After Dbrand released information about their experiments with Nintendo Switch console skins, it’s a bit scary to try even licensed skins for fear of damaging your console’s and Joy-Cons’ casing. Before this news came out, we received a set of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild decals with a screen protector and rubber thumb caps to review. These are officially licensed by Nintendo and bear their seal of approval, and PDP has said that they won’t cause the sort of damage Dbrand has experienced. Let’s take a look at how this product fares.
I started off by applying a decal just to the left Joy-Con and leaving it on for 24 hours to see if it caused any damage. After taking it off, there was no damage to be found, so I applied the rest for another 24 hours. I couldn’t find any signs of damage, so I’m willing to deem this decal set safe. (You can see my experiment in a video I recorded of the process down below)
I had a little issue with getting one of the decals off the sheet—it pulled up the paper with it and took a little fighting to get the decal free. It also helps to have a steady hand when applying them because it’s easy to misalign them slightly (those with a high sense of attention to detail, beware). They come of nice and cleanly before you press them on, so it isn’t hard to try two or three times to get the alignment right. Taking them off is a bit more difficult once you press them on, so it pays to get it right the first time. I also notice light ripples in the decals where I peeled them off, but this is only visible with the right angle of light and harder to see from a distance of more than three feet away—not a big deal.
For not doing any damage, the adhesive holds very nicely, and I have no worries about the decals peeling off on their own over time. The art work on the decals is beautiful, and even the subtle wooden look given to the dock makes it look really sleek. Aside from the trickiness that comes with lining them up right, it should be very easy for anyone to apply on their own. I find the decals very satisfying overall!
The Screen Protector
The screen protector included is the plastic variety. This is difficulty for an average user to apply properly. I tried three times to apply it myself, and each time I tried I saw more bubbles under the screen protector than the last. There weren’t any tools included to help with this process to remove bubbles or keep them out, so you’re on your own for this. I also made sure to wipe down my console’s screen with a microfiber cloth before attempting it, but I found the adhesive side of the screen protector was very dusty after trying it once or twice.
The adhesive does bond to the screen nicely and doesn’t cause any damage when you take it off, but you really want to get this right on the first try if you can. It’s better than not having any screen protector at all since the console screen is a bit susceptible to scuffs and scratches. That said, you’re either going to one someone experienced with applying this sort of screen protector to handle it for you or you’ll want to seek out a better screen protector (such as tempered glass). I elected not to keep and use this one after trying it.
Because I wasn’t able to apply the screen protector properly, I can’t comment on how the screen’s touch functionality works with it. I assume it doesn’t have a significant impact on it, but I can’t confirm this. The good news is that if you feel like it has too much of a negative effect on it, removing the screen protector is not a difficult task.
Since I wasn’t able to give the screen protector a fair test on the screen, I did the next best thing—I handed it to a friend who works in IT support and let him give it a test to see how well it would protect the screen underneath. For light rough treatment (such as putting it in a bag or your pocket where it brushes against things), the protector got roughed up but would protect the screen just fine. For sudden impacts (such as dropping the system), the protector seemed inadequate—you would still be looking at damage to the screen. Then he took a box cutter to cut through it, and this was our most surprising result. The box cutter left a slice on the screen protector as expected, but it did not cut all the way through.
In this regard, it seems to be a better quality screen protector than some of the plastic varieties out there. While a tempered glass screen protector would still be better, this isn’t a bad choice as far as plastic ones go. And again, it’s still better than not having a screen protector at all.
The Thumb Caps
At first I didn’t expect to get much use out of these. My family owns a pro controller, but I don’t mind using the Joy-Cons either on the console, free hand, or in the included grip—I like the pro controller as well, but I’m not one of the players who is bothered by the Joy-Con layout.
When I first tried applying them, it felt a little odd to me. I switched off back and forth between play sessions using them and play sessions without them. The more I did this, the more I realized having them on there made the thumb sticks feel more natural, like what I was used to with other controllers. My first session with the Joy-Cons on the grip (without the thumb caps), I noticed that the sticks felt odd, like they were too short to really feel natural. After applying the thumb caps, it just felt like another controller to me—very nice!
I did notice some mild food debris building up under the thumb caps after taking them on and off a few times (likely from where I was setting them down more than anything). I had some trouble trying to get this off until I found that I could turn them inside out to easily clean them.
Applying them and taking them off is the easiest thing in the world. Lining them up just right so the symbol on them is perfectly upright is a little trickier—once again, those with a lot of attention to detail, be ready for this.
All in all, the thumb caps ended up being a very welcome bonus in this package!
The decals are safe to use with your system, easy to apply, and very nice looking once they’re in place. The screen protector is not the best out there and is difficult to apply properly, but is good quality among its type and is certainly better than nothing. The thumb caps ended up being a nice bonus and should feel natural to those who are used to other types of controllers.
If you’re looking for a screen protector and see the decals as a bonus, you may want to consider a different product. If you’re interested in the decals and see the screen protector as a bonus, you will not be sorry with this product. Nicely done, PDP!