Luxurious Italian cowhide and 16-karat gold plating
I've tried rubber, plastic, polycarbonate, vinyl fibre, silicone and aluminium but never combined with leather on an iPhone case. The guys over at Truffol, a new brand specialised in luxury iPhone accessories, has launched two new cases that use both materials in a minimal product. Knowing my guilty craving for high-end cases, the guys at the company were kind enough to send units of the Minimalist and the Classic for review.
Both models include the same front plate of machined aluminium that gives it its characteristic look with different approaches for the back. The Minimalist leaves the glass back of the iPhone uncovered, giving it more a bumper feel, while the Classic has a solid cover with actual Italian leather, closer to the protection you get in a conventional case.
Compared to other premium aluminium cases such as Element Case, i+Case and the AL13, Truffol's use a beautiful brushed finish that claims to stay clear from fingerprints. The result is a smooth finish comparable to the exquisite chamfered edges on your iPhone 5, which are probably quite knackered with dents and nicks already. While the Truffol aluminium frame is very thin, 1.3mm, it does alter the appearance of the phone. The corners have a smaller corner radius than the device, resulting in a more rectangular shape, which is meant to give some additional protection against drops landing on that area.
This core frame houses covers for the volume buttons, power and vibration switch. Unlike an Apple bumper for instance, the volume buttons lose a little bit of clickyness, still managing to be functional. For my surprise, the black review unit I received came with what I thought was a discoloured part, but it's actually a power switch with real 16-karat rose gold ion plating. This is what Truffol means by luxury accessories.
A question of preferences
The back is where the Minimalist and the Classic differ. The former consists of a very thin metal piece coated in a rubbery material that feels superb to the touch. I would be very very happy with a full case made of this thing — this is how good it is. The back protects the glass cover still allowing it to be exposed while adding some extra grip thank to the rubber finish.
The Classic's back is covered, much bulkier as it includes an internal micro fibre plus the exterior leather. Truffol uses Italian cowhide leather in a selection of colours and some minimal branding at the bottom. Speaking about logos, this is the only area where you see any inscription; the aluminium front is completely clear of any lettering.
The final point to highlight is the ease of assembly, which I found something in between the Element Case that require a screwdriver and the super-easy AL13, which slides like the lid on a tin box. Both Truffols use the same mechanism — explaining why the aluminium bumper can be interchangeable — consisting in some small hooks that latch to the metallic frame. The operation is easy, as long as you have the three sets of custom buttons in place. The result is somewhat sturdy, but not as tight as other cases that use screws. The latching mechanist looks rather fragile, so I wouldn't say it's made for fiddling with it.
How good is the iPhone 5 with a Truffol?
The end appearance is a matter of taste but we can agree that it's conservative and doesn't change the appearance much. The different radius for the corners gives it some personality while the smooth edges can be a good solution if you have a black iPhone 5 with a very scratched frame.
The level of signal loss using the Truffols is noticeable despite the foam pads inside the aluminium frame. The fit is very tight, however, the Classic model (the leather one) has a tiny gap in between both parts that you can run your fingernail through — I wish that wasn't so obvious. I also found the packaging slightly over the top, consisting on two pencil box type with a magnetic latch. There's some effort to impress and give a luxury feel, but in the end the packaging — which includes a film protector and a tiny cloth — isn't very convenient and is prone to get the small button covers lost.
My overall impression is that both the Minimalist and the Classic share a spectacular bumper style aluminium frame at the level of other luxury competitors. The mileage varies depending on the back style you prefer, with the leather being noticeably more bulky. Those looking for a premium case without visible logos and branding can find in a Truffol a classy alternative that is not too expensive.