Having recently got my sweaty paws on the Nexus 5 I ended up spending some time researching protective cases. I tend to carry a lot of stuff around in my pockets and because of this smartphones I’ve owned in the past have tended to look pretty badly beaten after only a few months of use thanks to dings scratches and nicks from coins and keys.
While I knew I needed a case my search was proving fruitless as most of the cases were either bulky or had hit nearly every branch of the ugly tree on their way to the ground. Then I found dbrand.
They’re a Toronto-based manufacturer of protective vinyl skins designed to add a decent serving of style and prevent scratches from damaging your hardware, making them perfect for my needs. This said these skins don’t offer much in the way of protection should you drop your phone.
dbrand skins are all made from 3M vinyl and available in boggling range of colours and textures. Using their web-based choser I could select a woodgrain skin for my phones back and camera lens, brushed titanium side skins and leather for the front. After a few days I got a personalized confirmation email and several weeks later (it is a hell of a long way from Toronto to New Zealand), the skins finally arrived along with two screen protectors as an added bonus.
Having worked in a business where nearly everyone had the same smartphone, it wasn’t rocket science that adding some custom skins would not only offer scratch protection, but would also add personalization so I didn’t end up picking up a workmates phone by mistake.
Before I got to the peeling and sticking stage I watched the dbrand tutorial and followed their advice on how to install the skins. This is definitely something I’d recommend as it turns out that there’s a few simple yet clever tricks that can really make installing the skins easier and hugely improve their durability (believe it or not, this involves using a handheld hair dryer – who’d have thought?).
Installation took just a few minutes and I was pleasantly surprised at just how accurately the skins fitted my Nexus 5. Everything from the “Nexus” cutout on my phones behind through to the camera and LED notification cutouts on its front aligned perfectly.
Being able to go online to choose what skins you want for each part of your phone is a highly intuitive and visual process that really gives dbrand an edge over other similar players. Their other big point of difference however is the sheer breadth of hardware they’ve made skins for, which includes the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, iPhone 5s, the Moto X, iPhone 5, HTC One, BlackBerry Z10, iPhone 4/4s, Galaxy S4, Nexus 7, iPad Mini, iPad 3, iPad 2, the PlayStation 3 and 4, the XBOX 360 and PlayStation Vita.
Pat Pilcher is a freelance journalist based in Wellington, New Zealand who writes for the New Zealand Herald. By night Pat is a gadget obsessive who lives to play with shiny new toys and write about them for blogs such as Vancouver Gadgets. Pat can often be seen lurking on twitter as @iminwellington.