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iFixit Puts Apple’s FineWoven Case Under the Microscope

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.

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Comments About iFixit Puts Apple’s FineWoven Case Under the Microscope

Notable Replies

  1. I knew I was going to look at the FineWoven case when I went to my local Apple Store to collect my 15 Pro Max earlier today. I wasn’t really expecting to actually buy but was curious. Figured I might end up going for Apple’s clear acrylic case again (same as I had on the 12 Pro I’ve just retired). Or maybe the similar Otterbox case, which they also had in store So it was a bit of a surprise when I ended up going home with the FineWoven case (or the Weavey case as a friend has dubbed it).

    If this was a leather case, I think plenty of people would say that a few scuffs and scratches would add character to it. (Okay, maybe not so much oil or vinegar stains…)

    Am I regretting having gone with the Weavey case yet? No so far - and I’ve been handling it off and on for six or seven hours now. I think I would definitely have preferred a similar leather case to the Apple one I had on, mmm, I think it must have been on my X, but this is okay so far.

  2. Smartish cases.

    Indestructible, reasonably elegant, still inexpensive (though not as much so as in the past couple of iterations) and super protective, even have a somewhat customizable version on Amazon.

  3. I ordered my 15 Pro so I wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. Also ordered both the “Weaver” case and the silicone one. I wanted a case that would offer the maximum resistance to slipping out of my shirt pocket when I lean down to pick up something on the floor. Ended up with the silicone. Read the iFixit article with interest, and my reaction is that the FineWoven case doesn’t suffer any more problems than a leather one would.

  4. I suppose Apple is switching from leather to this fine woven fabric for environmental reasons? If I understand correctly, the fabric is synthetic, meaning it will produce micro-plastic particles with wear. This makes me wonder if it is actually more environmentally friendly than leather? Perhaps the carbon footprint is lower, but what about other impacts on the environment?

  5. Savings could also be an important issue; leather tends to be a very lot more expensive than fabric. And the bad press about the fabric that Adam quoted is rapidly expanding.

  6. Sure sounds like there was another motivation. Microplastics is certainly an environmental issue, while throwing away the hides of cows slaughtered for meat doesn’t reduce meat consumption or GHG either.

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