Grove is no stranger to the world of iPhone cases and their latest addition, the Grove x MapleXO SkateCase for iPhone 5, is yet another awesome collaboration with MapleXO. as the name implies, it is a case repurposed from used skateboard decks and we are fortunate enough to get our hands on one for review. generally speaking, the build is rock solid, but one thing to note is, the case does add some significant bulk to the iPhone 5. check our Grove x MapleXO SkateCase for iPhone 5 Review for our takes on this unique case for iPhone 5.

The Packaging
our first impression when we first opened the package was: cool. yes. we are sucker for packaging as much as the actual item. in fact, i should say that the packaging is minimalistic yet pretty well presented and serves its purpose to protect the case while in transit. the case comes in two parts: the top and bottom section, held in place by a Grove-branded cardboard piece, which sits in yet another cardboard and finally, a slip-on translucent paper cover wraps up the packaging.

The Installation
the installation is pretty straight forward; all you have to do is to slip the top section onto the iPhone, and followed by the bottom section. nothing overly complicated which is how we like it. we hate to become case-installation rocket scientist and we would think nobody likes it too. so the ease of installation is definitely a plus point. however, do note that the fit is pretty snug and slipping the case (both the top or bottom sections) may give the faint hearted the cringe as it feels as if it is ‘scrapping’ through your prized possession, but of course isn’t. the internal of the case is superbly finished and the inside’s back is lined with a very thin layer of soft foam with a couple of relief to ensure a good smooth fit and also to prevent scratches to the phone’s back.

Craftsmanship and Fitment
like we said, the quality of Grove is undisputed. going through the case with my hands inside and out, i do not find any sharp edges or corners which is critical for a good handling and for a scratch-free protection. we even dare the case by sliding the phone in and out for few times (though, not continuously) and the good thing is, it didn’t seems to scratch the phone’s sides at all. as for the fit, it is like we said, very snug. in fact a little too snug for the initial fit but i guess it is important that a case does not have any free-play to prevent potential abrasion which may lead to scratches. since it is crafted from wood, a certain degree of thickness is expected and this plus the fact that the case is designed to give your iPhone 5 as much protection as possible, it does kind of bulk up the otherwise slim iPhone 5 quite a bit. another thing to note is the fitment where the two sections come together; since it is designed not to overlap like some plastic cases, i can feel a tad “unleveled” at the join section, but then again, that’s just a minor observation that doesn’t quite hinders the user experience.

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due to the thickness introduced, access to the buttons, in particular the mute and volume buttons though remain unhindered, are not as “clickable” as before. so folks with larger fingers should be aware this. i have use my fingertips to get flick the mute button and to control the volume. the the power on/off button that comes integrated with the case gives a pretty good tactile feel and i dare say, it feels better than the actual button. camera functionality is not impeded and we have no issue charging it with the stock Lightning cable, and the same goes for the stock iPhone headphones. unfortunately, we can’t say the same for other make of headphones. we tried with BOSE OE cans, it works, but the Beats Tour’s plug don’t seem to sit very well with the case. a noteworthy point if you love to use your iPhone with third-party headphones. with a case so well covered, we were expecting some drop in sound quality, but it turns out that the case kind of amplify the sound a little. i wouldn’t say it make it sounds better, but definitely a little more amplified.

Verdict
if you are irked by the slightest thickness than this case is not for you. however, if you are looking for a beautifully crafted (and we do mean superb craftsmanship) that is hand perfected and still offers an all-round protection, the Grove x MapleXO SkateCase for iPhone 5 is definitely the case to go with. plus, you can’t beat the fact that it is made in the good’ol US of A. and since each case is made from recycled skate decks, no two cases will be the same, which should be a boon to individualist. as far as feel is concerned, the case feel super comfy on our hands. we foresee that some would quickly forget the slight bulk up once they get the case on the phone and hold it in their hands. there are a couple of downside though, such as the headphone port can’t accommodate all makes of headphones and of course, its price: it is no doubt a premium case but that said, it is not without awesome quality. you got to really hold it in your hands to appreciate the quality.

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Published by Mike chua

Avid tech enthusiast, gadget lover, marketing critic and most importantly, love to reason and talk.