Grovemade Maple and Leather iPhone Case: Handcrafted Awesomeness

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Grovemade handcrafted iPhone 6 case
Grovemade Maple and Leather iPhone Case is handcrafted in Portland. Photo by Brad Moon

I have another iPhone 6 case to write about his week, but this is one that I’m really excited about. I first heard about it just after the iPhone 6 launch, and I’ve been waiting ever since then for it to get past the prototyping stage. A few weeks ago, the Grovemade Maple and Leather iPhone Case finally arrived and, man, was this one worth the wait. Clever design, handcrafted from 100 percent natural materials, flawlessly finished, and a perfect fit. It’s not cheap, but this iPhone 6 case is worth the investment.

leather and wood add warmth to the iPhone
The natural materials don’t just look good, they feel good. Photo by Brad Moon

Many of you have probably figured out by now that I have a thing for natural materials. And I really like the effect when metal is mixed with wood. When I saw photos of the wood and leather case Grovemade had put together for the iPhone 6, I knew I had found the perfect protection for my smartphone.

Most review units I receive arrive in the usual retail packaging: a shrink-wrapped box or blister pack. This one came hand wrapped in brown paper, driving home the point that this is not a mass-produced item.

The case itself is comprised of a CNC milled wooden frame (in this case it’s Eastern Hardrock Maple) with cutouts for the ports and contrasting laser cut walnut power and volume buttons. The wood is hand stained and hand sanded. A vegetable dyed leather cover is secured to half of the back frame and wraps around to cover the phone display. It’s held in place by tiny magnets that are strategically embedded in the frame. The thing exudes craftsmanship.

Grovemade case doubles as a stand
Grovemade case in stand mode. Photo by Brad Moon

The iPhone pops in easily (the wood is strong but flexible and soft enough not to scratch the metal) and is held securely. The leather cover didn’t sit quite flat at first, but after a few hours it was good. (I suspect it may have warped slightly during shipping.) That’s important because the magnets that hold it closed are not strong ones–they basically keep the cover in place, but if dropped it opens quite easily. There’s still a wooden lip to protect the display, but the leather cover itself is more of a shield against scratches from objects in your pocket than impact protection.

Inside that leather cover is a sheet of wood veneer. It provides structural rigidity for the cover, but there are also three slots cut in it. Flip the case around and a hidden wooden tab locks into those slots to transform the case into a three-position easel stand.

The combination of wood and leather adds a warm appearance to the iPhone 6 and offers a much better grip than the smartphone’s rounded metal case. There was no degradation in the iPhone’s wireless capabilities and the camera cutout did not interfere in flash operation.

Does wood stand up? That’s a valid question. I reviewed a Grovemade case way back in 2010. My daughter has adopted it for her iPhone 4s, and it still looks great. A little smoother (five years of being handled will do that to wood) and with a few minor dents, but it still offers good protection, adds style, and draws admiration for the handcrafted look. Here it is beside the new case.

A pair of Grovemade iPhone cases
New and old. That Grovemade case on the right has seen extensive use since 2010. Photo by Brad Moon

I would say durability is not an issue; plastic gets scratched and dull looking over time, but natural materials like wood only seem to get better. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Grovemade iPhone 6 case wears. I’ve only had it a few weeks and the leather is already becoming more supple and gaining some character lines, while the wooden frame is darkening slightly.

Showing the CNC cutouts and joints
Even the joints are impressive. Photo by Brad Moon

The downsides to a case like this? It is a little bulkier than some and the interior isn’t as attractive as the exterior–the inside spine is rough leather, for example. Then there’s the price: $129. That’s definitely on the high side for cases. Given the premium materials and craftsmanship that went into the Grovemade Maple and Leather iPhone case, I think it’s worth it. However, if you switch up cases frequently, plan to upgrade to a new iPhone in September, or consider a case a purely functional accessory, then one of these probably isn’t the bast choice.

Grovemade also offers a Walnut version and larger sizes for the iPhone 6 Plus. And if it’s the wood itself you like but not necessarily the whole leather case thing, there are less expensive wood and wood bumper options–not to mention a line of wooden accessories including iPhone docs, monitor stands, and keyboard trays.

Disclosure: Grovemade provided a case for review purposes.

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