Now that resistive screens are on the way out and capacitive require the touch of a finger (or a reasonable facsimile…), those of you that live in cold parts of the country had exactly two options when you want to use your iPhone or Android device outside in the cold: Take your gloves of (or wear fingerless…) and risk freezing your fingers, or don’t use your phone. Now you have a third option: the E-Tip Gloves by the North Face.
Full disclosure: I live in Texas, and unfortunately, right as I received these gloves for review, we had a heat wave hit, so it has been abnormally warm here (it’s 82 degrees as I write this. That is just not right…) so it is going to be tough for me to evaluate the cold weather potential of these gloves, but I will do the best that I can with the limited experience I’ve had.
For any one that has ever used The North Face’s products before, you know they specialize in cold weather gear for hikers and skiers and they are not afraid to use different materials to achieve a balance between usefulness, dexterity and protection. The E-Tip gloves are a classic example of this. They are a unisex glove, so either men or women can use them. The gloves are 93% Polyester and 7% Elastane with the tips of the thumb and forefinger of both gloves having a silver metalized nylon fabric sewn on. The pair provided was black, but they are also available in white and asphalt gray. The gloves are form-fitting and comfortable without being tight or confining. I felt that while wearing them, it would make perfect sense to have them on under a larger pair of gloves or mittens if you were out in some truly nasty cold or snowy weather.
The palm, thumb and first two fingers have a slip resistant pattern on them that make gripping your phone (or the steering wheel, for that matter) comfortable and secure. At no time did I feel like my EVO was going to slip from my grasp while wearing the glove. This is a good thing, since most gloves that I used with my old Touch Pro 2 made me feel like I had to be extra careful as I lost dexterity and the fabric could get slick in the cold and wet. You get the feeling with the E-Tip, that even wet and frozen, you will not lose your grip on the phone.
In the limited cold we have had recently in my part of Texas, the gloves we comfortable without making your hands sweat. It was easy to pull my phone out of my pocket and my belt holster with a minimum of effort and I did not feel like a klutz while doing so. That’s not to say that it was as easy as using a bare had would be, but it wasn’t an impossible task.
Now to the real reason to have these gloves: Using your phone. The short version is that I was able to easily navigate the app drawer, settings, messages, etc easily and confidently while wearing the gloves. The one thing that took a bit of getting used to was learning how much pressure to use and how to position your fingers without having the normal sensory input from actually touching the device with your bare fingers. The secret: Don’t try to compensate. That will mess you up. Just use normal pressure and movements and you’ll be able to fly through your phone like normal. Typing a message out on the on-screen keyboard was a bit of a pain with the smaller buttons, but if you trust your t9/Autocorrect/dictionary, you should get through it fine, I just would not recommend writing War and Peace in an SMS with these on. It will take you longer. But that is really the only physical drawback the E-Tip Gloves have. The other drawback is the price. At $40 a pair on thenorthface.com, they are a little pricey for me and I would liked to have seen them listed at $20 a pair as that seems to be a more reasonable price point for a pair of gloves.
Overall, I was happy with the E-Tip Gloves. They are useful in making it easier to use your phone in a safe & secure manner while keeping your fingers warm. The only drawback, besides the price tag, is that it is much tougher to type wearing the gloves. In all other areas: comfort, grip, the capacitive finger tips, and the trade off of dexterity vs. protection, the E-Tip Gloves are a winner and I would highly recommend them to anyone that needs to be able to use their device in situations that would leave most of the rest of us inside, drinking hot chocolate and warming our toes near a fire.