Apple made much about eliminating leather in its products in favor of a new FineWoven fabric for iPhone cases and Apple Watch bands. Initial reports from The Verge and 9to5Mac have been highly critical, but leave it to iFixit to take a closer look—much closer, thanks to a fancy digital microscope. In iFixit’s teardown of Apple’s FineWoven iPhone case, Arthur Shi writes:
The FineWoven fabric looks great—as long as you don’t touch it. But, what if you do? What if you scratched the fabric with a key or fingernail? Because the weave is so tight, the FineWoven fabric should be pretty durable and tear-resistant. However, since its threads are so fine, it’s also very easy to mar the pristine weave. When we scratched the surface, the jostled threads didn’t actually break, nor was the dye damaged. Rather, the scratch-jostled fibers reflect light irregularly compared to the untouched bunches, creating a lasting visual mark. The thread itself is relatively soft, so most pocket items will leave an impression.
It’s too bad FineWoven is vulnerable to marring and stains from liquids containing oil and vinegar. I’ll be curious to hear how FineWoven holds up in real-world usage for more people. For my iPhone 15 Pro, I’m currently sticking with an iPhone 14 Pro Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 case that has met my needs perfectly (see “Three Wallet Cases: Bellroy, Encased, and Smartish,” 26 September 2022); for my Apple Watch Series 9, I’m using the standard nylon Sport Loop band. Regardless, I’m a sucker for macro photography, and iFixit’s article has lovely photos of the FineWoven fabric at magnifications up to 700x. Even better, you can download the images for use as wallpaper.