Vaja Samsung Galaxy S3 Cases Review

To case, or not to case, that is the question. I have fallen on both sides of this question, but before I even had my Samsung Galaxy S3, I was looking for a case. Specifically  I was looking at Vaja. At the time, they only showed the Grip, but I was still excited. The first Vaja case I ever owned was for the Palm V. I read the review here, and went and ordered it. It was far and away my favorite case. And for the record, I got it with the embossed graffiti chart. I bought another Vaja when I moved to the Sony Clie (can’t remember if it was 7xx or 6xx) and liked it as well. When I moved to the Sony TH55, I didn’t care for some of the design decisions, so I went with another case. I always regretted that decision. Since then, almost as punishment, Vaja has not made a case for my phone of choice. Before I even ordered my SGS3, I checked the Vaja site and was excited to see that they had a case for the SGS3.

I asked Julie if we ever got Vaja cases to review anymore, and when she checked with them, they agreed to send one for review. Well, actually, they wanted to send all 3 models available at the time. How I suffer for your reading pleasure. So, would these be as good as I remember, or would I be brought down to earth? Let’s find out.

The Arrival

I was very exited to see a box on my doorstep. Inside there were three separate boxes. Inside the boxes,  I had one of each model case. I tried to pick different leathers and colors for variety. I was amused at what constituted variety for me. I ordered from left to right, the Agenda in Floater Black with Caterina Rosso interior; the Leger Pouch in Caterina Blue Night exterior and Friar Brown Interior; and the Grip in Floater Dark Blue with Caterina Birch interior. The first impressions were very positive. There is something nice about quality leather cases. The nice thing about the selection is we get an opportunity to look at the simple pouch, a back only case and a full case. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

Leger Pouch

Well, actually it is Lèger Pouch, but I just don’t feel like inserting the grave mark on each e. It is a basic pouch. It was the only one of the three cases that came in a Caterina exterior, so I chose that style. It is a very soft, smooth leather. The phone is held in place by a simple elastic strap colored the same as the internal leather. There is a little leather tab on top and a metal logo in the middle front of the strap. On the back, they have a small metal grill for the speaker to make sure your phone ring or alert is not muffled. This is a very well built pouch, and the leather quality is noticeable. It also provides excellent protection. It is not the style I care for though, so I gave it to my wife for her Galaxy Nexus. Obviously the speaker grill is not where the Nexus’ speaker is, but she likes the case. The one thing we have noticed is that the leather initially leaves a residue  on the screen. You can see the Vaja logo on the screen before you wipe it off. It’s very minor, and does not concern me (it happens with the Agenda as well).

The Grip

The grip is a clip-on back cover for the SGS3. The leather is around a core of ABS plastic. It goes on easily, stays on firmly, and is easy to remove. There is a cut out on the back for the flash, camera and speaker. The slight added thickness to the back helps keep the lens off the table. There is a nice tasteful logo on the left, and the feel is great. The leather for this and the Agenda is called Floater. It has a larger pebble texture than the Caterina. From the front, you can see that not much is added to the width. The phone is firmly in the Grip, and I had no concern for it falling out. This is a far cry from my first case for my PalmPilot Personal, The Wrap, that was attached via Velcro to the back of my PalmPilot. The cut-out on the right provides easy access to the power button. On the other side is the volume cut-out.

The build quality is apparent around both of these openings. I like the Grip. It is well-named, as it provides a nice grip to the SGS3. It does not add much thickness to a ridiculously thin phone, and allows you to see the notification light. It does not provide any cover or protection to the front, however.

Agenda

Truth be told, this was the case I wanted. So I looked at it last. It is essentially the Grip with a cover. The cover has a nice little logo on the front. The back has the same cut-out for flash, camera, and speaker, and a tab wraps around and connects magnetically to hold the case closed. Just like the grip, the opening for the USB connector has a metal clip with logo. The power button has the same cut-out, you can see a little flash of the red lining. On the Agenda, most of the left edge is open when the cover is folded back. The Volume is accessible here. I really like this case. It is easy to insert and remove the from the case. With the cover secured by the magnetic flap, the only opening left is the USB connector at the bottom. With the case closed, the width is not much different than the Grip. The thickness of the cover is about the same as the edge on the sides of the phone. The SGS3 starts out so thin, I honestly have not for a moment thought of my phone as thick with this case on. The feel and quality of the leather is great. And the workmanship leaves nothing to be desired. The only minor negatives for me are that the cover blocks the LED notification, and the slight residue it initially leaves behind on the screen. It is not a big deal, a quick wipe removes it, and as time goes on I am noticing it leaving less and less behind.

Other Models

Since they sent me these three cases, they have added two new models. Fortunately for you, they are just variations on the Agenda Case. The Top LP adds a second front color, and $20 to the cost, while the Matelasse adds a quilted cover for $55 more than the Agenda and comes in Caterina finish rather than Floater.

Conclusions

These cases easily met and exceeded my expectations. I like the range of options, but as I mentioned, the Agenda is the one for me. I realize not everyone is a fan of cases, but I love the feeling of security the Agenda gives me, and the phone still easily fits in my shirt pocket, or front pocket. If you are looking to splurge a little on a wonderful case, you can’t go wrong with these options.

