Some would call me an iPhone “nudist.” I prefer iPhone “purist,” but no one really cares. The point is, I prefer using my iPhone caseless. Sure, I get cases on a regular basis for prototype and review testing, but that does not mean I want to use one. Using an iPhone without a case prevents bulky third party hardware from ruining my purely Apple experience.
It appears Twelve South is after my heart and as they sent over a review unit of the SurfacePad. Recently releasing the SurfacePad, the company begs, “don’t call it a case.” Using SurfacePad for about a week, I have grown to enjoy its simplicity. Take a look inside to get the full details…
SurfacePad is extremely thin at 1.7mm, which is illustrated in the image above. Coupled with a thin design, 26 grams is nice and light. The back is coated with an adhesive that holds fast to your iPhone and does not peel or curl after regular use. It is, however, removable and left no visible residue.
Sewn to the back, the front piece doubles as a screen cover and a prop for landscape viewing. The cover is complete luxury Napa leather on the outside and it carries a suede interior to gently protect your iPhone. SurfacePad is just a cover, not a sleeve, not a case, not a skin, but some amalgamation of all other iPhone protection variants.
As I mentioned, the back adheres to the phone and the cover curls around the left side and completely covers the front glass. The top, bottom and right side are exposed, granting immediate access to the ports and sleep/wake button. The mute switch and volume buttons are not directly accessible with this cover. However, the volume buttons are easily depressed through the 1.7mm leather. As the leather is so soft and thin, the mute switch can be toggled without opening the cover, but it is obviously more difficult than if a window were cut for access.
To the eye, it is a bold and seemingly unisex design. I could call it both handsome or cute, depending on the owner. What is for certain are the clean cut edge lines and modern appeal. The Twelve South logo is quietly stamped on the front bottom and SurfacePad is debossed on the inside front cover.
I can tell you, to start, the installation process was terribly frustrating. The sticker covering the adhesive ripped off in pieces and it took me about 5 minutes just to get the paper lining removed. Check out step 2 of the official install video, below. Then, I must have aligned and removed the cover around 15 times before getting it placed exactly the way I wanted it. The good news is, the adhesive is fine to remove and reattach.
After my initial struggle, the very first thing I noticed was the soft cushioned feel of the leather. I kept spinning the phone in my hand, getting a feel for the premium quality. That genuine leather smell is also hard to beat.
I am very pleased with the way the leather cuts against the iPhone. It is edge to edge, except for the camera notch. The notch takes away from the elegance of the overall design, but, there is no way around it. Cutting holes in the leather would cause flash reflection and ruin every picture. Additionally, running a thin strip of leather above the camera would cause peeling when putting it in your pocket.
An inherent issue with a bookish cover is one handed operation. For example, your iPhone rings and you want to take a call. You open the cover and either leave it flapping on the side of your face as you chat or you need to double it back behind the iPhone. After a day or so, I became fairly dextrous and flipping it around one handed was an option, but still a bit of a challenge.
The landscape option is a nice addition. The suede interior grabs the iPhone edge, providing viewing angles across the entire inside surface. I would never use this as a stand, but I do not watch many movies on my iPhone. If you are an avid landscape user, this is a great additional feature.
Despite my description, all of these issues are synonymous with the design. The camera notch, one handed operation, mute switch, etc. All of these characteristics come with a book-like cover design. The bigger question? Is this case the best at what it does?
I say, yes. SurfacePad is about the thickness of a credit card and it is constructed of high end genuine leather. It just feels great in your hand, looks chic and will only set you back $34.99, which is reasonable for a genuine leather product. The design does not detract from the elegance of your iPhone and delicately covers as little of the hardware as possible. Of course, it is a little harder to operate with one hand. It does cover three sides of your iPhone, after all. The SurfacePad is available in black, white and red.
Is it waterproof, crush proof, shock absorbent, and kid proof? Absolutely not. SurfacePro is as minimal as possible, which is why it is perfect for purists. If you love using your iPhone naked, but have always thought about adding a little bit of stylish protection, buy yourself a SurfacePad for iPhone 4/s or 5.
Thoughts? Is anyone rushing to buy one?