Toast is a Portland-based company that is big on wood. The focus is on ultra-thin, self-adhesive wood covers for high tech products like laptops, smart speakers, game consoles, and smartphones. The wood cover doesn’t add a whole lot in the way of protection, but it sure looks nice and adds a much warmer look and feel to devices dominated by plastic, glass, and metal. Toast can take also the customization to another level, with the ability to pick the type of wood and even laser etch your own designs. I had the opportunity to try out a Toast cover for the iPhone XS Max.
A Little More Involved Than an iPhone Case
When you order a Toast wood cover for an iPhone, there are a lot of choices to navigate upfront. Do you want to upload your own graphic to have etched on the cover? Do you want one of the pre-designed images on the cover (like the “Leaves” option on my review sample)? Do you want a front panel? What type of wood veneer do you want: walnut, bamboo, ebony, or ash? Do you want the button covers to be a contrasting wood or matching? Do you want any custom text?
For the iPhone XS I tested with, prices can range from $34 for a basic cover without a front panel to $69 for a version with a custom graphic and front panel.
Installation is a little tricky, but if you take your time and follow the directions, it’s reasonably quick.
An alcohol wipe is provided to thoroughly clean the phone first. Remove the backing from the 3M adhesive, then begin applying the Toast cover using features like the camera bump and Lightning port as a guide. If you get the cover placed a bit off center, it can be peeled back with a little bit of effort. Once the back is in place, you roll up the edges and use a little force to smooth out the corners. The wood is precision cut to fit precisely and wrap around the curves. Once the main cover is in place, you repeat for the front piece and button covers. (I chose to leave the button covers and camera trim off as I prefer the look.)
The end result is an iPhone that looks completely different from when you stated. Instead of a cold slab of glass, it’s now a warm chunk of wood. Unlike a case, there is virtually no added bulk—the veneer is around 1mm thick. I have to say, it looks pretty good.
What happens if you want to change the look of your iPhone again? Unfortunately, you can’t just pop the Touch cover off. This thing is on for the long haul. Touch recommends using a hairdryer to soften the adhesive, then peeling off the cover. I installed the review sample on a very realistic dummy iPhone used to test protective cases, and that technique worked. There was no residue from the 3M adhesive and no damage to the “iPhone” glass. The Touch cover did rip in several places during that exercise, though.
Consider this a single-use application. Once removed, I don’t think a Toast cover can be salvaged and reused.
The Good Feels
Toast covers are made of wood, which completely changes the look and tactile feel of an iPhone. However, Toast wants that glow to go further through its business practices. Toast covers may be laser etched, but each one is hand-sanded at the company’s Portland workshop. The real wood veneers are sustainably sourced, the facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy and Toast says it plants one tree for every cover made. Toast also donates 1% of its net sales to environmental non-profits.
So it’s not just your iPhone that feels good…
If you’re the sort of person who frequently pops their iPhone between multiple cases, or your smartphone needs drop protection, Toast covers are not for you. Once the cover is on, it’s on until you’re ready to get rid of it. And protection is pretty much limited to scratch prevention and maybe saving you from minor bumps.
But if you love the look and feel of wood, and you want to completely customize your iPhone without adding any bulk, then Toast covers (also available for most other major smartphones) may be just what you’re looking for.
Disclosure: Toast provided an iPhone cover for evaluation but had no input into this review.