This year, for the first time since it released the Bumper alongside the iPhone 4 in 2010, Cupertino’s designers came up with bespoke official cases to go alongside its two new iPhones. iPhone 5c got its own silicone and microfiber snap-on case covered in holes, which I reviewed a few days back. iPhone 5s got a much more luxurious leather case. No holes, just a thin – almost entirely – leather affair available in black, tan, grey, blue, yellow and this special (PRODUCT) RED version.
Now, I have to say, I’ve seen companies attempt this form factor with leather cases in the past. For the most part, they all failed. They’re normally bulked up in the corners, or around the edges where the manufacturer has tried to force the leather to fit, or where the seams clumsily meet. For me, the only leather cases to have any kind of success are either pouches, or leather/flip style cases. Somehow, Apple’s come up with a completely seamless, shell-style leather case that’s incredibly thin and without any real flaws.
On the design front the surface is delicately textured with minute “pores”. The only thing breaking the surface are the necessary cutouts for the camera, Lightning connector, headset jack and the tiny individual holes that perfectly match those above the iPhone’s microphone and speaker on the bottom edge. Your iPhone’s edges are hugged tight by the case, which adds very little bulk at all to your device and has a very tactile and soft finish. On the back, the Apple logo is proudly embossed in the top third, dead center.
One real point of affection for me is the care and attention taken in manufacturing. It really is a virtually flawless finish. On the outside, all the cases cutouts, holes and button covers a positioned perfectly. There’s no sign of any imperfection in the materials used, or in the manufacturing. On the inside, the back panel is covered in micro-fiber to ensure your iPhone’s back is protected from any scratching. And as far as I can tell, the case is reinforced and given structural integrity by a very thin, and fairly pliable plastic shell. It acts as the case’s spine and ensures that the case won’t get out of shape with time.
The only negative point I felt – and something I mentioned in the early unboxing video – was that the buttons’ response is somewhat diminished by the leather cover. It’s hard to feel any sort of ‘click’ from the power/lock key. Volume buttons aren’t a problem at all, but those are typically more raised than the power button. Apart from that, I’m struggling to find any issue with the case at all.
If I was to give my final thoughts: Although the finish and attention to detail in manufacturing is clear, I don’t really get the sense that it’s a luxury case at all. The bendy plastic spine that runs through the entire case kills off any impression that it’s a premium case. But that doesn’t make it a bad case. It’s a fantastic case. I’ve reviewed plenty of cases fitting in this price range that showed more inconsistencies in design and manufacturing. Simply put, if you want a minimal, good looking and slick rear shell for your brand new iPhone, you could do much worse than spending $39/£35 on an Apple leather case.