Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

BookBook for iPhone: The Final Verdict

If you’ve been reading my website for a while, you will remember that I reviewed the BookBook for iPhone when it was released:

To sum up, the BookBook for iPhone is a magnificent achievement. The concept of combining a wallet and phone case isn’t a new one, but Twelve South’s execution of that idea is nearly perfect.

“Nearly perfect” was how I described the product two weeks after I purchased it. That didn’t last though, and neither did the case. A little over six months after the first review, I followed up:

If you don’t like reading a few more paragraphs, here’s the short version: I abandoned my BookBook.

I cited a few problems I had with the case, the most serious of which was that it fell apart:

A short time after writing my review, the first problems started to occur. Its tech specs suggest a 3-4 card capacity, plus a small stack of paper-based products in the inner pocket. Even though I remained comfortably within those specs, the seam between the card sleeves and the inner pocket tore wide open.

In addition, I noted that the plastic covering the clear identification pocket was wrinkled, and that it left a gooey residue on my iPhone’s display when it was closed. Also, I noted that I felt the case was too large to comfortably sit in my pants pocket, especially when seated.

Twelve South, the makers of the BookBook, were quick to email me. They offered to send me a brand new case free of charge. While I thought it unlikely that my opinion would change, I took them up on that offer.

Here’s the problem: I’ve been using my replacement case now for 55 days and I’m a bit stumped.

I still think the case is a bit too thick. I don’t wear matchstick jeans, but nor do I wear cargo pants. I don’t have to remove my iPhone when I sit down, but when it’s in the BookBook, I do. My replacement case also leaves the same gummy residue on the display. It is more of a nuisance than anything, but I’d rather my case didn’t make my phone gross.1

On my replacement case, the strip of leather just above the proximity sensor blocks it. After finishing a phone call, I need to push the iPhone to the bottom of the case in order for the screen to turn back on. This seems to be an inconsistent issue, as my original BookBook offers the correct amount of space.

Last in my list of complaints is the lack of a camera hole. I take a lot of photos on my phone, and removing it each time is a bit of a hassle, and increases the chance that I’ll miss a moment.

Having said all that, my replacement case is of decidedly better build quality. I also find it enormously convenient, as it reduces what I leave the house with in a very elegant manner. And it is, of course, beautiful. I can’t count the number of times people have commented on how good it looks (though a few people have noted that it looks like a miniature Bible).

This is a great wallet-type case, and probably the best of that type. I don’t think I can recommend it in good conscience, however, due to the issues I’ve mentioned. They’re not big issues, but when combined, they make for a worse user experience than a separate phone and wallet. That’s the clincher.


  1. Judging by some of the incoming search queries to my review, I’m not alone. ↩︎