Apple FineWoven first impressions: A cool material likely unfit to replace leather
Apple's new FineWoven cases and accessories are better, environmentally speaking, than leather. In other aspects, it might not be up to par.
Apple announced the iPhone 15 series last week, and with it, discontinued leather cases and accessories as part of its environmental initiatives. Leather served as the more premium option in Apple’s accessory lineup, with silicone options serving as a slightly cheaper and much more colorful alternative. Apple is ushering in FineWoven, a new microtwill material, as its new premium accessory option ahead of the iPhone 15 lineup’s debut on Sept. 22.
Surprisingly, Apple is selling FineWoven cases days before the official iPhone 15 release date. You can only get them at Apple Stores for now, and Apple employees at the flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City said they wouldn’t officially be available until this Friday. Alas, I was able to snag one at a retail store in Queens, NY via online order pickup. I’ve spent about two days with the Apple FineWoven case for iPhone 15 Pro — though I can’t really use it, since I won’t be getting an iPhone 15 until release day.
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Look and feel
A really nice texture, but a questionable appearance
Apple says that FineWoven has a suede-like feel, and I’ve seen others describe the material as denim-like. I’d say it feels most like felt, but however you classify it, FineWoven feels ultra-soft and satisfying. It makes a scratching sound when you rub your fingers across it that you’ll either find pleasing or extremely uncomfortable. YouTuber Aaron Zollo described it as like the sound of scratching a windbreaker or raincoat in his hands-on, and I completely agree.
The sides of the case feel most like leather, and it’s made out of FineWoven material that’s even finer than the back of the case. It looks quite like leather, too, but you’ll easily see the FineWoven weaves while taking a closer look. This is the premium part of the case, with metal buttons that are colored to match the general hue of your FineWoven case. I chose the Taupe color, and it definitely looks darker than the stock images available on Apple’s online store. Your results might vary with other colors, though.
All of this doesn’t really matter to me, because there’s one key reason I can’t daily drive this case. The color of the FineWoven material isn’t consistent across the back of the case. Some spots will look darker than others, some will look lighter. I noticed this right after unboxing the case, so it wasn’t anything I got on the material. But I do think this is something that will get worse over time, as wear and tear further changes the consistency of the FineWoven case’s color.
Impossible to say at this stage, but I have my doubts
A lot of people are wondering whether Apple FineWoven will be durable over time, and that’s something I can’t possibly comment on now. However, I do have my doubts based on the overall build of the case. Even on the MagSafe ring — which includes the full alignment array, though the middle line is not accentuated — the back of the FineWoven material is extremely thin. There’s a lot of flex as a result, and it feels like I could snap the case in half with ease.
It’s important to note that an iPhone will give the case more structure, but FineWoven still feels flimsier than silicone or leather. I’ve seen Apple cases made of those materials deteriorate terribly over time, so it’ll be interesting to see how FineWoven fares.
Is FineWoven worth buying?
I’m really intrigued by FineWoven, and I want to like it. But right now, I have massive concerns about the material’s ability to replace leather and even silicone. The first Apple FineWoven case seems flimsy and doesn’t feature consistent color. I’ve never recommended a first-party Apple case, and that’s because third-party options are typically a better value. That isn’t changing, even with the debut of FineWoven.