Hands-on with Speck FabShell Luxe case: Leather loving for your iPhone 4/4S

Make sure to check out our picks for the best iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S cases.

So you’re looking for an iPhone that doesn’t necessarily look like a case but still offers the same protection others do? You may see a myriad of options for leather cases out there, but consider the Speck’s FabShell Luxe for iPhone 4/4S for quality durability. The leather design is disguised to look elegant yet provide maximum protection against scratches and drops. Can you truly have it all? Here’s our hands-on of the product.

Look and Feel

Of the bat, the Speck FabShell Luxe case is a hardshell that snaps right onto your iPhone with a small wiggle. Speck offers four different colors under this line, and we received two in different type of leather — one (Burgundy) has a dotted texture while the other (Cognac) is smooth and soft. On either the white or black iPhone, both cases look great and perfect for those who care about style. The back also has a huge room for the camera, so there are no bounce-back lighting when you use flash.

Compared to other Speck cases, the FabShell Luxe is pretty minimal. It’s thinner than the usual Speck hard case, which is a plus for those who do not prefer added bulkiness with their cases. The leather also goes all the way around the case, including the sides. There are no holes to fit the buttons, however, just rubber overlays that sit right on top. We actually prefer these side edges to be rubber rather than leather to help with anti-scratch and shock absorbency.

Though the case looks and feels great, deep inspections show a bit of imperfection here and there. You can tell the leather was glued onto the back of the hard case body, and some parts of the leather back can seem a bit uneven with small wrinkles of air bubbles. Though this is a minor detail that most people might not recognize, my curious eyes can’t seem to not notice the finer intricacies.


Since the FabShell Luxe case is supposed to be minimal, front coverage is a bit on the bare side. The raised bumper is also lower than other Speck cases we’ve seen. The case would work great if you already have a screen protector pasted on and used the FabShell Luxe as a fashionable add-on. If you aim to use the case with iPod docks, the thin design will also allow you to connect the device directly to your docks without removing the case. 

As with all Speck quality cases, the shell itself is great against accidental drops and scratches. The leather also adds a nice grip to the iPhone without the slippery touch other cases can be when they are topped with a glossy, plastic finish. Lastly, the case seems to add almost no noticeable weight to the phone at all. 

Our verdict

Is this Speck’s finest product yet? We have to admit we’ve seen nicer cases from Speck, and perhaps leather isn’t its best product from its generally very strong line of gadget cases. While the leather is nice and feels great, dropping $50 for the product might be better off on another Speck case, such as the CandyShell series which have proved to provide consistent protection while looking pretty great despite the lack of leather.

Still, if you must boast the quality of the brand, the lightweight and stylish is great for those who like a touch of elegance with their gadget protection. Since this is on the company’s Luxe line, you will have to drop a bigger investment than your average phone case; The Speck FabShell Luxe is $50, and comes in Black, Cognac, Burgundy, or Hunter Green.

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