I've probably seen every iPhone case in the world at one point or another. For every ten or twenty low-cost plastic cases I see, I might see a single luxury case. These cases are different from the rest, often showing better workmanship, materials like wood, leather, and steel, and a higher price tag. A new entry into the crowded iPhone case market is a company named Truffol, and it appears that they're off to a good start by offering luxury cases that won't empty your wallet. The cases won't be available until July, but I'm going to try to stir up your interest by reviewing the Truffol Signature line of cases. There's the Minimalist (US$60), a beautiful stainless steel "bumper" for your iPhone 5, and the Classic ($75, seen above), which adds Italian leather for good looks and additional protection.
Let's start with a look at the Minimalist. It truly is a minimalist case, adding only a thin stainless steel frame around the iPhone 5. It adds just .9 mm (.03 inch) to the thickness of an iPhone 5, yet protects the sides from accidental scratches or nicks.
The Classic adds a leather backing to the design of the Minimalist. For those who want a bit more protection and a whole lot more Italian leather, the Classic is perfect. Both the Minimalist and Classic cases come in silver and navy, with different colored leather backing (red and navy).
Truffol notes that their manufacturing process runs the CNC-cut stainless steel through a nylon brushing process that produces a smooth and beautiful surface. Each one of the cases arrives in a pair of boxes that is worthy of an expensive watch -- one half contains the stainless steel frame and a separate mute button, while the other contains a slender steel bezel and screen protector (Minimalist) or the leather backing (Classic).
One thing I always tend to get irritated about with luxury cases is the need to the manufacturers to ship tools for installation. Sure, it adds a bit of prestige to a product to add a tiny tool set that you use to lock the iPhone into a case, but it also adds unnecessary cost and (in many cases) frustration. Fortunately, neither of the Truffol Signature cases require tools for installation.
In fact, of all of the luxury cases that I've reviewed, the Signature cases are about the easiest to install an iPhone 5 into. Opening one of the boxes, you remove the small mute button "cover" and place it into the corresponding hole on the iPhone 5. Then you just take the iPhone, align the mute button on it with the mute button cover on the frame, and drop it in. Next, you open up the other box where the back of the case is located. It has six small metal "fingers" on it -- you drop the back onto the back of your iPhone, then push it down towards the bottom of the iPhone to lock it into place. Now your iPhone is securely locked in the case.
It was a pleasure to not have to insert tiny screws or press down on levers that felt like they were going to crack open the iPhone. A big thumbs-up to Truffol for thinking through the installation process.
As for the cases, I like the look of the stainless steel. It adds protection all around the sides of the iPhone, and the workmanship is flawless. The leather back on the Classic is also well done, and incredibly thin. Fans of "naked" iPhones will love the Classic, as it adds protection without adding any bulk at all.
Truffol's entry into the luxury iPhone case market may have a positive effect for iPhone owners. Not only is the company producing high-quality cases, but it is also entering the market at a price point that may force down luxury case prices across the board.
Between now and July 10, 2013, Truffol is giving away five Signature cases as part of a pre-launch celebration. You can enter by simply submitting your email address on the Truffol website. TUAW will also be giving away a both a Minimalist and a Classic Signature case later this summer.
Very thin and lightweight, while offering good side protection to the iPhone 5
Low price point for a luxury offering
Easy to install or remove without tools
Both Minimalist and Classic designs include a clear screen protector
Who is it for?
The iPhone 5 owner who wants classy protection but doesn't want to pay the exorbitant amounts charged by others in the luxury case market