capsule review

The SGP Ava Karen for iPhone 4/4S is a mediocre wallet-style case

At a Glance
  • SGP Leather Case for iPhone 4/4S (Ava Karen Series)

SGP’s $48 iPhone 4/4S Leather Case Ava Karen Series is a tri-fold synthetic leather wallet case that holds your cash and credit cards along with your iPhone. The Ava Karen comes in two color options: black or dark brown. Each fold of this case/wallet hybrid is designed for a specific purpose—when opened, the far-right fold has a raised plastic mold that your iPhone snaps into; the middle fold contains two card slots and one larger pocket (for more cards or folded cash); and the left section has a snap to keep the wallet securely closed.

The Ava Karen is attractive enough—certainly as nice as faux leather can be—and the lining is soft and pleasant to the touch. The plastic part that actually holds the iPhone is very basic, with wide openings on the top and bottom edges for the ports and buttons, a side cut-out for the Ring/Silent switch, and individual cut-outs for the volume buttons.

I get what the case is trying to do, but it just doesn’t succeed on any level. As a wallet, it’s too small. I put just seven cards in the wallet (two in the slots and five in the other section) and I could barely snap it closed. When you consider the cards you use on a regular basis—your driver’s license, credit and debit cards, insurance cards, frequent buyer cards, etc—room for seven cards isn’t asking too much of a wallet. Plus, filling this space with cards takes away room for cash.

But how is it as a case? The one good thing I can say about it is that the edges of the plastic come up just over the screen’s edge. So, if you dropped the iPhone while the wallet was open, you have some protection there, although the case does not come with a protective screen film. Of course, if the wallet is snapped shut, the phone seems quite protected.

So here’s what I didn’t like: The iPhone is very difficult to use while in this case. I can’t get both hands around it, so I can’t text or type the way I normally would. Holding the iPhone up to your ear to talk? Forget it, unless you enjoy faux leather flapping over your face. Folding the wallet flaps back and holding them while you talk was a little easier, but still uncomfortable. There is a back cut-out for the camera, but the bottom right corner of every single photo I took with flash was bright white. You’d have to remove the phone to use it for just about anything. While the iPhone isn’t impossible to remove from the case, it’s not easy either.

The Ava Karen is a nice enough looking case, but for nearly $50, I just expect better functionality. Perhaps this case works fine as something to use once-in-a-while when you’d like to ditch your pocketbook and only need to carry a few things with you, but for everyday use, this case won’t cut it.

[Karen Freeman is a writer, teacher, and Apple fan. Follow her on Twitter @karensfreeman.]

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At a Glance
  • SGP Leather Case for iPhone 4/4S (Ava Karen Series)

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