The Never-Ending Hunt for the Perfect iPhone Case: Vaja, Speck and Mossimo.
An iPhone 4S found its way into my home recently. As soon as it was unboxed I put it straight into my existing Speck iPhone case that had protected my iPhone 4 throughout the past year.
With the introduction of the iPhone 4S, the volume buttons and mute switch on the side have moved position slightly in comparison to the iPhone 4. The change is enough for some iPhone 4 cases to have their button apertures misaligned on the new 4S. There was no such problem with the Speck case.
As the iPhone 4 and 4S are otherwise identical in form factor, the Speck case fitted perfectly and could well have continued providing its protective services on my new 4S. The Speck case is rigid plastic with a textile covering on the solid back panel. The case splits into two sections along the outer edge making it easy to remove for cleaning or when accessing the SIM card drawer. Originally purchased from the Apple online store for Au$39.95/US$40, it is still available in the iPhone 4 cases section of the Apple Store.
My quandary was that the new iPhone 4S would look and feel no different to my existing 1-year old iPhone 4, so I decided to search for a new and different case. This time I fancied a more luxurious feel to the case, something in leather and if possible, in a dark red colour.
The closest I could find was a leather case that caught my eye at a local Optus mobile phone store. It was a flip style, predominantly black leather with a red stripe and red iPhone surround. It bore the name Mossimo and was relatively inexpensive at Au$39/US$39.
The iPhone 4S fitted in snuggly and the padded leather front and rear protected it well. Later that day that I noticed what can only be described as a design flaw: it is not possible to close the front flip-cover when using earphones as there is no access to the earphone jack when the front flap is closed. An annoying problem that caused me to continue searching for a more satisfactory case.
Eventually I stumbled upon the Vaja website, makers of leather cases for all sort of electronic devices including of course, iPhones. Their website is gorgeous and allows you to customise the cases in your own choice of colours.
I liked the look of the Vaja ivolution Grip but was a little concerned that the whole top section of the iPhone is exposed and therefore vulnerable to damage if dropped. The Vaja ivolution Top seemed the safer choice, with its flip style front cover which protected the top of the phone. Most importantly the earphone jack was still accessible when the cover was closed.
The main aspect of buying from Vaja is that many of their cases are custom made to order and so can take many weeks to deliver, luckily my choice of Pompeian Red leather with Rosso interior lining was showing as in stock with immediate delivery. The price (sharp intake of breath) US$80/Au$80 plus a delivery charge of (a rather pricey) US$43, giving a grand total of US$123/Au$123. Expensive by anyone’s standards!
Delivery took approximately 10 days from Vaja’s factory in Argentina to Perth, Western Australia.
The iPhone case was packaged in a sturdy attractively designed box, but just rattled around inside the box and the sense was of it having just been tossed into the box with little care. The iPhone case itself appears very well made with metal bar fixing the front flap to the main body of the case. There is a large cutout area for the iPhone’s camera lens and flashlight with a black plastic surround to prevent flash reflection off the case itself. The front cover/flap is rigid and has a cutout for earphone socket and power switch.
The iPhone fits in very smoothly and the snug fit holds it securely in place. The front cover is kept closed by the pressure of the top section gripping the top of the iPhone and the front cover is actually held clear of the phone’s screen, floating about a millimetre above the screen surface.
The profile of the case is quite slim and just about doubles the overall thickness of the iPhone, but it doesn’t feel bulky in the pocket. As you can see in the comparison shot it is substantially thinner that the Mossimo leather case.
The Speck case is functional if not attractive, it shows very little sign of wear after 12 months hard use and is good value for money.
The Mossimo leather flip case is well made, although the leather feels cheap. It is a bit on the bulky side, but well priced and does a good job of protecting the phone. If there had been access to the earphone jack with the front cover closed I would probably have stuck with this case.
The Vaja ivolution Top is a beautifully crafted case with a quality solid feel, it protects the iPhone from minor knocks and scrapes and slips in and out of pockets with ease. Is it worth the high purchase price? I’m not so sure it is. Maybe in twelve months time I will be better able to answer that question, but in the meantime I will continue to love the feel and colour of the Vaja case.