Like Fine Wine, Davarg’s Lovely Leather Case Will Get Lovelier With Age [Review]


Kanam by Davarg
Category: Cases
Works With: iPhone 5
Price: $45

This is the first part of a two-part review. When you see the case I’m writing about, the reason will be obvious. It’s the Castello Davarg Kanam, and it’s a wraparound case fashioned from full grain leather in the good old U.S of A. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that it was thrown together by unionized slackers with one eye on the time-clock: The case is clearly put together with some care.

Why the tow-parter? Because this is a chunk of cow, and as such it’s meant to age gracefully, getting better over time. So today is more of a first look, with a long-term write-up to follow.

Like the Twelve South SurfacePad for iPhone, the Kanam is a book-like wraparound cover which protects the back, the front and one edge. Unlike the SurfacePad, the Kanam protects the right edge, opening backwards (or forwards if you’re one of those manga weirdos). This leaves the mute and volume switches free to be used. There’s also a small cutout over the phone speaker so you can talk with the case closed and still hear the conversation.

The iPhone 5 itself is held in place with a sticky, reusable adhesive pad. You just clean the back of the phone, peel off the protective waxed sheet (setting it aside in case you ever need to take the iPhone out of this case) and stick. It holds just fine.

The Good

The case is beautiful, a dark reddish brown.

The case is beautiful. Davarg sent me the Ember color, which is a dark reddish brown. It fits the iPhone perfectly, although it won’t yet sit shut unless you put it in a pocket or cover it with a weight – the leather still has a lot of spring in it which will fade to a floppy comfort over time, I presume.

The shiny outside surface of the case lets it slip in and out of even a tight pants pocket pretty easily, and the backwards-opening design means that it’s easy to thumb the thing open with your right hand.

But the best part of this opposite-opening flap is that you can use the camera properly. When you hold the camera in landscape, you can use the volume buttons as a shutter release and the case hangs down below the phone. Compare this to the SurfacePad, whose flap just gets in the way.

The stiffness of the front cover also keeps it out of the way when shooting in portrait orientation one-handed.

The Bad

It might look quilted, but you could file your nails in that inner surface.

Having the “hinge” on the right makes it a little awkward to use the iPhone one-handed with the right hand. I just switch it to the left, or hold the stiff flap with my right while operating the phone with the left. Hopefully this will get a little easier over time. Right now I also bend the cover double, around the back of the phone. This peels up the right edge of the adhesive panel, but right now that isn’t a problem as much as a worry.

The case is also a bit fat, adding at least half as much thickness again to the iPhone. Oddly, this hasn’t bothered me yet – usually I hate (hate!) anything which makes my iPhone bulky, but this seems to stay out of the way enough desire its thickness.

The other thing I don’t like is the interior of the from flap. It looks great, but inside it’s rough as cheap whisky. It won’t scratch the screen, but it’s not very nice to touch. We’ll see how it ages.

The Verdict

How could you not love this thing? (Vegans — don’t answer that).

I have avoided mentioning two neat extras until now. The first is that the case comes in another metal case that looks like it cost more to make than the Kanam itself. It’s in the picture above.

The second is a tiny vial of leather conditioning oil. I put a smear onto the case an it did nothing, as the case is still new and shiny. But in a couple months when it’s getting all dry and ratty I’ll add a few drops and tell you about it. I can’t wait!

I have a feeling that most of the thing I don;t like will disappear with time. Which brings me to the only real problem with this case: the iPhone itself. This case, assuming the sticky pad stays sticky, will last for as long as you do. Yet, if we go by Apple’s usual schedule, then the current iPhone design has maybe a year and a half left (assuming an iPhone 5S comes before a retooled iPhone 6). Which is a little sad. Especially for the cow that donated its skin for this case.

Product Name: : KanamThe Good: Tough, gorgeous, simple, works with the camera.

The Bad: Rough inside surface, a little bulky

The Verdict Buy soon, before your iPhone is upgraded and doesn’t fit anymore.

Buy from: Davarg