Friends, what you have heard so far It’s true. Apple’s new FineWoven iPhone cases and accessories are bad. As, In fact bad. I’ve been mulling them over for the past week, looking at them from different angles. Pick them up, put them down, pet them. Seven days later, I still can’t make sense of them and I have no choice but to say it out loud: FineWoven is very bad.
FineWoven is a new fabric option that you’ll find in iPhone 15 cases, AirTag holders, and MagSafe wallets. Apple calls it a “luxurious, durable microtwill.” It’s silky, almost slippery to the touch, and costs $59 for either phone case, $35 for an AirTag holder, and $99 for one of the new watch bands, not the most Expensive phone cases you can buy, but quite expensive.
Apple bills them as a kind of premium replacement for the leather accessories it discontinued. The company will no longer sell leather iPhone cases and straps because manufacturing them at Apple’s scale “has a significant carbon footprint,” according to Lisa Jackson, the company’s vice president of environmental policy. That’s fair; As my colleague Justine Calma says, “cattle are a great fountain of greenhouse gas emissions because cows burp eliminate methane, which is even more powerful than CO2 in its ability to trap heat from the planet.” If you want a stylish iPhone case of your own, then your new, more sustainable option would be FineWoven.
But FineWoven is not the premium material that leather is. When I took the MagSafe wallet out of its box, I could clearly see some places where it was already showing edge wear. Small pieces of lint also immediately stuck to the fabric. And then there’s the nail test.
If I put one of these cases on my phone, I’ll inevitably accidentally scratch it with the jagged edge of a fingernail or come into contact with my car keys. And when you scratch FineWoven, the results are seemingly permanent. When we inspected the bags for the first time after picking them up at Apple Park, Edge Editor-in-chief Nilay Patel picked one up and ran his fingernails over it five times, and that was all it took to leave a trail of indelible marks on the fabric. The scratches are still there a week later, no matter how many times he has tried to “polish” them by rubbing them with his finger.
I’m trying to imagine what this case would be like after a year of being exposed to dust and lint from the bottom of my bag or stray scratches from nails and keys. God help me if my boy ever managed to get his dirty hands on it, which he certainly would. I just don’t see any way for this material to age gracefully. Leather cases had their problems, but when leather ages, at least it looks good; a worn and dusty cloth case won’t do it.
When leather ages, at least it looks pretty: a worn, dusty fabric cover won’t do that.
Perhaps FineWoven would be acceptable in a less expensive case. Or maybe if Apple had never called it “durable”, I could accept it. But for $59? In a phone case that needs to withstand daily abuse? Absolutely not. I would have loved a rougher fabric like the old Google Pixel cases, RIP, and they certainly resist scratches and scuffs better. I think Apple did a decent thing by discontinuing leather cases, but FineWoven just isn’t the premium replacement we were looking for.