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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.
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.
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.
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!
A gadget nerd from childhood, Smythe has always been drawn to solving everyday problems with clever tools. An Apple fan since his Mac Plus in 1987, he's sure the company will one day do great things, despite being perpetually doomed by their competition.