Despite some initial misgivings about its thinness and a personal preference for the chunkier form factor of my old iPhone 4s, I’ve grown to love my iPhone 6. In fact that thin profile is part of the new iPhone’s charm. I’ve never been a bulky case guy, but I do like some protection from scratches. I’m a sucker for natural materials and I think wood, metal and glass look pretty nice when used together. All of which lands me in the target demographic for the iPhone 6 case from Material6.
This case isn’t anything like the typical protective smartphone cases you’ll find on store shelves. For one, it’s handcrafted in the USA using real wood — no mass production or fake stuff here.
The Material6 case also falls somewhere between customization and case.
Like a vinyl skin, it lets you completely change the look of your iPhone without transforming it from svelte to stocky. Unlike a skin, it also offers some protection against bumps and adds a little more structural strength to this ultra-thin device. With the resulting wood/aluminum/glass combo, this case adds a uniquely elegant look to my iPhone. Wood options include Walnut, Birdseye Maple, South American Rosewood and Curly Figured Cherry (that’s the species used on my review unit).
As you can see from this profile photo, the case really does add very little bulk to the iPhone. It’s just thick enough to protect the protruding camera lens when set on its back. All of the buttons and ports are completely free of obstruction. I love the fact that the buttons aren’t covered by a membrane, preserving their tactile feel. The case’s edge makes the iPhone 6 a little less slippery to hold onto and the back gains a warmth and texture it lacked before, yet from some angles — head on, for example — you can’t even tell that a case is installed.
I like this minimalist approach.
However, this is not the sort of case to replace your Otterbox. Cases that comply with Apple’s MFi program are required to have a lip that protects the display and be able to protect an iPhone’s back, sides and display from being damaged from a 3.2 foot drop.
The Material6 case will protect the back of an iPhone from scratches and bumps, but the sides and glass front are exposed. A screen protector like the ZAGG Shield would definitely help, but the Material6 case is not the best choice for those who are prone to dropping their iPhones.
Installation is easy — much simpler than the earlier version of this case (which physically replaced the glass back of the iPhone 4/4s with a wooden panel). This round, the wooden panel is surrounded by a black plastic frame. Inside is ultra-thin (0.15 mm) suction tape. Set the iPhone in the case, gently push it down and it’s in there tight.
Material6 says the tape can be reused “as often as you like” and that it won’t leave any residue. After a few days of use, I pulled it off my iPhone to test that theory. The case was on pretty securely, but came off without much of a struggle. No residue. And I was able to re-attach it. I’m not going to do this 20 times, but so far it lives up to claims.
In terms of overall longevity, I installed the iPhone 4 version in January 2011. It still looks great.
Material6 will also engrave your wooden iPhone 6 case, making it even more unique. Check out the snazzy job they did with the GeekDad logo.
If you’re looking for an iPhone case that’s the equivalent of armor, or you constantly set your iPhone down display-first, the Material6 case is not your best option. Adding a screen protector to the equation will help, but this isn’t intended to be a ballistic-grade case.
But if you’re one of those iPhone owners like me who likes to go case-free, the Material6 is an excellent choice. It adds a little protection (especially for that protruding camera lens), a bit more grip, a lot of style and the opportunity to truly make your iPhone your own.
Material6 for iPhone 6 is priced at $29, monogram is no charge, custom engraved designs are $20 extra.
If you like that juxtaposition of wood with high tech gear, Material6 has a Kickstarter campaign under way for cool-looking heirloom quality wooden docks for iPhone and Android (complete with built-in charge cables). Check it out here.
Disclosure: Material6 provided a case for review purposes.