Not-So-FineWoven iPhone Case 'Browning Like a Rotten Banana'

Apple's $59 FineWoven cases for iPhone 15 took heavy flak when they were released last September for being subpar compared to the leather Apple cases they replaced. Now, The Wall Street Journal columnist Joanna Stern has distilled customers' ire by sharing her own experience with the case after five months of use.

finewoven case stern

Image credit: Joanna Stern

From Stern's newsletter:

There it is, everyone. My iPhone 15 Pro Max's FineWoven case after five months of use. The edges are peeling, the fabric is scratched up like an old CD and it's browning like a rotten banana. I've been waiting for the CDC to show up at my house to declare it a biomedical concern.
Some of you will say: "JOANNA! How gross are you?" Others—those who bought this case for $59 when it came out in September—will likely say: "Yep. Same issues here."

[...]

Early on, tech news sites like The Verge complained about scratches in the fabric. At online retailers, the people who gave the case one or two stars all point out the same issues—peeling edges, scratches, proclivity to get dirty. On Best Buy, many say they'll never buy an Apple case again and that it’s the worst product Apple's ever made. Same on Amazon.

An Apple spokesman said that the company's cases are engineered at the highest standard to protect iPhones and that the FineWoven case's durable microtwill will protect an iPhone for years.

An Apple support document offers advice about cleaning its FineWoven cases, but the section's small print admits that "The material may look different and show wear over time as the fibers get compressed with normal use" and that "some scratches may diminish over time."

Responding to Stern's five-month review, Daring Fireball's John Gruber created identical polls across multiple social media platforms asking FineWoven case owners for their opinion, and respondents appear to have overwhelmingly voted in agreement that "It's a piece of junk."


Despite the continued bad publicity almost six months on from the cases' debut, Apple still appears unwilling to admit that its leather alternative material is a letdown. But in the court of public opinion, all the evidence suggests this is an open and shut case: FineWoven is just bad.

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Top Rated Comments

k1121j Avatar
20 weeks ago
It’s bio degrading. That’s by design. Apple Translation: That means you’re using it wrong. Bring back leather cases non painted just good ole leather.

For 50 bucks you should expect more.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Account25476 Avatar
20 weeks ago
Making a $59 cover as bad as this one wasn't easy, but they did it.

:apple: Think different?
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rgwebb Avatar
20 weeks ago
Bring back the leather
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Remy149 Avatar
20 weeks ago
There are two of us using these cases in my house and they still look almost new.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MrWeenus Avatar
20 weeks ago
I'm going to get a lot of hate for this, but I actually like these cases very much. Sure, I don't use my phone as a fetch toy for dogs or anything like that, so I did not have any problems with it.

Bought one around November and it's still looking as it was when I purchased it. The only difference is that it has skin oils embedded in it - but that's a normal thing and can be washed off easily with a bristle toothbrush.

Not sure what people are doing with their phones that it gets so bad...
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
swingerofbirch Avatar
20 weeks ago
You'd have to be an unsophisticated rube to not appreciate that fine patina.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)