Protecting our smartphones is kind of a big deal. We spend hundreds of dollars on insurance, cases, covers, and more wacky accessories just to make sure that when we get clumsy the damned $500+ phone doesn’t snap in two. Heck, I know plenty of people who have spent more on protection than they have on handsets.
The problem with most covers is that they’re…well, they’re crap. They’re typically thin plastic that gathers smudges and dirt far faster than Apple’s highly-advanced glass panels built straight into the phone, complete with oleophobic coating that should last at least a year of heavy use. And I can attest to my iPhone 5′s screen, which still feels excellent, regardless of several major scratches. It just feels smooth. Plastic covers rarely do. Booq, a company known far more for their laptop and messenger bags than iPhone accessories, provides an interesting twist: another pane of glass.
Glass screen protectors aren’t new. They just tend to be exactly that: an additional pane of glass with a sticky side and little else. No coating, no special material, nothing. And they are typically expensive. Furthermore, they’re standalone; they don’t come with a case to complete the setup, and if the case you use doesn’t fit well with the glass, then you’re not going to have a good time. In fact, you can see exactly that from the included pictures.
The Booq Complete Protection Kit for iPhone 5/5s is everything you need for the iPhone: a glass pane and a case to fit it, plus a home button cover for iPhone 5 users. The glass is tempered, scratch resistant, and it has its own oleophobic coating (which is instantly noticeable because it feels just as good as the iPhone’s own screen). It makes the iPhone only slightly thicker, but that thickness is noticeable in two major ways: the already difficult to read fingerprint reader is now harder to reach, and if you use any case aside from the absurdly thin included one, the glass may get in the way. On several tested cases thhere was no issue, though one dislodged the glass entirely while another pushed on the edges.
After several weeks with the Kit, I’ve really come to like it. The case itself is so thin that it’s like a second skin, exactly what any case without some special functions should do. The glass is thick and feels great. For the iPhone 5s however, it’s not really suitable; my fingerprints have become significantly harder to read since using it. When Booq sent me the unit for testing, they sent two, one black and one white case, for me to use with the iPhone 5 and 5s. Due to a manufacturing error, about 20% of all of the glass covers shipped are structurally compromised; one that I received broke as I took it out of the case. If you purchase the Kit and the glass breaks on you, make sure to get in touch with Booq support to get a replacement.
There are two things to know about the Complete Protection Kit. First, for $35, it’s an amazing deal. If it were just the glass, it would still be a good deal. I haven’t used a screen protector or cover half as good as Booq’s, and that’s because of high quality glass. It’s made to feel like the iPhone’s glass, and it does. It feels right. However, I have found that when the phone gets hot (and this is especially true when charging), the top glass heats up very uniformly and the overall finger reading drops significantly. It just doesn’t read presses well. This is especially true when plugged into a dock. If you never use the iPhone in a dock or rarely use it when charging, this shouldn’t be a serious issue.
Then there’s everything else that comes with the Kit: a cleaning cloth (which comes in very handy for a separate pane of glass) and the skin-tight case combine to make a very simply secured iPhone 5/5s. It’s covered on all sides without fuss. The glass itself is shatterproof too, so should you drop and break it, the iPhone should leave unscathed. I haven’t tested this, namely because of the previously mentioned manufacturing blight. I also feel much more comfortable with my phone, with or without a case, with that glass cover.
Bottom Line: for $35, a pane of glass at this quality is a good deal. With a thing case that’s great for protection, the Booq Complete Protection Kit is a great buy.