Review: Spigen SGP Ava Karen for iPhone 4/4S
Two distinct types of wallet-style iPhone 4 and 4S cases have become popular over the past few months. Some, such as Incipio's Stowaway and CM4's Q Card Case, build a holder into the back of an otherwise traditional case. The other camp folds in a manner similar to a traditional wallet, usually in a bifold setup. Twelve South's BookBook and Hex's The Hundreds x Hex Code Wallet are notable examples. Now Spigen SGP is trying it's hand at the game with Ava Karen ($48). Clearly inspired by the world of fashion, this case falls into the traditional category but is somewhat different from the ones we've seen so far.
Rather than a folio-style setup, Ava Karen features a trifold design. Despite the “Leather Case” message printed on the inside of the plastic shell, the body is actually composed of faux leather, available in either plain black or embossed brown—the latter is reminiscent of a Louis Vuitton pattern. This fact is reinforced by the embossed “Faux Leather” message in the lower righthand corner of the middle section. Regardless of these confounding contradictions, the material still looks and feels nice. A metal snap to hold the case shut and a stamped metal badge on the front are also nice touches.
The plastic iPhone shell is on the rightmost segment of the case, and offers full access to the top and the bottom of the device. Although it’s similar to Hex’s frame, this one offers more coverage along the left side with dedicated openings for the silent switch and each of the volume buttons, rather than one long opening all the way down. We found it easy to snap the phone in and out. As it should, Ava Karen has a camera hole and doesn’t require removing your device to snap pictures. The center third of the case has two credit card slots and a pocket for cash. Many people would likely need more space to justify this case’s use as a full-time wallet, but for a night out, that should be just enough room.
Spigen SGP did a very nice job with this one, although we’re still confused by the opposing messages about the materials that appear right next to each other. The look and feel are both what we’d expect at this price range, and the frame offers a bit more protection that similar models. Even though it may seem obvious, the fact that there’s a camera hole is a big plus too. Our only real complaint is about the thickness of the case when using the iPhone for calls. The snap does hold the front cover folded underneath, but it feels a bit strange to be holding something so bulky up to your ear. Otherwise, it’s a nice case, and it earns our strong general recommendation.