I have always been obsessed with keeping my phone in a safe case, and I have quickly gotten into the habit of changing out my iPhone case every few months. The cases out there tend to follow the mass produced plastic form, and they quickly start to show their age with stretching, scratches etc.
So, I wanted to get hold of a case which was the equivalent of an old leather chair – I wanted something that looks better with age. After some searching online I noticed that most providers of these handmade cases are typically outside SA, but then a colleague pointed me towards Matblac.
Run by Matthew Neilson, Matblac builds handmade cases for a bunch of iDevices, but also makes other leather and felt goods like bags and wallets. He runs his workshop right out of Cape Town, and all his products are made by himself and his sidekick.
I was interested in the iPhone wallet concept – because the iPhone 5 is so thin I thought it might be a good idea to see how it functions if you combine your wallet and phone in one case.
I ordered the iWallet from Matblac and immediately got great service. I got updates as the case came along, and not long after, again when the case was ready for pickup. When I took the iWallet out of its case it immediately struck me just how nicely put together it is. The leather is sanded bovine hide which gives you enough space for about two cards per side of the wallet. The leather is quite grippy inside, so your cards won’t fall out.
The rest of the wallet is made from German merino felt and feels great in hand. It gives the case a little bit of flexibility and stretch, and the iPhone fits in quite snugly at first. There is a handy gap in the case for pushing the phone out. The quality is outstanding – this is not your average mass produced case or wallet.
After two weeks of using the case I must say I am very happy with it. At first I was a little scared to drop my phone if I pushed it out of the case, but because of the stretchable felt you can actually easily put the phone in a ultrathin type case, and the iPhone still fits without issue. Using a case and wallet in one is surprisingly nice – the fact that you just grab one thing (and maybe your car keys) before your run is great. It is still thinner than my old leather wallet, even with the phone inside.