I have never been enamored of skins for my smartphones. Over the years I’ve tried several, but I always found them to be too tacky, or they peeled immediately, or I couldn’t get the bubbles out. But when Slickwraps offered the chance to review their new HTC One M8 skins, I figured it was time to give skins another shot!
Slickwraps offers all sorts of colors and textures, from glow in the dark to wood, carbon fiber, and leather-textured skins. I chose to test the gunmetal carbon fiber style skin, because the One M8 is a slippery sucker. As much as I love the form factor, I worried constantly that if it were out of a case it would slide out of my pockets or hands, so I was VERY excited to open the package and discover the wrap had a nice texture that added a bit of grip! I had a pre-retail release sample, so while all the body pieces were available there was no screen protector; retail versions will have the screen protector as well as the body wrap.
The first thing I noticed about the skin was that it was a slightly thicker, stiffer material than I’ve seen from other decal-style skins. This is a substantial feeling wrap, which made installation mostly easier. I didn’t have any risk of bunching or bubbles forming underneath, so that was a major benefit! On the downside, it did require a small amount of heat to soften the sides and get them to fit the curve of the One. Of course, I decided to do this at work with a friend helping me, and we didn’t have a hair dryer handy, so we used a space heater. Probably not an officially approved use of the space heater, but it worked beautifully and quickly, so there’s that.
I admired that Slickwraps tried to keep the number of pieces to a minimum, while also leaving the style of the One in place. There was one large middle piece for the back, as well as two smaller pieces that went above and below, leaving the plastic lines that break up the back sheet of metal open. Along the front, there were a few choices; I could install a frame-style front skin, or just two skins over the top and bottom speaker grills. Personally, I hate having frames or cases too close to the bezel, so opted for the top/bottom style, but both are included. There were top/bottom skins included, but for aesthetic reasons I decided not to install them. If you want as much protection as possible, though, these are available.
Aside from our Macguyvering of a space heater, installation was extremely smooth. It helped to have a second set of eyes for the smaller pieces, just to make sure everything was lined up evenly, but overall it was pretty obvious. I must admit I was cursing Slickwraps and their desire to up the degree of difficulty by leaving a cutout for the HTC logo. Yes, it looks better with the cutout, and it did help make sure I had the sides and top perfectly aligned, but at the time it was a pain! For those who are highly visual, the folks at Slickwraps make installation videos to walk you through the process:[youtube=http://youtu.be/GcLljpxQncc]
Once the wrap is installed, it looks like it is part of the phone. As I said, I picked the gunmetal carbon fiber color, and it matches my gunmental One M8 perfectly, so much so that my wife Sarah commented it really did look like I unboxed the phone with it like that. It adds some much-needed grip, and the carbon fiber design complements the bits of metal that peek out around the phone. Best of all, I was still able to fit the One in the DOT case. Some of that is because the DOT case only grabs the phone at the corners, where the skin doesn’t really extend, but it does mean you don’t have to choose case or skin…you can have both.
Of course, if you are using just the Slickwraps, you are limiting the protection on your phone. That’s the tradeoff for more grip and some extra style, and it’s up to you if it’s worth it. Personally, I love the look that the wraps add to an already stylish phone, and the grippiness makes it especially worthwhile. Aside from the minimal protection, there is one downside to using any wrap, and Slickwraps are no exception; there’s a chance of peeling. Now, in everyday use the Slickwrap is holding up great, but I did have an incident where one corner got caught funny on the seam of my jeans pocket. It’s barely noticeable, but it did peel up slightly at that spot. I was able to restick it, and I have no doubts a bit of heat should smooth out the bent corner, but just be aware that it can get snagged and come up. In everyday use this is probably unlikely — as I said, it got caught funny on a seam, and it only took up a tiny corner, not the whole section. The sides and other corners are all holding up well, even against my apparently saw-toothed jeans, and I am reasonably confident the Slickwrap will stay in place until I purposely remove it.
If you want grip, style, and a small amount of abrasion protection, Slickwraps fit the bill well. They are easy to install, feel amazing, and add a whole new dimension of personalization to your phone. And if you have the HTC One M8 in gunmetal, I highly recommend the carbon fiber gunmetal color — the skin and phone match perfectly!
MSRP: $18.95 from Slickwraps
What I Liked: Color matches the phone perfectly; company offers multiple textures and styles; informative installation video; easy to install overall, with no bubbles; adds grip,
What Needs Improvement: Lining up the manufacturer logo cutout was difficult; as with all wraps, risk of peeling.
Source: Manufacturer sample