To case or not to case? That is the question. For myself, it has been the question for me over the years of owning an iPhone. If you take a look at many of my case reviews, you'll see mostly thin bumper-style or rear shell snap on cases for the iPhone 5 form factor. When Apple introduced the new leather "premium" cases for the iPhone 5 and 5s, initially I had no interest in using one. However based on the chatter of some on my Twitter feed I decided to purchase a leather case in my favorite color, Apple's (PRODUCT) RED.
The Apple case is made of a leather called Aniline, a soft leather that is dyed to achieve various colors. It is very nice to hold and like most leather products feels soft to the touch. While this type of leather looks and feels nice, it happens to be very prone to color fading and wear (more on that later). Apple offers the new cases in Beige, Black, Blue, Brown, (PRODUCT) RED, and Yellow.
When on the iPhone, the case offers full protection covering the top, bottom, sides, and even a small lip on the front providing a lay-on-the-table design. Cutouts are provided for the Lightning port connector, headphone jack, and silent/vibrate switch. The headphone jack does seem pretty ample in terms of size and the types of connectors it will accommodate. The opening allowed for (obviously) the stock Apple Earbuds, the Klipsch Image S4i's, and Bose OE2i's. The opening for the Lightning connector is pretty wide as well for a full coverage case. However your mileage may vary for non-Apple connectors. If you use a non-Apple connector, I would suggest bringing it along with you to a local Apple store and ask to try it with your phone with the case on to see if it will connect properly. Desktop docks and stands that use the standard Lightning connector will also be hit and miss. I have an older generation Belkin dock at work which allows for the positioning of the connector portion of the Lightning connector to be raised and lowered accordingly so I was able to position it high enough to get a solid connection. The opening for the silent/vibrate switch was large enough for me to flip the switch without issue. The speaker grills are aligned perfectly and don't muffle the sound from the iPhone speakers.
The case covers both the sleep/wake and volume up/down buttons. My experience with using the case is that there is a great deal more tactile feedback when pressing either of the side volume buttons than pressing the sleep/wake button on the top. When depressing the volume buttons, you get a solid "click" feedback. However, that feeling is less pronounced for the top button. The feedback is there but not as prevalent as the side buttons. Perhaps this because of the way I hold the phone in my hand or the way my finger presses on the button area. Either way, pressing the top button is not as good an experience as the side buttons but in no way diminishes the ability to quickly and easily power on and off the iPhone.
Now we get to the proverbial "elephant in the room", regarding this case: wear and tear. As mentioned above, the case is made from aniline leather which traditionally is prone to discoloration and wear over time and extended use. I have witnessed first hand and thru pictures the effect of wear on the color and overall look of the case. The wearing effect is so well known that Apple has even put a disclaimer on the product info page warning potential customers that color discoloration is to be expected. To some, having a worn leather case might be sign of character, but for me it's not appealing at all. I have only owned the case for under a week so I will be keeping an eye on how well this case looks after constant daily use. There are various ways to take care of leather products but I think I'll use just warm water and a soft rag to clean any dirt off the case and see how that goes.
Overall, this a great feeling case that provides very good protection, including a nice lay-on-table front lip which does not interfere much with screen swipes. This case is very slim compared to other full-coverage cases. If you are looking for a thinner, smaller profile case, you'll need to look at the various micro snap-on shells or a thin bumper.
The Apple leather case is a great option for those who are looking for a stylish and great feeling case that offers full protection offered in a variety of colors. At $39 dollars, the case is a pretty good deal considering the quality and craftmanship for a leather case. The (PRODUCT) RED case is really nice and will look great on either a white or black iPhone 5 or 5s. My only hesitation in recommending this case is the long term ability for the case to maintain its great look with every day use. Stay tuned for updates on how the case looks after some time.
iPhone 5s Case - $39.00
Update (12/10/2013) - Its been less than a month of owning the Apple case and it has failed to live up to expectations. The wear has reared it ugly head and now the case looks terrible. I take very good care of my devices including the cases that protect them. The Aniline leather seems very susceptible to losing color on the most held parts of the case, which is the corners. Check out the picture of the case after less than a month. Supposedly, the darker color cases fair better but as much as I enjoyed using this case during the short time I have owned it, I am not spending another 39 dollars for a case that will only look good for a month-or-two.
As an avid tech fan I look forward to sharing my tech experiences both personally and professionally with those that have similar interests and passion for technology.