Grove iPhone 4 Bamboo Case Review


When you have a popular gadget review site like The Gadgeteer, every accessory maker under the sun wants to have us feature their products. That means we get a LOT of offers to review iPhone cases. I bet a day doesn’t go by when I don’t receive at least 1-2 case review offers. As a result, it doesn’t take long to get completely sick of writing case reviews… even for a new gadget like the iPhone 4. That’s why I don’t do many case reviews these days. If they aren’t unique, I’m bored silly. When the offer came in from Grove about their iPhone 4 case made of laser etched bamboo, I didn’t have to think twice about accepting it. Bamboo? Lasers? Now that’s unique.

I think the Grove case is the first bamboo case that I’ve reviewed. I like the fact that it’s made with a rapidly renewable material and is 100% designed and made in the USA.

The cases are available in plain, artists series or with your own artwork. I was sent one of the artists series cases.

The case is constructed of two halves, with a thin layer of soft ultrasuede that protects the back of the phone.

Like I mentioned before, these cases are made of bamboo. This is a material that feels as hard as wood, but is very light weight.

If you choose a plain case, it will have a nice looking natural grain. But if you choose an artists or custom artwork option, it will have a laser etched image on the back that is very cool looking like the Birdland design that was sent to me. The image is perfectly burned into the wood with a cool 3D effect.

The iPhone slides into the large section of the case and then the smaller section can fit into it like a puzzle piece. Both sides are held in place with friction and there is no worry that either side will slide off accidentally.

The two halves fit together perfectly. A Black metal bezel around the edges gives it a nice finished look.

There are cutouts for the camera and LED flash…

Mute and volume buttons…

Power and earphone / microphone…

Speakers and docking connector.

In hand, the case feels comfortable to hold as it adds minimal weight and size to the iPhone 4 and the edges are not rough or sharp.

I’ve been using the Grove case for a week or so and only have two small issues with it. One problem I noticed is that the cutout for the mute switch makes it slightly harder to activate the switch because it’s hard to get your finger in that slot due to the edges of the case. The other issue is that the case smells kinda … funky. I kept trying to figure out what the smelled reminded me of and I finally decided – woodburned gourds. 😉 You’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind, but I live with someone that grows gourds, harvests them, dries them and then wood burns designs on them. This is called Pyrography and is usually done on wood. But anyway, the Grove case has a similar smell. It’s not entirely unpleasant, but some people might not like it. I’m guessing that with time, the smell will go away.

As long as you don’t sniff it, the Grove bamboo case protects your iPhone 4 while looking good and feeling good in hand. It’s more expensive than a lot of case offerings, but the ability to have your own artwork etched into a cool looking case is worth the premium price.


Product Information

Price:$69.00 - $89.00
  • Customize with your own artwork
  • Play-through
  • Made in the USA
  • Funky odor
  • Expensive
Posted in: iOS, Reviews
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Bob Deloyd August 26, 2010, 2:52 pm

    This is probably one of the nicest cases I’ve seen. Plus the fact it’s made in the good old USA, cool!

  • davesalter84 August 27, 2010, 8:07 pm

    you know they say they are made in oregon. well the engraving might be done in oregon but the cases are not. they are a product of a chinese manufacturer who sells them for $8-9 a piece!
    what a great deal grove!

  • Sven Palmowski August 31, 2010, 2:10 am

    davesalter84: “…products are 100% designed and made in Portland, Oregon USA. We utilize sustainable materials, natural finishes, and responsible packaging…”

  • davesalter84 September 30, 2010, 2:35 am

    Sven Palmowski: its called a lie. they are telling a lie about the products they are selling and im looking at a website right now where i can buy the exact same case with some of the exact same laser engravings for less that $5 USD…

  • davesalter84 September 30, 2010, 2:36 am

    http: // ohmr2

  • Yuji October 11, 2010, 3:01 pm


    Thanks for those links.
    Those are chinese companies ripping us off blatantly and we’ve seen this happen many times. It’s only the beginning. They often forget to remove the grove logo…

    We’re a straight up company that is honest about every aspect of our product. Soon we need to publish a video of the milling / production / lasering for all to see.

    PS: My very own mother probably hand finished that case in the review : )


  • Jared Hanscom October 13, 2010, 11:50 am

    No worries. There is nothing we can do about chinease copies. It’s actually a compliment that your product is worth copying; it means there is a market for your expansion. Be the first to the market, with consistent good design, build a following, and enjoy your success.

  • charlesq December 4, 2010, 7:18 pm

    i’m waiting to hear about a drop in reception…

  • Saron April 6, 2011, 12:53 pm

    I just wanted to comment… I was at one of grove’s open house’s here in Portland and you can see the whole process from start to finish. It was pretty awesome. They are definately made in Oregon start to finish. 🙂

  • Nate April 13, 2011, 12:41 am

    Has anyone tried this case with a screen protector? I’m particularly interested to hear if this will work with an Invisibleshield (front or front/back).

  • Kristen May 21, 2011, 7:33 pm

    I bought one of these cases about a month ago. It is absolutely beautiful and people ask me everyday where I got it. The smell was pretty funky but it has worn off. I kinda miss it!

    The only bummer is that I dropped it on my kitchen floor and the bamboo cracked. It did however protect my iphone. I went to the website to see if this was considered normal wear and tear. They do state that this could happen and they are willing to replace it for 50% off. I guess that’s pretty fair, but I just paid $100 a month ago. So I don’t think that’ll be worth the $50 with the risk of it happening again.

    So I guess I’ll just try Crazy Glue.

  • Yasser November 2, 2011, 2:19 am

    I’m sold!!!! I’ll try to get an approval from K-state to get the powercat logo engraved on both ipad2 and iphone4 covers!

  • Andrea M. December 4, 2011, 1:22 am

    This is a very nice case! But you should really make it for all the iPhones because sadly I don’t have the iPhone 4s I have the 3GS and I can only find plain cases and I want one with a cool design like this one!

  • Richard Jordan May 22, 2012, 10:20 am

    I have to admit that these are definitely the coolest cases out there and trust me, you will get lots of compliments on them. However, the big downside to them is that they are not very sturdy and if they ever get wet, then you might as well kiss them goodbye. I’ve had two of them and neither of them lasted a year. It is sad when you pay three times more for a case and it doesn’t hold up. I guess being cool cost!!! I’m choosing not to be that cool any longer and have gone back to a more conventional case that will last the life and use of my iPhone.

    One other note, the two cases I had would reflect the light of the flash back into the lens, therefor causing any picture taken with a flash to be all washed out. I would have to take it out of the case in order to take a picture using the flash.

  • Doug S. March 11, 2013, 5:45 pm

    I had a grove case that broke, and I glued it twice. My friend showed me his case from It is bamboo and paper and has amazing detail on the etching. I bought one and it is amazing! It fits tightly and has almost no seam and I dont have to take it off to take pictures. I love it.

  • Yahooforponies February 26, 2014, 10:10 pm

    Great review. Love my case!!! Glad I’m not making up the smell. I think it smells like beef jerky 🙂

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