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ZAGGskin for iPhone Review

on February 13, 2010 10:00 am

I am a fan of keeping your handheld in a case. I regularly change my cases around, depending on use or mood. When I was offered the ZAGGskin for iPhone to review, I looked at the patterns on the web site, choose one, and thought (incorrectly) that it would be a case with that pattern on the back. I was mistaken. I was sent a flat, spongey sheet printed with the chosen pattern, and backed with an adhesive. It is die-cut to fold around the iPhone and cover most everything, leaving space for the camera lens, volume controller, ringer switch, speakers, and ports. I was not happy, but, in the true spirit of The Gadgeteer, I decided I had to give it at least a week, to see if it is something I could use.

The ZAGGskin comes in a simple cardboard envelope with the foam sheet of artwork enclosed.

The ZAGGskin comes in a simple cardboard envelope with the foam sheet of artwork enclosed.

Because of the thickness, I can’t use an external battery during the day, which I usually spend totally unconnected. I am around computers all day, but never stay near one very long, so charging my iPhone is not really an option, except during breaks. I do carry an iPhone syncing cable, since part of my work involves helping users activate their iPhones, so that meant I was not without means to charge, should I run into problems. So, I waited until I had a two day break, cleaned my iPhone, and applied the skin. It went on pretty much as I imagined, even though there were scant instructions.

The back of the sleeve it comes in says the following:
1. Clean your device.
2. Peel the ZAGGskin from the backing.
3. Align your ZAGGskin with your device and apply.
Tip: If the alignment of your ZAGGskin is not correct after applying, simply peel it off and try again.
That’s it – no pictures (other than simple line drawings, but they look more like an iPod than an iPhone), no tips for how to seal the edges – nothing. The “tip” reminds me of the recommendation on instant hot cereal or hot chocolate: “If a stronger flavor is desired, use less water.” Really? That’s actually something that needs to be said? Fine, lets move on…
The die-cut was not completely free of the surrounding material, so I recommend having a small sharp blade handy if you’re putting one of these on. With all the angles and small narrow lengths for the sides, you’ll want to move slowly and carefully. I don’t think the material is necessarily fragile or prone to tearing (quite the opposite, actually), but you don’t want to take the chance. Once it was free, I used the lens and the top edge to orient the ZAGGskin, and pressed out from there. There were no air bubbles or loose edges – everything “just fit”, with the corners cut so that the skin lay flat everywhere.

While the cutouts are accurate and well-placed, there are other gaps and spaces not covered by the skin.

There were a few strange places, however, that I could not figure out. On the long sides, at each end, there is a cutout that is a little longer than need be. I tried to figure out a different way the cover could lie so that these closed up, but never arrived at a good answer. All edges have stayed firmly attached for the testing time, however, no matter how narrow they may be. I actually liked it enough to leave it on for two weeks, and never found an edge peeling back or any spots of wear.

I have showed this to many friends, most of whom are either iPhone users, or well-acquainted with the device. Some liked it, others were more of the “meh” persuasion. All universally liked the pattern I had chosen (a wood-cut print of a pair of koi over a cork-looking background). Comments ranged from “that’s not going to protect it if you drop it” to “it gives you a good grip.” Most meaningful to me was my Lovely Bride. She’s not a fan of me changing cases and getting new stuff usually, but she really liked this pattern and the “high-touch” feel. She even approved of the open spaces. “It looks sort of like a frame around the print.”
After using it a while, I found there were several other small pieces in the original stock that were designed to go across the bottom and top of the iPhone. (Again, better instructions would have helped here.) I placed them on the device, but there were still several places that were open to damage.

My iPhone with the ZAGGskin applied, next to the backing sheet it was delivered on.

In the end, I removed it so that I could have more flexibility in using extended batteries, not for any failing on the part of the ZAGGskin. While it didn’t have instructions and didn’t quite meet flush around some of the edges, where it covered was smooth, even, and neat. And the flashy pattern on the back personalized the iPhone much more than a mere case could.

In the end, I give it four stars – while not quite “wall-to-wall” in fit, the materials and workmanship are all first-rate. And the artwork is beyond anything I’ve seen on any other case, and I see a lot of iPhone cases!
 

Product Information

Price:$19.99
Manufacturer:Zagg
Pros:
  • Really beautiful artwork
  • Adheres well to bare phone
  • No sticky residue when removing - try it without fear of messing up your device
Cons:
  • Doesn't quite meet at corners and narrow ends
  • Thick, prevents using extended batteries
  • No custom instructions for end pieces

Comments

  1. 1
    Dan says:

    I find the first part of your review incredulous. “Skins” have been around a long time, and I believe most people who buy and review iPhone cases should recognize that a skin is not a case. But, even so, the description at Zagg gives clues, like “Scratch-proof patented film” and “no added bulk,” to the identity of the product. Otherwise, I think the review is very good. The last sentence, however, returns to the misconception that a skin is a case. You state that “the artwork is beyond anything I’ve seen on any other case.” Skins provide cosmetic improvement and perhaps more tactile security, but they are not cases, should not be judged by the standards of cases, and never will be cases.

  2. 2
    Jim says:

    I second that. I have ordered a custom skin for my Nexus One with my daughter’s pic on it. I prefer this to a case because, for one, I do not like the added bulk of a case and two, I like the form of the devices I have, be it a PSP to a ipod. In addition, I have an OEM dock that will only work if either the case is off or if I have a thin enough skin.

