OPINION: Apple made a noted push for sustainability with the launch of the iPhone 15 and Apple Watch Series 9, using more recycled materials and turning certain products carbon neutral.
Part of the push was removing any leather from the accessory line-up, ditching the often praised leather iPhone case and Watch bands in the process.
In place of leather, Apple launched a line of cases and straps made from a material it calls ‘Finewoven‘. Apple describes this Finewoven material as being made from durable micro-twill, with a “soft, suede-like feel”. It also notes that it is made from 68% consumer recycled content.
It all sounds very positive. However, when these £59/$59 Finewoven Phone 15 Pro cases hit shelves, a bevy of criticism started to arrive thick and fast. Images of scratched-up cases in Apple Stores littered Threads and the iPhone 15 Pro Max version of the case currently has an average rating of 2.8/5 on Amazon UK. A far cry from the mostly praised high-end leather cases that Apple used to sell.
I’ve been using one of these derided cases for the past couple of weeks, and now seems like a good time to give an update on how it’s holding up.
Is the Finewoven case really that bad?
First things first, I do think it’s a step backwards in terms of the overall design.
The leather cases were seamless single pieces, whereas the Finewoven cases have multiple parts that give a much cheaper feel. The back is softer to the touch while the sides are made from a sturdier feeling material that has more of a rubbery finish. The buttons are still made of metal though, giving them a reassuring click.
While Apple calls the finish ‘suede-like’, I would say it feels more like a car seatbelt. It feels nice in the hand, but the rubbery sides add only a little extra grip. It doesn’t feel anywhere as nice as the leather case, but I have no qualms with the feel and I also have no issues with how the case is holding up.
I’ve been slipping it in and out of my pocket, putting it in a bag and trying to treat it as I would have done with the leather cases and it still looks fine a few weeks on. The fact I have the darkest colour option probably helps, as I am sure the lighter hues will show marks a lot more.
I used Apple’s leather cases for years, and while they had many admirers I was never fully a fan. You can see a photo below of how a green case for the iPhone 14 Pro Max looked after a year of use – hardly ageing well, the colouring has mostly rubbed off, leaving unsightly black splodges everywhere (definitely not the aged leather look that’s so popular). What the newer Finewoven case looks like a year on, of course, remains to be seen. I’d be surprised if it looked quite as bad, though.
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The Finewoven option is an expensive case, and in some ways it’s a downgrade over what was available before. The images of scratched cases are far from positive and the design is nowhere near as premium as the leather options sold previously. Yet, it still fits better than any other case I have tried for the iPhone 15 Pro and gives the best access to the Action Button. It’s far from the best case Apple has ever produced, but it’s far from worst case you can get your hands on – even at its price point.