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Case Me?
December 3, 2012 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a very specific style of classy, unisex iPhone 5 "wallet" case? tl;dr: flurry of special snowflakes contained within.

mr. lfr recently got us both iPhone 5s because he is a wonderful geek like that. We both like to keep them skinned, but not in hard cases, for reasons of convenience and preference. To protect them from drops, falls, bumps and scratches, whenever we're not actually inside the house or at our desks at our workplaces, we've been keeping them in some nice fabric wallets that mr. lfr's mom found us a couple of years ago. Unfortunately these wallets were designed for the (shorter, wider) iPhone 4, and MIL no longer remembers where she found them (some mall gadget store or other) so that we could potentially get the same ones configured for our new 5s. And of course after a couple years of kicking them around, we can't find any tags or logos on them to ID them (I am an inveterate tag-ripper, sigh). And of course the major problem with keeping our 5s in the old 4 wallets is also that the new form factor is taller and skinnier and thus they don't fit properly for the over-strap to securely fasten so that... yep, disaster ensues.

so klutz that I am, last week I somehow managed to grab my wallet off the seat of the car such that the (unsecured) strap flipped open and my brand new iPhone flew out, landed on its face in the parking lot and smashed. $300 later (yep, not merely a klutz but a boneheaded klutz without AppleCare) I have a replacement phone and a Hex Axis wallet that I grabbed in the Apple store... but it is decidedly meh. Sure, it's useful for averting another disaster, but I don't love it.

Here is what I don't love about the Hex case: It doesn't fully enclose the phone, meaning the ports on the bottom are all wide open to moisture, etc, if I am carrying it in a jersey pocket on a bike ride, and also to the lint, dust and cat hair that somehow finds its way into all my pants pockets. It requires clipping the phone into a hard "bumper" style holder that is fixed to the wallet. This not only precludes putting a skin on the phone, it also renders it difficult to remove if I want to use the phone in a dock, or else just set it on my desk at work to listen to headphones, without also having all my other wallet items lying out in plain view. It doesn't hold enough; 2 credit cards, an ID and a couple pieces of paper currency, and it barely closes. And last but not least, the moleskine-style band that you must wrap over it to hold it closed because it is stiff and plasticky and overstuffed with a mere few things inside, also makes it extremely klutzy to access the phone when I get a text alert or call.

Here is what I'd (ideally) like to find for both of us as nice gifts: an iPhone 5 compatible phone case/wallet that is made of real leather or some other suitably durable, classy and lightly moisture-resistant material that has the following features:

- phone should drop in securely, preferably vertically (i.e. not in landscape orientation), and is enclosed on all four sides when the case/wallet is closed. Headphone access unimportant, "kickstand" designs unimportant - we both prefer to remove the phone from the case to listen to music/watch video.
- wallet/case is made of durable, good quality, somewhat weather and moisture-proof material (preferably leather, but some kind of waxed canvas or quality tight-knit fabric would work) that doesn't look cheap. The HEX case claims it's "real leather" but IMO it looks and feels awful and tacky and stiff and cheap, so it wouldn't surprise me if it's "vegan leather", aka plastic. note that I for sure wouldn't have spent fifty dollars on the damn thing if I'd realized it was so meh in the store, but I couldn't open the box to find out, I was in a hurry, and I didn't want to risk another drop without a case on :P
- needs to have enough slots / space for a couple credit cards, a couple of loyalty cards, my ID, my bike racing license, and one or two currency bills. I don't keep a bunch of other crap in my wallet like receipts and change, but these are the non-negotiables for both of us.
- needs to be low-profile/minimal and slim enough to easily fit in a pants pocket and/or cycling jersey pocket. Our old wallets are roughly 3.25x5" or 8.5 x 12.5cm which translates to "just fits, barely". Slightly longer and slimmer would be okay, but not by much.
- not be made of plastic or otherwise gimmicky, glitzy, tacky, sparkly or pink (so says the both of us).
- ideally there'd be a dee or receiver on the back for maybe a wrist strap and/or key fob for use off the bike.
- I'd prefer something nicely handmade in the U.S., but that's not a deal breaker.

