Last spring, I took my iPhone 5s into the local Genius Bar due to a wonky power button. The shiny replacement I was given illustrated the abuse my old phone had taken in less than a year of usage, particularly on the aluminum sides, which had become speckled from wear. Generally, I am fairly easy on devices and have a track record going back to the original iPod to prove it. Any abuse has not typically come at my hands, but rather from my pocket. Keys, change, and whatever junk roaming in my pocket has a long history of scratching my precious devices dating back to my original iPod. The iPod, for those that don’t remember, had a mirror-like back that was also insanely easy to scratch. Mine was so bad, it once inspired a minor scolding by an Apple Store rep. So aside from the aforementioned power button, which Apple agreed wasn’t my doing, the only time an iDevice was functionally damaged on my watch was when I obliterated the headphone jack on an iPhone 3gs. To this day I am convinced that the injury was a direct result of the tapered 3gs’s uncanny ability to scoop in pocket grit and lint.
The most common solution is to get a protective case. I didn’t want this kind of full-time solution because I prefer the more premium feel of Apple’s products while handling them. I didn’t need or want the device to be shielded from me, just from my pocket. After the power button incident, I started looking for what I had termed an “iPhone wallet” as something I could easily slide my iPhone in and out of while also protecting it from any lurking pocket unpleasantries.
I didn’t expect to have any difficulty finding the object of my solution. Equipped with a vague memory of seeing iPhone wallets before, I first checked the Apple Store to no avail. Then I wandered the various boutiques known for carrying iPhone cases. Again, nothing. Even Amazon seemed to yield only full-time cases with the closest option being a type of bi-fold wallet similar to a leather bound address book. Had my memory failed me? Was I dreaming? Maybe my type of wallet no longer existed after being thoroughly trounced by demand for full time solutions. I had given up and resigned to the reality of another iPhone being mercilessly tortured by my unforgiving pocket junk.
Then I happened across an ad via The Deck picturing exactly what I had been seeking. For the first time in forever, I clicked on an ad. This took me to Joli Originals, who describes themselves as:
…a independent design studio from Amsterdam. We make Wallets, sleeves for iPad, iPhone, MacBook Air & MacBook Pro. All handmade by ourselves with premium Italian leather and the finest Dutch 100% wool felt.
An iPhone sleeve is what I should had been looking for this whole time. I did another Amazon search and sure enough, there was a cavalcade of sleeves to choose from.
Now I was left with a choice. The Joli Originals sleeve would run me about 70 bucks American to import while the other options from miscellaneous Amazon vendors were less than half that price. I ended up going with the more expensive option for two reasons: First, I have been burned by a cheap running band that seemed to attract more grit than even my pockets. Second and more importantly, I am a firm believer in investing reasonably more for things I can anticipate using regularly. I planned on using the sleeve daily for at least the next 16 months (I tend to upgrade my phone every other year) and Joli’s really seemed to involve much nicer materials than Apple’s own $50 case let alone the other sleeves on Amazon. I have been using my Joli Originals ever since.
After over 9 months daily use, here’s my thoughts. Anyone like me who prefers using their iPhone without any case but still wants protection from the scratching evils within pockets, bags, and purses should definitely consider a Joli Originals Sleeve.
The main reason to choose Joli Originals is their much touted materials. The now aged and worn Italian leather feels as premium as the iPhone sheathed within. I was initially concerned that my Joli Originals Sleeve was too tight, but the leather soon stretched and conform to best fit my needs. This combined with the 100% Dutch wool felt liner offers just the right amount resistance. Never do I struggle removing my iPhone nor has it ever accidentally slid out. The wool is also thick enough to offer significant padding in case of drops. Joli Originals does leave one edge unprotected for easy access, but I don’t consider this a negative. As a product targeted to those who prefer handling their devices bare, any protection is more than would have been otherwise. Finally, my experience so far reflects Joli claim that the whole thing is sewn together with “super strong” thread with nary a loose end in sight.
In addition to the materials, the service provided was also that of a premium experience. Shortly after ordering, I noticed an extra charge on my credit card. I reached out to Joli Originals with my concern and saw a personal email response from Harold within just a few hours. Regular and friendly correspondence ensued until the issue was resolved. (For the record, the issue turned out to be related to how Stripe processed my international order.)
Finally and perhaps most importantly, my Joli Originals Sleeve has excelled at its one job. My replacement has been successfully protected from merciless pocket junk and it shows. While there are still some minor scuffs, this iPhone looks pristine when compared to its predecessor.
Those wanting or needing to save money should have no problem finding a lower cost alternative. A more recent Amazon search for sleeves yielded better results than my original research 9 months ago, but still none of them look quite as quality as Joli Originals Sleeve. To that end, sleeves in general are a great way to protect devices from the grit and junk found in everyday pockets and bags, but those who can afford it, would do well to give Joli Originals a try.