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We’ve reviewed some exciting iPhone cases in the past, but lately none seem to excite us. Recently though, premium leather iPhone case maker, Vaja, released a new folio-style case called Nuova Pelle for the iPhone 5. Most Vaja cases are made of high-quality leather and look quite beautiful, but a folio-style case? I had my doubts. So naturally, I had to review it! And of course, we’ll be giving it away to a lucky reader.
To start, the Nuova Pelle isn’t cheap. At $80, it’s a quite a bit to pay for an accessory, especially one that doesn’t have any special, standout features. It’s main selling point is its ultra-low profile — Vaja claims that the Nuova Pelle is the slimmest leather case in the market today. Most folio cases, like the BookBook or HEX Axis Wallet Case incorporates some form of storage (cards, cash) and tend to add a bit of bulk. I’m not really a fan of those. Plus, it’s generally not a good idea to keep your credit cards and identity cards together with your phone, for the sake of security. The Nuova Pelle does away with the extraneous storage and maintains a simple design. However, in doing so, they’ve made some compromises.
The entire case is constructed out of a single piece of high-quality Argentinian Bridge leather, hand-stitched to perfection. As with all leathers, you can expect an initial break-in period, and the colour does get warmer over time. Although it wasn’t my first colour choice, I received a Forest Night unit (in my mind, it’s simply olive) which personally, I’m not quite fond of. However, Vaja does offer the Nuova Pelle in several more attractive colour schemes, descriptively named Black, Blue, Caramelo, Chili, London, Orange and Pinecone. If you can be bothered to wait an additional 30 days and pay an extra $20, Vaja will also allow you to customise your case in a different colour.
Irrespective of the colour scheme you ultimately pick, the Nuova Pelle is lined with brown leather on its interior, embossed with the company’s logo and name on the left (flip) side.
In order to attach the case to the iPhone, the Nuova Pelle employs clever use of a strong adhesive backing. I have to say that I’m a nutter when it comes to things like alignment, and the Nuova Pelle nearly killed me. Lining up the case and the iPhone was counter-intuitive and definitely not easy, even with the provided instructions. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get the edges of the case to properly align the the iPhone. Strangely, that’s when I inadvertently put the adhesive backing to the test. The adhesive is supposedly reusable, and you should be able to apply and remove it without leaving any sticky residue as long as the iPhone’s surface is clean. I’m happy to report that the claim is true, and the adhesive backing was able to withstand multiple applications. I think I may have repeated the process about 10 times.
After managing to align the case as close to the iPhone’s edges as possible, I succumbed and decided to proceed with my review. The Nuova Pelle flips open and close beautifully, and remains shut (attached to the iPhone’s front surface) by using magnets; similar to Apple’s Smart Cover. And despite the numerous application attempts, the adhesive backing remains perfectly intact.
From here, I noticed several inadequacies. Firstly, the lack of side protection is worrying. While the Nuova Pelle will guard the iPhone against bumps and scratches on the front and back surfaces, the sides are completely exposed.
It gets more evident when the case is turned over — the edge housing the iPhone’s camera is absolutely unprotected. Personally, I reckon that’s one of the most important areas of the entire phone, and definitely also the most prone to scratches.
Using a folio-style case takes a bit of getting used to. For example, the volume buttons are only accessible by flipping the case open. Other one-handed operations now take slightly longer to perform — by which I mean taking the phone out of my pocket to make a call; normally that would be something I can easily do with one hand. Unless you have insanely awesome hand-eye coordination, flipping the case open and tucking it back isn’t an act I’m able to perform single-handedly. But if you’re looking for a folio case, I assume you must have thought about this at some point.
Perhaps it’s just me, and my unfamiliarity with folio-style cases, but I probably do have to note that taking photos is somewhat cumbersome. If you think about it, the most natural way to hold this case is by tucking the flap back, right? Launch the Camera app and what do you see? Nothing. That’s because the flap is obstructing the camera lens. In order to take photos with this particular style of case, you would either have to hold the case/phone ensemble like an open book with two hands, or have super flexible fingers.
Should you buy the Vaja Nuova Pelle iPhone 5 Case?
I’m beginning to think that Vaja designed the Nuova Pelle case for a very niche clientele. Probably people who either don’t drop their phones very often or don’t care even if they do. For me, I’d rather use a case which protects. For the most part, I don’t have anything against this particular folio-style case, just all folio-style cases in general. The Nuova Pelle is beautiful and slim, and if you can afford it, by all means buy it. But sadly, it doesn’t really get my blessing mainly due to the lack of side protection, especially where the camera is housed.
How do I win the Vaja Nuova Pelle?
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