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Hands-on with FineWoven, Apple’s leather replacement for the iPhone and Apple Watch

Published Sep 14th, 2023 5:46PM EDT
Apple's FineWoven iPhone 15 Pro case in Evergreen
Image: Joe Wituschek for BGR

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I’ve seen the future, and the future is FineWoven.

When Apple held its “Wonderlust” event earlier this week, the company revealed a number of progress updates on its climate initiatives. In addition to improving the materials used in the iPhone, the company officially announced that the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and new Apple Watch SE are the company’s first carbon neutral products.

In addition to the environmental advancements in the iPhone itself, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, announced that the company would no longer be using leather in any of its accessories, including the cases for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Instead, the company has invented a new material it is calling FineWoven, which it says uses 68 percent post-consumer recycled content — a much more sustainable material in comparison to leather.

To further reduce impact on the planet, Apple is ending the use of leather across all of its product lines, including iPhone accessories and Apple Watch bands. The company will replace leather with a new textile called FineWoven, an elegant and durable twill made from 68 percent post-consumer recycled content. FineWoven offers a subtle luster and a soft, suedelike feel, and is available on iPhone MagSafe cases and wallets as well as the Magnetic Link and Modern Buckle Apple Watch bands.

iPhone 15 FineWoven casesImage source: Apple Inc.

I was excited to see that Apple had invented a more eco-friendly than leather. As someone who has historically used the leather case for my iPhone due to its higher quality and durability than the silicone case, I’ve been wanting to see the company introduce an alternative. However, I was curious to see how it would actually look and feel.

Thankfully, my FineWoven case for my upcoming iPhone 15 Pro came in the mail today, and I got a chance to take a look at Apple’s answer to leather. I personally got the Evergreen color, and at first glance, I was surprised how much darker the green was compared to the pictures on Apple’s website. I’m not complaining, though — I love dark green.

The second surprise came about the sides of the case. Unlike the leather case, in which the material wraps around the entire case, the FineWoven material only covers the back of the case. The sides of the case are instead made from a plastic material that, while Apple doesn’t explain exactly what it is made out of, feels solid in my hand while not feeling heavy or bulky.

And, of course, it has a new layout on the side of the case to make way for that Action Button.

Image source: Joe Wituschek / BGR

The FineWoven material itself feels just like Apple described it. It almost feels like suede in how soft it is, but it doesn’t feel like it would quickly take a beating or show signs of wear or change color based on where you press your fingers into it.

However, Apple does say that “interaction with MagSafe accessories will leave slight imprints,” so keep that in mind if you’re considering it. Apple said the same about its leather cases, and it never bothered me, so I’m hoping I have the same experience here.

On the inside of the case, you’ll see the indent for the MagSafe agents. Interestingly, Apple also appears to have used FineWoven on the inside as well, so it appears that the company has determined it is soft and non-abrasive enough to protect the back glass of your iPhone 15.

Of course, we’ll have to see how FineWoven holds up as a material, but I like it so far. It still feels premium while also feeling soft and durable, and it definitely still adds character to my iPhone 15 Pro (when I get it). I’m also happy to know that I’m using a material that is much better for the environment. I’m looking forward to living with it for a while and seeing how it does.

I haven’t picked up the FineWoven MagSafe Wallet yet as I want to compare the colors with my phone/case combination, but I’ll definitely be stopping by my local Apple Store after the iPhone 15 launch on September 22nd to do so.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.