If you are the type who likes good looking, well designed, well thought out products then Twelve South is one of those companies you should be paying attention to. The BookBook, if you haven’t heard of it yet, is a series of Apple focused laptop and tablet cases that are outwardly designed to look and feel like vintage leather-bound books.
The BookBook for iPhone 4 is Twelve South‘s latest addition to the BookBook line, further extending their reach into Apple’s mobile product lineup. Reading their website it looks to be as elegant and functional as the rest. Complete with money, identification and card slots, you should be able to keep your bare necessities with you all in one place. I was intrigued enough by what I read and saw that I had to take this case for a spin to see if it really lives up to its claims.
My order arrived in the standard UPS brown shipping box – but the actual packaging was a small treat for the eyes. Textured dark brown boxing with red internals holding the BookBook in place. Twelve South obviously takes pride all the way down to presentation, because even the packaging was nicely designed to highlight the BookBook itself.
Once you get the BookBook out of the box and in your hands you immediately begin to appreciate the quality of this fine leather product. Being the person I am, I thoroughly inspected the case before doing anything else. The leather was evenly stitched with no loose or untied threading. The binding is labeled “BookBook” in what would be the title area if it were an actual book, followed with the roman numeral “XII” in the volume area. All the lettering and accents are finished in a gold tone color which helps to give the case that vintage look.
The Twelve South logo is permanently stamped into the leather on the back cover at the bottom, where it does not detract from the styling of the case. The pieces of leather used to create the BookBook are all of different grains, thicknesses and color (common among leather products), but put together in a way that compliments each other creating a nicely finished handmade product. The outward presentation is further complimented by housing an equally well designed leather and cloth interior section for your cards on the left side and a soft leather and suede section that cradles your iPhone on the right. This much attention to detail shows the amount of care taken to create not just a high quality product but an experience for the senses.
First Time Out
I put aside my current Vapor Pro Black Ops Case and wallet to see if I could get by with only the BookBook. I knew from the start that my day job would in no way make it possible for me to use this wallet/case exclusively (just too many mandatory IDs and a badge), so I opted to use it only when off duty for starters.
My first weekend out with the BookBook I packed my driver license, two credit cards, some cash, and of course my iPhone 4. All that fits into the BookBook quite easily. Although it can hold up to 2 cards per slot I’d suggest putting only one card per slot unless it’s really necessary. The BookBook does not seem to stretch much due to its design so anything more than the maximum causes it to bulge and not close properly (although this could change since leather does tend to loosen over time). I started out by taking it with me for a few hours of cycling. I put the BookBook loaded up with the aforementioned items into my hydration pack along with the rest of my usual cycling gear. The good thing isn’t that it forced me to carry less than what I’m use to, but that it kept my phone and wallet items together in a small yet convenient package. No more fumbling through the gear in my hydration pack for cash or the phone in case of an emergency. Everything is in one quick and easily accessible place. This also allowed me to move everything to one smaller pocket in the bag making it extra convenient. I equate the BookBook to my ToolRap which holds only my essential bike tools when I’m out cycling. So the next time I’m ready to ride all I do is toss the ToolRap and BookBook in my hydration pack and I’m off to a worry free day of cycling.
My second time out was a night out dancing with my wife. Pocketability is, dare I say, excellent. I grabbed the BookBook which was already loaded with the same items as before, and it fit in my front dress pant pocket with no issues. The only thing worse than a wallet that won’t fit in your pocket is a wallet that bulges out like an extra appendage. Again, everything in one place and I was ready to go. We arrived at the club and almost like the promotional video I pulled out the BookBook, flashed my ID at the door to enter and it went right back in my pocket. During the night, removing it for use was just as easy as any other wallet I’ve owned. As the night went on, I figured the likelihood of someone putting down the BookBook and accidentally forgetting it as many might do with just a phone was even less likely to happen as people tend to put wallets back in their pockets right after use.
I found taking pictures was easy enough. I still have my ZAGG full body InvisibleShield installed on my iPhone so it fits a little tighter compared to how it would without. The iPhone is a little harder to push up to take a picture but it’s nothing I can complain about because the case is not designed for a completely covered iPhone. Some may not like the extra steps just to take a picture but consider this: unless you keep the camera app active at all times and the phone unlocked and in your hand, there is no way you are going to catch every special moment that happens. This is a phone that requires minimum screen activation after pulling it out of your pocket, bag or off your belt clip. Even with a dedicated picture button (iOS 5) you will still miss something.
Typing on the iPhone with the case works well. Holding the BookBook to type actually feels a bit better that holding the phone itself (in my opinion). The cover folds back, creating a small wedge that you can easily hold or place on a flat surface when using applications that can rotate into landscape view. The sides are also out of the way so you have full use of the entire screen, home button, front camera and phone speaker.
Folding the cover back is also what you do to make a call if you’re not using a Bluetooth headset. The BookBook feels good in the hand and seems to give you a better grip on the iPhone. As with most leather products it has a nice soft but firm feel and won’t easily slip out your hand.
All the ports including the Power button and ringer on/off switch are left open for easy access. Unless you absolutely must dock the iPhone, using a sync cable is no problem at all. Up and down indicators are stamped on the left side of the case so you know were they are. The leather is thick enough to protect the phone but does not get in the way of you using it.
First, I must admit I have been rather unimpressed by other phone case/wallets until the BookBook. I can’t quite pin down any one specific feature that initially attracted me to the BookBook over others, except that it seemed to be more of a complete package. But maybe that is the feature right there. Looking at other comparable offerings; most seem to be designed for a specific gender, lifestyle or just not completely thought out. The BookBook, on the other hand, is open to any lifestyle, any gender, and blends in to any occasion – be it business, leisure, or anything in between.
To say my test runs went well would be a gross understatement. I have so thoroughly enjoyed the BookBook that I’ve been using it on a daily basis since I got it 3 weeks ago. I’ve found that there’s enough room for your essential cards and a few dollars. And in this day and age, who really needs to carry around a wallet full of cash anyway?! Using the case is a no-brainer since there’s nothing to put together. You just load it up and go. There are no real negatives to this case unless you absolutely can’t find a way to carry less or you must have a case with a camera hole. Solidly designed and constructed, this is a great accessory for the iPhone 4. So if you’re looking for a case that’s well put together with its own sense of style, then the BookBook for iPhone 4 is for you. Available at Twelve South for $60 it’s money well spent for what it offers.