Review by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday February 04, 2014.
|Sponsored links, if any, appear in green.|
Plenty of people are going crazy over the red Nexus 5, and rightfully so. Today's release on Google Play makes the phone look fantastic, and it would have been the version I'd have chosen had Google made it available to me last October. However, "if" doesn't matter when I've already spent $400 on a phone and don't plan on spending another $400 just to get a new color. Instead, I'll turn to a cheaper solution - skinning the Nexus 5 with a new red facade.
Dbrand Inc makes vinyl cases for several smartphones, including the Nexus 5. The cases come in five different forms with different textures and appearances. There's Wood, Leather, Titanium, Carbon fiber, and the more standard True Color. The cases aren't actual wood or titanium, but they have nice feels that give off that vibe, and more importantly, they come in different colors depending on the style. Due to my desire to turn my Nexus 5 red, that left me to choose between True Color and Carbon Fiber. I chose Carbon fiber because I like the visual effect that occurs when it reflects the light. The woven texture is in between the scratchy or smooth scale, but mostly feels comfortable. For something smoother and natural, it's better to choose True Color. You could also purchase a case to add red to the phone, but I don't like cases, so I opted for a skin.
To be clear, nothing short of the genuine red Nexus 5 will provide complete satisfaction to some users who prefer the matte texture of the standard device. The dbrand case also suffers the common vinyl shortcoming of not completely covering the entire area of the phone, so very small seams will be exposed. When applied correctly, the case covers most of the phone. I have a long history of poorly applying vinyl skins, so I was happy to see that dbrand offers a guided video that shows how to easily apply the skin. Though I messed things up because I don't have a hair dryer, which is required to briefly apply heat to the skin and prevent the edges from coming up, I eventually got it right. I would not advise others try this, but I managed to take the skin off and briefly hold the phone a foot above a stove to get the heat needed to keep things in place. (Once again, I do not recommend this and am not responsible if you burn yourself or device; I'm just saying what worked for me.)
A dbrand vinyl skins cover the back, front, and sides of a device. I elected to only cover the back, front, and camera rings of my Nexus 5 because I liked having a little bit of black present in the color scheme. The Dbrand website lets users mix or match between the various colors and textures, so you can build your own case pack to create a pseudo red Nexus 5 or a wood and gold set. A full set containing the front, frame, and back costs $24. You can also order just the front ($7), frame ($7), or back ($10) pieces based on your needs. For $17, I got an easy makeover to make me care less about not having the latest edition of one of my favorite phones.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.