How much would you pay for cell phone customizations?

Published: October 17, 2011

Without the inclusion of physical QWERTYs attached to the face of devices, smartphones have taken a fairly significant turn in terms of design. Many manufacturers have swapped archaic physical keyboards for large, vibrant touchscreens and adopted the candybar form factor like it's going out of style. In turn, more and more devices are beginning to look alike, and it's getting harder and harder to distinguish one phone from another, at a glance.

For those who still cherish design and color schemes over boosted spec sheets, there is little choice in the current market. But there are a few aftermarket options that allow you to personalize your phone, a little more permanently than by just slapping on a protective case.

First and foremost, there is Colorware. Colorware is a company that has been around and coloring all kinds of existing electronics since 2000. They claim "a ColorWare product is also a statement in fashion and individuality, and as such fills a high-demand niche market," as evidenced by their appearance in popular magazines, such as Vogue, In Style and Entertainment Weekly. Colorware has quickly added the iPhone 4S to their (scarce) phone offerings. Other models available to be colored are the iPhone 4 (GSM and CDMA), BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Bold 9780. You can also send in your iPad 2, or buy one from Colorware to have it colored.

It seems their lineup has shrunk a bit since the last time I visited their site. Android phones aren't out of the question. But since new Android phones launch every few weeks, I imagine it's hard to keep up. I do, however, remember Colorware offering owners of a Nook Color or Nexus One a sweet new paint job in the past, though.

The Colorware website allows you to paint nearly any surface of your smartphone (with the exception of the face of the iPhone 4 and 4S). They offer a multitude of pearl, metallic and solid colors with either a gloss or SofTouch finish. Mix and match colors to make your phone ... yours.

Unfortunately, fresh paint on your new smartphone comes at a premium price. You can purchase a pre-colored iPhone 4S through Colorware for $1,500 for a 16GB and $1,700 for a 64GB model. Yowza. (I have a feeling these prices will come down after the newness wears off a bit.) An iPhone 4, Bold 9900 and Torch 9810 can be purchased through Colorware, pre-colored, for a slightly more reasonable $850. Or, if you already own one of said devices, you can simply send your phone in to Colorware and have them paint it for $250. It's worth noting that any Colorware'd phones will be void of warranty after the proceedure. Double ouch.

I have to admit, a finished Colorware product looks amazing, though I've never been able to justify the price. I have signed up to win a Colorware'd BlackBerry through CrackBerry from time to time. Unfortunately, I've never won. Personally, I'm not sure how Colorware has stayed in business for so long with such a small niche market. I don't know of many people who would pay upwards of $250 to have their phone painted. In fact, I know more people who wouldn't even pay $250 for a phone with a two-year contract.

I remember a handful of BlackBerry models being offered, much like the 9780 is offered now: for $125, you skip sending your phone in and do it yourself. But when it comes to DIY, there are much cheaper options. For instance, there are certain sites that offer OEM housing replacements for a fairly reasonable price. One particular shop, Cellular Nationwide Network (CNN), offers a black OEM Galaxy S II housing set for $45.99 and the white housing for $49.99. CNN also offers a multitude of aftermarket housings for select phones – like a red and black bezel with a matching battery door for the Bold 9700 for a mere $25 plus shipping.

There is also a company by the name of Coveroo, who offers personalized OEM battery doors for select phones. Choose your design out of the thousands of licensed artwork and logos, or send in your own. Then you choose your product, which (hopefully) is a battery door or case for your phone, and choose whether you want it engraved or printed. Customized Coveroo battery doors usually run north of $19.99.

So, what's your take, guys and gals? How do you personalize or customize your phone? Do you just stick to cases for personalization? Have any of you purchased a Colorware'd phone? Was it worth it? Chime in and give us your opinion below!

Images via Colorware

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