When Apple announced that there would be no new first-party leather iPhone cases or Apple Watch bands it said that the new FineWoven accessories would replace them. But those who have already got their hands on those accessories have so far been left unimpressed and it seems that there might be a reason for that - the FineWoven fabric is indeed woven and finely so, but it has its problems.
People with early iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro case deliveries have been noting for the last few days that the cases are easily marked by fingernails and other items likely to be found in pockets. What's worse, those marks don't seem to be self-healing in any way and they can't even be removed by rubbing, either. Now, the teardown experts at iFixit have taken one of the new iPhone's cases apart to see what gives. And it turns out that the material is indeed a good one, but it might not be suited to what it's being asked to do.
The iFixit people put the new material under the microscope and found that each individual fiber measures around six microns thick which is around 1/12 the width of a human hair. They're very finely woven together to create the finish that we see on the cases and watch bands, and there is little doubt that the FineWoven name fits. But when stress testing the case iFixit found that it was very easy to damage.
As an example, an iPhone 15 case was tested with a key, a fingernail, and liquids including things like coffee and oil. The result is that the fibers don't normally break unless a knife is used. The real issue is that they are moved around upon impact, causing them to appear different when light bounces off of them. That's where the marks come from.
When liquid is involved, there's a good chance that you won't be able to remove it entirely. Coffee isn't so bad, but things like oil and hot sauce just aren't going to be cleaned off of these things.
The result? You're going to need to baby your iPhone 15's case which is ridiculous. If you're going to baby anything and be careful where you put it, that might as well be the naked iPhone - at least that way you can enjoy that gorgeous metal and glass finish without wrapping it in a case. Still, if you're someone who uses a case because they drop things, it's probably cheaper to buy a new one than get a broken iPhone repaired regardless.