I have been in the market for a "case" for my iPhone 4S for a little while now. I tried as hard as I could to avoid having to do so, but as beautiful as the device is, it's just far too slippery. I work outside during the day and the danger of having my phone slide out of my pocket, fingers, or whatever is very high.
I searched far and wide, nearly everyone makes a case for the iPhone and the most prolific are those massive "full protection" cases, like the Otterbox Defender. I am not so fearful of dropping my phone that I want to wrap it in a bank vault, so I looked for alternatives. I had to stop and ask what exactly I needed in a case. Did I need protection from 0.50 cal. bullets (↬ "dabneybailey")? Or, did I want a bumper case made out of aluminum?
Continuing this exhaustive train of questioning I discovered that all I really needed was something to help with gripping my phone as I pulled it from my pocket. Moreover, I think the iPhone's design is gorgeous, so I want a case that preserves that aesthetic as much as possible.
With my requirements in hand I stumbled across the internet in pursuit of my perfect case and found the Valentine Goods Leather iPhone 4/4S Backs ($25-$60 depending upon design). The New York based company specializes in designing and producing what are essentially big leather stickers for your Apple products. Their designs are incredibly diverse, ranging from simple black leather to very exotic stingray leather backings for your iPad, iPhone, and even your MacBook.
I ordered the Asphalt colored backing (although I can't be entirely sure why, I am more of a basic-black-or-tan kind of guy) and waited anxiously beside my mailbox. It arrived in a small envelope with the company's logo stamped on top. I apologize for not taking pictures of the arrival/unboxing but if you have ever bought screen protectors for any device you're not missing much here. Although, to be fair, those screen protectors weren't made of leather and didn't smell nearly as nice.
The process of applying the backing was very easy. It only took about a minute (I'm a perfectionist) and peeling and adjusting the leather was no issue whatsoever. The adhesive backing… Never mind, I'll just quote from the Valentine Goods product page:
The unique adhesive we use, specially made by 3M, makes for an easy and secure application with absolutely no residue upon removal. The backs can be removed and securely reapplied several times.
And I have found no evidence to refute their claims thus far.
The backing gives the iPhone's exterior a little soft "spring" to the touch. Which gives me far more confidence in handling my phone with my thick work gloves on, or even staying put in my device-destroying chino pockets.
I had not expected that the leather would be anything but smooth, however, its surface is (very) slightly textured. I suspect this a result of the design application process, but honestly, I have no real clue. Ultimately, I enjoy the feeling but if you are considering buying your own and rough texture is a deal breaker (for whatever reason), I would email their support staff before ordering.
My initial verdict: I like it. It fits my needs very well and the design is quite handsome. Moreover, it doesn't cover the beauty of my iPhone too much. At $25 some might find the price a little steep, but speaking for myself, I am a firm believer in value over price. At bottom I feel this was a great purchase and overall a great product.
(I am unsure whether a disclaimer is warranted or not, but I purchased this product with my own money. Valentine Goods doesn't know anything about my existence, perhaps, besides that I placed an order with them.)