i-Paint Gel Skin for iPhone 4/4S looks great, but could do with better manufacturing [Review]

Coming off the back of a 3 part editorial exploring accessory solutions for the iPhone, I figured that it would be nice to round off the week with a full review of one of those accessories. i-Paint specialises in cases and skins for a variety of devices such as the iPhone, the iPad, and the Samsung Galaxy range. The Gel Skin is a two piece, self-adhesive cover that protects the front and back of your iPhone. The real stand out feature of this particular line of cases is its wide variety of vivid designs. I’m reviewing the “Monster” design, but there are also designs like the United States Flag, a New York Taxi, a collage of apps, or the Eiffel Tower. The designs of each model are very distinctive, and are sure to attract the attention of anyone who happens to glimpse your iPhone. I’m reviewing the 4/4S model, but all the models available for the 4/4S are also available for the iPhone 5. Another very distinctive feature of i-Paint’s products are its matching wallpapers, which can be downloaded for free from its website, a feature I’ll look at a little later on.

The Gel Skin comes in two parts, the front cover and the back cover being separate. Along with the cover, you receive a screen protector (standard with most cases nowadays), a small card to help you apply the screen protector, a microfibre cloth, and a nifty i-Paint sticker. The packaging is wafer thin, but it contains everything you need to get started. All good so far…

When I first received this device, I was a little skeptical about just how successfully I would be able to apply the skin. It’s a very snug fit, and I was concerned it would be fiddly, sticky, and just downright difficult. Thankfully, I was mistaken. The Gel Skin is incredibly easy to apply. Naturally, the back is easier than the front, so I went with that side first. The skin fits neatly around the camera and flash, actually overlapping the very edge of the camera lens, however this doesn’t infringe the iPhone when it comes to taking pictures, and I found it didn’t affect the flash either.

The front cover, along with the separate home button cover, were a little trickier, but nonetheless very easy. The skin fits perfectly around the FaceTime camera, the proximity sensor and the speaker. The beauty of the Gel Skin is that if you don’t get it quite right first time, it’s very simple to peel off and try again. When it comes to application, I can’t fault it.

Having applied the cover, I’ve used it for around 24 hours, and I’ve found there are some very good things to note about the Gel Skin. For starters, it doesn’t add too much bulk, it’s clear that you have an extra layer of Gel material on your phone, but not so much that it becomes uncomfortable to hold. The Gel Skin is also surprisingly tough, providing excellent protection against smaller scratches and bumps.

The anti-shock material is also incredibly grippy. A naked iPhone is always trying to slide off the surface that it’s placed on, be it a cushion, chair, table, or your lap. The Gel Skin totally nullifies this, keeping your iPhone solidly in its place, regardless of where you put it. On a couple of occasions, I actually found that my phone had stuck to the surface it was resting! For me, the best part of the Gel Skin is its design, the monster design is fun and well produced, and I’m sure that all the other designs follow in a similar vein. Even more exciting was the matching wallpaper that can be downloaded from the i-Paint website.

Sadly, there are a couple of key issues that prevent this accessory getting a higher rating. Whilst the Gel Skin offers some pretty solid protection, I can’t help but worry that the sides of my phone, the lock button, dock connector, headphone jack and speakers are all exposed. Sure, If I dropped my iPhone face up or down, then it would most likely survive unscathed, but there’s simply no protection around the edge of my iPhone. Furthermore, the front cover’s design means that it actually cuts off the very edge of your screen all the way around. This is most notable in the corners, where a small portion of the battery meter is obscured. It doesn’t really hamper you in day-to-day usage, but it does suggest that the final design and production of the Gel Skin might have been neglected somewhat. This notion is further exacerbated by the fact that the matching wallpaper, whilst cool to look at, doesn’t quite match up with the exterior cover. In fact, the overlapping aspects of the design are misaligned by at least half a centimetre. Again, this isn’t a horrendous issue, but it does leave you with the feeling that more could have been done to make the Gel Skin better.

The Gel Skin is really about design, making your iPhone unique, and in that sense, it does its job brilliantly well. However, there are a couple of design flaws that take away from the overall experience, and it doesn’t offer quite as much protection I’d have liked. The Gel Skin is native to Italy, where it will set you back €13,90, in the U.S, that’s around $18, and about £11 in the UK. Because they’re dispatched from Italy however, you’ll probably pay a few more dollars to have it shipped. Overall, the Gel Skin is a nice case, and it’s very unique. It’s not terribly expensive, but with that lower price comes some compromises that ultimately make this product less effective than it could have been. If you’d like to buy this product, click here, and if you have any questions, be sure to contact me on Twitter @TiP_Stephen

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