When you’re laying out hundreds of dollars apiece for iPads, iPhones and other iOS devices, keeping them intact is an investment in itself. All the more so if kids are involved. Cases and skins offer differing degrees of protection — and customization — for your Apple mobile products. If you’re in the market for something to wrap your iOS device in, here is a trio I recently spent some time trying out.
GelaSkins Hard Case For iPhone 4/iPhone 4S
I’ve written about GelaSkins a number of times. In my opinion these adhesive skins are one of the best ways to add a unique flair to your electronics. Apple may offer you a choice of black or white, but GelaSkins now has over 1,000 different designs available, ranging from classic art collections to the cutting edge, comic books to National Geographic. There’s a section just for kids too.
The one thing lacking with the skins is real protection from bumps and drops. They certainly help to prevent scratches and general wear and tear from being carted around in a pocket or knapsack, but the skins don’t do much (other than than hold the shattered pieces together) if you drop a device.
However, GelaSkins recently introduced a new line of hard cases for the iPhone 4 and 4S (also available for the iPhone 3G and 3GS), called — appropriately enough — the HardCase. There are 300+ designs offered, plus the ability to upload your own artwork (the company sent the sweet GeekDad case you see in the photo). The case is a one-piecer that fits over the back of the iPhone, leaving the display exposed. While this case is far from the ultimate protection for an iPhone, for those looking for a compromise between sturdiness and style, it’s not a bad choice. It’s easy to pop the iPhone in and out of the case, the cutouts give easy access to all the phone controls, the HardCase doesn’t add much in the way of bulk and there was no interference with any of my docks. Like other GelaSkins products, a matching wallpaper can be downloaded for each design as well.
DomeSkin for iPad
DomeSkin also offers adhesive skins for portable electronics, but with a twist. Although they also use a 3M adhesive that makes them removable and reusable, DomeSkins differ significantly from other adhesive skins in that they aren’t thin, sticker-like applications. The DomeSkins use a raised, puffy “dome” design (thus the name) that actually adds an element of protection to a device. I tested a skin that was applied to my daughter’s original iPad.
Anyone who’s applied a skin to a device knows that they can be a little fussy. When you combine a thin, sticky piece of plastic and a device with all sorts of buttons and bezels, the positioning can get a bit tricky. Because the Domeskins are thicker, I found the application process to be more forgiving and lining up cutouts for the display and home button was easy. The large sticker protecting the back of the iPad is a solid rectangle, so that was pretty much a no brainer. But if you don’t get it right the first time, the adhesive is forgiving enough to let you pull it off and try again.
Once applied, the Domeskin definitely improved the iPad experience for my daughter, who has had some past mishaps with electronics. The soft skin makes gripping the device easier and provides cushioning without making it feel bulky. In fact, holding the iPad feels more sure and comfortable with it. I would be pretty much holding my breath on the odd occasion she used her iPad without its case, but with the Domeskin on, I feel much less apprehensive (and it still fits in the case). I wasn’t about to drop the iPad off a counter to find out for certain what would happen, mind you, but having it is at least some insurance. Applying a Domeskin isn’t a replacement for a case, but for anyone who wants to add a customized look to their iPad while incorporating a better gripping surface and gaining protection from scratches and minor bumps, this would be a good option. Going the skin route also means that buttons and ports are completely unobstructed so docking and operation is not an issue. On purchase of a Domeskin, a matching wallpaper will be e-mailed.
Domeskins are available in a variety of designs for iPhones, iPods, iPads and BlackBerry Devices through Domeskin’s website. The iPad skin reviewed is priced at $29.99.
Alter Ego Skin for iPhone 4/4S From M-Edge
I’ve reviewed a number of M-Edge products before, but until now, the company has primarily been focused on cases and accessories for e-readers and tablets; the Alter Ego Skin is its first foray into iPhone territory.
I’ve seen a lot of iPhone cases and the Alter Ego is a pretty basic one. It’s a flexible silicon skin that’s easy to pop on and off and it’s inexpensive. It will provide basic impact and scratch protection without adding much in the way of bulk or weight, and the silicon combined with a stamped hexagon pattern means your hands can get a good grip on the iPhone — unfortunately, that grippy texture means it can attract dust and dog hair too, but that’s probably a bigger hazard in my house than most.
The novelty factor with the Alter Ego I was sent is its glow in the dark capability. And it really does glow, especially if you leave it in the light for a few minutes. My kids were all over this one because of that glowing. It’s not the most stylish iPhone protector out there, but then again it’s inexpensive and gets the job done.
Alter Ego for iPhone 4/4S is available in seven colors (three that glow) and priced at $19.99 through M-Edge.
Disclosure: GelaSkins, DomeSkin and M-Edge provided review samples of their products.