Portland-based company Grovemade is known for its range of attractive wood accessories designed for the iPad and the iPhone, which it has been producing for several years now. Grovemade recently invited MacRumors to go hands-on with two of its newest products for the iPhone 6 Plus, and we jumped at the chance because Grovemade products have been popular with our readers in the past.
All of Grovemade's products are crafted by hand and the company's attention to detail is evident in both the dock and the Maple & Leather iPhone Case. The base of the iPhone case is made of maple (there's also an option for a darker walnut) that's been carved to fit the iPhone 6 Plus.
The phone fits tightly into the maple shell, which has a cutouts for the camera, the mute switch, the headphone port, the speakers, and the Lightning port. There are darker wooden buttons for the volume and the power, which are lined with foam on the inside to activate the volume and power on the iPhone.
At the points where different wood pieces have been joined to create the case, there's darker wood burned accents, which is aesthetically pleasing, and there's also some wood burning around each of the ports, for a darker look. A piece of leather wraps around the backside of the shell and covers the front of the phone, and the leather front cover is attached to another thin piece of maple that protects the iPhone's display.
On the maple attached to the cover, there are three pieces of metal, which adhere to three magnets built into the wooden shell. Inside the case, there are two additional magnets that pop away to allow the leather cover pull back to serve as a stand for the iPhone when in landscape mode. There are three separate stand positions that give slightly different viewing angles, and because of the cover, the phone also stands up by itself in portrait mode.
All of the wood used in the case has been polished smooth, and the leather, which is available in a reddish brown for the maple case and a black for the walnut case, matches well with the wood. As with any leather case, it will become worn in over time for a more natural look. One minor aesthetic detail should be noted -- there's a visible line in the leather on the back of the case because of the inner cutout for the stand.
Because the iPhone is fully enclosed in Grovemade's Maple & Leather iPhone Case, both the display and the rear of the phone are protected from scratches, dings, and damage. This isn't a case that's meant to stand up to a lot of wear and tear like something from Otterbox, but it seems reasonably protective.
A few drop tests from a moderate height of four feet onto concrete and wood damaged neither the case nor the phone. Since this case is made of wood, it's important to keep in mind that it's breakable. If it was dropped at the wrong angle or from a high enough point, it's possible the wood could splinter or crack (Grovemade offers a Case Replacement Program for this reason). You'll also need to treat the leather exterior with a reasonable amount of caution, as you would any product made of leather.
We saw no damage to the case after approximately a month of daily use, but the cover did become a bit more worn in and relaxed as would be expected with leather.
Portability wise, this is not a thin case. It is bulky and adds a lot of extra thickness to the iPhone, negating the super thin design of Apple's newest devices. On an iPhone 6 Plus, it's probably not going to fit comfortably in the pocket of a pair of pants, and it might even be a tight fit in a jacket. The case is light, though, so there's not much extra weight to deal with.
With the thick wood of the case, there's some restriction to the headphones and charging accessories that can be used. The standard Apple Lightning cable works for charging, and the Apple EarPods work, but other headphones may not fit. The hole is decently sized, though, and it does work with Apple's Beats branded headphones.
Maple iPhone Dock
Like the leather and wood iPhone cases, Grovemade's iPhone dock comes in two woods: walnut and maple. The walnut is a darker wood and the maple is a lighter wood, and both stands match the Grovemade iPhone cases. The matching look is nice, but unfortunately, the stand and the Leather iPhone Case are not designed to work together. The thick wood underneath the case means it doesn't fit securely in the dock.
Though the Maple iPhone Dock doesn't work with Grovemade's own Leather iPhone Case, the website says that it works with most other cases. We found this to be true after testing a variety of cases in different thicknesses, including cases from Apple.
The stand consists of three pieces: a steel base, a maple cover, and a plastic insert to hold a Lightning cable in place. It does not ship with a Lightning cable -- you will need to supply your own.
Weighing in at three pounds, the steel base of the dock feels solid and it's not going anywhere on a desk or table. Because of the weight, there's no shifting of the dock when you plug in or remove your iPhone, so it can be done one-handed. Underneath the base, there's a slot for the iPhone cable, and an opening where you pull the cable through.
The cable is secured by a key-shaped black plastic cable holder that is the least impressive part of this dock setup. There are actually two of these cable holders included in the package, which is good, because we broke one of them a week into testing after trying to readjust the cable. The idea is to draw the cable up through the dock and secure it with the cable holder, placing the maple cover over the base so just the Lightning adapter is visible.
Getting the Lightning cable into the dock is a difficult task because the fit is so tight, and the purely visual instructions are a bit lacking. The whole cable holder is an inelegant solution because each time the phone is placed on the dock, it pushes the Lightning cable down further and eventually you will need to readjust because the phone no longer fits.
With the maple cover on (held in place by a built-in magnet), the cable holder and the top part of the steel base are successfully concealed. Fully assembled, the dock's design is clean and it fits into many different decors thanks to its neutral colors. Grovemade even makes a whole range of desk accessories to match the dock and the iPhone case, in maple and walnut. There's a keyboard stand, a monitor stand, a mouse pad, a pen cup, a paper clip holder, and two plant holders.
Who Are They For?
These are attractive, high-quality accessories, designed for those who appreciate the careful work that goes into making them and those who don't mind paying for that work. All of Grovemade's products are made by hand, and if you're someone who enjoys well-crafted handmade accessories, the Maple & Leather iPhone Case and the Maple iPhone Dock won't disappoint.
If you're looking for an iPhone case that's compact and doesn't add a lot of bulk, the Maple & Leather iPhone case isn't for you, but if you don't mind sacrificing form for function, the case does offer a lot of protection because it covers both the back and the display. Its wood and leather look is also undeniably attractive, even to those who don't necessarily appreciate that design aesthetic.
As for the dock, it's like any other iPhone dock, so what you're buying here is the design. It's just a piece of wood and steel that holds your iPhone in place on your desk or nightstand, but it looks pretty good doing it. Don't buy the dock if you want it to work with Grovemade's leather iPhone case -- they're not compatible.
While we think the Maple & Leather iPhone offers a build quality and a feature set that makes it worth the price tag, we were less convinced with the dock. It looks nice, but it's a lot to pay for something that's sole claim to fame is its look.
Handmade by a small company
Made of high-quality wood and leather
Case offers complete iPhone protection
Dock and case don't work together
Case is bulky
Dock is difficult to set up, Lightning cable shifts