Review: AB Sutton Simple Slip for iPhone 3G
In recent weeks, we've had the opportunity to test two cases that we'd place in the "high premium" case category, each one priced to reflect the unusual effort and materials put into its construction. We're reviewing both of them today in separate reviews: one is A.B. Sutton's $88-$108 Simple Slip for iPhone 3G, the other is Miniot's iWood touch for the iPod touch ($149 and up). Neither is a mainstream case, and neither offers the best possible tradeoff of convenience and protection, but they're both interestingly executed and highly appealing to their target demographics.
The Simple Slip for iPhone 3G is based upon A.B. Sutton’s earlier Slip case designs for iPods, and as our photos suggest, it has a single major design issue: it offers no ability to actually use any of the iPhone 3G’s features save for its Ringer switch, headphone port, bottom speaker and microphone while inside. We don’t really like this concept, which unlike the company’s Nano Slip and Classic Slip cases for iPod nanos and classics precludes access to both screen and other controls, but there are some users who don’t mind it.
Thanks to the pricing and other design elements of these cases, which skew towards the wealthy female user, A.B. Sutton’s customer base might well include more of those users than average, and the company caters to them with a deluxe “order experience” that’s unlike any other in the iPhone or iPod market. Every customer is given the ability to select from 50 colors of leather, as well as similarly numerous colors and textures of silk, choices of trim and thread, and finally the ability to monogram or otherwise etch the leather in one of several styles. The higher prices in the $88-$108 bracket reflect versions with monogrammed or etched rears; the $88 base price reflects no etching. You place your order in a manner that customizes the case to a personal degree of perfection, and then wait.
Since the cases are individually hand made, A.B. Sutton follows up on your order by shipping out an envelope containing a soft fabric case as a temporary protector for the iPhone 3G, along with a note indicating the length of time the leather case will take to arrive. When the leather case is finished, it arrives in nice gift packaging, a final step that gives the recipient a feeling of luxury rather than commodity.
The soft case design is simple but classy, employing a white cotton diagonal band, sharp contrast stitching, and a form-fitting shape that hugs the iPhone as well as the leather version that will follow. It has only a hole at the top for insertion and removal, rather than the bottom holes found in the Simple Slip. Our sample roughly matched the colors of the leather product, but may not always do so.
Ultimately, the Simple Slip case is impressive more for the way it feels and looks than how it deals with the iPhone 3G inside. It is made from amazingly soft, glossy kidskin leather, and one side carries a band branded with the A.B. Sutton logo. Inside the case is silk, interestingly detailed and stitched to the leather in a manner that’s unquestionably classier than the other leather cases we’ve tested—even similarly expensive ones. Stitching and the silk are both very clean; this certainly isn’t a cheaply assembled Chinese leather case.
The case isn’t thick enough to bulk up the iPhone 3G, but doesn’t feel cheap, either, and the texture of the leather is slick enough to draw even more attention than the device normally would coming out of a pocket or purse. Simple Slip’s only materials flaw, common to high-quality leather products, is that its surfaces show wrinkles if you don’t keep them moisturized; for the price, it probably wouldn’t hurt the company to include a small bottle with every order.
While we long for a version of this case that combines the company’s superb workmanship with a touch-through screen protector that enables the iPhone 3G to be used without removal, the Simple Slip is an extremely nice example of its genre; due to the quality of the manufacture and customizability, it’s generally worthy of its asking prices. Were it less expensive and more accessible, it would rate higher, but as we have withheld our general recommendation from sleeve-style cases far less expensive than this, the fact that this rates as well as it does at the prices it sells for should tell you something about the quality of A.B. Sutton’s execution.