Provides: Slim protection for iPhone
Developer: Twelve South
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 4/4S/5
Fact: The reason why many of your iPhone cases take up so much space is that they need to be attached to the device. This is generally handled by wrapping the case around the edges of the phone and over the screen, or by snapping two pieces together around it. With their SurfacePad, Twelve South has taken a different approach to eliminate this bulk; adhesive.
Just as Apple prefers to now glue its computer components inside the frame to eliminate the need for brackets and screws, the SurfacePad attaches itself to the back of your iPhone with adhesive. Before you panic, yes, the SurfacePad can be easily removed and reapplied. And unlike with skins, the Napa leather jacket won’t lose its shape when removed from your phone. The adhesive won’t retain its stickiness forever, but we were told when given our review unit that it can be remove and reapplied “many times.” I’m assuming this oblique estimate is lessened if you leave the case off for a while, though; Twelve South doesn’t include anything to protect the adhesive from dust and other elements when it’s not on your phone.
The good news is that you won’t need to remove it that often. The SurfacePad is so thin (less than 1/10th of an inch thick) that it practically disappears into the phone itself. The top, bottom and right hand side of your phone are open for easy access as the SurfacePad cover folds over your screen like a book (and can be folded backwards to serve as a stand).
Comprehensive protection this isn’t, but as Twelve South explains on their site, not all of us need to protect our iPhone from drops off a cliff. The full screen and back leather protection will, however, keep the device free from the scratches and scuffs of daily use.
My favorite aspect of using the SurfacePad is a bit mundane. I put it to use while covering Macworld/iWorld 2013, during which I was constantly pulling my iPhone from my pocket to answer texts, check schedules and take notes. The slim protection not only made for a comfortable fit in my front jeans pocket, but the smooth leather made it easy to remove and easy to hold; much better than what you’d get with a slim silicone or plastic case.
Our review unit was the black variation (pictured above), but the SurfacePad also comes in red and white. The colors are elegant, but have the odd effect of making the iPhone look like a wallet. Although I appreciate the minimal styling, that’s not quite what I want when using the device. Also, during my review period, the cover never broke in to the point where it would stay closed without pressure; it would always flip open when resting on a table or when docked with another device.
Whether these drawbacks are worth it depends upon how much you want slim scratch protection. I still feel that skins that make for a less expensive and even thinner solution if that’s what you want, but the SurfacePad does offer a more sophisticated and physically substantial solution.
Buy the SurfacePad for iPhone