Most people acknowledge the iPhone as one of Apple’s major industrial design triumphs: not only is it elegantly simple, but it’s simply elegant, with a chrome bezel for its black face, and an aluminum back interrupted only by a chrome Apple logo and black antenna compartment. However, since its luxurious looks come at luxury prices, and its surfaces can be scratched or dented, the demand for attractive, protective cases remains high; leather options have been especially numerous.
Two new leather case designs arrived here for testing in the last week, and though they’re very different in pricing, functionality, and appearance, they’re both very interesting options. Reviewed separately, Vaja’s new Top and Top SP Holsters are the most beautiful leather cases we’ve yet seen for the iPhone, though their pricing and flip-open designs will limit their appeal to some users. PDO’s Reviso Premium Leather Case ($30) is a far more traditional design, but offers attractive pricing and full-time iPhone control access, along with comparable protection.
The list of “play-through” leather iPhone cases grows longer by the day: BoxWave’s Designio Open Screen Leather Sleeve, Case-mate’s Signature Leather Case, Incase’s Fitted Sleeve, Macally’s mCase, and Pacific Rim’s iShield are all fairly similar, using semi-hard or hard reinforcement wrapped in leather to protect most of iPhone’s body. PDO’s design has a lot in common with these options: it exposes iPhone’s face and Home button, as well as its headphone port, top, and side controls, enabling you to use all of iPhone’s key features while protecting much of its body with leather. It also has a cut-out for iPhone’s ear speaker and proximity sensor, so iPhone doesn’t have any problem working properly as a phone.
What’s novel here? Two things: Reviso’s side curves, and its back. Unlike BoxWave, which left iPhone’s bottom corners fully exposed and covered the Dock Connector with the aforementioned Designio case, PDO completely covers those bottom corners and instead exposes the Dock Connector, bottom microphone, and speaker in a thin, tailored slit that’s just open enough to accommodate an Apple or comparably small Dock Connector cable. Like almost all of its competitors, PDO covers all of iPhone’s back save for a camera-sized hole near the top, but adds one aesthetic twist: a set of two thin, parallel stripes that run from the top of the back to its bottom, always to the right of a thin-profile, non-detachable belt clip. Reviso is always black in color, but the stripes can be white, blue, or red, depending on which version of the case you choose.
To be fair to both Reviso and the other leather cases we’ve tested, this wouldn’t rank in our top 3 or 5 in classiness: it doesn’t have the faux or real puffed leather looks of several other options we liked, there’s Velcro rather than a snap or magnet to hold its top tab closed, and those rear stripes look a bit cheap and uneven rather than precision-cut and -stitched. Close inspection also shows slightly unimpressive gluing that detracts from Reviso’s “premium leather” surname, another reason we’d rate the build quality as only a hint above average.
But PDO’s pricing is a bit lower than most of the alternatives, and its protectiveness is generally at least a little superior: the case feels very solid on each of its sides, and you get the sense that iPhone’s body is pretty well-covered. Unlike Incase’s better-looking Fitted Sleeve, for instance, Reviso includes a clear film screen protector for iPhone’s face, and its smaller bottom hole covers iPhone more completely down there. Though its top sides are a bit more open than Incase’s, they’re not an offset for the Fitted Sleeve’s comparative lack of face coverage.
In short, Reviso isn’t a beauty queen or especially original by iPhone leather case standards, but what it delivers for its $30 asking price is a substantially protective, competent design. We consider this a good, workmanlike alternative to the pricier and sometimes less complete options we’ve previously reviewed, and worthy of our general level recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Portable Device Outfitters (PDO)