I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S II to replace my 2.5 year old iPhone 3GS. I’ve been a heavy user of always-on cases for a long time, but with the S II, I want the ability to dock it at home and not deal with the added bulk except when I actually need protection. The natural choice then is a pouch style case, which you’ll normally find in either leather or imitation leather. Noreve is a brand that’s practically synonymous with leather cases in my head, so not long after I had made that decision I had a brand new Tradition C leather case in my hands, provided by Noreve for review. Read on to see if it’s any good.
As for as design goes, pouch cases are as simple as they come. There are no flaps, locking mechanisms or anything like that – just an opening to slide the phone into. This case creates that shape by having a main piece of leather stretch around the bottom and cover the back and front, with individual pieces covering the sides. The sides are slightly inward-pointing, making it more comfortable to hold (in my opinion) than pouch cases that are made from a single piece of (artificial) leather and sown together on the sides.
This case is also bulkier than such cases – and other cheaper cases – due to having two layers of leather in the main piece. The outside is clean with only the Noreve metal badge logo showing, while the inside is patterned with the Noreve logo. It would frankly have made more sense to have the inside clad in some sort of micro suede material to both provide a softer platform for slipping the phone in and out and to clean the screen at the same time, but it’s not like the leather is going to scratch anything.
As for the bulk itself, that’s a good thing when it comes to such cases. Fall protection is all about making something besides the phone hit the ground first, and have that part be as “bendable” as possible to absorb shocks. An aluminum bumper might save your phone from having a part chipped off the side, but if the shock dislodges some internal components because the case doesn’t absorb the shock itself then it won’t help you much. With this case on, I truly feel like I could throw the phone across the room without any damage, while cheaper pouch cases rather feel like they couldn’t absorb a fly landing on them.
The top of the case is fully exposed, and the same goes for the top and bottom parts of the sides. This is quite simply to give you room to grab the phone and pull it out, or alternatively push it out from the bottom if needed. When I first got the phone, the case was too tight to be usable, actually turning off my phone from the pressure on the power button. Leather is a natural material, so all I had to do was to jam something (in my case a USB DVI adapter) in there and let it sit for a night to stretch it out to the shape it was intended to have. Granted, my S II is slightly thicker than stock because of the extended battery I have in it, but that battery and back cover only makes the entire back as thick as the lower end of the phone, so the lower end would have caused issues either way if I hadn’t stretched the case out.
Even with it stretched out though, I felt like it was an design oversight to have the side piece cover the power button. I absolutely don’t want my phone turning off in my pocket, which is a very real possibility if you use this case the way it comes. That side piece basically transfers any pressure on it to the power button, making it way more susceptible to pocket presses than it is on its own. As you can see in the image above though, my case didn’t stay that way for long. A pair of tiny scissors was all it took to add an opening for the power button, so that any pressure on the side of the case doesn’t transfer to the button. As long as you don’t cut the stitches, this modification shouldn’t hurt the case’s longevity.
The reason behind this design oversight is likely just that this pouch case is not Galaxy S II-specific. Noreve lists it as compatible with the LG Optimus 2X, Samsung GT-i9100 Galaxy S II, Samsung Galaxy S2 Cityzi, Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, AT&T Samsung Galaxy S 2, Motorola Triumph, LG Optimus Black, LG Optimus White, and Samsung I9003 Galaxy SL. In other words, a bunch of carrier-specific S IIs and some other model phones. Not all of those have the power button on the side like that, so in that respect it would have seemed awkward to have a hole there for those users. I do however feel like that’s a reason to make a version of the case specifically for the S II rather than ignore the issue and blame it on the universal nature of the case. Noreve isn’t a cheap brand, so you expect that the case is flawless when you get it, both in terms of craftsmanship and design.
As with many Noreve cases, this case has a small screw on the back that is a placeholder for the belt clip attachment piece. I’ve been using Noreve cases off and on since the Cowon D2 5 years ago, and I’m pretty sure this system has stayed the same since then – which is of course a good thing. What you do is that you unscrew the placeholder screw using the included screwdriver, match the belt clip attachment piece to the slot in the case, and then screw in the screw to hold it in place. You then have an extended gear-like piece on your case that slots into place in the included plastic belt clip. If you’re a heavy belt clip user, you can also buy a metal clip to replace the plastic one.
This attachment system is quite nice as it isn’t in the way if you don’t want to use a belt clip, while at the same time provides a secure attachment system if you do want to use it. There’s a release clamp on the belt clip piece which makes it easy to attach and detach the case without it falling off accidentally.
All in all this is a great case for those (like me) who want a case that is made to be used when you need protection rather than until the end of time. For me it has become like a pair of shoes – I throw it on when I go out and take it off when I get home. Noreve makes very high quality cases, with everything from the quality of the material to the stitches being top notch. It’s a shame that I had to attack it with scissors to make it usable, and I think that’s a side effect that the company hadn’t expected when it decided to market a single case for multiple devices.
Noreve’s cases are offered in a variety of leather colors and styles, grouped into four “selections”: perpetual, ambition, exceptional, and illumination. The quality and finish of the leather is the difference, and there’s also a slight difference in price. In Euro, the prices are 39.99€, 44.99€, 49.99€, and 49.99€ respectively. In US dollars, they’re currently $51.49, $57.93, $64.37, and $64.97 respectively. Noreve is located in Europe, so expect the US prices to change based on the exchange rate. You can buy this case right from the company’s website.