Folio cases do have the advantage of all-around protection with the trade-off being easy access to the screen. The Labato case attempts to get around that with cut-outs on the front of the case to reveal parts of the screen. While a clever attempt, it doesn’t quite work.
The case is slim and doesn’t add much bulk to the iPhone. It fit in my holster just as easily as my phone in a rubber case. The leather felt sturdy, and I think the case would stand up well to use over time. The phone was easy to get in and out of the case, but it fit snugly, and I didn’t worry about it falling out.
I thought the textured leather look was classy and attractive. It didn’t take away from the sleek appearance of the iPhone 5. The case was just textured enough to give me a firm grip, and I never felt it would slip out of my grasp.
However, it didn’t quite overcome the limitations of a folio-style case. I like this style for tablets, but not for phones. Because the home button was covered, turning on the phone without opening the case was difficult. The cut-outs, while an interesting idea, didn’t quite work. While I do tap the home button to briefly turn on the screen to check the time, it’s not my main use of the phone. Mostly when I want to turn on the phone, I want to use an app, and that requires opening the case, making the cut-outs less useful.
An interesting aside. I’m so used to my iPad case having a sleep/wake function that I kept expecting the Labato case to turn on my phone when I opened it. Not a fault of the case since the iPhone doesn’t have a sleep/wake feature, but now I wonder if it’s not something Apple should consider.
My overall impression is that it’s not a bad case, and it’s reasonably priced for a real leather case, but there’s nothing about it that makes it stand out. If you’re the type of person who likes folio phone cases, you’re probably looking for card slots or other features this case just doesn’t have.