We've reviewed numerous types of skins for gadgets in the past, but there's a problem. A lack of originality. Up until today skins were available in clear, matte, textured or featured some distinct artwork, and that has trickled into a repetitive cycle with every new device released into the market. One skin after another device certainly gets stale like an expired dried up cracker, and well as obvious as your existence right this moment.
But you can tell by that there iPhone 5 above this text that this review about this particular skin is anything but stale and ordinary. Clear-Coat's new Aurora for iPhone skins, which are currently available for the iPhone 5 as well as the iPhone 4/S, are a new kind of breed with unique color shifting abilities to set them apart from the usually clear and textured carbon fiber skins which we are all very familiar with these days. If you're planning on going to a rave party soon, you'll definitely want to check this stuff out. The full review awaits you down below!
The Aurora is essentially a full body protective skin kit which consists of a home button piece, two side strips to cover and protect the periphery of the iPhone 5 as well as one back skin and one to cover and protect the front of the iPhone. As far as scratch protection goes, the Aurora does a great job in providing a 360 degree coverage that covers up the majority of the vulnerable areas around the iPhone leaving very little exposed and that includes the iPhone 5's chamfered bezel. A full body Aurora skin kit for the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4/S will cost you $35, with no separate skins available for individual purchase at the moment which is unfortunate as you'll find out later on.
Inside the packaging you'll find a glass spray bottle and a foam squeegee, both a standard in Clear-Coat's original clear skins. This means that the Aurora is applied using a "wet" application method to ease the user error and hopefully turn out better results with little to no air bubbles and miss alignment. Spraying some of the solution on the skin will help you move it around slightly once applied to the iPhone, and you'll also be able to use to the included squeegee to flatten out any trapped pockets of air underneath the skin. I'd say the installation processes is definitely intimidating if you've never done this before. It isn't hard, but you can also easily botch it up and your Aurora skins with it. Clear-Coat's Aurora product page claims that a clear screen shield is also included as a bonus, but it wasn't included in our box for some reason.
Although it isn't recommended, you can apply the skins without using the liquid solution just like a normal skin because their adhesive is extremely tacky. But be warned, I've tried applying the Aurora skins without first spraying them with the application liquid and ended up with a few trapped air bubbles underneath which wouldn't flatten out using the squeegee. You won't harm your iPhone with liquid damage by applying the Aurora skins using the liquid solution as long as you don't use excessive amounts of liquid during the installation.
Clear-Coat has an installation video which is really a universal method applicable to all skins that require a wet installation. As expected, removing the Aurora skins when all said and done is painless and leaves no residue behind. And here's the kicker, as an awesome incentive Clear-Coat guarantees all of its skins with a lifetime replacement and claims that it'll replace them for you for any reason in exchange for a shipping fee. So this means that if you do end up ruining your installation, you can request a free replacement no questions asked.
Cutouts for the back facing camera and mic, LED flash, home button, volume buttons, SIM card slot and sleep/wake button are all perfect. The fit of every piece of skin is spot on, but my only small criticism is that I wish Clear-Coat did a better job at creating the earpiece cutout in a way that it wouldn't include the front facing camera and proximity sensor in one ugly looking cutout - but instead using separate cuts for each.
The coolest, most dazzling looking iPhone skin ever
The unique selling point in Clear-Coat's Aurora skin is that it has a color shifting finish hence the name aurora. It's a really neat idea, one which we have seen implemented exclusively as a chromatic silver mirror type of an effect in screen protectors, but nothing quite as dramatic as the colorful array of the Aurora skin. Once applied over the iPhone, the Aurora's colors change in bright shimmering gradients, and from gradients eventually into solid electrifying hues simply by moving it around or letting it sit still on a table while you walk past whilst glimpsing at the amazing spectacle of specular shifting colors. The technical term for this phenomena is called an iridescent finish. People will stop and stare, some may even by hypnotized. You'll be the center of attention at any rave party, guaranteed*.
The really cool thing about the Aurora skins besides their color-shifting effect is that they are semi-translucent and vary when applied onto a white or black iPhone. When looking straight at the back of the Aurora skin, you can actually see the iPhone 5' two-tone design hidden underneath. One a black iPhone the screen is completely hidden underneath the color effects until turned on, but on a white iPhone 5 the Aurora skin's color effects act differently in pulling an inverted effect which shows off the display at all times under a semi-translucent color. It's all very trippy no doubt. What's more is that the Aurora behaves differently to colors which it overlays resulting in two different colorways. On a black iPhone 5, colors change from red, orange and golden yellow while on a white iPhone 5 colors have a brighter hue of blue, pink and orange.
The special color reflective tint coating is highly slick so that it feels really smooth when you interact and slide your finger across the touchscreen. I wouldn't say it's as great as using the bare glass, but it's not as bad as some of the lower quality plastic screen protectors and clear skins out there. It's also reflective enough to be used a mirror and it'll even direct a bright source of light such as the sun to the point where it can seriously distract you and that's not very fun. Using your iPhone with the Aurora applied to your screen when outside on a bright sunny day is pretty much a bad idea.
This is what it feels like to be colorblind
The trouble comes when turning on the screen. The "Aurora effect" shifts and transforms everything that was once a very accurate display of color into one trippy, color-dysfunctional experience. Reading emails on a plain white background isn't all that affected by the trippy tinting, however, it seriously ruins the experience and legibility of doing simple things like watching a YouTube video and browsing thru photos whether it be websites or your own. I honestly can't see anyone put up with this for more than a few days. Luckily, you can use the included clear screen shield as an alternative and less magical solution if looking at a wacky screen isn't acceptable to you. And that unfortunately isn't described by Clear-Coat.
Clear-Coat's Aurora skin is a fantastic scratch-protective full body skin for those who are looking to glamorize their iPhone without having to use a case. It isn't however very practical when using it to cover and protect the iPhone's screen, unless you don't mind perceiving colors in an entirely different way or potentially blinding yourself on a sunny day. And that's just it, the Aurora isn't as cool without it fully engulfing and transforming your iPhone into something Daft Punk would use. Slapping on a clear screen shield only detracts from the whole concept of using a unique skin like the Aurora in the first place. And because of that we cannot recommend the Aurora as it is in its full body protection kit.