Nexus 4: a problem of case

As some of you might have already heard, I've come across a Nexus 4 in search of a new phone after I wanted to stomp on my aging Galaxy S the umpteenth time. In a way I was lucky with that, as it came with a very good case, but as this Nexus 4 was brand new, I had to get online and chase down a case for it.

There were a few things that I wanted from the case:

  • full body protection while closed
  • good quality, possibly genuine leather exterior
  • flipcase opening to the bottom, not the side
  • maybe a show-off color of white, since I went ahead and got the Nexus 4 in white

Let's just say that my first case didn't exactly zero down on these... (Oh, and excuse me for the photos. I just sat down and crunched this out in a couple hours on a whim.)

This is the case I ordered first (and only so far): "GENUINE REAL LEATHER FLIP CASE For LG Google Nexus 4 E960" It all seemed to be prim and proper, just what I wanted: offered "genuine real leather", seemingly quality craftmanship, available in white, flipcase like I wanted, and an extra screen protector to boot. But as usual, reality is a bitch: some things don't fan out the way you thought it out, and some unanticipated surprises bite you in the behind as well. Let's just get over them.

Looks OK at first glance, doesn't it? Then you start to notice the problems.

First, the full protection: while the case gives ample protection to the bottom and the bottom corners, the same cannot be said about the top: there the plastic cover only extends in a (albeit sizeable) strip in the middle, but it does not seem to do too much covering the top edges of the device. I'd wager that should I drop it on those edges, the glass will shatter. While the hard plastic backing does give them some protection, it is only to the backside of the phone unfortunately. I'd be OK with a shattered back, but not with a front. Unfortunately, most cases seem to come from the exact same plastic mold.

As the leather top cover will slide off at the touch of a pinky, this is all the protection the top corners have: nothing really.
The second problem was with the so-called "genuine real leather". Or actually first, as it became very apparent the minute I opened the packet: there is just no way this outer shell is actually leather. It had such a strong chemical smell that I had to vent it on a large desk fan literally for days so as to not get a headache when it is closer than about two meters to me.

The feel and texture of the outer shell is also quite telling: too hard, no real flexibility, way too uniform look. It actually started developing creases in weeks of usage. Granted, I do keep the top flop bent under the phone quite a lot of time, (to see the notification light) but still: my god knows how old PU-leather case for the Galaxy S held itself much better.

Just some ugly creases and factory-made pores.

There is some good news tough: the inner brown part seems actually to be a much better quality of "leather". I'm not sure if it is artificial or genuine, but it is of a sufficient quality for me either way. I just wish they had made the whole case out of that. Just have a look at it:

There were no big problems with the flipcase mechanism itself. The magnet is weak, and I wish both sides were magnetized, not just the flip itself, and due to the lack of strength, you can't really close it just by flipping the front of the case up.

A problem that I didn't anticipate was that the charging / data port is blocked by the construction. It wouldn't really be that difficult to have a cutout in the right place now, would it? I also wish the plastic would actually come up the sides of the phone and encompass it, like it does in many other cases. Simply for added protection, as I've been known to drop my phones.

While the inner leather and the plastic seem to be of good quality, the lining up of the leather and plastic parts of the case is not really perfect. This is very apparent with the bottom speaker grill on the behind of the phone, especially if you - like me - have bought the white version of the case. As you can see, there is a "huge" discrepancy: the leather is cut about 1mm wider than the plastic behind it. The camera cutout is better, but not perfect either.

You can actually keep it like this and the magnet won't engage.

As for the color white, it was my choice. It does show grime quite well unfortunately, but as I've said so, I can only blame myself for it.

So was it worth the price ? It really depends. I haven't found any leather case that called out to me since, so as a temporary measure, yes. Let's not forget that the Nexus 4 did cost quite a lot (265 GBP) and compared to that, the paltry sum of 5 ponds plus shipping for a partial protection is really not that bad.

Update (2013.09.17)
There is one big problem with the case: if it is open (say you put it just above your sink as I did) and falls, the phone gets ejected from it, as the flimsy top center tab doesn't do much to hold the Nexus 4 to the case itself. Plus the internal lining seems to have developed a problem, mainly that on the top right side, there is a buildup of some sort (most likely uneven glue) under the leatherette, and as it is grinded constantly against the phone, it is very visible.

All in all I'll be looking out for a better case, as these are deal breakers for me. 

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