I’m a fairly tough sell when it comes to iPhone and iPad cases. I’ve mostly not used a case on my iPhone, and my iPad lives uncased at home and attached to my Brydge keyboard when on the move. But I had to admit that the cases NY-based Burkley had on offer appeared to live up to their claimed ‘premium leather’ label, so I decided to check them out.
The Antique Camel Leather looked particularly attractive, so I tested cases for the iPhone 5/5S/SE and iPad Air 2/9.7-inch Pro. For the Watch, the only matching bands were Hermès-style ones – which is not my thing at all – so I tried the Sacco Tan one instead …
As I say, I’m not generally a great fan of iPhone cases. I’ve always been of the view that there’s little point in paying a premium for a gorgeous design if you’re going to hide it away inside a case.
The iPhone 6 and 6s changed my view simply because I wasn’t a massive fan of the design, and especially didn’t like the color choice. In my world, phones should be black and silver. So for that, I used a black Mujjo leather wallet case to restore it to The Proper Color (and Greg liked the non-wallet version too).
Mujjo doesn’t offer a wallet case for the iPhone SE, so I’ve so far been happily using the phone caseless. But this one looked like it might complement the design rather than disguise it, so I gave it a try.
The case is a very simple design. An extremely thin impact-resistant polycarbonate shell on the inside, which you scarcely know is there, covered in a beautiful-looking leather. Both top and bottom of the phone are exposed, as are the controls on the side.
Those cutouts mean it doesn’t like it’s hiding the phone away.
Only the right-hand side is completely covered.
The leather really does live up to that ‘premium’ label: it looks beautiful and it feels lovely too, very soft and smooth.
Protection-wise, it looks like it should do a reasonably good job. Although the ends are exposed, the corners aren’t, and I think you’d have to be pretty unlucky to drop it in such a way that the phone itself hit the ground.
I’ve been using the case for around a week now, and I have to say I’m rather sold. At $27.90, it is an excellent value for the money – this is head and shoulders above the $39 Apple one. There’s no direct equivalent for the iPhone 6/6s, but there’s one with two card slots for $46.99.
I rather think this is going to be a permanent fixture on my phone, and persuading me to use an iPhone case full-time is no small achievement.
Way back in the mists of time, when even I used paper diaries, I could spend hours looking at Filofax binders. There were so many beautiful ones out there in every leather imaginable, and Burkley’s iPad case reminds me very much of those.
It has that same gorgeous traditional look. The leather is beautiful. The stitching is perfect. The embossed logo is subtle. It’s a great-looking case.
The interior construction is the same as pretty much every case out there: a black plastic shell as a snap-fit for the iPad. The inside of the flap has a wide slot for folded papers plus four slots for credit cards or business cards. The flap has some kind of bracing inside the leather to keep it rigid, and it’s lined with soft suede.
The side leaves the iPad protected by the plastic shell, with just the volume buttons exposed.
The ends are open, but the iPad is recessed so the rigid leather should protect it against drops.
The magnetic clasp is strong, snapping shut nicely.
However, this flap is my one complaint about the case: when it’s open, the flap wants to lay over the iPad so you have to hold the case such that your thumb keeps the flap out of the way. It’s not a big deal, but it’s the one detail that hasn’t been thought through on a case that otherwise oozes care and craftsmanship.
The flap does also lift a little when you’re using the case as a desk stand, but there it doesn’t do so enough to get in the way.
As I say, my iPad travels almost everywhere with a keyboard, so this type of case isn’t for me personally. Which is a shame, as I do really love it. If I didn’t need a keyboard, it would probably live in this case. At $69.90, I’d describe it as decent value for money.
Finally, there’s the Watch strap. I’ve had companies try to tempt me with a lot of different leather straps, and most of them just felt cheap. This one doesn’t. I don’t love this leather the way I do the Antique Camel, but it does feel like a decent-quality leather worthy of the Watch.
However, I was momentarily tempted to write a really short Apple Watch Diary entry, as I realized two things on swapping from my usual black Sport band. First, how incredibly comfortable that fluoroelastomer is compared to everything else I’ve tried. Second, how deceptively clever the fastening mechanism is: it’s really fast to do up one-handed.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with either the comfort or buckle of the Burkley band: it feels the way any half-decent leather buckle band feels. But it did remind me of just how good Apple’s ‘cheap’ band really is.
I’ve again been wearing the Burkley band for a week, and I’m now completely used to it. I have to say that it complements the watch really nicely – but it’s not in the same league as the Antique Camel leather. It’s nice, it’s just not special.
However, it’s notable that I’m still wearing it, even after completing the review. I’m not 100% sure whether or not I’ll do so long-term, but for now, it’s still on my wrist.
At $52.90, then, you’re getting a decent leather strap for slightly more than the Apple Sport one, and almost $100 less than the cheapest leather band from Apple.
You can find all of Burkley’s products on its website. There are, of course, a huge range of leather iPhone cases, iPad cases and Watch straps out there, but the quality does vary tremendously.