There's something about the juxtaposition of Apple's glass and aluminum works of art with the natural materials of wood and leather that makes the rare handmade cases that use the nature as a source of inspiration all that much more attractive. That's the situation with Grovemade's Walnut & Leather Case ($99 for iPhone SE, $109 for iPhone 6/6s, $119 for iPhone 6/6s Plus).
The Walnut & Leather Case (also available in Maple & Leather) uses a carefully-crafted wood bumper around the sides of the iPhone with a stick-on leather back. The Walnut & Leather Case uses a black tanned leather that works just beautifully with the darker iPhone models, while the Maple & Leather Case's lighter wood and natural leather works better with the lighter-colored models.
The outer bumper is a work of art. It's made of four machined pieces that are box-jointed together, then hand-sanded to silky smoothness before being finished. The power switch and volume toggle have pass-through wooden analogues on the outside of the case, and there are passthroughs for the mute switch, speaker, Lightning port and 3.5mm headphone jack.
Despite the light weight of the wood frame -- just .3 ounces (8.5 grams) for the iPhone 6s Plus case -- it's incredibly strong. That being said, Grovemade specifically notes that "impacts are not covered by our warranty. Your case may not survive a crash unscathed." The Walnut & Leather Case and its Maple & Leather sibling are not for the fumble-fingered, nor are they designed to be subject to moisture.
The leather backplate is attached with a single-use adhesive, so this is not a case for a person who likes to swap things out from time to time. When you put that backplate onto the phone, it's going to stay there until you take it off.
Finally, remember that both leather and wood are natural products that don't put up with a lot of scratches. The case will "gain character" with use, and anyone who likes the look of a well-worn leather wallet or doesn't mind scratches on a wood floor will be happy with the Walnut & Leather Case.
How do you install the Walnut & Leather Case? First, you'll want to clean the outside of your phone, and then you insert the iPhone into the case bumper bottom first. It fits snugly but isn't too overly tight. Once the bumper is installed, you remove a piece of paper backing from the adhesive on the leather backplate, then stick it to the back of your iPhone where it will remain until you decide to remove it. Remember, the adhesive only works once, so there's no way to remove the leather backplate temporarily.
Once installed, the Walnut & Leather Case is a thing of beauty. The soft matte finish on the wood is a good contrast to the reflection of the iPhone parts, and the leather gives the case a wonderful hand feel. All ports work perfectly with original Apple equipment, although you may need an adapter for third-party products.
Who is it for?
This case is for the fan of natural materials who appreciates skilled craftsmanship. If you're looking for a case that can put up with abuse and big drops, get something else. For those who are careful with their devices and love the feel of natural materials, this is one of the best possible iPhone cases to buy.
Grovemade's team of craftsmen always does a phenomenal job making eye-catching accessories that take advantage of top quality natural materials. With the Walnut & Leather Case and the sibling Maple & Leather Case, Grovemade has set a new standard for handmade cases.