The anodized aluminum on the back of the iPhone 5 is easier to scratch than the glass back of the iPhone 4S, leading many users to look for an easy way to protect the back of the iPhone 5 without adding bulk to the thin phone.
Apple isn’t concerned with the iPhone 5 back scratching issue, calling it “normal” for anodized aluminum to scratch, revealing the silver surface below.
Users looking to keep the back of the iPhone safe from scratches, without adding a case, can turn to one fo the 5 iPhone 5 skins below. These iPhone 5 skins cover the back and sometimes the sides of the iPhone 5, but won’t protect the chamfered edge of the iPhone 5.
Read: Best iPhone 5 Cases
An iPhone 5 case can protect all sides and edges of the iPhone 5, but even the thinnest case adds bulk. These iPhone 5 skins and decals offer minimalist iPhone 5 protection.
ZAGG Full Body InvisibleSHIELD Extreme
The ZAGG Full Body InvisibleSHIELD Extreme for the iPhone 5 offers more protection than the average screen protector and iPhone 5 skin thanks to a new thicker military grade film.
This 0.2mm thick film doesn’t interfere with the iPhone 5 display. I’m currently testing the case friendly InvisibleSHIELD Extreme and it doesn’t get in the way of using the iPhone 5.
With the full body model, users can protect the front and back of the iPhone 5 with tough, clear ZAGG protection. There are no side pieces to cover the edges of the iPhone 5.
The video below shows an iPhone 4S with the ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD Extreme screen protector handling more abuse than most iPhones will see.
The ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD Extreme full body iPhone 5 protection retails for $49.99 from ZAGG. Some Radio Shack and Best Buy locations also sell ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD protection for the iPhone 5.
Gelaskins iPhone 5 Skins
Gelaskins offers affordable iPhone 5 back protection in a number of great designs, including comics and other licensed art. The designs come with a matching wallpaper and front coverage for the iPhone 5. There is no side coverage.
In addition to the many designs Gelaskins offers, users can also upload their own photos or designs to be turned into an iPhone 5 skin. These make wonderful presents, and are affordable too.
These skins look stunning in person, and offer protection from scratches and are slim enough to still fit inside a case when users need more protection.
Gelaskins can be removed and re-applied to get the right alignment. Gelaskins for the iPhone 5 start at $14.95. Users looking for NFL, MLB and other licensed skins should check out SkinIt for customizable sports skins and more.
BodyGuardz UltraTough Full Body iPhone 5 Skin
BodyGuardz offers a new tougher full body skin for the iPhone 5. Unlike the ZAGG model, BodyGUARDz offers full front, back and side protection. The edges of the sides may not be covered completely, but this is the most coverage I’ve found outside of a case.
The kit includes two complete sets, letting users share with a friend or account for any errors in installing the iPhone skin. The skin is clear, so users can still enjoy the iPhone 5 design, without worrying about scratches in the metal or the screen.
The video below shows the same skin taking abuse on an older iPhone.
The BodyGuardz UltraTough Full Body iPhone 5 skin retails for $24.95 for a set of two. I’m a fan fo the Armor Carbon Fiber Skin, which I used on my iPhone 4S.
The full body Armor Carbon Fiber iPhone 5 skin retails for $19.95 and comes in black and white. The skin offers a Carbon Fiber look and texture. This includes a screen protector.
DecalGirl iPhone 5 Skins
DecalGirl offers some of my favorite iPhone 5 skin designs with a vast catalog of design choices. My favorites are the geekier offerings like the Futurama skins for Planet Express and a Bender Face iPhone 5 skin.
The DecalGirl skins are easy to apply and to remove thanks to a special adhesive so there are no air bubbles or residue when the skin is removed. Like most of the skins in this roundup, they are thin enough to fit inside a case when users need more protection.
The iPhone 5 skins are just $9.99 and come with a choice of high gloss or smudge proof finish. Some of the skins come with a matching wallpaper.
Glow in the Dark iPhone 5 Skins
Users looking to keep track of the iPhone in the dark may want to invest in an iPhone 5 glow in the dark skin from SlickWraps.
The glow in the dark iPhone 5 skin recharges under light and glows in the dark to make finding the phone easy. The skins use an adhesive that allows users to reposition the iPhone 5 skin and remove any air bubbles.
The skin includes coverage for the back as well as the sides, top and bottom of the iPhone 5. SlickWraps says the glow in the dark iPhone 5 skin will glow for up to six hours.
The SlickWraps Glow in the Dark iPhone 5 skins comes in five colors, including orange, green, blue, yellow and purple. The skins are $24.95 each, and include an option to purchase an HD screen protector for $5.