I’ve got to admit that I’ve been really happy with the current trend of combining iPhone cases and wallets. They’re both items that you carry around in your pockets, so why not take the functionality of an iPhone case — protecting your iPhone — and combine it with carrying around credit cards, IDs, and cash? Of the many wallet cases I’ve reviewed over the last couple of years, two of the nicest are the Alano SLIM (US$44.95 to $64.95, plus add-ons) and HardBack ($34.95, plus add-ons) from Portenzo. Let’s take a look at these stylish cases, and then readers have a chance to win one from TUAW and Portenzo.
The design of the Alano SLIM starts with a slim leather “booklet” that surrounds the iPhone. The cover is held closed in transit with a Moleskine-like elastic band, perfect for making sure that it’s not going to flop open and expose your iPhone screen to scratches. The leather covers come in eleven different finishes, ranging from a faux antique American passport to a rich dark chocolate leather.
The HardBack uses fabric on the outside instead of leather, but is just as nice — some of the designs sport bright colors or patterns, while others are less flashy. One add-on feature of the HardBack case is the Intellistand, a way of folding the case origami-style to stand it up in landscape mode.
Your iPhone isn’t surrounded by plastic or wood, meaning that you have unfettered access to all ports and buttons at all times. So how does the phone stay in the Portenzo case? Simple — there’s a nanosuction GripPad (replaceable) on one side. Just align your iPhone and slap it onto the super-sticky material, and it is held in place. Need to remove your phone? No problem — just give it a good tug and it comes off, leaving no residue.
The Alano SLIM’s wallet has two main pockets into which you can slide a couple of IDs, credit cards, and maybe even some cash. On the other hand, the HardBack wallet uses a “expandable folder” type of construction that can hold much more — although you really don’t want to overload it.
Now, about those add-ons that are noted with the pricing. Portenzo uses a “build your own” model for these case/wallets, so the base price of the Alano SLIM cases does not include the wallet bits (that’s an additional $20). The HardBack has two possible add-ons; the $20 wallet parts and the $4.95 Intellistand. That means that a decked-out Alano SLIM can cost as much as $84.90, while a fully-loaded HardBack checks in at $54.85.
How do they look? Well, we received a “US Passport” model Alano Slim with all the trimmings and a Dark Blue HardBack with the Intellistand and wallet. Take a look at the images (I just placed the iPhone 5 on top of the GripPad instead of removing it) and you can see the amount of love put into the construction of the cases.
Portenzo’s Alano SLIM and HardBack cases are well-built and beautiful, although somewhat pricy — especially for the Alano SLIM.
- Unique designs, especially for the Alano SLIM line
- Quality construction
- Easy to remove and re-install the iPhone
- HardBack’s Intellistand works well to hold the iPhone in a landscape orientation
- HardBack’s wallet expands to hold a lot of cards and cash
- Alano SLIM is quite pricy once the wallet feature is added on
Who is it for?
- The person who wants to ditch the wallet and do it in style