Works With: iPhone 5
Grove was last seen on these hallowed pages when I wrote about the SkateBack, an iPhone 5 rear panel fashioned from the offcuts of old skateboards. Now I actually have a skate-derived case in my hands. It’s still for the iPhone 5, but it’s a full case, not just a rear panel, and it comes in the same shape as Grove’s bamboo cases.
It’s pretty good. It’s also $150.
What It Is
The SkateCase is made from the offcuts taken from the dumpster of nearby Portland skateboard maker PS Stix. These strips of maple plywood are glued together to make a block, and then the space for the iPhone is machined out from the center. It’s a lot like making the aluminum Unibody MacBooks, only with wood.
The SkateCase is made from the offcuts taken from the dumpster of skateboard maker PS Stix.
The case is lined with a plastic inner which is what actually grasps the phone, and this in turn is lined with a rubbery foam to provide yet more protection. You could probably skateboard with your iPhone in your pocket and it’d be safe – as long as you turn it screen-in, that is. And as long as you can actually fit it in your pocket.
The case is beautiful. The surface wood is polished with oil to bring out the colors of the layers, and the cutouts are all hand-finished, making you want to run your fingers over them every time you pick up the case.
It’s also tough. I never drop my iPhone to test out cases (not deliberately, anyway) but it’s pretty clear that the iPhone 5, already built like a tank, will survive anything but a sharp object to the screen or a dunk in the water. Remember that the wood that makes this case comes from skateboards, which are built to withstand spectacular abuse.
In short, this case will last as long as your iPhone 5, and probably much longer.
The case is big. This is partly done to the fact that it’s cut from wood, but also because of the inner linings, each layer of which adds bulk. This could be passed off as a matter of taste, but for the fact that the volume and mute switches are almost impossible to reach.
The volume and mute switches are almost impossible to reach.
I have pretty long and slim fingers and even I have to try to hook a fingernail into the switch to mute it, and it’s almost impossible for me to change the volume with my thumb. In fact, it’s literally impossible for me to operate any of these switches with my left thumb if I hold the case in my left hand, i.e., in normal usage position.
The other problem is specific to my review unit: the two halves don’t line up properly. The case comes in two sections which slide onto the top and bottom ends of the iPhone. The top (main) section bows out slightly on the back to form an edge which catches on your fingers or your pocket. It’s only a half a millimeter – if that – and if the case was like ten times cheaper I wouldn’t complain. But it’s not.
The SkateCase is lovely, but not $150 worth of lovely, even if it wasn’t for the wonky finishing on the back panel. You’d have to be seriously into skateboards, recycling and strips to justify the cost. You’ll also have to be a fan of fatness – the case is actually very light, but it’s also bulky.
Product Name: : SkateCaseThe Good: Looks fantastic. Really nicely made. Also: Skateboards!The Bad: Bulky, can’t reach the buttons.
The Verdict Nice, but not $150 nice.
Buy from: Grove