You can order from a number of options online, customizing your color selections. I miss the options like embossing your name, or a belt clip, but not sure I would like a belt clip for this phone.  Keep in mind that they are built to order, therefore it may take a little while for your new case to arrive. When I ordered them initiallythey wer quoting 20 days. As of today they are quoting 30, so it appears they do update the expected time based on workload. Obviously, I think they are worth the wait.

In fact, I liked my case so much I needed to go the extra mile and make a wallpaper for my phone to have Vaja inside as well as out. So here it is, a custom red wallpaper for your SGS3.

 

Product Information

Price:$70, $90, $96 for Pouch, Grip, and Agenda
Manufacturer:Vaja
Pros:
  • Quality Leather Case
  • Excellent Fit
  • Many Options
Cons:
  • Notification LED blocked on Agenda and Pouch
  • May have to wait for shipment
Posted in: Android related, Cases, Covers, Reviews

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Kismet October 2, 2012, 1:12 pm

    If only I could justify 70+ dollars for a case to the wife. Very drool worthy. Do you have a shot of the phone w/wallpaper in the case?

  • OEB October 3, 2012, 9:34 am

    I have been using Vaja cases since they first came out for the iPhone. Honestly, it is a great case, very durable, very well fitting (at least all the way up to iPhone 3gs; iPhone 4 had a design flaw where the cover did not protect the top corners). Sure it is expensive, but it is quality. Putting this case on an iPad makes your iPad poofy. A custom designed case can take a looong time (months; in my case promises were not met). Initially the case hugs your item very tightly, but time and use makes removing/replacing your item by sliding it into the case a breeze (regarding the iPhone, not iPad). In fact, that is one of the best features of this case if you have a dedicated car cradle for navigation that fits your phone and not your case.

    But there is a single reason why I personally will never buy their cases again: atrocious customer service. I got so frustrated with them on numerous occasions that I had enough.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers!

  • Kismet October 3, 2012, 9:38 am

    Thanks OEB – that has definitely curbed my gadget lust.

  • Grayson October 3, 2012, 12:08 pm

    I currently have a spigen case and like to hold the phone with the front cover folded back. When the front cover on the Agenda is folded back is the phone still comfortable to hold or is the tab on the front cover in the way?

  • Bryan Sherman October 3, 2012, 12:41 pm

    @Grayson The phone is very comfortable. If you look at the power button picture you can see the cover folded back from the side. Since the tab is on the cover, when it is folded back it is not in the way. I do notice that I have straddle the tab with my index and middle finger. Never even noticed I did that. When I try holding it with my right hand, it still does not seem to get in the was for me.

    @OEB sorry to hear about your experience. The only time I had to engage there customer service was pre TH-55 (so a LONG time ago) and had no complaints about the experience. Obviously since they knew they were sending me these samples for review, I can’t judge their overall service on that, but I received the cases very quickly, and they answered the questions I had promptly.

  • Grayson October 3, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Thank you Bryan for such a quick reply and addressing my concern. I will be placing an order with Vaja today.

  • John October 16, 2012, 10:47 am

    Like another commenter, I am a long time and devoted user of Vaja cases my iPhones. Their customer service does leave something to be desired but I think they’ve improved in the last couple years. And I don’t really have to deal with them very often so it’s not a deal breaker for me. The cases are expensive when compared with most but given the price of the device it protects, I consider it a good investment. Plus I just love the quality and feel of the leathers they use. I’ve tried and really don’t like silicon skins, bumpers, etc. Vaja cases also pack a good “Wow” factor which is kinda fun and don’t add a lot of weight or bulk to the device which is important to me. Expensive, yes, but if your device is a constant companion worthy of protection, well worth it.

  • Jeremy May 6, 2013, 2:59 pm

    I’ve only had one (two, counting the replacement) Vaja case. When I first bought an iPhone 3G, I saw their iVolution Top LE, a case similar to the Agenda only in flip form, and had to have it. I perused reviews of Vaja cases in general and saw nothing but praise. It was the same color scheme as the reviewed Agenda above and was just a “beautiful case”. I waited an entire month for delivery, but it was well worth the wait. The leather was exquisite in both smell and feel and wore nicely as fine leather should. Before a year was up, though, the non-magnetic plastic closure tab began to poke through the leather and scratch the bezel. Customer service had me mail it back to a Miami PO box which seemed to be a residence because it took days and days for a successful delivery once the package was in Miami.

    I was immediately sent a replacement as the problem was considered a defect. I noticed upon receiving the case that it did not have the same rich leather smell, and it seemed to also have a glossier look and feel. After about a week, the black exterior leather began to gray and look worn. The condition became worse, and the case began to wear like cheap or fake leather does with that grayish mold-looking discoloration. It was hideous-looking, and I contacted customer service. To me, the case looked as if a lesser-quality leather was used. Upon receiving the case and looking at my detailed pictures, Vaja customer service accused me of abusing the case. Even though, the defective wear was even all over the case, they seemed to think I had dragged it over concrete. I kept my cool, but they strangely offered me a full refund and basically told me they would not send another case and to leave them alone. I was dumbfounded, but at least I got my money back.

    Well, now it’s about 4 years later, and I need a new case for a Samsung Galaxy S4. I found this review while looking up cases for the S4. I’m thinking of giving Vaja another go.

    Yes, that’s how much I liked the original Vaja case I had. Even after all of the above detailed headaches, I think the S4 Vaja Agenda should be a great case!

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