I’m going to start this review with a disclaimer: For all intents and purposes, I do not like Folio Cases. I understand they have multiple uses and it’s more of a convenience to have everything in one place as well as somewhere safe to keep your phone in, but if I were backed into a corner and asked what my case of choice was, I’d usually go for a thin case that adds minimal bulk to the overall feel of the device, but also adding a bit of protection for the times you may have a ditzy moment.
Terrapin is a company that I hadn’t heard too much of when it came to case manufacturers. That may be my blissful ignorance to ‘lesser’ known brands, but the company never rang many bells to me when they came up in sparse conversations about them. I was both shocked and humbled to receive an email from Terrapin asking if I would like to review a selection of their cases for my newly purchased iPhone X, and I jumped at the opportunity to try out a phone case from a different manufacturer, because at the end of the day – companies like Terrapin have more to prove and more to lose if they release lacklustre products. Manufacturers like Spigen, Otterbox etc. can afford to take risks, and possible subsequent losses if they so, please. For little companies like Terrapin, it comes to a lot more than that. So I want to give them a chance and try out a couple of their cases.
What Is a Folio Case?
If you want a straight-to-the-point answer to this question, it would be this: Folio is the Latin word for folded, and that’s exactly how you would explain what these cases are in its core function. It’s a folding case, protecting both the front and back of your device when closed and with the added convenience of having a credit card storage compartment as well as a place to store your money (notes, specifically).
Most, if not all Folio cases are made from genuine leather, and that’s where the commonality ends. Where different manufacturers go their separate directions in this category is in its design. Terrapin makes a vast amount of designs for these types of cases. Some have a striped effect, adding a touch of class to your otherwise business phone case, or you could choose a standard black leather pick-me-up which is exactly the case Terrapin provided me with for the purpose of review.
Fit & Finish
Smell. A weird word to start a paragraph, I’m aware – but the smell is always key when a company tells you that a product is ‘genuine’ leather when they manufactured it. This goes for all cases. When I first unbox a case, I like to initially smell them to make sure whatever is said to be genuine is, in fact, as genuine as they are claiming.
Luckily for Terrapin, the first smell I got after unwrapping this fort Knox of phone protective goodness was genuine, unadulterated, fresh leather. See, with leather cases, it’s very easy to distinguish what is and isn’t leather. Explaining that, on the other hand, is not so easy. When you first take a fake leather (let’s call it pleather) case out of its packaging, you get a kind of synthetic smell that tries hard to be leather that you know straight away that is isn’t leather, to begin with. So, I suppose the difference is this: Genuine leather doesn’t try hard to be what it is, whereas pleather has to pretend to be something it isn’t and it shows.
Tangents aside, the case feels wonderful in the hand right from the time you take it out of its unassuming packaging – It feels safe. A sense of safeness where you don’t need to worry about smashing your brand new £1000 device if you drop it from an admirable height. As much as I am not on the list for the Folio founding fathers club, that sense of security is something I don’t have the opportunity to feel whenever I have a phone case on.
Opening the Folio case, there’s a lot to take in at initial glance. But worry not, it’s super simple to figure out what you need to do for which compartment. Concentrating on the left-hand side of the case, you will see the 4 compartments to hold your cards – be it your Starbucks Loyalty Card or your Credit Card with a depressingly high amount stored on it, everything of that size will fit in these areas with no problems at all. As this is leather, the first couple of insertions can feel a little tight to begin with, but as leather ages it will loosen and make the insertion process a lot less finicky over time.
Behind the aforementioned card inserts is a snug little place to keep all your cash. Unfortunately this doesn’t include coins. If I were to critique this, I would say that it is a little too tight to get your cash out when you’re in a rush. I have had multiple situations where I needed to rush to buy something with cash and I spent close to 10 seconds struggling to get the right amount of cash out, most of the time grabbing multiple amounts of notes when I needed a singular amount. But, to take my own piece of advice: Leather loosens over time and I’d expect this little pocket to do the same as the card inserts once did.
Moving onto the right-hand portion of the case; the ‘business end’, if you will – You will find the cutout for where your phone needs to be. This is where I was slightly shocked. I noticed that this insert is made out of a hard rubberized polycarbonate, much like their Hybrid Rubberised Hard Case. I fully expected the material to be leather, which is the common theme surrounding the case in the first place.
The cutouts for the lightning port, speakers etc. are precisely cut to the centimetre and they the inner casing itself is thin enough not to cause a major inconvenience finding the mute switch, or powering the device on. Fitting the phone inside of said casing is also a breeze. Much like many, if not all cases out there, you start by inserting the phone via the top end first and work your way down until the device is fully flush.
The camera cutout, as to be expected with the type of case this is, adds a bit of bulk around the back of the casing. Not too much to cause a major fuss, but still something worth noting.
One final thing to point out about this case is that it has a little clasp where the openings meet to secure the case shut so it’s not flailing everywhere, and it is magnetic. A very strong magnet at that, too. You don’t need to worry about taking your phone out of your pocket at the clasp undoing itself without human intervention.
This is where I become slightly sour on this case after using it for a good week or so. I’m going to play out a scenario:
Imagine that you come to sit down and you have a minute to browse your social media feeds to catch up on the news or the latest BuzzFeed-worthy Donald Trump tweets. You take your phone out of your pocket, open your brand new case and just use it, right? Well there’s something I noticed after a day or so of using this case that really started to irk me so much so that I no longer used the case anymore. It’s the fact that the case keeps the screen on constantly. The first time I noticed was when I was just about to start browing Reddit, and when I opened the case the screen was already on. Most Folio cases have the magnet switch the screen on after you’ve opened it. With the Terrapin, the material seems to think the leather is my finger, tapping the screen to turn it on. To me, this is unacceptable for a Folio case. I haven’t used many of these types of cases in my lifetime, but the ones I have used keep the screen off until opened, not when it’s closed as well.
For an otherwise wonderful case, this was a dealbreaker for me and I could no longer continue using it.
In terms of function for the wallet portion, it works perfectly fine barring the niggling issue with the cash compartment being a little too tight for my liking. But as I say, leather will adapt to that usage over time and will loosen straight up in no time.
One thing I really enjoyed taking advantage of with this product was the kickstand ability the case appears to naturally do…after a little coaxing. I found myself watching YouTube and Netflix videos a lot more often thanks to this function, and it stayed securely in place in every use case I threw at it.
As far as Folio cases go, the Terrapin case is somewhat of a disappointment in its function, but excels beyond what I was expecting in the fit and finish department. At the end of the day, this is an inexpensive (£14) Folio case with the usual functions you come to expect from any £99 Folio case, barring a few issues that culminated into it being a dealbreaker of an experience for me. This could be my case design bias talking here, but I didn’t really have a comfortable experience using this product over the week I had the displeasure of experiencing it, and it all came down to the screen issue.
If you look a classy, business-looking case with a lot of convenience for little money, this case is more than likely for you. But if you want more function than convenience, I can’t recommend buying this case.
I would just like to extend my thanks to Terrapin for sending me over this case for review.