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The best phone skins: A buyer's guide
The design is a big deciding factor when it comes to buying a smartphone. After all, it’s common for phones to have similar, if not identical, specifications. So, the distinguishing feature is often the look and feel of the device. That said, it’s understandable for people to want to change it up once in a while. We all keep our phones for a long time, so even an aesthetic change could be a welcome one. One of the best ways to do so is with a phone skin. What are they, and what are the best phone skin brands? Let’s take a look!
Want to learn more? Check out our complete guides to mobile accessories and phone cases.
The best phone skin brands:
What is a phone skin?
Phone skins are thin, textured, self-adhesive sheets that are precisely cut and are an exact fit for the device. A well-applied phone skin will appear to be a seamless addition, almost as if the phone maker has introduced a new colorway. It lets you maintain the form factor and doesn’t add any bulk or thickness to the phone. It will also help keep scratches, fingerprint smudges, and other blemishes away. Depending on your choice of texture, a phone skin is also a great way to add grip to the phone.
Phone skins vs cases
One of the best ways to change the look of your phone is with a skin. The other, and often more common option, is a case. You’ll undoubtedly have a far easier time finding a case for your phone, but not everyone wants the added bulk and the generally functional look of one. There are a few benefits and negatives worth considering before choosing between a phone case and a skin.
The biggest advantage of a phone case is impact protection. With the proper case, you can almost guarantee that your phone will survive the harshest drops and make it through the worst environmental conditions.
While that will do wonders as far as safety goes, the phone’s sleek design will be hidden under multiple protective layers. Of course, this level of protection also means that the case will be thick and bulky. Most people look for thin cases that don’t compromise on safety, but these aren’t always the easiest to find.
Skins are for anyone looking for a complete aesthetic overhaul while retaining the original footprint of the phone. Even the thinnest of cases will technically be bulkier than phone skins. These also give you a lot more freedom regarding the look and feel, while cases are often about function over form. You could change the phone’s look quite often, with numerous designs, textures, and colors to choose from.
Unfortunately, skins are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to protection. These will help keep scratches and fingerprint smudges away but don’t expect much if the phone slips out of your hand. If you are clumsy or want to make sure that your phone stays safe no matter what, a case will be the better way to go.
How to install a phone skin
Most phone skin brands will provide detailed installation guides and videos to make the process easier. However, it’s important to remember that installing a skin isn’t very easy and won’t be as simple as putting a case on the phone.
You’ll have to pay a lot of attention to ensure that the skin looks like a part of the device. The good news is that if something goes wrong, some brands offer a replacement guarantee. To see if installing a phone skin is something you’re willing to try, check out dbrand’s Pixel 4a skin installation video above. You’ll find similar videos from whichever brand you buy the skin from.
The best phone skin brands
Dbrand is the first name that’ll pop into the mind of anyone familiar with phone skins. The company has certainly earned its reputation as one of the best in this space. Dbrand uses high-quality 3M materials and a patented adhesive that only helps make the installation a tad easier but doesn’t leave any residue when the skin is removed.
Designs and textures
You have numerous textures and colors to choose from, from pastel colors and leather backs to matte and metal finishes. Of course, dbrand is famous for its carbon-fiber skins, but there are many fantastic options available, including camo, wood, and stone finishes, to name just a few.
Dbrand’s customizability doesn’t end with just textures and colors. You can also pick and choose different skins for the back, the camera module, and possibly even add a touch of color to the phone’s logo.
The large number of devices and products you can wrap in a dbrand skin is one of the reasons why the brand is as popular as it is. You’ll find links for most major smartphone releases below, and you’ll find options for flagships going back a few years too. You can also get a dbrand skin for laptops, tablets, accessories like smartwatches, and wired and wireless headphones.
Taking things even further, you’ll even find a skin for power banks, gaming consoles and controllers, chargers, and even your Juul. Once the car is available, you could also wholly wrap the Tesla Cybertruck in a dbrand skin as well.
The Skinnova series by Gadgetshieldz boasts a premium 3M construction with precise cutouts around each opening, camera, buttons, and anything else on the phone that stands out. It’s also the cheapest option on this list by far but doesn’t compromise on quality in any way. Gadgetshieldz is one of the leading brands in India in the phone skin space. But don’t worry, they ship internationally too!
Designs and textures
Gadgetshieldz doesn’t offer as wide a variety of designs and textures as some competitors, but you can certainly mix and match the different looks available to create something unique. Carbon fiber, wood patterns, and brushed metal finishes are always popular picks.
There are also a few special editions to catch your eye. Most special edition options pair a pattern with a colorful bumper, which is an excellent way to make your phone stand out. Gadgetshieldz also offers a flat back option that leaves the sides open, but you can get a full back wrap for the same price.
The advantage of being an Indian company is that it’s one of the few places you can get phone skins for devices that have been launched locally. This includes a slew of smartphones from Xiaomi, Redmi, POCO, realme, OPPO, vivo, and more, along with a few Samsung mid-rangers. On the flip side, you won’t find something for phones that never launched in India, like the Pixel 5a. You’ll also find colorful skin options for a handful of laptops, smart speakers, and gaming consoles.
One great way to help your phone stand out from the rest is with a mix-and-match skin from XtremeSkins. As a UK-based retailer, it might be a faster way to get your skin if you’re across the pond, but you can also take advantage of international shipping. XtremeSkins also boasts that you can remove, reposition, and even stretch its skins with a hairdryer.
Designs and textures
There are plenty of colors and textures to choose from, but accent coloring is one of the best parts of the XtremeSkins wraps. Like most options, you can mix and match the skin with your camera bump, but XtremeSkins also lets you add an accent color for certain device logos. A fair number of the finishes may seem familiar, though.
Apart from all the major smartphone releases, you can get an Extremeskins skin for laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, drones, smart speakers, headphones, certain smart wearables, and even set-top boxes. The device selection isn’t as robust as some competitors, but there are some quirky options that you wouldn’t expect.
The last option on today’s list — Skinit — also happens to be one of the more exciting phone skin brands on the market. A unique skin says a lot about your interests, and Skinit offers some unique skins. Whether you want to show off your favorite cartoon, rep your team, show off your alma mater, or showcase your fandom, Skinit should have you covered.
Designs and textures
While there are plenty of pattern-based skin manufacturers out there, Skinit goes all-in on the graphics. You’ll find skins for sports teams, colleges, superheroes, cartoons, and a whole lot more. If you’re looking to show off your fandom, Skinit is it. Of course, you can get standard patterns and textures like carbon fiber, brushed metal, and more too.
You can opt to create your custom skin as well. However, there are some copyright limits if you attempt to create your own skin. Unfortunately, there’s no mixing or matching, but the great-looking full-back designs mean that you might not want to anyway.
You’ll find various fandom-related skins for smartphones, tablets, laptops, audio products, gaming consoles, controllers, and accessories like streaming devices and chargers. Going even further, you can buy skins for coffee mugs, or you could cover up an entire wall. Not happy with the lack of protection a skin offers? Skinit also has skins for phone cases!