I’ve always had a very high opinion of Vaja’s quality leather accessories for mobile devices, and my earlier review of their Nuova Pelle case for the iPhone 5 just confirmed my beliefs. However, as gorgeous as it was and as much as I liked using it, I knew that it wouldn’t quite do for me as a daily driver case. I was working in the office a lot more than usual around the time that I wrote that review, so I was able to use the Nuova Pelle without issue for a while. But once my job took me back into the field, I had to go back to a case that provides more protection. (The Nuova Pelle has, however, found a home taking care of my 5th Gen iPod Touch, which it also fits very well). With this in mind, I was excited to hear from Vaja’s PR representative about reviewing their two iPhone 5 cases with harder exterior shells. These are a much more suitable for the environments that I often find myself working in, as both have rigid shells and provide more protection than the Nuova Pelle was designed to. However, despite the added protection, they are both still thin and light, complimenting the slim design of the iPhone 5. Oh, and the leather exteriors are amazing, but this is Vaja we’re talking about, so you probably already knew that. Let’s take a closer look at Vaja’s Grip and Top Flip cases.
Positives 1. Provides plenty of protection, including most of the sides and the four corners of the iPhone 5. 2. The Argentinian Floater Leather covering the exterior of the Grip is beautifully textured, and has a smooth feel right out of the box. 3. Vaja’s Floater Leather is available in a wide variety of colors, especially for custom versions of the Grip. 4. The Caterina Leather on the embossed interior of the case is very uniform and smooth, providing a pleasing visual contrast. 5. The stamped metal Vaja logo on the back is tasteful, and thanks to its placement at the bottom of the case, doesn’t interrupt or interfere with the look of the leather. 6. The rear cutout looks good and is a perfect fit for the iPhone 5′s camera and flash. 7. The Dark Blue and Birch color version that I tested is exactly what I would have picked myself. The exterior is professional looking, but still has a distinctive look. Negatives 1. Due to the four corner protection, you can’t use protective skins on the top, bottom, or sides. Unfortunately, the top and bottom are mostly open, leaving the iPhone 5 vunerable to some scratching in those spots. 2. Removing the iPhone 5 takes a little getting used to, thanks to the case’s secure fit. However, Vaja did wisely include a small instruction sheet to help with inserting and removing the phone. As you can see, the positives far outweigh the minor negatives with the Vaja Grip. As long as you aren’t subjecting your iPhone to extreme conditions, the open top and bottom shouldn’t be a big issue. And after a few tries, getting your iPhone out of the case will only take a few seconds. The Grip is simply beautiful, and at $70 for the stock versions, is available at an attainable price for Vaja’s level of materials and craftsmanship. For those who want more color choices, or who would rather have an Grip case made from the same Bridge Leather as the Nuova Pelle, $90 will get you access to a much wider range of options.
Vaja Top Flip Case
Positives 1. The unique flip down design is surprisingly practical and easy to manage. 2. Like the Grip, the Caterina Leather, which covers both the interior and exterior of the Top Flip, looks and feels superb. 3. The openings for the volume buttons, mute switch, headphone jack, and mic, as well as a thinned spot over the top phone speaker, allow the user to listen to music and talk on the phone with the case closed. 4. The case feels solid in the hand, and provides protection for most of the iPhone 5′s surface. Despite this, it isn’t much heavier or much thicker than the Grip case. 5. Like the Nuova Pelle, the Top Flip’s closure magnet securely holds the screen cover in place when closed. If only Apple would add auto on/off capability to the iPhone. It would make this good design choice even more useful. 6. Like the Grip, the Top Flip has the same stamped metal Vaja logo. It nicely accents the screen cover’s leather hinge. Negatives 1. The screen cover can get in the way when open. It takes a little getting used to, but after using the case for a while, I found it to be superior to flip covers that fold over the top of the case. Still, some users may take issue with the design. The Vaja Top Flip is similar in design to the Grip case, but actually addresses both of the minor negatives I had with that model. It both provides additional surface and screen protection thanks to the screen cover, and also leaves the phone easier to access for removal. To be completely honest, I expected the flip down screen cover to be a big negative, but after getting used to it for a couple of days, I ended up preferring it to the alternatives. I still included it as a negative here, because it can get in the way when open and that might be a problem for some users. However, I didn’t find it to be a real concern. And if you need screen protection for your iPhone 5, then you will likely find the Top Flip’s screen cover a very welcomed addition. The Vaja Top Flip costs a bit more than the Grip, coming in at $90 for stock models and $110 for Custom. The stock version has the same combination of a Floater Leather exterior with a Caterina Leather interior. With the custom versions, you can get more color options with the stock leathers, or you can get all Bridge Leather, or a combination of Bridge Leather exterior and Caterina Leather interior. So, even though the Top Flip costs a little more than the Grip, the screen cover and additional leather options more than make up for the price difference. At the end of the day, Vaja’s Grip and Top Flip cases are simply spectacular. The quality of the leather, the look and feel, the style- they are all are just spot on. I know these cases are expensive, ranging from $70 to $110, but the prices are in line with other high-end luxury case options for the iPhone 5. If you have a hard time believing that these are hand crafted cases, or wonder if they are worth the price, I would challenge you to hold one of these Vaja models after handling one of the many $30 to $50 lower quality leather cases you find at big box electronics retailer, and then tell me there isn’t a difference. The reality is that, once you put your hands on a Vaja case, the differences are plainly obvious. So, if you are in the market for a beautifully made leather case for your iPhone 5, and you don’t mind spending the money it takes to buy this level of quality, I would highly recommend either the Grip or the Top Flip. Kudos to Vaja for providing three cases in the Nuova Pelle, the Grip, and Top Flip that meet a wide range of users’ needs with great design, beautiful styling, and excellent craftsmanship. The Vaja Grip Case is available from Vaja for $70 in stock configurations, and $90 for custom models. The Vaja Top Flip Case is available from Vaja for $90 in stock configurations, and $110 for custom models. The Grip and Top Flip Cases were provided by Vaja for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.