Review/Pics: Piel Frama iMagnum iPhone 4 case

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by random person, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    Well I've had mine now for two days and my verdict is that this case Rocks!

    For me, it is by far the finest case I've ever tried -- and I've tried many, including the Vaja Top.

    Piel Frama has been in the business of fine leather products since 1945, and they were one of the first cellphone case makers (since 1984). They use fine quality Spanish leather, have many fine products and options, and they do custom work as well. So I thought they would be an excellent option to Vaja, because in addition to all this they -- wait for it -- deliver in 10 to 25 days depending on the product and level of customization. They also accept returns, no questions asked, within a 30 day period. Lastly, they are distributed in the US by at least one company ( so you can even order one of these and get it overnight if you want -- no waiting at all! So I figured it was a no-brainer to try one of their cases.

    What I didn't expect, really, is how gorgeous this case would be! It is beautifully made, with fantastic attention to detail. Fit and finish is first-rate, everything is perfectly cut, stitching is sublime -- and the leather, oh the leather! A very fine grained leather, backed with some padding -- the thing is just delicious in the hand. If you've ever owned a really fine leather wallet, the kind that feels like buttah, well then you have an idea of what this leather is like. And the padding makes it that much softer, more sybaritic.
    It's luscious, really.

    They got all the details right too. The headphone port is sized so that even my gargantuan L-shaped headphone cords (Ultimate Ears UE11Pro) fit perfectly. Speakers are perfectly exposed. Every port and control is accessible and perfectly accommodated. There is no impedance of the camera flash.

    Like the Vaja Top, the phone is tightly gripped by its sides, surrounded by lovely leather that is a pleasure to hold. This case also has a flap too, just like the Vaja -- except this flap opens UP rather than DOWN and closes perfectly via a magnetic closure in the tab.

    As it turns out, the UP flap feature is the best feature about this case, because it means that while you are on the phone the lid just floats behind your hand, completely out of the way.

    With this case you get all the benefits of a flap case with none of the drawbacks like a flopping flap in front of your mouth, the need to fold it back to hold it, etc. You can also just neatly slip the tab open so that you can connect the phone to your car dock connector without having to leave the case open and vulnerable. Honestly, with this case you can surf, talk, check email, etc., and the flap absolutely never gets in the way. It's wonderful!

    The magnet is the perfect strength. You can open the flap with one hand just by pushing upwards on the flap lid and the magnet will release -- no need to pull on the tab first. When you're done just flip the case with your hand -- again, all one handed, and the case automatically closes, with the magnetic tab just sliding into place. You have to experience it to believe how perfectly this works.

    The case not only solves my reception problem but it also seems to have added bars for me -- I'm in a rural area right now, with at best 2-3 bars of Edge service, and the case gets me 5. Don't ask me how! The magnets have no effect at all on the functioning of the phone. I imagine the compass would be impacted, but since I don't use that feature I'm not worried about it.

    Unlike the Vaja Top for iPhone 4, this case comes with a belt clip option. You can choose not to use it and the case is then flat on the back with a small silver plug where the belt clip knob would be. Piel Frama supplies a tool for you to remove that and replace it with the belt clip knob. The belt clip itself is bomber -- no way would it fall off or release the phone! And while the belt clip has no ratchets -- it is continuously adjustable -- it has just enough friction resistance to stay put on your hip no matter what position you put it in: horizontal, vertical, or at an angle.

    Simply put, the belt clip works perfectly.

    The case's padding makes it less vulnerable to drops and indeed the case design seems intended to also provide crush protection. The walls of the top flap match the walls of the bottom of the case and they have built in a little space or air there. (In one of the pictures I am attaching you can see the space they are building in to protect the screen.) If there was an impact, your screen would still be safe. And if you dropped it, unless you were unfortunate enough to hit that exposed camera corner, I'm pretty sure it would simply bounce.

    In my view this case is much more protective than the Vaja Top. With the Top you feel like you are holding a thin layer of leather covering plastic. With the iMagnum, you are holding a cushioned layer of leather over ABS plus there is a small gap built in to further protect your screen.

    As a result this case is indeed a bit deeper than the Top. The net effect is that it adds just enough padding to be the same thickness as the Vaja Top with 3GS inside. Nothing to worry about, in my opinion. If absolute thinness is your goal, neither the Vaja Top nor the iMagnum nor any flap case, for that matter, should be on your consideration list.

