Okay, all done. I'll work on getting the photos tomorrow but the results are in:
As many people already know, the screen protector combo doesn't work. But not necessarily for reasons you might think. See, in trying to reduce the trampoline effect while case-wear-proofing the phone, I actually made it worse. I'm sure a lot of people are saying "I knew it wouldn't work" and "I told you so" but since there is so little chatter in this community I'm going to go into detail.
The Skinomi protector is awesome. It fit perfectly; all six pieces come together almost seamlessly when done with care. I didn't take as much care as I could have, and the results will show it, but while positioning them I realized just how well thought out the pattern is. Sure, there are some empty spots, but nothing that the case is going to hurt.
Once I put it all back together, my initial reaction was similar to Tuco Salamanca trying Heisenberg's blue meth for the first time. Tight, tight tight! Yeah! And for the caseback, that is a good thing: the TPU protector material will mold itself around the compression areas and seal very well with the Otterbox internal case. But the screen protector is another story of course.
Because I essentially added two layers to the overall thickness of the phone, the Otterbox screen protector was now too tight: it stretched over the top of the Skinomi, and as a result the edges began to arc as they were flexed around the sides of the screen. This resulted in an airtight bubble, one which would not give out over any reasonable length of time. I would need to vacuum the whole phone to get that out, and I'm talking about a commercial vacuum limp normally used to degas epoxies. Who knows what that would do to the internals of the phone. Probably not much, but I am not about to risk it.
So, lime so many others, I took out the Otterbox screen protector. The result is a super smooth, super clear screen with some watertight edges near the top. I really hoped it would have worked better with the Otterbox protector but alas, it was it mean to be.
And of course, there is another problem with using a TPU protector underneath the Otterbox protector: the "soap bubble effect," where the resulting bubble would collapse under finger pressure from normal use and stick to the TPU. This leaves some weird clear spots that looks like water damage, and it tends to exhibit a bit of a rainbow-like phenomenon resembling oil in a water puddle, or the surface of a soap bubble. At first I thought I'd live with it, but after ten minutes and a few photographs later I decided that it wasn't going to get any better at all.
Now, just in case you're wondering why I didn't remove the Skinomi TPU screen protector and leave the grill pieces on, to act as my gasket, well that just wouldn't do either. It would have lifted the Otterbox protector up and I would have been right back to square one, only without the soap bubble effect.
A couple of notes about this, in case you have questions when I put pictures up:
1) I rushed this. If I had a good microscope I would have made this thing look absolutely flawless. Due to my aging eyes, I need a microscope to do anything like this properly these days (preferably a Nikon SMZ-10A like I had at Ithaco) and I don't have the cash for one.
2) I used a space heater to dry it out faster. At about 80℉ and 35% RH with constantly flowing air, it dried pretty quick. The screen protector will still require some healing, but it is safe enough to put back in the case anyway. If you attempt this method, be sure to have a thermometer handy to ensure that you don't cook your beloved phone.
3) Dust. I have acute psoriasis, and after a long cold dry winter my skin sheds like crazy. Normally, I control it with A&D but I didn't have any neoprene gloves handy, so I didn't want to get any ointment in the adhesive on the Skinomi. So there are a few particles of dust in the photos. When you do yours, make sure to apply the protector in an area without a lot of dust. Some suggest a steamy bathroom. Not a good idea. You'll increase the amount of moisture inside the phone, and while it probably won't hurt your phone, it will make the drying process take longer. You may end up handling your phone while it is still not cured, leading to lifted edges, slipped protectors, or weird fingerprints and dents.
Anyway, I'll put up the photos tomorrow, maybe. I'm starting to feel lazy now and have some things to do. Overall: 75% success. I think it will be just fine but this isn't quite the protection I was hoping for. Still it will be adequate.