iPhone 4S: This Case is by The Book

| Reviews


The BookBook from Twelve South combines a case for your iPhone 4 or 4S and a wallet in a single package that successfully mimics the look and feel of a vintage leather-bound book.

The BookBook is all-leather and handmade, with a clever, whimsical design that kills two birds with one stone as you see in Figures 1-3:

 

BookBook Side View

Figure 1: Seen from the side you could almost mistake this case/wallet for a real book.

photo by Bob LeVitus

 

BookBook top view

Figure 2: And from the top, with its cover closed, it still looks like a book.  

photo by Bob LeVitus

 

BookBook open

Figure 3: It’s only after you open the cover that the BookBook’s true nature is revealed.

photo by Bob LeVitus

Things I liked 

The marriage of wallet and iPhone case is a natural and I loved having one less thing in my pocket. 

The case is, for the most part, well designed; all iPhone ports and controls are easily accessible with a single exception I’ll explain in a moment. 

I don’t generally drop my iPhone when I test cases, at least not on purpose, but I did drop it twice onto hard surfaces (tile and concrete) with no damage to either iPhone or case. The BookBook does a better job of protecting your iPhone than many cases and protects the screen better than most.   

The case is handmade from genuine leather, with workmanship and leather that are truly first rate. It’s also a conversation starter — it  attracted more attention and compliments than any case I’ve ever carried.  

I was afraid it would be awkward holding a wallet up to my face to talk on the phone, but it felt fine and never caused me any issues.

 

BookBook making a call

Figure 4: Using a book as a phone isn’t as awkward as you might think…

photo courtesy Twelve South

Last but not least, if you’re prone to misplacing your wallet, BookBook offers an additional benefit: Enable Find My iPhone and you’ll be able to locate your wallet with any web browser on any device. 

Things I didn’t like

While it was easy to flip the case open to show my ID, removing my ID from the case wasn’t. While the case offers a “thumb slide,” a hole designed to make it easier to remove your ID, as shown in Figure 5, my Texas Driver License, which isn’t any bigger than most state’s ID cards, was a very tight fit, making it difficult to slide out even with the thumb slide. 

 

BookBook thumb slide

Figure 5: The thumb slide is a good idea, but flawed.

photo courtesy Twelve South

The same was true for my credit cards, which were usually just as hard to get out. That being said, the leather seems to be getting worked in and I expect that in a couple more months the point would be moot.

Another issue is that the BookBook holds less stuff than the wallet it replaced. Though it has enough room for four or five credit cards, plus my ID, insurance cards, and two or three business cards, I had to remove all of my, “Buy 9 get 1 free” punch cards, local discount cards, and several credit cards, which are now in a drawer at home. That’s a minor inconvenience, but the bigger issue for me was that there isn’t much room for currency. Even though I don’t usually carry a lot of cash, it quickly became apparent to me that I’d have to find another solution for my greenbacks. I’ve taken to carrying them in a money clip, which kinda defeats the purpose of an iPhone case/wallet combination. While this wasn’t enough of a problem to make me stop using the case, I’d be remiss if I hadn’t at least brought it to your attention.  

Finally, unlike most iPhone cases, BookBook has no opening on its back for the camera. Instead, you have to pull out a little red tab (see Figure 6a) and then slide your iPhone up to reveal the lens (see Figure 6b) before you can take a picture.

 

BookBook red tab

Figure 6a: First, pull the red tab.

       BookBook camera

Figure 6b: Then, slide the phone up to reveal the lens.

photos by Bob LeVitus

In spite of iOS 5’s cool new quick camera access button (on the Lock Screen), I’ve missed some great shots while I fumbled with the tab or the phone. Unfortunately, this is the deal breaker for me. While I love the case’s whimsical design and quality construction, and I could probably live with its other (admittedly minor) shortcomings, I just can’t live with missed photo opportunities, especially with my iPhone 4S and its much improved camera.    

The bottom  line

BookBook is handsome, functional, and just about perfect unless you either carry a lot of stuff in your wallet (which didn’t bother me that much), or need ultra-fast access to your camera (which bothers me enough to be a deal breaker). 

Product: BookBook for iPhone

Company: Twelve South

List Price: US$59.99

Pros:

Beautifully hand-crafted, “Find My Wallet,” one less thing to carry, reasonably priced.

 

Cons:

Modest capacity for cards and currency, extra steps required to use the camera.

 

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2 Comments

c

here’s a guy who solved the camera issue on the BookBook. I’m thinking about doing something similar on the smaller Moleskine-like Hex Code Wallet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvSGcKEsoZI

Bob LeVitus

I might have to try that. As I said, the camera issue was the only one that really bothered me.

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