Speck’s PixelSkin HD For iPhone 5: Quite Possibly The Best TPU Case There Is [Review]


Look at all those
Look at all those "pixels."

The Speck PixelSkin HD is a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) case that’s designed to give you “slim and smooth” protection for your iPhone 5, while offering “grippyness [sic] with high-contrast matte pixels.”

Its raised bezel aims to keep your iPhone’s display free from scuffs and scratches should you drop it on its face, while the rubberized covers for the volume keys and sleep/wake button prevent fluff and grime from gathering within nooks and crannies.

The PixelSkin HD comes in a variety of colors — including red, purple, blue, black, and grey, and it’s priced at just under $30. The PixelSkin HD was one of my favorite “simple” cases for iPhone 4S, so will it retain that status for the iPhone 5?

The Good

I’ve said this before about Speck products, and I’ll say it again: the build quality of this case is fantastic. This isn’t like the $3 TPU cases you find on eBay with the Speck logo etched in. It’s strong and robust, and it fits the iPhone 5 beautifully.

It’s slightly bulkier than the Belkin Grip Sheer I reviewed a couple weeks ago. But it does look much nicer, and because of its matte finish, it doesn’t attract fingerprints and smudges like the Grip Sheer does. It’s a little more flexible, too, so it’s easier to apply and remove.

It also provides you with better grip, and means your iPhone is less likely to slip out of your hands when you remove it from your pocket. It also provides protection for your speaker and microphone— unlike the Grip Sheer — so pocket fluff and lint doesn’t get stuck in the tiny holes.

The PixelSkin HD sticks out just enough at the front to protect your iPhone’s display, but not too much so that it gets in your way while you’re typing or playing games. It also covers the volume keys and sleep/wake button, but the buttons are still easy to press through the TPU.

Finally, the PixelSkin provides plenty of room for your iPhone 5’s rear-facing camera, so that the flash doesn’t rebound into the lens and ruin your photographs.

The Bad

It’s hard to pick fault with the PixelSkin HD, to be honest. But there is one thing I will say about it that’s been a frustration for me: There isn’t quite enough room around the mute switch to comfortably get your finger inside. It’s okay if you have longer nails, but I don’t, and so it wasn’t easy to toggle the mute switch on and off.

The Verdict

As far as simple TPU cases go, the PixelSkin HD from Speck has to be one of the best — as I had expected from using the iPhone 4S version. It’s build quality is terrific, it looks good, and like I said above, it’s hard to pick fault with it.

At $30, it’s not the cheapest TPU case you’ll find for your iPhone 5, but it’s from a brand you can trust, and it includes a one-year warranty. The PixelSkin HD is certainly a case you should take a look at for your new iPhone.

[xrr rating = 90%]

  • FriarNurgle

    I’ll wait for the Lifeproof case.

  • vanmacguy

    I bought one of these the day I got my iPhone 5 and love it. This is the fourth iPhone I’ve owned and the first one I’ve ever put in a case. I thought that from day one the aluminium back was just too susceptible to scratches and dings so I got one straight away.

    That said, i’m no case expert, but I do love this case. I’m going to agree with all the good and bad points in the review above with the mute switch being a little recessed for my fingers (having no nails to speak of either), but I can’t really see how they could have done it differently.

    So, in my opinion, a great case.

  • mr_bee

    Seems like a good case, but IMO *any* case is still kind of like forcing Marilyn Monroe to wear a sack and put a cardboard box over her head.

  • Tom Creasey

    I had one of these cases for my 4S and because I liked it so much I bought it for my iPhone 5 and I think it is perfect. Love it!

  • saiya69

    I have to strongly disagree with that writeup.

    With the PixelSkin HD I got the fit is absolutly terrible. The phone itself does not fit into the case snug. You can feel that towards the top of the case the phone fits very loosely. Also the rear edge of the case is quite sharp. Its not very conformtable holding the phone in your hand because of that sharp back edge.

    Sent an email to Speck and didn’t even get a reply.

    Its still early days for the iPhone 5 case manufacturers so hopfully later on down the track their QA will be a lot better.

  • Flu Guy

    I wish I could find something that I could sell for $30 to millions of people that costs me maybe $2 to manufacture. Now that’s livin the APPL dream :)

  • IrelandJnr

    I’ll wait for the Lifeproof case.

    Both cases are for completely different uses. And while the LifeProof case is the best tough case around (tough and not as bulky as other touch cases), it is inherently flawed in design and I wouldn’t recommend it, as a product.

    The sleep/wake button is way to difficult to press with the LifeProof on, which is the reason I am convinced that it why my mother’s sleep/wake button broke on her iPhone for after using the LifeProof for several months. The silent switch keeps accidentally going off (thanks to the bad design on that part of the case), and the cover over the screen, while it is quite protective, desensitises the screen too much.