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I expected to like the $75 Miniot Pouch, a wooden case for the iPhone 4 and 4S. I liked the Miniot cover ( ), and I love the much-improved MK2 cover( ). But the Pouch, while technically well-made, doesn’t mesh with how I use my iPhone.
Carved from a single block of wood, the Pouch doesn’t look like any other iPhone case I’ve seen. The left side is fully open (so that you can slide your iPhone into the case); on the right side is a rounded cutout that happens to fit my thumb almost exactly. The rest of the case is solid wood, with a soft black lining on the inside.
You’re meant to slide your iPhone into the Pouch with the volume buttons facing out. When you push the phone in, you’ll eventually feel a click to let you know it’s locked into place inside the case. And it’s secure in there: Despite vigorous shaking, I couldn’t get my iPhone to slip free from the cozy confines of the case.
It took me a couple days to reliably remember the right orientation for the phone and the Pouch. I’m right-handed and typically hold my iPhone in my right hand, so I had to get accustomed to pushing the phone free from the case with my right hand, and then swapping the empty case in my right hand for the iPhone in my left.
Because of the case’s design, of course, you can’t access certain key elements of the iPhone when it’s in the Pouch—most specifically, the screen, Home button, or Sleep/Wake switch. Whether that works for you depends, well, on you.
I get a lot of push notifications, and I’m accustomed to glancing down at my iPhone’s screen when those come in. With my iPhone in the Pouch, that meant an awful lot of my popping my phone out of the case and sliding it back in again. Making that even less convenient is the fact that the iPhone’s ambient light sensor dims the screen pretty dramatically inside the dark Pouch; you have to slide the iPhone about halfway out to get the screen back to a reasonable brightness.
Fellow frequent phone-checkers like me, then, may not be well served by the Pouch. A sleeve-style case doesn’t make much sense for us.
I have a couple real-world usage issues with the Pouch, beyond the use-case one: The soft lining inside the Pouch began to separate a smidgen from the wood after a few days of use, as you can see in the photograph. It didn’t impact my ability to slide my iPhone in and out, but it is cause for at least slight concern. I’m also not sure I love the liner’s effect on my screen. It doesn’t leave my screen dirtier than it started, but it seems to smudge and stretch any fingerprint residue in a way that, ironically, leaves it more noticeable.
If you’re in the market for a hard sleeve-style case, the Miniot Pouch may suit you. I’m a little concerned about the inner liner, and I’m not certain how durable the wood would be in an impact—or how much protection it would afford the phone it encases.
But if you, like me, need frequent access to your iPhone and its screen, the Pouch just doesn’t make sense.