too heavy, despite its big handle, and even on the super light iPad mini there was no problematic difference in weight. There is a noticeable increase in thickness due to the handle, however.

But that multi-function utility handle is the HandyShell’s best feature, and the main reason why you would want to buy this case. It’s terrific, and I’m forever finding new ways to put it to use. You can literally do hundreds of things with it.

It acts as a sturdy stand for your iPad in both portrait and landscape mode, which makes it perfect for holding FaceTime calls, watching movies, or showing off your photos. And it’s awesome for hanging your iPad off things — like a handle on a kitchen cupboard while you’re cooking.

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I’ve been using it a lot in the car — you can put a headrest through the HandyShell’s handle and then the kids can sit and watch whatever they like on long journeys. It’s also super handy for taking photos.

The Bad

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The HandyShell is a little big in the middle.

Due to its large handle, the HandyShell is a little bulky. You don’t notice it too much because the bulk sits in the center of the case, so the edges still feel pretty thin. But it’s certainly there, and you’ll feel it from time to time.

The HandyShell is no good for typing, either, unless you use it in portrait mode with a cramped virtual keyboard, or an external Bluetooth one. While it’ll stand your iPad in landscape mode, it just doesn’t give you the right angle for typing.

Because the HandyShell covers your iPad’s speakers, there isn’t much room around the Lightning connector. While you’ll get Apple’s official cable in — and probably most third-party ones — you won’t get a Lightning to 30-pin adapter in there, or the camera connection kit.

Finally, the HandyShell is a little expensive at $55.

The Verdict

While I’ve tested iPad cases with other grips and handles before, the HandyShell is pretty unique. Because its handle is adjustable, you can use it for all sorts of things, and the more you play around with it, the more uses you’ll find for it.

If this is the kind of functionality you want or need from an iPad case, then the HandyShell is great — even with its $55 price tag. Is very well made, and it will keep your iPad protected when you drop it.

But if you can do without the functionality the handle brings, and you’d prefer a thinner case that you can use for typing, the HandyShell isn’t for you.

Speck-HandyShell
Product Name: HandyShell
The Good: The multi-function handle is terrific, and the build quality is great.
The Bad: A little bulky, a little pricey, no good for typing.
The Verdict: If you want the functionality the handle brings, you won’t be disappointed. But if that’s not what matters most to you, look for an alternative.
Buy from: Speck



Cult of Mac rating: Good

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  • nickbwood

    I have been using a similar accessory to this called the Tablet Claw (www.tabletclaw.com) for about a year now. I like it because it is easy to carry and not bulky. The kickstands on the device also allow for multiple uses, including using the on-screen keyboard (unlike this case).

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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