Apple FineWoven case review: Not the leather replacement we were hoping for

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2023

During Apple's iPhone 15 event, the new FineWoven cases were held up as an example as an environmentally-friendly alternative to leather -- but they fall short in actual use in many ways, and we can't recommend them.

Apple's new iPhone 15 FineWoven cases
Apple FineWoven case review



Apple's new FineWoven case is a dense microtwill that Apple says has a "suede-like" feel and has undergone "thousands of hours" of testing to protect your iPhone 15. It's available in all four sizes for Apple's latest devices.

The new cases come in five colors -- black, taupe, mulberry, evergreen, and Pacific Blue. We picked up all five to test with our iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Apple FineWoven case review -- Lots of little details



The FineWoven cases replace the leather ones in the lineup, acting as the high-end option to the ever-so-slightly cheaper silicone cases.

Apple's lineup of silicone cases
Apple's lineup of silicone cases



Silicone cases are fully molded with a microfiber lining and come in many bright, fun colors. Like the leather, the FineWoven comes in just a few dark colors and get accented by anodized metal side buttons.

Anodized aluminum color-matched buttons are a nice touch
Anodized aluminum color-matched buttons are a nice touch



Those buttons are one of the quality details we like in Apple's cases. They're aluminum, and the anodization matches them to the color of the new FineWoven material.

Apple's buttons are some of the best we've felt on cases, essentially floating so they make direct contact with your phone's buttons for a pleasant, tactile feel.

All of Apple's FineWoven cases for iPhone 15 Pro Max
All of Apple's FineWoven cases for iPhone 15 Pro Max



The FineWoven material covers the rear of the case and has an ultra-soft feel and a bit of give that gives a comfortable feeling. It doesn't wrap the sides, but instead gives way to plastic sides.

Those sides are slightly textured, mimicking that of the FineWoven material. They add a bit of extra grip without extra bulk.

More FineWoven material lines the inside of the case, though we'd prefer the same microfiber found in the prior leather cases or the existing silicone ones.

Holding Apple's FineWoven taupe case
Apple FineWoven case review - Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max taupe case



There's an elevated ring around the camera modules and the bottom has full coverage with cutouts for the microphone, USB-C port, and speakers.

We tested the water resistance of the new material, and while it seems to soak up the water, it eventually dries in about 40 minutes without any ill effects -- assuming the water is clean and doesn't contain anything that will stain the case. More on that in a bit.

Apple's FineWoven MagSafe wallet
Apple FineWoven case review -- MagSafe wallet



Apple's cases all support MagSafe, indicated by the stamped ring on the inside. You can connect a myriad of accessories from Apple's new FineWoven MagSafe wallet or the new HiRise 3 Deluxe.

When you place the case on your phone, it invokes an onscreen animation and haptic feedback that is color-matched to the color of the case. This is done via an NFC chip hidden within the case.

This is cool, but completely unnecessary for a case that doesn't do anything that requires NFC.

Apple FineWoven case review: A whole new texture



While there are many appreciative details to Apple's cases, there's no escaping the inevitable -- they just feel awful.

Apple's evergreen FineWoven cases
Apple's evergreen FineWoven case



There's been much discourse internally sussing out the best way to describe the feel of the new material, from "velvet-like" to "like scratching an old 90's windbreaker, in all the worst ways."

It is certainly soft to the touch but when you scratch your nail against it quickly, it mimics the sound of a DJ record scratch. The best word to describe it though, may be "cheap."

Apple's FineWoven case (left) versus Apple's old leather case (right)
Apple's FineWoven case (right) versus Apple's old leather case (left)



Apple is positioning this case as a premium alternative to its now-discontinued leather. These are in no way a premium alternative to leather, despite being priced like one.

Apple FineWoven case review -- No long-term durability



One of our biggest concerns is how this case holds up over time, given that it's not holding up well during this review process. The FineWoven fabric is thin, so much so that Apple needed to pad the back of the case with a layer of memory foam to give it some softness and thickness.

But that foam shows indentations readily. Sliding your phone in and out of your pocket, something pressing against the back is an eventuality, and the foam will show this.

Interior of Apple's FineWoven cases
Interior of Apple's FineWoven cases



It is also prone to snags given its woven nature. With its thin, fibrous texture, we see no reason why any rough surface won't snag the fabric -- or worse -- go right through it.

There's also a lint problem. Small pieces of lint stick to the FineWoven material and don't brush off that easily. As you wipe against lint, it just stays where it is.

Stains are a problem here as well, as compared to what it is replacing. Leather can be wiped down, conditioned, and it will develop a lovely patina over time with use. This plastic-like woven fabric stains easily, as expected given the material.

Leather can be stained too, but this material holds those stains more prominently. Perhaps that's why Apple chose such dark colors.

Should you buy Apple's FineWoven cases?



While they had their detractors, we've enjoyed Apple's leather cases. They were thin, minimalistic, looked great, and aged well.

They had their issues beyond Apple's lauded environmental concerns. Any tumble onto a rough surface would easily tear through the leather, and water was never their friend.

