Provides: Custom scuff/scratch protection
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 4/4S (also available for iPhone 3G/3GS)
GelaSkins has long been one of the best manufacturers of custom skins for iDevice and digital products. Over the past couple of months now, they’ve been offering the option to customize their HardCase, too, and the results are just as impressive in both the creation process and the final product.
Currently, you only have the single HardCase option, as it’s the only solid case GelaSkins offer. It’s also only available for iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 3G/3GS, so those with other devices will have to stick with skins.
But that makes things easier for the rest of us. At GelaSkins.com, you simply click on your iPhone model and select the image you want to upload. If you’re new to the process, they offer some pretty good tips to get you started. Pay attention to them, because they really will help you get a better looking case.
Once you’ve selected your photo and uploaded it to the GelaSkins system, you can move, rotate and resize the image to get a proper fit, using the guides they provide. They even have a little image quality indicator to let you know how well they can work with your image.
Uploading photos creates a library of sorts, so you can put multiple images in the system and drag them in/out at will to see what looks best. And because you can create a separate wallpaper for the iPhone screen, you can use two images without increasing the price.
For this review, I decided to not go with a straight photo, but one I doctored up in Photoshop; I wanted to see how the print would look with filtered images. The results were quite impressive, and I wonder if taking a more “artistic” approach actually helped, since the stylized colors didn’t need to be as accurate as they would with a photo.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Once the image is properly placed (and yes, the guide includes the camera cutout, as you can see above, so you won’t need not worry about the opening cutting into someone’s face), you simply preview the case, submit and pay. Within a couple of days, GelaSkins will have your case printed. A few days after that, depending upon your shipping method, you’ll have the case. The wallpaper image is e-mailed to you for addition to your iPhone photo gallery.
The final result is pretty impressive, with a nice, glossy sheen that’s reminiscent of photo paper. It came out darker and more deeply saturated than it showed on screen when setting it up, but that’s neither uncommon nor unexpected (and it’s not as bad as the picture below, the lighting of which compounded the issue).
The case itself is pretty good, too. The top and bottom are open for easy access and docking, and there’s a slight lip above the screen to raise it off the desktop if placed screen down. My only complaint is that the fit is extremely tight. This makes it difficult to get on and very difficult to take off, and it poses a less significant problem, as well…
I thought it would be fun to combine the HardCase with a standard custom GelaSkins skin. Best of both worlds, right, as I’d still have scratch/scuff protection when I didn’t want the case on it?
Unfortunately, the super-tight fit of the HardCase makes it too cumbersome to remove for this to be practical, and it squeezes the skin hard enough to leave imprints.
But that doesn’t factor into this review, as the HardCase wasn’t meant to be used that way. It’s still a quality product that will give you a good print if you follow GelaSkins’ directions. Just make sure it’s a photo you’ll want to look at a lot, because you won’t want to have to remove it very often.