  3. 3
    Marie says:

    In agreement with Dan, I’m a bit brain-blanked by this review. It appears the reviewer assumed but did not research what he was getting and then review it on that basis.

    The homepage of the Zagg website clearly states what the product is, a single extra click and some reading of the large friendly letters leads you to:

    “Scratch-proof patented film exclusive to ZAGG
    Exceptionally clear and virtually indestructible
    The ultra-thin film will not add bulk to your device
    Military Grade originally developed to protect helicopter blades”
    ….etc etc etc

    And another click of the friendly words “installation”, or “support”, or several other such key words littered around the site, gets you to gobs of videos, faqs, tips to seal the edges (“palming” in your cupped hand after a few minutes of drying), etc etc.

    These are the skins that you can scrape keys across and the item comes out unscathed, Zagg replaces them without question, and they have lovely customer service as well.

    I have Zagg skins on ALL my products, pdas, cells, cameras, gps, etc, etc etc.

    While this is a reasonable “man on the street review” – nothing wrong with someones personal opinion of anything – it does not feel up to the usual standards of research, information, and detail that I see 99% of the time on the-gadgeteer.

  4. 4

    So, I guess honesty is out as an experience here on The Gadgeteer.

    I looked at the picture from the site, rather quickly, and thought it looked like a complete case. (That picture is the lead one in the review.) When I got the skin, (as I mentioned in the review), I was surprised, since the picture looks very much like a case, not like a skin. But I decided to give it a shot, in the spirit of follow-through, rather than return it or send it on for someone else to review. And I’m glad that I did, because I can now speak knowledgeably about using this type of skin, rather than having an inexperienced bias.

    I did not judge the skin on the same scale I would judge a case, but was careful to mention things that I felt were deficient in the skin itself (poor coverage on edges, lack of instructions), as well as those things I found good about the experience. I used the product for a full two weeks, and only removed it because I wanted to use other cases, not because I was disappointed that this skin did not live up to false expectations. None of the pros or cons mention anything about it not being a case, so I am a bit mystified as to why all the hate for me truthfully reporting my experience. I gave the product 4 out of 5 stars, which was actually generous, given the short-comings. (It does not apply to the device as represented in the top picture of this review, by any means! Compare the actual application, in the final shot in the review for a true picture of the skin as applied, without any photo-editing.)

    I’m glad @Jim, @Dan, and @Marie use and enjoy skins on their devices, and welcome their point of view, but I hardly think I was hard on ZAGG or held them up to a false standard, as it seems I am being accused of.

    I don’t know how much research and detail can be done on a skin – I don’t have a CSI-type lab available to test the composition of the sponge backing, the vinyl, or the adhesive, and the lack of detail is, again, due to the lack of information given with the product itself. (And, for the record, the application instructions mentioned by @Marie are for a different product – the invisibleSHIELD, which is applied with liquid. It is totally different from the ZAGGskin reviewed here. I have seen these skins, and they do wrap with a much better fit and are far less “applied”-looking than the one I experienced. There is nothing on the entire website about applying the ZAGGskin, other than the instructions quoted in the review.)

    I should have mentioned that there is a 45 day refund policy, and that ZAGG guarantees satisfaction. This is unusual for a product of this type, which can’t be resold if used. Even with my initial mistake of ordering it thinking it was a case, I was not dissatisfied to the point of wanting to return it, despite my decision to not continue using it. (And I may yet put it back on – the adhesive was still good, and I replaced it on the original backing. Careful removal will allow the skin to come off without stretching or disfiguring it.)

    In the end, we are all “people on the street”, and that’s what attracted me to The Gadgeteer in the first place. We’re not “media professionals” or “industry analysts” – we’re people that love gadgets, and want to share our views and experiences. If you don’t agree, fine, put it in the comments, but that’s no reason to attack the reviewer’s motives or the quality of reporting or testing.

  5. 5
    John says:

    I love Zagg as a company and their products – I’ve used invisible shields on my iPhone and camera’s LCD, and have a pair of z.buds that are great. However, the full body shield for the iPhone became pretty ragged within a few months coming in and out of my pocket…lots of lint. When I put my new case (www.pongresearch.com) on, I had to finally remove the screen protector because it was getting pulled up from the edges (oh well, that’s why it’s made of glass right?)

    I’m not sure I’d ever really want a printed skin for the iPhone – I think it looks great as it is and most designs nowadays are ed-hardy-esque or uglier (says the guy with a neon green case).
    Those gaps were less noticeable with the clear shield on too.

  6. 6
    Diana says:

    Thanks for the review :) I’ve been looking around for a case/skin for my iPhone and was curious about the zaggskin. I agree that the instructions that Mary mentioned are only for the invisibleSHEILD and the only info for the zaggskin is a video demonstrating an application on a blackberry.
    I’m with John in that I don’t like fancy patterns or graphics on my phone. The beauty of the iPhone (to me) is the simplicity of it’s design, however, you can create your own skin so maybe I could do something more simple.
    I dislike how parts of the skin don’t cover the iPhone and I find it a bit misleading as photo’s (of the iphone) on the zagg site look as if they cover everything.
    While the skin may protect from scratches, I wonder how well it would protect the phone from a drop.

  7. 7
    John Cruise says:

    I’ve got exactly the same ZAGGskin pattern (was the best looking in my opinion) on the back of my iPhone + invisibleSHIELD on the front, and what I did to make it more durable was simply to put a transparent case around.

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