The stack of FineWoven cases
A stack of FineWoven cases



We hoped with the introduction of Apple's FineWoven, we'd see a new premium alternative that would be even more durable while looking and feeling just as nice. We didn't get it.

What we got was a cheap plastic case with an ultra-thin layer of the Apple-custom FineWoven material -- which isn't great -- on the back to try to elevate it.

It's hard to picture this case in a suitable state after six months of use. Maybe we'll be surprised, but given what we're seeing so far, we doubt it.

Apple FineWoven case review: Pros

  • Nice complementary colors to the iPhone 15 line

  • Nice details like the on-screen animations and metal buttons

  • Less expensive than the leather cases

  • MagSafe support

  • Available from day-one

Apple FineWoven case review -- Cons

  • Feels cheap, overall

  • Back shows and retains dents and scratches easily

  • Prone to lint collection

  • Will have durability, stain, or scratch issues

  • Plastic sides, again, don't feel premium

Rating: 2 out of 5

Where to buy Apple's FineWoven cases



You can buy the new FineWoven cases from Apple directly, or at a discount on Amazon. But, there are far better options.

Read on AppleInsider

Graeme000
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    red oakred oak Posts: 1,078member
    Apple really painted themselves in a corner here 

    They should have launched a sample of the FineWoven while keeping the leather to give it real world resting.  How did this pass their internal review? 

    Now, they can’t go back to leather 

    They better be working in FW 2.0 right now 





    williamlondonnubusmike1designrgrandact73caladanianFileMakerFellerdarkvader
  • Reply 2 of 80
    Seriously, how’d these woven cases get by in development? These little things make me question a lot more! The plastic sides feel so cheap. I returned mine asap. Especially at the premium price. If they really wanted to go this route they should have had them $10 less than the silicone ones. I haven’t tested the woven wallet or watch bands, but having tried the case makes me want to steer clear of any other products. 
    Japheywilliamlondondesignrgrandact73caladanianFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 3 of 80
    If looked at quickly it appears ok and is very tightly woven. That said, it did not look like it would be very durable and would quickly wear after sliding in/out of jean pockets.

    I was going to buy one, better than nothing, right, no. I change my mind and decided nothing is actually better than this cheap looking and feeling case.

    I'm going to Cricut a custom PPF sheet to cover the back and sides to provide a slightly better grip and call it a day. The new titanium iPhone feels so lite that it would be a crime to cover it in a case.
    edited September 2023 williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 80
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,088member
    $60??! Seriously? At $30 it would be just a bad purchase, but at $60?

    Doesn't Apple use focus groups to test this stuff before it's released on an unsuspecting public? No doubt 10's of thousands were preordered, if not a multiple higher, considering Apple is trusted to release quality products. Most buyers of that premium-priced case are going to be disappointed based on every review I've read. Yes, EVERY review including on Apple fan sites, and not one positive review I can find. 

    EDIT: Just found one positive review from an individual buyer. Some percentage of fine-woven product owners will be OK with them, apparently just not a very high percentage.
    edited September 2023 muthuk_vanalingamgrandact73emig647FileMakerFellermacplusplus
  • Reply 5 of 80
    The article feels overblown and full of opinions about the case ‘likely’ failing in the future. Based on what data other than your opinion? Super negative articles get a lot more clicks I suppose. To be carbon neutral we need to move away from leather. I got the Evergreen fine woven case and MagSafe wallet with my iPhone 15 Pro Max a few days ago. I like it. A lot. It feels modern, high quality, durable, soft and comfortable to hold, with nice color matched aluminum buttons on the side. Just because it uses some high quality textured plastic in places it’s automatically cheap feeling? Actually no it’s not - it feels good and solid in hand.  I had an Apple leather case on my previous iPhone - the 14 Pro Max - and I actually prefer the feeling of finewoven - soft and cool rather than hot and sticky. I don't understand what all the whining is about. Very happy with my new iPhone 15 Pro Max and finewoven case. 
    edited September 2023 xgmanjas99SkepticalGraeme000jibwilliamlondonjahbladeFileMakerFellerSpitbathjohn mclachlan
  • Reply 6 of 80
    It’s only been three days but I’m happy with my fine woven case. 
    thtGraeme000jibwilliamlondonjahbladeSpitbathAlex_Vwatto_cobraCalamander
  • Reply 7 of 80
    A very substantial assumption of durability, or lack there of, in the review and a whole lot of whining sense of entitlement in the comments. Cases are an incredibly subjective matter but calling this new one cheap and questioning Apple’s development of it is laughable. You also don’t have to buy it, and quite a short memory we have- the leather case has been plagued with durability questions for a while. 
    thtjibwilliamlondonjahbladeFileMakerFellerAlex_V
  • Reply 8 of 80
    Pretty sharp move for Apple. Sell a product made from cheaply sourced recycled plastic for leather prices and throw in a justification that it is for the environment. Next step could be to prohibit their certified accessory makers from selling leather accessories.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondoncaladanianentropysCalamander
  • Reply 9 of 80
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,820administrator
    A very substantial assumption of durability, or lack there of, in the review and a whole lot of whining sense of entitlement in the comments. Cases are an incredibly subjective matter but calling this new one cheap and questioning Apple’s development of it is laughable. You also don’t have to buy it, and quite a short memory we have- the leather case has been plagued with durability questions for a while. 
    Given how banged up these cases were at Apple Tyson's yesterday after being on display for three days, I'm comfortable with Andrew's assessment.
    muthuk_vanalingamnubusITGUYINSDomasouwilliamlondonneoncatgrandact73caladanianOctoMonkeyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 10 of 80
    Returning ‘FineWoven’ (for 15 Pro) as feel is too slippery.  The reason I use case is to have more confident feel over holding the bare metal, which I also fined ‘slippery’.  Will use Mujjo leather MagSafe case, which has the confident feel of leather.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 80
    Actually, the sides are not plastic they are a coated material -- most likely coated FineWoven material. You can see and feel the texture. And after watching a video on YouTube,  the FineWoven material itself is actually very strong and holds up to ripping and tearing. However, its still not worth the money if it looks like crap within a few days. The best thing Apple could probably do is release a new version with a protective coating that's scratch, or at least stain, resistant. That said, I got the black one and so far its holding up for me but I haven't left the house yet since putting it on my Pro Max on Friday. Nor have I been running my finger nails or other sharp objects across it.
    edited September 2023 williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 80
    The carbon-neutral products are not up to Apple standards. I've returned my Nike watch. The Nike sports band was horrible. Nothing like the previous bands. No durability either way. I'd be replacing this every 3 to 4 months with everyday use. 

