I’ve never been a fan of iPhone cases. They tend to be poorly designed, covered in branding (cf. Hello Kitty and the like), bulky or just crass (Playboy bunny ears on my phone? Why, yes please!). While I understand rugged cases such as those offered by Otterbox and Lifeproof which protect phones in extreme situations, Apple has established itself as leader in industrial design not only within technology but in throughout all consumer products. I enjoy the slim profile and design of the iPhone and have no desire disrupt either by sticking a large (and usually ugly) case on my phone. However, glass does break and scratch and as most smartphones are little else but glass, a certain amount of caution is required when not using a case. My experience with The Leather Shop’s iPhone case, on the other hand, is a welcome exception to my general distaste for cases.
The Leather Shop is Seattle-based leather atelier that produces top-quality leather goods under the brand Moose for sale through their online store (stay tuned for our reviews of several of their wallets). With the motto ‘Time passes, leather endures‘, they aim to make the best leather products – in terms of both design and build-quality – they can. They source their leather from across the USA but predominantly use Horween’s leathers. The iPhone sleeve is built from Horween’s popular, and excellent, Chromexcel leather. The case is made from a single piece of leather which is folded over and stitched along the bottom and the side with a single rivet at the top of the stitching. The top left-hand side is cut away to allow access to the volume/vibrate buttons – a thoughtful and appreciated aspect of design. The front of the case is etched with a ‘Moose’ logo but the branding is mercifully subtle. Overall I enjoy the simplicity of the design with this piece. From the use of a single piece of leather, to the simple waxed thread and burnished rivet the case is functional and elegant. I tested the brown version, but depending on your aesthetic choices the black version would be nice too – especially with a white iPhone.
Like any high quality leather product, the case needs to be broken in. At first the leather was too stiff, making inserting and removing the phone a bit of a struggle. Over the month that I’ve used the piece however, it’s become supple and yet it retains a firmness and grip on the phone. I’m certainly never worried that the phone will accidentally slide out. The interior of the case has no lining, just the reverse side of the leather which provides the grip on the phone, though it does leave a slight oily trace on the screen. While breaking the case in, I noticed flecks of leather coming off the case, which was annoying. However, with time and use this problem disappeared. Apart from the oil, the case provided excellent protection for the screen. With a ‘naked’ iPhone, I’ve always been careful not to toss it into my bag or carelessly thrust it into a pocket without first checking for loose coins or keys. With the case on, I enjoyed the confidence of being able to throw the phone wherever I wanted or jam it into a pocket while biking.
From first hand experience I’m unhappily aware of the fragility of iPhones, particularly the glass screen when dropped from, say, the height of your pocket. The Leather Shop’s case not only provides protection from scratching but also from falls. The case is stitched along the bottom and side and this provides a solid bumper that cushions the phone when dropped. I – nervously – undertook a field test of the ability of the case to protect my phone. Happily, my phone survived the experimentation and the case held up admirably. I was pleased to note that the phone was held firmly in place upon impact.
In my opinion, the Leather Shop’s iPhone case provides an excellent balance between functionality and design. For the price, $60, it offers excellent value considering the hideous plastic cases that retail for $30-40. As I’m a fan of the iPhone’s design and feel, I appreciate having a protected phone while not using it and a naked phone while it’s in hand. While the case does add to the phone’s thickness, the iPhone 5 is so slim that a bit of extra thickness isn’t all that noticeable. In short, the Leather Shop’s iPhone case is the best iPhone case I’ve ever used. I never thought I’d say it – but if faced with a choice between using no case or using the Leather Shop case, I’d choose the latter.
You can find the Leather Shop’s iPhone case online at their website for $60.