I see a lot of people with iPhones, and it seems that most of them have some sort of protective case. While I understand the desire to protect the iPhone, I love the small and slim size of the iPhone and have no desire to bulk it up, so I have never wanted to use one. Of course, this means that it is possible for the iPhone to get scratched. Small scratches on the back of the iPhone don't bother me at all (it just adds character) but a scratch on the iPhone's screen can be really annoying.
And I speak from experience. The glass that Apple uses for the iPhone screen is incredible durable and many times I have felt my keys run across the surface, making me fear for the worst but relieved to discover that the screen held up just fine. But on my prior iPhone (an iPhone 3G) I did somehow get a scratch about a inch long near the top of the screen, and it would always annoy me to see it there. Even with this scratch, my desire to not have a bulky case still stopped me from getting protection for my iPhone 3G, and likewise my current iPhone 3GS has no protection on it. Nevertheless, I am uncertain whether I have been making the right decision.
I was recently contacted by a representative of Invisible Skinz, an authorized dealer for the Invisible Shield product made by ZAGG. He asked if he could send me a free sample of the $25, full body version of the Invisible Shield to do a review here, and at first I politely declined, telling him about how I don't like products that take away from the iPhone's clean design. He encouraged me to try it anyway, pointing out that I can always remove it and it leaves no residue on the iPhone if you do so, so I finally agreed. I'm glad that he urged me to do so because this is a very nice product.
When you order the product, you get two very thin (.2 mm) transparent shields, one for the glass on the front of the iPhone and one for the back that wraps around to the sides. You also get a spray bottle that you apply to the shields before placing them on your iPhone to help it stick, and a small squeegee to work out any bubbles that may occur during installation. You can watch a video of the installation here.
When I first tried to apply the shield, I will admit that I was a little nervous and I'm not sure that I did it correctly. The back looked fine, but on the front there were large bubbles under the shield that I couldn't work out. Here is a picture from my first attempt, which you can click to enlarge:
But Invisible Skinz has a money back guarantee and a lifetime guarantee; just send them a shield that didn't work and they'll send you a new one. The second time I tried, it took me less than a minute to apply it and the result looked great. In fact, it was so easy that I'm still not sure what I did wrong the first time. Here is a picture from the second, successful application:
What do you get with the Invisible Shield on your iPhone? First, you get a lot of protection. Even though the shield is small, it seems to hold up very well to attempts to scratch it. Here is what Invisible Skinz says about the protection:
Guaranteed for life, it's a higher quality than all other transparent Apple iPhone 3G skins because it was originally a military technology developed to protect helicopter blades from dirt and debris. It's the toughest material of it's kind, and it will keep your device in pristine condition for life. In fact, it's so tough that if anything ever happens to your invisishield, just send it back to us and we'll send you a brand new one for free!
I admit that I didn't want to put my iPhone through a true torture test, but this video shows what the shield can do:
Second, with the shield on the iPhone, the iPhone has more of a rubbery grip to it. I find that this makes it even more difficult for the iPhone to slip out of my hand, which is good to prevent dropping the iPhone.
I was worried that the shield would have some impact on viewing the iPhone screen. It really doesn't. The skin is truly transparent. On the other hand, the shield does make the surface of the iPhone feel different. Instead of the nice feel of glass, the surface has more resistance and feels slightly rubbery. Not very much, but just enough to take some getting used to.
Do I recommend this product? Yes, but with some reservations. I actually installed this shield on my (old) iPhone 3G, a unit that no longer has a SIM card in it and which is now essentially an iPod touch. I've been using this unit when I travel to put on some long movies that wouldn't fit on my regular iPhone and I've been letting my four year old use this iPhone instead of my 3GS when he wants to play a game. Between throwing the old iPhone in a travel bag and risking damage from my son, I feel so much more secure with the shield on it.
Now I'm trying to decide whether to buy one of these for my iPhone 3GS. There is no question that this product would give me lots of protection and prevent me from getting a scratch on the screen of my 3GS like I did on my 3G. On the other hand, I really like the feel of the glass iPhone screen and I love the ability to easily wipe off smudges thanks to the oleophobic coating. The Invisible Shield actually does a very good job of resisting fingerprints and smudges and any smudges do seem to go away if you wipe the iPhone against your shirt, but it still isn't quite the same as the glass with the oleophobic coating. So I'm still undecided; I may buy another Invisible Shield for my 3GS, and I may even use just the back portion to give added grip to the back of my iPhone 3GS to guard against dropping it. If I was still using a 3G without the oleophobic coating as my primary iPhone, the scales would tip in favor of getting this product. But with the 3GS, I'm still trying to decide.
Although you can buy an Invisible Shield directly from the manufacturer, ZAGG, the unit that I used came from independent dealer Invisible Skinz. If you want to try out the product yourself, I encourage you to order an Invisible Shield from Invisible Skinz because they have set up a discount for iPhone J.D. readers. Just use the discount code iphonejd20 when you order and you will get a 20% discount. The product costs $14.95 for just a shield to cover the front, or $24.95 for the full body protection of a front and back shield, so with the discount code you can save about $5.00 on the full product.