3: Wearing out an Apple leather case

My iPhone 6 is almost exactly one year old. If you think that February is an odd, off-cycle time for an Apple enthusiast to buy a phone, you're right. One night I went to bed with a functioning iPhone 5s and the next morning I woke up with one that demanded re-activation and couldn't find any cell signals. A trip to the Apple store confirmed my diagnosis that it was in a permanent vegetative state. I emptied my wallet and got an unlocked iPhone 6 and an Apple leather case.

The case is also turning one year old, and its material is showing that age. Leather with this amount of wear is usually in its prime — not overly stiff as when brand new, and not creased and crumbling from overuse. The back of my case has gained a very smooth, but not slippery texture, and the embossed Apple logo has been reduced to just a shadow.

The texture and pliancy of the leather down the side edges of the case is another matter. It too has thinned noticeably, but has taken on a scaly, bubbly texture. Unfortunately, this texture blends right into the locations of the power and volume buttons. When brand new, the leather covering them was clearly raised and easy to locate in the hand, and only slightly difficult to find through a front pants pocket. It was a difference, not an inconvenience — not even a minor one like Dr. Drang observed recently in discussing the merits of waking his leather-clad iPhone 6s with the home button vs. the power button. But now it's to the point where I sometimes go to great lengths to avoid button-hunting: letting the phone automatically sleep, or using control center to adjust volume.

The fact is, I'm just realizing that this case is nearing the end of its life. While it would be ideal for the case and phone lifespan to be equal, it need not be so. This case has served admirably, including taking the brunt of a corner drop onto concrete last summer. The question I most likely need to answer now is: which replacement case is right for me? When examining my current case closely just now, I briefly removed the phone from it. I pressed the side buttons and they clicked! I had forgotten that kind of tactile response from the hardware was even possible. It's tempting to go back to a naked iPhone — as I did for everything before the super-slick 6. But I only have to look once at the scarred leather to know that's a bad idea. I'll gladly accept worn over broken.