    In summary -- this case is fabulous. It provides more protection, more beauty, more fabulousness in the hand. It is returnable. And if you order from a place like you can get it overnight or in days rather than months -- and at the same price as the Vaja. (It's a bit more expensive to order this directly from Spain). You get all the benefits of a flap case in terms of protection, without the flap getting in the way. And you have the option of a belt clip!

    Really, if you are in the market for this type of case you should give this one some serious consideration. It is gorgeous!

    Now for some pictures -- which I will have to do in groups, I think. Note all pictures were taken with a Nikon D300, using Pro glass -- either the Nikkor 2.8 105 Micro VR or the Nikkor 2.8 17-55 DX. All shots were taken in natural light using a Gitzo carbon tripod with Markins M10 Ballhead. And yes, I am a semi-professional Fine Art Photographer, but no I don't ever shoot this type of subject!

    Here are some photos:

    Attached Files:

  2. macrumors 65816

    Sep 29, 2007
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008

    Attached Files:

  4. macrumors 603


    Apr 1, 2009
    15 minutes in the future
    This is only how I feel, but if Apple gave me a redesigned iPhone 5 early and the only stipulation was that I had to keep it in that case, I would laugh them and turn the offer down. That is the most horrible looking case I have ever seen.
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    :D:D Red is not your color, eh?

    Just a couple more pics and I'm done.

    Attached Files:

  6. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
  7. macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    I had a similar style for my first iPhone. For using the phone as a phone, or for data, I like the top flap setup. For using it as a camera though, it becomes awkward and unwieldy.

    It's great that you found something you like so well! Thanks for the pics, they helped me confirm that this is definitely too thick a case for me, and I personally hate that style of clip, though I know others like it. I think their iPad cases are more elegant than this one turned out.

    The red leather's a stunner though! Same color I had for my first iPhone case three years ago; it wore pretty well over time.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2007
    That's an atrocious case but at least it's an ugly color, LOL.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Feb 29, 2008
    I hate these style of cases, just imagine taking a call with that massive flap hanging down hitting you in the throat.

  10. macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2010
  11. macrumors 68040


    Thanks for the review but definitely not something I'd want for my phone. I'd rather use a bumper.. =x
  12. macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2008
    that's a chunky ### case haha. to each their own.
  13. macrumors 65816


    Feb 29, 2008
    Id rather use a sock out of the laundry basket!!
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2010
    Good review but the case is I feel like that case wouldn't look half bad in black but for $80 it's just too expensive.
  15. macrumors 68030


    Sep 26, 2007
  16. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    Mmmm. Shoulda photoshopped it in black. But I didn't order black because black is so

    Anyways, I am a photographer and I tried to make the photos as revealing as possible. Note that any flap case is bulky -- ANY. ALL will fit in your front pocket, and this is not materially bulkier than any other. This one is the size of last year's Vaja for the 3G/S which I happily carried in my pocket.

    Sigh. My point is this. If you are a leather fetishist of any kind (and you know who you are) AND you are interested in a flap case, this one will blow you away with its quality.

    Watch this video. It is of another model Piel Frama but the leather quality is the same. And now you will know what I'm talking about.
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    Happy to have saved you some money! Although in fairness my photos were designed to be very revealing -- the case doesn't seem thick in real life.
    And I'm with you on the belt clip -- I never use them! But I thought people would want to see that.

    Do you own the Piel Frama iPad case? I'm so hooked on their leather that I am thinking of ordering one -- but I am concerned the case may be too thick! ;)
  18. macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2010
  19. macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2008
  20. macrumors regular

    Aug 13, 2006
    I have the PF iPad case and love it. Not too thick IMHO.
  21. macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2008
    it's thicker than others...

    The Vaja's are way thinner, for example.
    Also SGP's Valencia and Argos leather cases are way thinner.
  22. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    The Vaja is NOT way thinner -- I have one.

    The SGP is, however, way thinner.
  23. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2008
    Thanks for that -- I may go ahead and order one.
  24. macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2010

    You got that right! Spend all that money on a case and hope that when you drop it, it doesn't land on the exposed camera section.
  25. macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2010
    I don't know why but this got me uncontrollably laughing LOL

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