I’m all about minimalism, so that means cutting down on as much baggage as possible. That’s where cases like the Twelve South BookBook series comes in, an elegant and old-school way of combining the 2 items you always have with you – your wallet and your phone. The BookBook designed for both iPhone 4/4S and 5, stores your phone on one side and allows for several card slots on the other in a stylish vintage style notebook. This sounds like the perfect combination, but I think Twelve South just missed the mark. Read on to find out why!
HOW IT WORKS
Made of leather, stitched and decorated with detail going down to the sewing, this vintage book style is the equivalent of carrying a little memo pad with you in the old days. The right side, where the iPhone is held, is backed with what feels like hard cardboard, while the left side offers a more flexible material, presumably to allow for easier access to cards/slots.
Offering 4 card slots, one including a viewable window that allows for quick access and an inner pocket for cash, business cards, receipts, or an extra card or two. I wouldn’t recommend ruining the leather by sticking more than 1 card in each slot.
The iPhone is held in with a hard shell/plastic case wrapped with leather as well. It leaves access to all your buttons and ports, as well as speakers. The iPhone 5 model also includes a camera cutout, which is a much requested feature of the iPhone 4/4S model. The cutout is outlined with the same hard plastic used to hold the iPhone and is big enough to not interfere with the flash or the lens.
Overtime, the case’s front, back, and spine start to accumulate scratches and fade in colour, but that adds value to the look of it. Like any leather product, the more it’s used, the better it looks, adding a personal and unique touch to every BookBook.
Overall, with cards included, the size of the case almost doubles the original size of the iPhone in height. Your slim jeans may have a problem with that. I’ve had issues with the previous BookBook where my screen protector gets slight imprints of the card slots due to the tight pressure in my pant pockets. It adds about half a centimetre on all edges, which makes using the already tall iPhone 5 even harder to comfortably operate (reach every point of the screen) with one hand without having to continuously readjust your grip.
Looks aside, using the iPhone with the BookBook is another story. When simply trying to scroll through Facebook or to tweet about your new cat, there are two scenarios to do this:
1. Leaving the card flap just sticking out, you’re able to quickly view what you need with your right hand’s thumb – but that’s it.
Typing isn’t a pain in this view, but due to the awkward placement of the left hand needing to go below the phone, it takes a little to get used to. You have the whole card side flapping around, and if you’re walking, makes it quite a difficult task to keep the phone steady in your hand.
One reason I’d have it in this view is if it was lying on a table, which would then make typing look like how they typed in the old days – with your index fingers hitting one key at a time.
The only other reason I’d have to hold it like this is if I had to take a photo. It’s definitely an upgrade from how you had to do it with the iPhone 4/4S model, which was sliding the phone completely out of the case, but the extra weight on the left side can make it difficult to take a steady picture.
2. Things get a lot easier when folding the card slots behind the iPhone. I’m convinced that Twelve South didn’t take this use case into consideration only because all their photos on their product page don’t show this type of usage, even though it’s probably the most realistic. This would include when you need to take a call, on their website it only shows a woman using a headset to take the call, but realistically, you’d fold the phone over and put it to your ear, as you wouldn’t want the card slot just flapping around on your face. The problem with doing that is then all your cards are exposed to the public, which can be a problem. Using this view for everyday tasks is also a pain.
Since the spine is meant to keep the shape of the whole case, when bending it backwards, it fights back and tries to reform to it’s original shape, which is the opposite direction (as shown in the height comparison photo above). That means it’s a pain to hold it with one hand, because while your thumb is scrolling through your Twitter feed, your other fingers need to be gripping the back of the case quite firm, making a very uncomfortable situation.
On the bright side, if you’re using it with two hands, it makes for quite a comfortable grip with the extra spacing the folded side gives in the back. Another issue with this view is that it covers the camera cutout, meaning you have to go back to having the card slot hang out on the side.
WHY IT’S AWESOME
- Eliminates the need to carry a separate wallet, combined with Apple’s new Passbook app, makes it a convenient all-in-one solution
- Accessing the cards and pockets are extremely easy and convenient, with the quick access hole on the windowed slot
- The hard case, compared to the iPhone 4/4S BookBook, makes inserting and removing the iPhone a lot simplier
- Leather gives the case a unique touch to every user over time
WHERE IT SUCKS
- The card slot needs to be hanging out on the side to have access to the camera cutout
- The leather (maybe because it’s not broken in enough) is a little too stiff (which is probably what makes leather a nice material), but it makes folding the leather backwards difficult to get it in an easier viewing position, since it’ll try and fight back into it’s original position
- Awkward hand positions to do simple tasks due to extra bulk
- The extra bulk doesn’t play nice with tighter pockets (but this applies to all large iPhone cases)
It’s hard to say whether I’d suggest this case to anyone. On the one hand, it makes it super convenient since your wallet and phone are in one place, in a beautiful leather wrapped case, but on the other hand it makes simple everyday usage a pain. I would say if you’re a fan of headsets and don’t use your iPhone too much (you’re physically social compared to digitally), then this is perfect for slimming down your wallet. This seems to also be backed up by Twelve South’s intentions, since their product gallery doesn’t show many real world situations. It comes in vintage brown and classic black, I’d definitely recommend the brown over the black, as leather is just sexier that way.
You can grab one straight off their site here: http://twelvesouth.com/products/bookbook_iphone5/
Or visit your local Apple Store.