For me half the fun of a mobile device is being able to choose cases and accessories for it. The selection of cases for almost all devices, especially popular ones, is far larger and more diverse than ever before. This is obviously fantastic for gadgetheads like us, but it can also be confusing when you are shopping for a new case. On top of that, the explosion in the mobile electronics market means that there is also a lot of silicone and vinyl crap for sale out there that you need to sort through. Therefore, I love coming across smaller, boutique-style companies producing high quality cases that you may not find on offer at your local electronics shop.
One of my favorites is Aligata, a leather craft shop located in Eastern Europe that specializes in handmade cases for mobile devices. A few weeks ago I got an email from them filling me in on their newest products and asking me if I would be willing to take a look at their new iPhone sleeves. Needless to say I jumped at the chance and have spent a couple weeks using the sleeves on several different devices.
Even through Aligata calls these “iPhone Sleeves” they really can be used for any device roughly iPhone-sized or a bit smaller. For example, I have been using the two review models for a third generation iPod Touch and a Zune HD with great results. The sleeves are available from Aligata in five colors/styles: Nude Beauty, which is basically untreated natural grain leather; Nippon, which is made of natural grain leather in a soft beige shade; Coffee Milk, which is soft brown suede; Dark Chocolate, which is dark brown top grain leather; and Perfect Black, which is crafted of deep black top grain leather.
It is worth noting here what Aligata must constantly remind their customers of regarding their leather. Top grain leather is leather that has had the top layer removed and is treated to be “perfect” while natural grain leather has not been processed and therefore has natural imperfections. If you want your case to be even and flawless, go with top grain leather. However if you wish your case to be a bit more rugged and prone to mellowing with age at the cost of a little graining and a few marks, then natural grain is what you want.
I received a Nippon and a Coffee Milk sleeve and must admit I love them both. The designs are very simple and straightforward,; they are just what their name implies: sleeves. That’s all. No racing stripes, no fancy buckles, no magnetic/Velcro doohickeys. They are designed to protect your device from scratches, most casual bumps, and some amount of serious impacts. For those things, they work perfectly. One nice design touch is that the bottom of the sleeve has a small half-circle cutout to make it easier to get the device out as well as to connect/charge an iPhone/iPod Touch while it is in the sleeve.
Anyone who prefers to carry their phone or device in their pocket but hates both the feel of silicone or rubber on a device and having their screen get scratched by their keys will love these sleeves. They are elegant, classy, versatile, durable and best of all they will improve with age. Aligata only uses top quality, carefully selected leather, which means that the cases will slowly conform to whatever you keep in them while the leather itself gains more character and depth as it is used. Leather cases such as this are lovely out of the box, but even better a few years down the line when they have been well used/abused/loved and have a story to tell.
As far as durability, likely the Coffee Milk variety is a bit less protective than the other four just because it is made of suede rather then leather. However, that doesn’t bother me as my main worry about the Zune HD that I am now keeping in that sleeve is screen damage, not impact. However, if you are worried about dropping your device while it is in the sleeve, then you should go with one of the thicker leather varieties.
Aligata sleeves are only available online at http://www.aligata.com/, where you can look over their selection of iPad envelopes and cases as well as new watch bands and MacBook cases. Each sleeve costs $24.99 (before shipping and any customs you may need to pay) and you can choose the stitching color for an additional $9.90. Beyond the quality of the products, Aligata has some of the finest customer service and support of any company I have worked with. They care about what they make and will go the extra mile to make sure their customers are satisfied. I know that from personal experience.
I can heartily recommend all Aligata products, but especially these sleeves. If you are looking for a simple, elegant, and effective way to protect your iPhone-sized device (as well as iPads or netbook/MacBooks) and love good quality leather, then you can’t go wrong with Aligata.