Review: ShieldZone InvisibleShield Full Body Shield for Apple iPhone
The clear "full iPhone body" film protector saga continues this week, as we've now had the opportunity to test not just NLU Products' BodyGuardz and ShieldZone's InvisibleShield Full Body Shield for iPhone, but also three additional products: second-generation versions of both BodyGuardz and InvisibleShield, and a seemingly far less expensive competing option from Best Skins Ever called the iPhone Total Body Skin ($8).
Confused? So were we. After publication of our initial BodyGuardz and InvisibleShield reviews, both companies decided to withdraw their original products from the market, and replace them with superior versions. Then Best Skins Ever sent its version, so we felt that a re-comparison was in order. Our updated BodyGuardz and InvisibleShield reviews preserve the original details we published for your reference.
As between the three options, our top pick overall remains NLU Products’ BodyGuardz, for two reasons: clarity and value for the dollar. Though we remain less than convinced that any of these films is worth an entry price of $25—the cost of a good, complete iPhone case—NLU’s package includes two sets of front films and two sets of back films, bringing the total price per set down to $12.50. You can keep both, or sell one to a friend. By comparison, you pay $25 for a single set of InvisibleShield Full Body Shields—too much, in our view—and a much more reasonable $8 per set for the iPhone Total Body Skin.
However, price isn’t the only distinguishing factor here. The three companies’ packages are substantially different from one another: NLU’s two sets of BodyGuardz come in a nice box with a big tube of application fluid and a simple, perfectly-sized squeegee that’s required to work air and water bubbles out from the film during application. ShieldZone’s InvisibleShields come in a simpler plastic container with two small tubes of similar fluid and a less impressive squeegee; ours was rough on its smoothing edge, and we didn’t get the sort of results we wanted when we used it on the film. Best Skins Ever mails you only a paper envelope, instructions, and the two skins: you supply the fluid (slightly soapy water) and the squeegee (a credit card) yourself. Each one takes roughly 15 minutes to apply, after which it looks rough even if you’ve worked out the bubbles, then improves after a 24 hour drying period. We found that our credit cards weren’t as good at working bubbles out as NLU’s squeegee; the Total Body Skin package will force you to improvise a little.
With one caveat, the best-looking of the three options was the BodyGuardz design. All three companies use highly similar film that covers most of the iPhone’s body with a largely clear, highly scratch-proof adhesive—the same general stuff you see as a paint chip protector on certain cars, and apparently as a helicopter blade protector on aircraft. But NLU’s version of the film is better looking than the ShieldZone version, which in turn is better looking than the Best Skins Ever version: each of the films has visible dimples when viewed on an angle, but NLU’s are the least noticeable, followed by the slightly more visible InvisibleShield, and the coarser Total Body Skin. None is hugely objectionable, but none matches the static-cling clarity of Power Support’s Crystal Film, and we prefer our film coverage as clear as possible; BodyGuardz is the closest to perfect.
It’s also worth a note that we found that we had to use two of the Total Body Skin front covers—one as a replacement for the other—before we got the results we wanted on the iPhone. Though we started with a cleaned surface and tried to work miniature air bubbles out of the first Skin’s surface as best we could, they wouldn’t go away quickly, or after the first 24-hour drying period. Pulling the Skin off and putting a new one on solved the problem entirely. Another way of viewing this: though Best Skins Ever sells these for $8 each, you might need to order two before you achieve the clarity you want.
The only caveat to BodyGuardz’ superiority is the scope of its coverage. ShieldZone’s second version of InvisibleShield is a marked improvement over its predecessor, offering more complete coverage of the iPhone than we’ve seen from any competitor, albeit with almost comical consequences for both application and pricing. You apply the front and back stickers. Then you apply a Home button sticker, and two more front stickers to cover the rest of the chrome facade. Then you apply four more stickers to cover the iPhone’s corners. The process feels like you’re assembling a model car or another toy, and at twice NLU’s price and effort of application, we’re not sure that it’s worth it. Best Skins Ever has a slightly less complex process that’s also less protective of iPhone’s corners; NLU’s has no Home button coverage, and a little less corner protection as well.
Focusing on these omissions isn’t totally fair, though. All three companies deserve a lot of credit for covering almost the entire iPhone front surface, save for the flat front edge of the chrome bezel, with the Total Body Skin doing an especially precise job of coating iPhone’s glass. Each does a superb job of covering iPhone’s back and sides, and though corner protection could stand to be improved a little on the NLU and Best Skins Ever designs, the “add more stickers” ShieldZone approach isn’t ideal, either. In each case, you cover so much of the iPhone that the missing parts don’t seem to matter much, though you may feel differently if the iPhone takes damage in one of the uncovered areas.
In sum, these three clear film options have a lot in common, but our pick of BodyGuardz as the best of the bunch reflects NLU’s more reasonable compromises on clarity, coverage, and pricing than either of the alternatives. While ShieldZone now protects your iPhone a little better for a higher price, and Best Skins ever is similar but a lot less expensive, neither one leaves your iPhone looking quite as nice as BodyGuardz does. Each version has its strengths, meaning that one or the other might be better for certain types of buyers, and all three could stand to be improved, but at this point, they’re all recommendably good options from our perspective.
