iPad Case Review: HandyShell Case

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Leave it to Speck come up with a simple shell for the iPad 2 that brings along a significant, and useful, twist. The new HandyShell case takes a minimalist approach to protecting the sides, top, bottom and back of the iPad while giving you complete access to the screen. But it does something more. Let’s take a look.

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From Speck:

Endlessly useful and amazingly simple, the HandyShell case for iPad® 2 features a multi-function handle that gives you a firm hold wherever you go. Designed around a strong hinge to hold it firmly in place, HandyShell’s handle can be used as a thumb ring for a one-handed grip or as a stand in landscape or portrait mode—even hang it on a wall! And with its hard-shell construction and extended bevel, this versatile iPad 2 case is every bit as protective as it is handy and fun to use.

Versatile iPad 2 case with multi-function handle for a firm grip on the go!

Use the hinged flip-out handle as a thumb ring for an easy, secure one-hand grip

Handle works as a stand for portrait or landscape viewing, plus bunches of other uses

Strong and secure hinge supports handle in multiple positions

Sleek hard shell with extended bevel for screen protection

Raised section on back of case for a comfortable hold

Materials: TPU & Polycarbonate (PC)

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For starters, let’s look at the “shell” aspect of this particular case.

It is a simple shell that brings with it everything you might expect. The iPad is held in the case by slipping it under a lip that runs around all four sides of the shell. That means you’ll lose just a little bit of space along the edges of the iPad while the entire screen, and the vast majority of the bezel, remain completely open and accessible. It also means that once inside the iPad isn’t going anywhere!

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In addition, this particular shell is designed in such a way that there is just a little bit of a rise between the iPad’s screen and the upper edge of the lip. This means that the iPad itself is a tiny bit recessed. It isn’t enough to get in the way of functionality, but it is enough to give you some decent “lay on the table” protection. In fact, you can easily lay your iPad on a table facedown and not have to worry about scratching the precious screen.

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As you would expect from Speck, the cut outs for the camera and the mule/rotation lock are precise. The volume rocker and the sleep/awake button are covered and, therefore, protected. There is no loss of functionality however.

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The cut out for the dock and the speaker are also precise. No, you won’t be able to use some docks that require the iPad to slip inside, but you can get pretty much any cable to connect while you’re using the shell.

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Of course, what makes this particular shell unusual, and the reason for its unique name, is the handle/stand that is built into the back. I was surprised the handle didn’t rotate for use in landscape or portrait mode, but I suspect that was done to help make the handle ever stronger.

In keeping with the company’s colorful designs, the back handle is bright red. This makes it stand out and adds some interest – although the design itself should garner enough interest on its own.

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The handle can be pulled up from the case so that it sits at a 90° angle or, if you choose…

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It can flip out a full 180°. When positioned in this manner. It makes a handy way to carry your iPad with you.

Bear in mind the fact that the screen is completely unprotected, and you will want to be a little bit careful but the HandyShell will ensure you have a good grip on the slippery device.

The nice thing about the design is that the stand doesn’t have to just be at zero, 90 or 180°. No, the hinge is tight enough that it will pretty much stay at any angle you choose. That means you have a choice of pretty much any angle between the two extremes.

Why is that relevant?

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Simple; because the design not only gets you a good handle, but it also makes for an excellent stand. For example, you can set it in the manner shown above. Yes, if the angle is too sharp the iPad becomes a bit unstable, but for anything around 90° give or take a certain range it holds perfectly.

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In fact, I’m using Dragon Dictation to record this post, and I am using the iPad sitting on my desk in exactly the way shown above.

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With a somewhat sharp angle you get a great viewing angle for the iPad or with the angle a bit shallower you get a very nice typing surface.

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This is one way that you can use the handle as a stand. So long as the rotation lock is not set to have the iPad locked in a specific portrait mode the screen will flip around so that it looks correct even know the dock connector is at the top.

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Or, if you are a purist, you can flip the iPad around and use the handle as if it were a stand extending from the bottom of the device. Either way it works quite well.

So what do I think of Speck’s newest creation? Let me put it this way –

When it first arrived I looked at it and made a face.

When I first took it out of the box, I predicted it wasn’t going to get a very good review.

After using it for a while, I actually think it is pretty awesome. This is one of the cases I think I’ll be keeping around.


I don’t think this is an ideal case if you tend to take your iPad with you on ago. The lack of screen protection is simply a problem (but it is with any shell case). If, however, you tend to use your iPad in the house the vast majority of the time this is actually a great case. It doubles as a stand and it lets you grab the iPad and move it from room to room while having a good grip on it and no concerns that you going to let loose.

Check out details, colors and ordering information on Speck’s site.

MSRP: $54.95

What I Like: Good protection for sides, top, bottom and back; no loss of functionality; adds “lay on the table” protection; handle doubles as a handle and a stand

What Needs Improvement: Non-conservative colors; thicker than others shells due to the handle; no screen protection


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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

3 Comments on "iPad Case Review: HandyShell Case"

  1. tablet2cases | July 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    not sure about this case. looks like a tool for kids as opposed to something practical that can be used on a day to day basis.

    the question is whether you would like to be seen with your ipad in this case in a coffee shop?

  2. This case is legitimately awesome! The handle is absolutely genius — it’ll make carrying around an iPad much less clumsy. The hard shell should also be very effective as a protector. Great case!

  3. Interesting case, not a fan of the added bulk though. Maybe I’d change my mind if I get to use one in person.

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