Speck CandyShell Amped: Will this case make your iPhone louder?
Speck's latest CandyShell case is designed to double the volume of your phone’s speakers without any batteries. We put it to the test.
David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
In recent months, Speck, one of the leading case makers for mobile phones and tablets, has coalesced its marketing efforts around its signature CandyShell brand, which now includes the freshly released CandyShell Amped, a case that's supposed to double the volume of your iPhone 5 or 5S speakers.
The Amped has no batteries, instead relying on a horn-shaped waveguide carved into the interior of the case. The case traps the sound and redirects it up through the waveguide and out the side of the case (see diagram below). Previous iPhone cases have promised sound amplification through similar techniques, but this is the first case from a known brand to feature it (that I can think of anyway).
As any of us who owns an iPhone knows, its internal speakers leaves something to be desired. People often complain how they can't hear their phone ringing (I keep mine on vibrate for that reason) and it can be hard to hear music and FaceTime (or Skype) calls unless you're in a quite environment.
Enter the Amped. I've been testing it for a couple of days and I generally like it, though it's somewhat pricey at $44.95. For starters, while it's thicker than your standard CandyShell case, it's not too bulky and is very protective.
On the sound front, what I found it best for is amplifying ring tones and notification alerts, as well as anything voice related (speakerphone calls). You can definitely hear the difference.
I tend to use headphones when I watch videos, but if you're sharing a YouTube video with a friend, the sound boost comes in handy.
Where I don't think the Amped helps is with music playback. I personally can't stand the sound of music played through an iPhone's speaker. It sounds like crap. And while Speck says the Amped is supposed to improve the clarity of your iPhone's sound, I just thought the case made my music sound louder. In other words, I could hear the crap better, but it still sounded like crap.
At the end of the day, the Amped works as advertised and is a good, sturdy case that should hold up well over time. However, if you really want to step up the sound of your phone, for the same price you can buy a pocket-size Bluetooth speaker (I recently reviewed the Divoom Voombox Travel and Philips BT2500 , both of which retail for around $50). Then again, an external speaker won't protect your phone.