Keyway Designs Wood BackBoard for the iPhone 4S/4 Review

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When you’ve been doing the review gig for as long as I have (15yrs this month!), it takes a special product to make my eyes light up. Recently Kyle of Canadian based Keyway Designs sent me an email asking if he could send me a sample of one of their wood backboards for the iPhone. I had just reviewed what I thought was a similar product from Toast. I looked at the images on the Keyway site and thought their wood choices looked nicer than what was being offered by Toast, so I said sure. A few days later, the package arrived…

Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.

Impressions started off on a high note when I pulled an unusual plastic box from the package.

But as soon as I pulled off the cover, my mind was blown. I think the exact words that came out of my mouth was “no way!”. But there it was, The Gadgeteer logo in awesome detail.

Also included in the box:

Front screen protector
Polishing cloth
1 Pentalobe Screwdriver
1 Philips Screwdriver
2 00 Philips Screw Replacements
Instruction sheet

It didn’t even register with me till I flipped the backboard over that it wasn’t a stick on “skin” like the Toast product I had just reviewed. Instead, the Keyway Designs backboard is a replacement back for the iPhone.

At this point I should let you know that according to Apple, if you open up the back of your iPhone and screw something up, it will void your  warranty. So proceed carefully friends. With that little warning out of the way, let’s do this…

Taking the cover off the back of the iPhone is surprisingly quick and simple. Using the special star tipped Pentalobe screw driver included in the package, you just remove the two screws on either side of the 30 pin connector. The screws are teeny tiny, so make sure you put them somewhere for safe keeping in case you want to put the original backboard back on your phone. Once the screws are removed, you just have to slide the cover forward about a quarter inch and lift straight up. Easy. Installing the new Keyway Designs cover is just as quick. Put the cover on the back. Slide it down and then screw in the replacement Philips screws. Done.

The cover even has a glass (I think it’s glass) lens for the camera and a small opening for the LED flash.

The cover fits perfect, looks perfect and feels perfect in your hand. I hate people who gush, but I can’t help it. This cover is so cool.

At first I thought that the different woods used in the logo design were stained, but Keyway Designs informed me that they do not stain any of their woods. All the colors you see are the natural colors of the woods they use. The main back panel of the BackBoard is ‘Jobillo’, the lettering is ‘Maple’, the power button inside the G is ‘Padauk’ and the dark outline of the lettering is ‘East Indian Rosewood’. Each piece is sanded to a very precise thickness, and engraved to different depths to give the proper pocket, and then assembled completely by hand and finished with Tung Oil. My Backboard is made up of 23 tiny little pieces!

If you want an iPhone that is different than all the other iPhones out there, these wooden backboards from Keyway Designs will do that for you. Plain backboards are priced at $55 each. If you want something more custom like what you see here, you’ll need to discuss pricing with them. Plain or custom, the workmanship on these boards is insanely great. You’ll love it.


Product Information

Price:$55.00 for plain wood back plate/Contact Keyway for custom order pricing
Manufacturer:Keyway Designs
  • Unique
  • Easy to install
  • None

10 thoughts on “Keyway Designs Wood BackBoard for the iPhone 4S/4 Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Look great, but an opening for the flash, rather than the correct flash diffuser that is fitted to the OEM back, means that your flash photos will look stark like a spot light was used, rather than a nice natural illumination resulting from the diffuser. Would be a perfect product if they could have a diffuser fitted like “most” of the after market backs on the market.

  3. Beautiful! Just be sure to put the original cover on if you have to return it to Apple for anything. They WILL deny service if they detect opening or see a third party rear case. Also, it’s not a bad idea to use a static strap when you do this, since you are exposing your iPhone circuitry.

  4. I wish I’d seen this a year ago. Now it’s almost time to buy the next iPhone. I hope they tool up fast for the new design…if it’s compatible.

  5. This would be good for people who have cracked the back of their iPhone too. The pricing is really good and it looks great!

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