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Finewoven Disaster – backlash for Apple’s new case material

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Apple released a bunch of new devices recently, but it also made a big change to accessories as part of its ongoing carbon-reduction efforts: no more leather. With leather iPhone cases a long time staple at Apple Stores worldwide, the company needed something special to replace them with. The answer came in the form of a brand new material called FineWoven, a kind of faux suede mesh created by Apple’s design team.

Apple describes FineWoven as “a luxurious and durable microtwill … made of 68% post-consumer recycled content.” Great for the environment, sure, and pretty good news for cows too. But the reception to FineWoven has been extremely negative so far. People do not like this new fabric. But why?

The FineWoven cases for iPhone 15 and 15 Pro have been widely criticized for both their feel and durability. The texture is almost oily, which is off-putting to some. But the bigger infraction is just how susceptible to scratches and stains this material is. It’s barely been a week and we’re already seeing reports of lasting damage from gentle use, with consumers saying the case doesn’t live up to its premium price point.

The Verge say light fingernail scratches never come off, while MacStories reports permanent staining after resting an iPhone on a bar. The iFixit teardown explains that although such transgressions won’t actually damage the fine weave, it’s very easy to leave a lasting impression to to how the threads reflect light. They also experimented with staining, finding that contact with almost any liquid or sauce is a complete no-go.

Apple hasn’t publicly responded to the backlash, but it did send an internal memo to Apple Store staff on how to respond to questioning.

“You may get questions from customers about the appearance of the new FineWoven material, how it wears over time, and how to care for it. You can let customers know the FineWoven material is made from a luxurious microtwill, with a soft yet durable suede-like texture. Cases may look different and show wear over time as the fibers get compressed with normal use. Some scratches may diminish over time.”

Hmm. Our advice, if you’re still tempted by a FineWoven case or other accessory, is to head to an Apple Store in person and examine the material first-hand before making a decision.

Apple also notes the correct way to clean a FineWoven accessory is to rub with a slightly damp lint-free cloth for a full minute. Could be useful if you’ve already purchased a case and want to keep it looking pristine.