For the longest time, I've distanced myself from big phones and phone cases, but last year I decided to order the iPhone 6 Plus, a 5.5" behemoth that quickly won me over. Having used it daily for the last several months, it does indeed continue to delight. But as I put it through its paces, my daily use of the device unearthed an unforeseen problem: the phone is one slick device. And I mean that literally -- when extracted from a pocket, the thing unconsciously attempts to slip out of your hands and commit hardware suicide against the ground.
I had two choices, apparently: Handle with obsessive delicacy, or buy a case with less of a slick surface.
While I’ve never cracked or damaged any iPhone I’ve owned, one day in December I opted for buying a case while I was shopping with my girlfriend and her sister at Target. While they were off shopping for gifts, I jaunted towards the electronics section. Initially, I hoped to find some decent PS3 games on post-holiday sale, but the leftover stock wasn’t worth picking over. What other purchases had been nagging at me? That damn case.
Up to this moment, I had been debating getting a case — ever since the first couple weeks of my iPhone 6 Plus use. And so I wandered over to Target’s pitiful mobile section, eyes darting through peg after peg of over-designed car chargers, chunky plastic cases plastered with flowers and sports logos, strange car-mounting solutions, and a jungle of cables. Target is probably the last place I’d look for something to outfit an Apple-designed product, but I’d been doing research on basic cases, and the Apple-branded leather case had received fairly wide-spread approval from the network of bloggers and reviewers I respect. I figured they’d at least carry a few colors of the Apple-made one. At this Grand Rapids, Michigan location, they only had two cases for the iPhone 6 Plus left in stock, and in only one variant: black. I was hoping to snag the dark-navy blue one, but black would have to do — especially since I’d convinced myself I was going to buy this that day.
So what’s it like in action? After wresting it open from its super slim packaging, putting it on was as easy as aligning the edges of the case against the back of the phone and pressing the two together. It softly absorbs the device with more of a sigh than the usual plasticky click, and the iPhone just sits snug in the case’s real-leather cradle. That’s it.
Here’s my rundown of the device, to save you paragraphs of a typical review:
- The real leather feels wonderful
- Improves aforementioned "slickness" by providing sturdier gripping surface
- Permits phone to be placed completely flat on a surface (the camera bulge is covered by about a millimeter of leather material)
- Allows the iPhone to be placed face (screen) down on a surface without permitting the screen to touch (there's a nice leather rim raised about a millimeter from the screen that rests on the surface first)
- Due to the material, where the leather rim meets the screen a small trench is created that tends to route dust and other small particles into its maw. Granted, this is a very minor trench, but I would be remiss not to mention this since I've had to take the case off a few times a week to clean out these little pieces.
- The clearance on the bottom of the phone, where the headphone, lightning cable I/O, and speaker/microphone are located, is a bit tight on the headphone jack side. If you have a non-typical headphone plug (such as with a thicker base around the jack, and an L-shaped one), it may not click all the way into the iPhone. This reminds me of the issues with the original iPhone’s concave headphone jack, which ostracized the same kinds of headphones. Luckily, my ten-year old Etymotics (which do have a thick plug base) do fit in fine, but it seems as if half a millimeter is sticking out, and doesn’t completely click in.
- Miss the sturdy buttons for volume and sleep/wake — the case does not have cut-outs for these, and instead has built-in leather bumps that you press (which in turn press the buttons they lay against). It’s a minor complaint (ever notice how physical Apple buttons are really nice to press?), but to turn a subjective preference into a positive, I’ve noticed that I don’t accidentally press the volume button instead of the sleep button when quickly putting my phone away anymore. (If you don’t know, the asinine new location of the sleep/wake button is on the right-side of the iPhone, opposite the volume increase button — when gripped in one hand, it’s possible to press both of these buttons at the same time, and the aftermath of this does not always yield the initial intention) .
In short, the Apple iPhone Plus Leather Case works honorably as both a protective wrap for the very large phone, and as a way to more confidently handle the device.