Review: Twelve South BookBook for iPhone 5
After finding a lot of success with its iPhone 4/4S version and several other editions, Twelve South has released BookBook for iPhone 5 ($60). The new version maintains the same concept as before: a weathered leather case designed to look like a small book, housing your iPhone along with what would otherwise be the contents of your wallet. Thankfully, Twelve South has addressed the biggest concern we had with the original model, and in doing so has truly increased the value of the case. BookBook comes in Vintage Brown or Classic Black, each with an intentionally aged look.
From the outside, BookBook looks like a small leather-bound book. Simply put, it’s a beautiful, premium design; from the plain front cover to the back, imprinted with the company’s “12” logo, and especially the ridged spine with its “BookBook” and clever “Vol V.” labels, it looks great. The inside is lined with suede that not only looks nice, but is safe against the surface of your iPhone. It’s clear Twelve South uses high quality materials and manufacturing processes to put these cases together.
Like before, BookBook is thick—the spine is about 3/4” deep, and with some cards and cash in there the cover can bulge a bit more. Depending on how tight your pants are, the case may not fit comfortably in the front pocket. The thickness is also noticeable when the cover is front folded behind and held up to your ear for calls.
On the inside of the front cover you’ll find four credit card slots, up from three in the iPhone 4/4S BookBook. The three at the top are just pockets, while the bottom one has a plastic window that makes it well suited to house an ID. They all start out kind of tight, but loosen up with use; the thumb-sized opening in the middle of the ID window is pretty much necessary for removing that card. Underneath the array of slots is a pocket running the height of the case that can be used for cash or other small, flat objects.
Gone is the soft leather frame to hold your iPhone on the right side, replaced by leather-covered plastic walls alongside the sides, sticking up through the suede. They provide protection and structure, although the iPhone’s top and bottom edges are left exposed. Overall it’s a more elegant solution, but a bit less protective.
The biggest update to BookBook this time is the addition of a plastic-ringed iSight camera hole. We cited the lack of such an opening as the biggest fault with the original, and found Twelve South’s solution of sliding the iPhone 4 or 4S up out of the case to be a copout. The solution was executed the right way this time, and makes a big difference in the usability of the case.
BookBook for iPhone 5 is clearly an improvement over its predecessor. Twelve South took all the successful elements, and threw in a properly executed camera hole; we couldn’t really ask for anything more. The craftsmanship, look, feel—it all comes together very well. That being said, the case is not for everyone; the thickness is a real issue that will turn some users off, but for those willing to slim down to just a handful of cards in place of a full wallet, BookBook is about as good as it can get, earning it our strong general recommendation.