Here are some nicer wallet cases we've found over the past 2 days of Googling around and paging through Etsy that are close to what we want, but not quite perfect:

- This is beautiful but a) far, far too expensive and b) I don't particularly care for the magnets on it (don't they ruin credit cards? seems a bad idea) - I'd rather have an overlap strap/snap instead. Also, no receiver or clip for a key fob.
- this is close, but the top is too open / not fully enclosed (over-strap is too narrow, not a full top), the card slot is exposed on the back, and not under the over-strap as I'd prefer.
- this is even closer to what I want, and is essentially a leather version of our fabric iPhone 4 wallets, but alas, there's no key fob / dee. Additionally, I worry that the thick leather and heavy waxed-cord construction of these, while very nice, also renders them too bulky to easily fit in a jersey or pants pocket.
- and on reviewing the recent iPhone 5 questions on AskMe that generated results: these are okay, but again, too expensive, don't seem to have a top-loading version with a flip closure, and don't otherwise have a secure closure (afaik they just fold shut).

Thanks, and I know I'm being unbelievably picky but I'm sure someone here will know exactly what we're looking for and have a link to it. I'm stumped and need to quit paging through Google results so I can actually focus on things like work.
posted by lonefrontranger to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you come across the Twelve South BookBook case? That seems to fit most of your requirements. But again, I think it's going to be hard for you to find that perfect case.
posted by signondiego at 5:27 PM on December 3, 2012


For leather iPhone wallets, check out Levenger.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:33 PM on December 3, 2012


The cases at this Etsy store don't meet all your specs, but they get close. I own one for my Android and can attest that they're v. well made.
posted by commander biscuit at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2012


I'm going to second the BookBook. I reviewed the 4S version and loved it, the iPhone 5 version seems to correct the one issue I had with the 4S BookBook.
posted by TimeDoctor at 6:17 PM on December 3, 2012


yea I saw the BookBook; tbh it has most of the same issues I don't like about the HEX case, sorry.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:33 PM on December 3, 2012


Saddleback Leather does open-top leather sleeves ($31). I fear they'd be too open for you. I used to have one for an iPod Touch and found the fit EXTREMELY snug, so I didn't have any doubts about keeping the iPod in the sleeve, but I can dig not trusting it. I like the idea of your Etsy link that has an additional snapped leather strap going around the open top. Neat!

There's also Pad and Quill, whose folio style cases I've been eyeing for quite a long while. There's the Little Pocketbook ($60) and the Little Black Book ($40). Not the form you're looking for, but I thought notable because of the room for cards in the Little Black Book.

Because I too am Klutzy and don't mind my phone looking like it's a PlaySkool accessory, I opted for the Otterbox Defender ($50), which indeed makes it looks like Master Chief, but as an iPhone (blue in my case). I feel so secure with the Defender case that I'm often tossing the phone around these days (you know, from the doorway to onto the bed or something).
posted by kalessin at 7:32 PM on December 3, 2012


How about something like this Michael Kors Wallet Clutch Case? I don't think it covers the ports, but it's made of leather, there's room for cards and currency, and it has a clasp and a wrist strap.

If you like the style, there's a lot of similar ones on eBay. Search for "iphone clutch" or "iphone wallet". The latter will bring up some more masculine/gender neutral designs.
posted by Georgina at 7:48 AM on December 4, 2012


I'm a fan of the Dodocase durables wallet. A bit pricey perhaps, and doesn't close at the top, but its design might strike your fancy.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2012


okay, update for anyone else on this thread: I finally discovered that the cases we had for our prior iPhones were by Golla Designs, which is apparently a Finnish company. Sadly, so far as I can tell they've not yet released an update to this design, which is what we have, and they are too short to safely enclose the longer iPhone 5. Longer Velcro tabs might help, and if I were in any way crafty or good with sewing I might opt to modify our current ones; sadly I am not.

Since I haven't found anything else that's close to the design or as slim and fully enclosed as I'd like, I sent that link to a local leatherworker and commissioned a similar design be custom made for both of us. Which is expensive, but not as expensive as the Italian stuff I linked to above, and hey, it's custom made.

Bottom line and to answer my own question, it looks like the only choices for a slim, durable, sensibly designed mobile wallet for the iPhone 5 are Europe or custom, and "reasonably priced" is not really an option.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:43 PM on December 20, 2012


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