Review: MapiCases Leather Cases for iPad/iPad 2 + iPhone 4/4S
Competing with well-established brands such as Sena Cases, MapiCases has released a variety of real leather cases for the iPhone 4/4S as well as both generations of the iPad. Today, we took a look at three of them. First up is Modra ($60), a playthrough iPhone case that has wallet features with extra card holders built into a flip-open back. Next is Tion ($45), which has a similar setup for the iPhone minus the flap. Finally there's Sia ($160) for both the iPad and iPad 2; made of crocodile-texture leather, it's a simple sleeve with the added benefits of an extra pocket and retractable handles. All of the cases are available in a variety of colors, are made of quality materials, and come with fabric pouches.
The core of Modra is the leather iPhone frame which is open at the top, allowing the device to be slid into place. Modra offers a respectable—albeit incomplete—amount of protection; the sides and front of the iPhone are about as covered up as they can be, while the back has only a hole for the camera and flash. Openings along the edges accommodate the speaker, mic, Dock Connector port and volume buttons, although these are rougher than we’d like for the price—especially the misshapen oval along the left side. All four corners are also left exposed and the only coverage for the top is a tab to hold the back panel shut. The front of the case covers all but the screen and camera, earpiece, and light sensor, but unfortunately doesn’t provide a sufficiently snug fit against the glass front, making the case look and feel cheaper than one would expect in light of its premium cost. We also found that the thickness of the leather combined with the just-big-enough opening for the display made using the screen a bit more difficult, especially when typing near the edges of the screen and accessing Notification Center.
An extra storage flap is attached to the bottom of the case by a two inch strip of leather. The inside edge of the flap includes three credit card slots which, combined with the two on the back of the frame, could easily replace a wallet for some. Mapi also includes a belt clip set with the case. It’s optional, but the installation is simple for those who want it. As mentioned, a tab from the front reaches over the top and snaps shut to hold the back flap in place. We found it to be a little long though; the whole thing would look better if it were shorter and tighter.
Tion uses the exact same frame as Modra; the fit and all of the openings are identical. What it’s missing is the back flap and its card holders. Intead, Tion simply has two slots on the back of the case itself, with the tab snapping directly onto the rear, securing both the iPhone and the cards. We prefer this setup to Modra’s not only because it’s less bulky but the removal of the back flap also makes it look cleaner. Tion’s flap is also tighter, addressing one of our concerns with the other model, although we do have some reservations about the visibility of the credit cards—only about half an inch of each is left exposed, but they’re certainly not hidden. It’s not likely to be a big deal, but the fact that they’re in sight may make the device an even more valuable target for a thief.
With Sia, we can’t help but be reminded of Sena Case’s Collega. The cases have very similar builds, designed as padded leather sleeves that transform into small briefcases. A zipper along the left edge opens to accommodate either an iPad or iPad 2 with a Smart Cover and a snap-shut pocket on the front of the case provides enough extra space to easily hold small accessories such as cables, chargers, and earbuds. The front pocket can also be used for thicker accessories although these will make it bulge in a way that’s unattractive, although not terrible. The other feature that the competing models share is a set of retraceable handles; one set behind the pocket, while the other simply slides into the back. The handles move up and down smoothly, and taken together with the pocket, help address the primary problems that come along with sleeve-style cases, namely lack of functionality and general need for another bag. The glossy textured leather is nice, although we wouldn’t mind seeing other options available.
We weren’t in love with any of these options from MapiCases, particularly the wallet cases. Yes, they’re all composed of nice materials, and offer functionality that simpler cases are lacking. Modra and Tion are too rough around the edges for our liking though, and too expensive. Although we prefer the more compact size of Tion, we can see Modra being useful for those who really don’t want to carry a wallet or want to be able to clip a case to their belts. There are better wallet cases for less money, and both are worthy of a C+ rating. Sia, on the other hand, is well executed but far too expensive. The design and functionality are nice, certainly better than most sleeves. There are no real problems save for the crazy price, which earns it a limited recommendation.