Piel Frama iPhone 4 case choice widens

Posted on by Mike Evans

Since I bought my first iPhone I've been using leather cases from Piel Frama in Spain. The quality is excellent and the attention to detail is without equal. For my 3G and 3GS phones I chose the Classic case with magnetic closure and have been completely happy. Although leather case such as this does add to the bulk of the phone, there's a great deal of peace of mind in knowing that the device is so well protected. The Classic design has been reworked for the iPhone 4 (picture above, courtesy of Piel Frama) and it lookss stunning. Note that, as with the 3G models, the new Classic retains the leather "frame" around the screen. At the bottom, on either side of the main control button, are the two magnetic connectors which secure the flap. An alternative version is available with a snap closure but I would recommend the above magnetic case after extensive experience.

New to the range is is the iMagnum case (shown above--note the vulnerable top right-hand corner) which features an internal "thermoplastic polymer" skeleton for greater rigidity. It makes use of the aluminium antenna band to secure the phone in a groove. As you can see, the big advantage of this design is that the screen is left completely uncovered and the overall appearance is better, in my opinion. The rigid cover fits securely and gives the case a solid, curvaceous appearance. Closure is magnetic, but via a flap which secures to the back of the case and works well, except that this flap covers the connector port and means the case has to be left unsecured when charging. Its a minor point, though, and no great inconvenience in use.

All in all, I much prefer the iMagnum to the Classic, but with one important caveat as I have found to my cost. I dropped the phone several days after receiving my tan iMagnum and was disappointed to find the antenna band had been disfigured by a small nick on the top left-hand corner. Although this corner (unlike the right-hand) is reasonably well protected, it's clear that there is a vulnerability there. The right-hand top corner of the phone is even more exposed because of the need to leave space for the camera lens and flash. It is difficult to see how Piel Frama could have done more to ensure protection, but this is a definite vulnerability which should be taken into account when deciding which case to buy. In the past I have dropped my 3GS phone (in the Classic case) several times onto hard surfaces and there has been absolutely no damage. 

I contacted Piel Frama about the problem I'd encountered. Their export manager, Angélica Menacho, replied: "We know about the vulnerability of the device in the camera corner but we cannot make any changes to this design as it would not allow the user to take pictures of quality as the camera would be covered someway by the surrounding areas of the cutout."

While I do like the iMagnum, I am left wishing I'd gone for the Classic, simply because of the better protection. It's worth emphasising that the damage I experienced was to the other corner, not the exposed camera corner. This corner has some protection, but obviously not enough as I have discovered.

The new iMagnum case costs 80 euros while the original Classic is slightly cheaper at 70 euros. Shipping is included in these prices to most countries (including the whole of Europe and mainland USA). Service is also good. Although I had to wait a few weeks for the iMagnum, this was because of a delay in introduction following the arrival of the iPhone 4. Generally, cases are despatched immediately and arrive within a couple of days. Piel Frama staff are helpful and seem to take a personal interest in individual orders and customers. 

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