I’m the type of guy who’s on a never-ending, eternal search for the right case for my iPhone 5. And never really getting satisfied.
I’ve tried everything, from the cheap, tiangge-bought generic cases, to the highly stylized, ergonomically-correct, protection-from-a-nuclear-attack, very expensive boutique bumpers and shells. I’ve recently been reviewing heaps of cases for the iPhone 5/5s for this site, and while they’re perfectly adequate, I still haven’t, after all this time, come across the perfect one for me: simple, no-nonsense, and made from the best materials you can find.
Although I think I just can’t come to terms with the fact that what I really want in a case is—no case at all.
I really like the iPhone 5 the way it is, bare, with its subtle lines, very simple yet elegant; with its lightness and lack of weight, yet strong where it counts; the gleaming edges and wonderful screen; the svelte form factor of the physical phone, OS notwithstanding.
It’s meant to be naked. Bare and beautiful, and unencumbered by a case.
So, I’m finally going to stop this nonsense and start using it without one.
But reality, as is its wont, always intrudes. While you cannot protect it from accidental drops and falls (what case can, really?) at least you need to protect it from the daily nicks and scratches, from the vagaries of objects coexisting in your bag or pocket like keys and coins, the odd little sharp points of everyday, mundane life.
I’m going to need a sleeve to keep it in when I’m not using it, while just carrying it around. So I went looking for one.
I went looking for weeks and weeks. Not really a lot in the stores. There were some pouches going around, and there were drawstring fabric cases in some, but nothing really perfect.
There was a brand that sounded interesting, but it was only online. It was called Sena, and in their catalogue they had this exceptionally thin, professionally made, handcrafted leather sleeve specifically made for the iPhone 5 that they were selling. Not exorbitantly priced, but pricey just the same. And, like most nice things, they weren’t selling the sleeve here in this country.
That is, until I came across one for sale on the marketplace of another site I frequent, a forum for Mac users, and for which I was one of the moderators.
I went and contacted the guy right away. He had ordered from Amazon, and he had ordered more than one, and now he was selling the extra one, sealed and pristine in its packaging. I computed the Amazon price and factored in shipping, and he wasn’t that far off from it. We haggled back and forth, and pretty soon we had a price we were both agreeable with.
So, just like that, I bought the Sena Handcrafted/Italian Leather UltraSlim Classic for iPhone 5/5s.
Apparently, it’s a pretty famous and prestigious sleeve, and is their best seller. It’s been on the market for exactly a year now, and why I’ve only heard about it recently I’ll never know. Although there’s not much to tell, really. It was a leather sleeve for the iPhone 5, and that, as they say, was that.
But, oh, what a sleeve it was.
You can tell right away this thing is expensive and made with care. The meticulous hand-stitching on the case screams quality. There is a subtle, understated Sena logo on the top that you can miss if you’re not looking closely. It was deceptively thin and made of black, rich full-grain Italian leather which fit the iPhone like a glove. A tight glove, to be sure, since it was new, but as leather products go, it’ll wear and fit beautifully over time.
And apparently, there was a break-in period for the leather sleeve—in fact, there was something about that included in the packaging, which, frankly, intimidated me a little:
“THE BREAK-IN PERIOD FOR GENUINE LEATHER
Every Sena case is individually handcrafted from the finest quality, full-grain, European Napa Leather. Sena cases are precisely hand-stitched by leather artisans and our designers select specific leather matched to particular case designs, based on the material’s ability to age and uniquely form to each device.
Due to the break-in period and the nature of the quality genuine leather, Sena designs each case for the tightest fit, while allowing the leather to soften and improve over time. The leather adjusts to the device and individual habits of the user. If the overall usage and fit initially seems tight, please allow a few days for the leather to adjust for improved functionality. Gentle use and massaging of the leather helps ease the break-in period.”
This certainly wasn’t your typical sleeve.
It’s soft and light, and it was almost lost in the packaging. It’s the thinnest leather pouch that Sena sells, and I can believe it. It was made of Napa leather that had some tiny holes in the bottom so that I could hear the speakers when it was in my pocket, but other than that it was a closed sleeve. (There are other Sena models that had cutouts for the Lightning connector and the headset, but this was the UltraSlim Classic, which was as simple as you can get. And which was how I liked it.)
My iPhone 5 slipped in it very tightly, and it was an exact fit. It was like a second skin, and didn’t add any to the bulk and size of the iPhone. But insert just the iPhone—no cases allowed, no matter how slim. You could slip the iPhone in with a screen protector, I guess, but that’s it. The iPhone alone’s a very tight fit already.
The hand-stitching doesn’t go all the way to the top of the sleeve, and it’s looser where those two flaps are on the top, but the thing is wedged in there pretty tight. In time, it’ll conform and shape itself to be more loose and easier to pull out. There was even a note instructing users how to pull their phones from the sleeve. I had a hard time in the beginning pulling the phone out, but got used to it after several tries. No matter what the instructions said, I found that simply pulling it out by your thumb and fingers with a bit of force usually works.
The inner lining is made of soft felt, which gave the iPhone’s screen a cleaning whenever you pulled the phone out from the sleeve. Which, if you use an iPhone and are used to it being a damned fingerprint magnet, you would really appreciate.
The full-grain leather won’t really protect your phone from a determined sharp object intent on scratching your screen, but it deflects the minor damage inflicted by the errant key or coin, and in the end, that’s all these various cases and protectors can really do.
But at last, I’ve found what I really want in a sleeve. Simple, no-nonsense, and made from the best leather you can buy. This one’s going to last me a long, long time.
The Sena Handcrafted/Italian Leather UltraSlim Classic for iPhone 5/5s is available in nine different colors—Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Tan, Brown, and Black—for US$29.99 from its website, www.senacases.com. They ship internationally via FedEx for a flat US$10, or you can also get it from Amazon or eBay, or from any other sites that sell these kinds of sleeves. And I’ll tell you one more thing—it’s worth every centavo.
*Reprinted from Technoodling