    Where is the benefit of being carbon neutral when you have to replace the item every few months? 
    FileMakerFellerPauloSeraa
  • Reply 13 of 80
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,271member
    I wonder if Apple considered using fish leather, especially skins harvested from invasive species and the normally discarded byproducts of human consumption. Seriously, I've read that it is both durable and water resistent.

    Sorry Dory.
    caladanianFileMakerFellerbrucehal
  • Reply 14 of 80
    brucehal said:
    The article feels overblown and full of opinions about the case ‘likely’ failing in the future. Based on what data other than your opinion? Super negative articles get a lot more clicks I suppose. To be carbon neutral we need to move away from leather. I got the Evergreen fine woven case and MagSafe wallet with my iPhone 15 Pro Max a few days ago. I like it. A lot. It feels modern, high quality, durable, soft and comfortable to hold, with nice color matched aluminum buttons on the side. Just because it uses some high quality textured plastic in places it’s automatically cheap feeling? Actually no it’s not - it feels good and solid in hand.  I had an Apple leather case on my previous iPhone - the 14 Pro Max - and I actually prefer the feeling of finewoven - soft and cool rather than hot and sticky. I don't understand what all the whining is about. Very happy with my new iPhone 15 Pro Max and finewoven case. 
    Well said. I got the Pacific Blue of the case and wallet. They feel fantastic. Of course time will tell with wear but it seems this has been really overblown and is very subjective by reviewers. 
    Graeme000jibwilliamlondonjahbladeFileMakerFellerAlex_V
  • Reply 15 of 80
    I saw the finewoven case at the Pentagon City Apple Store on Friday and it seemed not that high quality and overpriced.  I'd prefer the silicone case to finewoven.  

    Honestly asking, what is the environmental issue with the leather case?   The leather cases are reusing the wrapping from my beef, it's not like cows are produced to use for iPhone cases and the meat is an afterthought is it?   Is the process of making the leather and using it worse than just composting the cow hides?  What is it?  I know my tone might seem snarky but seriously isn't there just an enormous amount of cowhide out there?  Wouldn't an iPhone case be better than tossing it?
    williamlondonOctoMonkeyFileMakerFellerentropysmacplusplus
  • Reply 16 of 80
    A lot of whining and crying over a case. Just get something else… nonissue!
    williamlondonAlex_V
  • Reply 17 of 80
    pjorlando said:
    A lot of whining and crying over a case. Just get something else… nonissue!
    Do you understand the purpose of a review?
    edited September 2023 muthuk_vanalingamnubusdiman80beowulfschmidtbonobobwilliamlondongrandact73sbdudecaladanianmacgui
  • Reply 18 of 80
    pjorlando said:
    A lot of whining and crying over a case. Just get something else… nonissue!
    Dont get mad, get NOMAD…..the best leather, 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 80
    I haven’t even got my iPhone 15 yet and have already bought a leather Bellroy case. For less than these cases. Heck, these fine woven cases cost as much as some cheap phones! 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 80
    williamh said:
    I saw the finewoven case at the Pentagon City Apple Store on Friday and it seemed not that high quality and overpriced.  I'd prefer the silicone case to finewoven.  

    Honestly asking, what is the environmental issue with the leather case?   The leather cases are reusing the wrapping from my beef, it's not like cows are produced to use for iPhone cases and the meat is an afterthought is it?   Is the process of making the leather and using it worse than just composting the cow hides?  What is it?  I know my tone might seem snarky but seriously isn't there just an enormous amount of cowhide out there?  Wouldn't an iPhone case be better than tossing it?
    The chemicals and water used during the tanning process would probably be a big part of it.
    doggone
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