Since the Amazon.com customer reviews for the polycarbonate ring also known as the recently featured HTC EVO camera lens protector were all (suspiciously) glowing, I decided to find out for myself whether the 5-star rating was really deserved, especially since a set of two rings is only $6.95 from Amazon.
In brief, the lens protector is an adhesive-backed clear plastic ring that you place around the EVO's camera lens. The ring creates a "wall" or raised border that recesses the lens so that it's protected when the phone is resting on a hard surface. Cell Innovations, the company who makes/sells the product (and is likely responsible for the initial reviews), believes the protector "eliminates the need for a bulky case," which would otherwise only serve to make the "largest [phone] (size wise) on the market . . . even larger."
So will your $6.95 be well spent on the lens protector? Or should you treat yourself to something from Starbucks instead? Read G&E's full review below to find out.
When I first saw a photo of the lens protector online, I thought it was a cap that covered the entire lens.
And although it's definitely better that it's only a ring (since anything that covers the lens could affect image quality), it's still hard not to feel slightly ripped off when you open the box and see a small bag containing two plastic rings that look more like throwaway spare parts. Even though the product is less than $7 (and eligible for free shipping when you spend $25 or more at Amazon) and there are two in each box, I immediately thought the price should be cut in half when I had the dinky piece of plastic in my hand.
Cell Innovations makes it a point to mention that the thin ring is made of polycarbonate, "the same material as bullet proof glass," but I bent one of mine almost in half with nothing more than my fingers. I had to use both of my thumbs and index fingers to do it, sure, but that may be more a testament to how weak I am than to how strong the ring is.
To be fair, the company never claims that the lens protector is indestructable and I honestly can't think of any way that it would bend like that once it's attached to the EVO. But when someone mentions bullet proof glass, one of the first things most people want to do is see if they can break it.
Getting the lens protector onto the EVO is very straightforward. Just peel off the backing on the adhesive, position it around the camera lens, and press it down to stick it on.
Nothing to it!
There's no tab on the backing to make it easy to pull off, though, so it can be hit-or-miss, especially since the instructions clearly say DO NOT TOUCH THE ADHESIVE. Companies don't use all caps to shout at their customers without good reason.
So while you're trying to pull off the backing without the help of a tab, all the while making sure not to touch the adhesive, there's a chance that you could end up pulling off the adhesive itself (shown above). It's probably a very slim chance, depending on how well the backing is already sitting there, but it's something worth noting.
Once the lens protector is properly attached to the EVO's battery cover via a "high bond engineered adhesive tape backing," it works as advertised.
The ring fits perfectly around the camera and recesses the lens so that it doesn't touch any hard/rough surface when the EVO is placed on its back.
The adhesive does seem strong and should be able to keep the protector in place under normal conditions, but it's important to note that Cell Innovations says that the bond is "long lasting" and not permanent. So if it falls off from the constant rubbing inside your pocket, I guess you'll have no grounds for a lawsuit.
I was actually able to pull the ring off my EVO with my nails and some force. I used my stock back cover instead of my daily-use glossy carbon fiber one just in case there was any damage from the removal, but the lens protector came off cleanly and left behind no residue. I only had it on for a few days, though, so your mileage may vary.
So that's the HTC EVO camera lens protector by Cell Innovations in a nutshell of about 850 words.
Is it worth $7?
As long as you 1) like the way it looks when attached to your EVO, 2) can get the backing off the adhesive with no problem, and 3) don't want to use a real case (unless you're willing to perform surgery on it to make the camera cutout bigger), then yeah, the lens protector is a pretty good buy. It should probably be a little cheaper considering some of the points I made above, but it's still a very small investment for keeping your EVO's camera lens safe.
The Cell Innovations Lens Protector for the HTC EVO is available now for $6.95 from Amazon. Use the special G&E coupon code NKSDF28X to save a dollar.