As always, I’m happy to try out new cases for my electronics, especially when they are as well made and beautiful as Oberon Design products are. When Oberon offered The Gadgeteer a chance to review their new leather iPhone cases, I asked Julie if I could try them out. I was thrilled when I received two new cases to try out with my iPhone 5. These cases, of course, will also fit the iPhone 5s. Oberon also offers these cases to fit the iPhone 4/4s, and they say cases for the Samsung S4 and S5 will soon be available.
The cases are available in cropped versions of several of their most popular debossed designs, which are bench-crafted from premium domestic cowhide. Each design is available in a couple of color choices that best complement that design. The leather pieces are adhered to a flexible rubber case that covers the back and sides of the iPhone.
You can see from the top photo, I received the Hummingbird design in red and the Paisley design in teal. Both cases are beautiful, but I decided I’d take a break from red for a change and used the teal case on my phone.
The outside of the case is not branded. The inside back of the case is stamped with the Oberon Design name.
The case for the iPhone 5/5s is 4.8″ X 2.3″ X 0.35″ and weighs 0.85 ounce.
Because the rubber case is so flexible, it was very easy to insert the phone into the case. I’ve been carrying my phone in a mophie juice pack case lately, and my iPhone 5 felt tiny and light as a feather in the Oberon Design case.
You can see that the sides of the cases have been wrapped in matching leather strips. The combination of the shiny lines of black rubber with the luxurious leather looks very sophisticated. The side covering the iPhone’s SIM drawer is solid; you’ll have to remove the case to access the SIM. The opposite side has a cutout for the mute switch, and it is easily used. The volume buttons are covered by the rubber case, and they are my only complaint about the cases. With both the Paisley and the Hummingbird cases, I found the volume button covers to be very stiff and difficult to press. I had to use my fingertip and press hard to adjust the volume, but it could be adjusted.
You can also see the cutout for the back camera in this image. Although the black surround is shiny, it doesn’t cause flash flare when using the camera.
The power button is also covered by the rubber case, but it is much easier to use than the volume buttons are. The bottom of the case completely covers the bottom of the phone. There are grids covering the bottom speaker and microphone, and I don’t notice that they have a negative impact on sound or phone calls at all. The opening for the Lightning connector is just wide enough to allow you to use the Apple Lightning charging cable that comes with the iPhone. You won’t be able to use Apple’s Lightning adapter without removing the case. Other charging cables might present a problem, too.
I did not notice any signal strength loss with these cases.
Just as with many other phone cases, the opening for the headphone jack is too small to accommodate all headphone plugs. It’s also too small to work with the headphone jack extender that came with my mophie juice pack. Oberon Design recommends the ProCable Shortz 3.5mm Audio Extender from RadTech. It’s available in two versions: 3-pin or 4-pin (for headphones with an inline remote and microphone). The RadTech adapter is $8.00 for either version. Of course, you won’t need to worry if you typically use Bluetooth headphones.
Here’s my iPhone 5 in the Paisley case. The rubber wraps around slightly onto the front to keep the case securely in place and to keep the screen slightly lifted off the tabletop if you lay your phone face down.
I try to do a thorough review, but one thing I won’t do (since I buy my own phones) is do a drop test. Oberon Design has done a drop test for us. They drop an iPhone in one of these leather cases onto the pavement in a parking lot from waist height – twice. The iPhone’s screen was unbroken and still displaying content at the end of the second drop. You can watch the video yourself here.
I find the Oberon Design Leather iPhone 5/5s cases as beautiful as every other product I’ve owned from Oberon. They look extremely well made, and the flexible rubber case protects the phone from drops, as seen in the video. At only $37, it’s one of the cheaper cases on the market, and it’s certainly one of the most attractive I’ve seen. I don’t think you can go wrong with this gorgeous iPhone case.