Prior Review Text: InvisibleShield Full Body Shield for Apple iPhone (Original)
Though we’ve tested literally thousands of iPod and iPhone cases at this point, you might be surprised to learn that clear film has become the protector of choice for several iLounge editors: for users who aren’t drop-prone and are primarily concerned about scratch-proofing, full body covers such as ones made by NLU Products (BodyGuardz) and ShieldZone (InvisibleShield) are ultra low-profile alternatives. They cover most of an iPod or iPhone’s body in a transparent adhesive that’s resilient enough to resist keys, coins, and even some knives, and they don’t prevent either type of device from fitting in Apple’s official docks or working with other accessories.
Some time ago, ShieldZone released innovative InvisibleShield film covers for iPods, and since then has released two versions for the iPhone: the Front Shield ($15, iLounge rating: B) and the Full Body Shield ($25). We’ve recently had the chance to compare both the Front Shield and Full Body Shield to NLU Products’ complete iPhone film set BodyGuardz, as well as simple rectangular screen protectors from a number of other companies. The results were generally positive, though also somewhat predictably disappointing.
For years, we’ve noted that ShieldZone’s naming conventions for iPod products aren’t totally accurate: its “InvisibleShields” aren’t completely invisible, and its “Full Body Shields” don’t really cover the entire body of an iPod. When NLU Products tried to one-up ShieldZone with its clearer, slightly more protective 5G iPod BodyGuardz, ShieldZone stood still, and so its new iPhone products continue past mistakes rather than improving on them.
Focusing for a moment on the positives of the front protector sold as Front Shield and included as one half of the Full Body Shield, ShieldZone has released something here that is substantially more protective than most of the free or $10 screen protectors that are available these days. You peel off a clear sticker that covers all of iPhone’s glass screen save for its ear speaker hole and a small area under the Home button—less coverage by a little than the similar part in BodyGuardz—then use an included application spray bottle to moisten the sticker, and a squeegee to work out air and water bubbles in the protector.
To keep iPhone’s speaker and button safe, you’ll need to be careful that the fluid—slightly soapy water—doesn’t get in those holes, and so shaking off the moistened sticker before applying it is a good idea. Squeegeeing eliminates virtually all of the water and most of the air bubbles; a 24-hour drying process, shown chronologically in the photos here, eventually makes all but a couple of tiny air bubbles disappear. What you’re left with is a front glass surface that’s now even more scratch-resistant than before, and will look as good as new when the sticker is peeled off.
The same is true when you apply the rear sticker, which is the second part of the Full Body Shield and not included in the Front Shield package. This sticker covers the entire iPhone back surface save for the camera, as well as parts of the top, bottom, and sides. The word “parts” is important here, because though NLU’s BodyGuardz for iPhone also covers similar parts of iPhone, it actually covers more, including much of the device’s chrome bezel, which ShieldZone leaves entirely exposed. Neither of the products provides complete iPhone coverage, but BodyGuardz comes closer.
Another difference between the films is their transparency. Both use clear film that does not inhibit the use of iPhone’s screen or proximity sensor in any way. But ShieldZone continues to use a film that has a more prominent texture than NLU’s. The texture, which as we’ve noted before looks a bit like melted Saran Wrap, is visible on certain angles and looks, and we also noticed thin lines of uneven light in the center of the screen when iPhone was held on certain angles with InvisibleShield’s Front Shield on. This was a small issue—one that again doesn’t impair enjoyment of iPhone’s screen—but detracts a little from its perfection. NLU’s texture is similarly not invisible, but it’s less noticeable, and we haven’t had any uneven lighting issues in our samples.
One final point on ShieldZone’s offerings is pricing. We’re still not convinced that it’s worth paying $25—the same cost as a full case—for a couple of stickers and a squeegee, especially when the stickers aren’t as completely protective or clear as their names might suggest. NLU has tried to at least partially remedy not only those product-specific concerns, but also the pricing, by offering two sets of front and rear stickers in its iPhone packages for the same cost. While you get a lifetime warranty with InvisibleShields, enabling you to call upon the company for a replacement if it’s needed, we’d rather have two sets of film on hand at any time than just one.
Taken together, the superior looks, protection, and value of BodyGuardz reduce the amount that we feel we can recommend the Full Body Shield, as it’s not better in any way than BodyGuardz and costs just as much. As we love full-body film, and really like ShieldZone’s past products, our hope is that the company will tweak its pricing and design to make future Full Body Shields clearer, more protective, and more reasonably priced. For those needing only front-of-iPhone protection to complement a deficient case, however, the Front Shield is a superior option to most other film we’ve seen, though it could stand to be even clearer. Our standard level recommendation for that version is partially attributable to the fact that you can still get an even more protective full case such as Marware’s Sport Grip (ILounge rating: A-) for the same price.