Review – Apple Leather Case (Saddle Brown)

The art of the phone case is a subtle art. With the right precision cuts, button placement and price, you have a solid case that will sell because everyone is afraid of dropping their $600 smartphone.

The Apple leather case was launched two years ago with the release of the iPhone 5s and there have been new models with each new iPhone in the subsequent years.

Last year Apple launched two new models—silicone and leather—with the distinctive Apple markup. I gravitated towards the leather case because it’s beautiful and feels great in the hand, but the question is, is it right one for you?

Every product Apple produces has a unique aesthetic beauty to it that always makes it pretty to look at. From the iPhone to the MacBook, those devices look and feel great. The cool aluminum touch in the morning lets you know these devices are premium. The leather case by Apple is no different.

The high-end leather Apple uses for the case feels great in the hand, although slightly slippery. I’ve used my iPhone without a case, and I know what a slippery phone feels like—the leather case does not completely solve this problem. But that’s not the goal for this cases; it aims to deliver good looks and protection from bumps and scrapes.

The front of the case has a lip that allows you to set your phone down face down, which means you don’t have to worry about your iPhone screen touching the surface of the table or desk and risking possible scratches.

The bottom lip is cut to allow easy access to the headphone jack and Lightning port. The camera cut-out is really tight—to my annoyance—but still allows you to take great shots with your iPhone without any obstruction. The volume and power buttons, well, that’s the weakest point of this case.

When my alarm sounds off in the morning and I reach to snooze it, I use the power button to silent it. To this day, this has never been an issue—until now. I could not properly press the power button with the leather case on. There’s no give with the buttons, and they deliver very little feedback when you do press the button.

In full daylight and a good grip, this isn’t as big of an issue but it’s still noticeable. Pressing the buttons on this case isn’t an enjoyable experience. I find myself pressing harder than normal, causing discomfort in my finger just to make sure I lock my phone with one push. Try pressing the power button at 3 A.M. in pitch black—it’s near impossible on a single try.

Apart from the buttons, the rest of the case is great. It covers the phone at all corners and the only part that is exposed is the bottom of the phone. But that’s where another gripe of mine is. You can’t enjoy the design of the phone.

This is more of a personal preference, but with every phone case I use, I want to show off the phone. If a phone is made up of aluminum and glass, then that means it’s a premium phone, and I want to see what I bought—while it’s protected.

One of the previous cases I used for the iPhone 6 was the Tech21 Classic Check, which not only delivered protection for my phone—with the help of proprietary impact absorbing material FlexShock—the clear silicone material used for the case allowed me to enjoy the design of the phone. Considering Tech21 cases retails for $40, you can see why other cheaper options probably deliver better value.

I know it’s an oxymoron, but I want the best of both worlds and if a $45 case can’t deliver that, then maybe I should look elsewhere.

The leather case held up well after my daily usage. Granted, I don’t do anything taxing that would ruin the beautiful leather, but even with light wear, you’ll notice that fragility of the case quickly.

Scuff marks can be seen all over the back of the case. This is purely a matter of taste, but I don’t particularly enjoy the marks. The same goes for the lips around the screen that allows you to set down your phone face down.

After a few days, some minor shades of dark were already visible. And this is with light wear and I never once put it near dirt to justify the unwelcome marks.

Apple goes out of its way to let you know this is a side effect of the premium leather, but at such steep price, I can’t say I’m fond of the changing leather.

Grade: Don’t Buy

Design has been a specialty of Apple’s ever since Jony Ive took over, and those qualities carry over to the leather case. But there are one too many problems to justify for a case at this price range. For $45 (plus tax), you can find yourself at least one case that can do whatever you want from it and save some money. In my case, it’s protection while showing off the design of the phone to some degree.

If you’re happy overpaying for the Apple brand, then go for it, but if you want to get the best value for your money, Apple won’t give that with its leather case.

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