I can see you. All of you. Ready to jump all over me for this piece. I say to you, bring it on.
When Apple held its “Wonderlust” event, in addition to unveiling the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and Airpods Pro 2 with USB-C, it also took some time during the event to talk about its progress on Apple 2030. For anyone who watched the event, you definitely couldn’t have missed the short film in which Tim Cook and the team had to report the company’s environmental progress to Mother Nature, played by Octavia Spencer. It was a creative way to report on the company’s progress for its ambitious goal of becoming completely carbon-neutral across its entire business by the end of the decade.
In addition to talking about that progress, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, announced that Apple would no longer be selling any leather products due to the climate impact of that material. In its place, the company has created a new material which it is calling FineWoven. At launch, this material is now being used for iPhone MagSafe cases, the Magsafe Wallet, and a number of Apple Watch bands.
While the reception for the iPhone 15 and new Apple Watches has been generally positive, the reception for FineWoven has been cold at best and seething at worst. If you look up articles or peruse any social media network, you will find almost nothing but people trashing this material — especially those who have historically come from using leather cases for their phones.
While the first responses to this material from those who got an early hands-on were more measured, I can’t help but feel that the hate against this material has become almost necessary — if you want to be part of the cool group. It seems that hating on this new material from the company is the popular thing to do right now. I say that because, in a lot of cases, the people that I see trashing this new material have not even purchased it to test themselves. Many opinions I see are based on someone else’s opinion, not their own.
It doesn’t seem that many of the people who hate it have actually used it. And, if they have, many of the people have made a decision based on potentially one day of usage and, a lot of the time, that usage being to purposely try and destroy this material for the sake of YouTube clicks or social media engagement. Because, if you want those clicks or engagement, there’s no better way to get it to hate something.
So, instead of listening to this snowball effect against FineWoven that seems to be running its course through the technology community right now, I wanted to get hands-on with this material myself. And, after using the MagSafe phone case and the MageSafe Wallet for my iPhone 15 Pro for about a week, I honestly don’t get the hate. In fact, I can confidently, though nervously (queue the hate mail), say that I prefer this material to my prior leather cases.
I can’t help but feel like Joey Tribbiani from Friends in the episode where Rachel accidentally puts meat in a trifle dessert. While Ross says that “it tastes like feet” while he is attempting to choke it down, Joey looks up and honestly declares “I like it!” That’s how I feel about my opinion on FineWoven right now — everyone else is Ross, and I am Joey.
Maybe that’s because I come from using a lot of materials like it when I’m outdoors and there are a lot of similarities between this material and those. In the teardown from iFixit, they compare FineWoven to some of the processes used for performance jackets from companies like Patagonia or Arc’teryx and, as someone who owns those kind of jackets, I can see the comparison and appreciate the level of precision that Apple reached with this material.
I also just like the feel of the material more than I did with a leather case. It feels soft and pleasant to hold in my hand. The sides of the case actually feel even more protective of my phone than the sides of the leather cases from Apple that I used in the past. I also actually enjoy the more muted colors. Right now, I’m using an iPhone 15 Pro in Titanium Blue with the MagSafe phone case in Evergreen and the Magsafe Wallet in Taupe. The combination is certainly not hot pink for those looking for bright colors, but it looks really nice.
I also feel good buying this case in comparison to how I felt when I bought leather cases before. I’ve always wanted Apple to make an alternative to leather due to its impact on the climate and of course, the animals used to make it. While I know many were hoping for more of a vegan leather material that we see in cars and other products, I’m okay with the choice that Apple made here and willing to give it a chance.
When I think about all of the hate that this material has gotten so far, it all seems focused on one thing — and that’s how the back of the case looks if you damage it. I see a lot of people pointing out that if you scratch the case, it’s hard to buff out that scratch. Personally, when I saw those comments, I thought to myself sarcastically, “I too like to drag my fingernails down the back of my iPhone case all of the time.” However, I do get the point that people are trying to make here.
This is the one area that I too am concerned about with FineWoven — and that’s just how it holds up aesthetically over time. I’m not worried about its ability to protect my phone, but I am worried about its ability to look good while doing it with the expected wear and tear that any phone case goes through.
That’s going to be the ultimate test, but it’s definitely not a test that can be run in a few days time. I’m going to keep using the case and the wallet as my daily drivers for my phone and really want to see how this material holds up — not in the course of a day of purposely destructive testing — but over the course of time that anyone would realistically use these products.
Time will tell but, for now, I’m enjoying living in this FineWoven future.