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Over the course of several years, smartphone design has taken a turn for the more conservative. While some manufacturers still express their penchants for superior design, the overall end product is usually the same: a rectangular device with a large, glass slab on the front and zero to three physical or capacitive navigational buttons.

Sure, there are a handful of color choices for some devices, like Nokia's Lumia series or HTC's Windows Phone 8X and 8S. But the vast majority of smartphones come in only two color options, the same two color options that have been offered for years, black or white. Sometimes there's a dark gray shade instead of stark black. And alabaster smartphones aren't always an option either.

At the end of the day, there is usually only one smartphone color option that is almost always certain. Black.

Don't get me wrong, I like black smartphones. They're classy and professional. I would feel a little out of place whipping out a bright yellow or red smartphone at a business professional meeting. (Not that I ever attend those.) As drab as it may be, though, a black or gray smartphone is a safe bet. It doesn't show stains or collect dirt like white phones sometimes do, I'm not nearly as likely to get tired of the color and they simply look more svelte.

But more so than any other gadget or device in your arsenal, a smartphone is the most personal. Unlike a computer or tablet that may be shared, a phone is strictly your device and few others will ever touch it. It's nice to add a personal touch to the chassis of your phone, and it often helps keep things fresh. Fortunately, there are ample ways you can personalize a drab and boring, run-of-the-mill, black smartphone.

If paying $1,500 to $1,700 for a custom-colored iPhone 5 by ColorWare isn't your style, you can typically find less permanent solutions for well under $50. Unless you use an iPhone of some sort, searching for a nice case in-store might not yield the best results. Most of the higher-profile case manufacturers don't give a lot of Android or Windows Phone devices a lot of love, and it's difficult for wireless retailers to stock a selection of cases for dozens of devices that are in and out of relevancy in a matter of months.

Taking to online shopping, however, you don't always have to dig deep to find some nice cases for your smartphone. Over the years, I have found Amazon to be one of the best sources for cell phone cases, particularly phones that are difficult to find a case for elsewhere.

Cases now range from affordable yet protective TPU and silicon cases to leather wallets and card holders with a pocket for the phone. They come in a bevy of color options. And for those looking for a more … unique look, there are cases that give your phone bunny ears or a Hello Kitty silhouette.

For those who want a truly custom look and feel without making permanent alterations to your phone, vinyl and plastic skins offer some protection and personalization. They've been around for ages, but as the dbrand skin that was sent to me shows, a new level of customization is available.

A friend of mine who does public relations for dbrand told me to send him an image of my logo. I sent him one I designed last year. And a week later, the skin you see on my iPhone 5 arrived on my doorstep.

I won't lie. I was skeptical at first. I've always been a pouch guy who likes to feel the cold metal and glass on my phone. I like to feel the phone how it was intended to feel in the hand and hate to cover it with anything. I've tried skins several times in the past and was never impressed.

But I applied this custom dbrand skin to my iPhone last night – in no more than two minutes – and immediately swooned. One, because I love the logo I created and it was never used for anything. Also, because it looks and feels great on the phone (and it covers up some, not all, of the blemishes on the phone. If I could buy one of these for my Galaxy Note II, I most definitely would.

Although I use them from time to time, I'm not a huge fan of cases. But I do switch up colors sometimes to rekindle the love for a device. For instance, when I get tired of the drab gray of the Galaxy Note II I have, I slap a white Flip Cover on it for a few days. If I get tired of the white, I switch back to the stock gray battery door.

I have never worried too much about customization or personalization on the outside of my phones – I typically leave that to the software and home screens. But I will admit, having my self-designed company logo plastered on the back of my phone is … sweet.

How far do you go to customize or personalize the look of your smartphone, readers? Do you look for crazy and unique cases? Do you use skins? Or have you even considered the expensive and irreversible ColorWare?


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