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Friday February 1, 2013 1:56 pm

AnoStyle review: The iPhone 5 & iPad mini coloring service

AnoStyle review

Many would argue that the iPhone 5 is the most beautiful smartphone hardware from a design aesthetic. The black & slate and white & silver models look great from all angles. That said, some find them a bit boring. After all, Apple sells a colorful array of iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle devices, so what gives with the iPhone 5 (and iPad mini, for that matter?) While Apple is content to provide two color options for its flagship smartphone and mini tablet, there's definitely a growing segment of people who want to be a bit more unique. That's where AnoStyle comes in. AnoStyle will take your iPhone 5 or iPad mini, and pretty it up in one of 12 different colors, making your device stand out from the crowd. We sent a couple of iPhones and an iPad mini in to get the AnoStyle makeover. How did they do? Follow along in our AnoStyle review for the answer.



AnoStyle review

To get started, you head over the the AnoStyle Web site, and place your order. Do note that AnoStyle doesn't sell devices. Instead, you are paying for them to color your existing device. This means that you place your order, and then send in your device. After about two weeks, it should be back in your hands with a fresh, new look. You can choose between twelve different colors for the re-anodizing process, which the company claims is 40 times stronger than Apple's:

  • Red
  • Green
  • Pink
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Teal
  • Violet
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Bronze
  • Blue Steel

You get a preview of the colors when ordering, but it seems that the preview is a bit inaccurate as it pertains to the real-world colors. The site also lacks clear, distinct images of each color. There is a photo gallery, but it would be nice if you were able to click on, say, Copper, and see images of just copper-colored devices.

As far as pricing goes, you'll be paying $249 to get an iPhone 5 colored, while the iPad mini will cost you $299. Yep, the service could cost just about what you paid for these devices, but that's the price you pay for custom quality design.


AnoStyle iPhone 5 review

As mentioned, we sent two iPhone 5 devices to AnoStyle (in addition to one iPad mini), one black & slate and one white & silver. For the black model, we requested that it be colored pink, and we asked for orange for the white phone. Upon opening the package, we were immediately impressed by what we saw.

The phone looked beautiful, and uniquely their own. No scuffs or even coloring, the chamfered edges looked great, and the seams in the antenna didn't get any color on them. Truth be told, they looked as good as if Apple sold them this way themselves. Just as good as the red iPod touch we have here at Gear Live HQ.

The work done on the iPhones was top-notch, and we waiting for the iPad mini to arrive after we were told there was an issue with the anodization process in our batch and it had to be redone. This was the start of multiple issues with getting the iPad mini colored and back in our hands.

AnoStyle review iPad mini orange

The mini did arrive a few days after the phones did, and when I opened it up, I was just as impressed. The orange anodization color looked great on the white iPad mini! A couple of hours later, I tried to do a FaceTime call, and the front camera wouldn't launch. The rear camera worked fine, but the front wouldn't get past the shutter loading screen. I force-quit the camera, rebooted, and even reset the entire iPad and reinstalled iOS to start fresh. Nothing would work. At that point, I contacted AnoStyle to let them know that the front camera that was fine before I sent it in was no longer operational after I got it back. They arranged for me to send the device in, and even sent me an Express Mail shipping label so that:

  1. They'd get it overnight
  2. I wouldn't have to pay for the shipping

That's service.

AnoStyle iPad mini review

As part of the anodizing process, AnoStyle says they do a 21-point inspection of your device before sending it back to you, just to make sure everything is in working order. Once AnoStyle received our iPad mini, it was confirmed that the LTE model has a pretty delicate motherboard, and this was the likely reason for the problem. Of course, we wondered how it wasn't caught prior to shipping to us, since there was that 21-point inspection and all, but maybe the front camera wasn't a part of that, and if not, we'll hope that it's now a 22-point inspection going forward.

It took a few days to get everything repaired and sorted out, and then the iPad mini was back on its way to us, overnight. Except it was accidentally shipped back to AnoStyle instead of to our address. We were getting nervous, since we planned to use the iPad mini's Verizon LTE connection as our main hotspot in Las Vegas for CES. They overnighted it again, and when all was said and done, it didn't make it in time, despite FedEx saying it would be delivered by 10:00am the day of my flight (it didn't come until around 4:00pm.) Of course, the delivery issues with FedEx are not AnoStyle's fault, but had the front camera been tested before shipping the iPad back, this could have all been avoided.

ANoStyle coloring review

Still, even during the back and forth shipment of the iPad mini, Jason and Ally at AnoStyle couldn't have been more accommodating or nice. We got regular email updates about where things were and what was going on, and the only thing that would have been an improvement was getting the tracking numbers sent to me by email as I was promised. A small complaint in the grand scheme of things...especially considering they even stayed in contact with me over text message to ensure I got the products and to help assist with delivery if need be.


AnoStyle review

AnoStyle promises to give your iPhone 5 and iPad mini a unique look that you can't get anywhere else, and they deliver on that promise. The work and craftsmanship are top notch, and your smartphone or tablet will arrive at your doorstep looking like a work of art. Sure, we had an issue with the iPad mini, but we can easily admit that it was likely a rare anomaly. The service is definitely pricey, adding significant cost to your device while simultaneously voiding the warranty, and any extended AppleCare+ you may have purchased with it. Still, if you've got the cash and just care about getting your device done up in your favorite hue, you can't go wrong with AnoStyle.

The folks at AnoStyle have been kind enough to offer Gear Live readers a 15% discount on their coloring services for iPhone 5 and iPad mini. To take advantage of it, head on over to AnoStyle and use coupon code GEARLIVE0215 during checkout. The offer expires on February 15th.

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