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Review: Apple iPhone 5S Leather Case

by on June 13, 2014

When Apple released the iPhone 5, they did not included an updated version of the overpriced-yet-minimal Bumper from the iPhone 4/4S. While this made some sense, the company released a first-party case alongside the iPhone 5S, the $40 iPhone 5S Case, which also works with the iPhone 5.

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Although the 5C has the market cornered on “fun” Apple-branded cases, the 5S case is available in a few different colors: yellow, beige, blue, brown, black, and a (PRODUCT) RED edition. The texture is nice feeling leather, not unlike the original iPad Smart Covers, although a bit thinner. The inside is lined with microfiber and should do a good job of both protecting your phone from everyday bumps and scratches. Don’t expect these cases to save your phone from ridiculous drops.

Cutouts for the headphone jack and Lightning Connector are relatively small, so some headphones won’t work, nor will fatter Lightning Connectors. This isn’t really surprising, and if you use a lot of cables with the dimensions of Apple’s it shouldn’t matter. Ours worked fine with the Lightning-to-30 Pin cable adapter and the Lightning-to-micro-USB adapter from Apple. Also along the bottom are small holes for the microphone and speaker.

The cutout for the camera is also on the smaller side, but does not affect the flash or operation of the camera. It is curious that these dimensions are smaller than what Apple requires from third-parties. Then again, if you’re making everything and controlling the ecosystem, you can do what you want. Buttons are covered with leather, and the volume buttons have excellent tactile feedback. The power button requires a little more effort, but isn’t bad.

Inserting and removing the iPhone isn’t too difficult, but the case does require a bit more effort than some TPU or silicone products. Once installed, it feels like an extension of the iPhone, rather than a cheesy afterthought in the case of the original iPad case. Besides not adding much bulk or weight to the phone, it feels cohesive and gives enough grip and comfort. The back features an embossed Apple logo at about the same place as the one on the back of the phone, but no other markings.

If we had to find a complaint about the case, it would be the nature of the dyed leather itself. Much like the iPad covers, expect the lighter colored cases to pick up skin oils and change color over time. Changes will most likely happen on edges, due to clothing dyes or contact with your skin. If you want something that will look like-new the longest, go with the black version. If you want something that will wear the most, but will look a little ugly, go with the beige.

We do have a complaint towards Apple, in that the iPhone 5S Dock would be an excellent companion to this case. Alas, the Dock doesn’t allow any sort of case on the iPhone, which is a bit of a disappointment. The same goes for the Lightning-to-30-Pin Adapter. Why sell a few first-party accessories that don’t work with each other.

Some may complain that the case is overpriced, especially when a lot of iPhone cases have a sweet spot of $25-$35. Still, the extra $5 does get you genuine leather and the ability to exchange a faulty case at an Apple Store.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

Apple’s iPhone 5S Case is a great option if you like leather, don’t plan on swapping cases a lot, and want something that is understated, but classy.

Pros: Good feel, excellent fit & finish
Cons: Some third-party accessories won’t work, slightly more expensive than many other cases
Rating: 9/10

The Facts

Product: iPhone 5S Case
Company: Apple
Platform: iPhone 5, 5S
Price: $39.99

This post has been filed in iPhone, Mobile Devices, Reviews