As part of Apple's push to be more environmentally friendly, it's dropping leather from the materials used in its iPhone 15 cases and Apple Watch bands – including the pricey designer Hermes Apple Watch band, although Hermes is apparently going to keep making that one. Instead, Apple now sells cases it calls FineWoven.
FineWoven cases are made from a soft twill fabric, which Apple says is suede-like. There are currently five colour options for the iPhone 15 MagSafe case – mulberry, black, taupe, evergreen and pacific blue – and they all cost £59 / $59 / AU$99. I've bought the mulberry one for my iPhone 15 Pro Max and it's... okay.
What does FineWoven feel like?
I'm not sure about the "suede-like" description. To me it feels more like very fine felt or the faux-velvet you get on things like cheap jewellery boxes. It's not unpleasant by any means, but it doesn't feel premium. As you can see in the photos it's a bit of a dust magnet too.
It also doesn't cover the whole case; just the back of it. The sides are in a matching colour with nice tactile buttons (including the Action Button that replaces the mute switch), but they replace the FineWoven twill with what looks and feels like hard plastic. That's presumably to avoid the corner wear that makes leather cases look grubby over time, and that tends to wear away the corners of Apple's silicone cases.
Like all Apple cases, it's very well made and has no apparent imperfections; it'll fit snugly on your phone and there's a MagSafe coil inside for easy charging. But the one thing we don't and can't know yet is how this is going to wear over time, and Apple says that it will: "The FineWoven material may show wear over time. Interaction with MagSafe accessories will leave slight imprints." If that's a concern, Apple says, you should perhaps get Apple's Silicone or Clear case instead.
From a purely ethical and environmental perspective, FineWoven is clearly a better choice than leather. But I hope that it's more durable too: the leather on my current Apple case is very thin, and it wears off quite easily; the leather is pretty scored, scratched and grubby after a year's daily use. Hopefully FineWoven will keep its looks a little longer.