iPhone 4 Case Review: Twelve South BookBook for iPhone 4

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photos by Kevin

I love Twelve South‘s products. Their product portfolio isn’t the largest around, but the products they do offer are well-conceived, beautifully manufactured, and quite useful. We’ve looked at their BookBook for iPad, their Compass iPad stand and liked both.

Now they have released the BookBook for iPhone 4. The $59.99 case serves a dual function of protecting your iPhone AND serving as your wallet. As the company says, it is “A Vintage Case+ Wallet for your iPhone 4”.

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From Twelve South:

BookBook for iPhone is a wallet and iPhone case rolled into one pocket-sized, vintage book. Open this beautifully designed leather book and you will see a wallet on the left and a slot for your iPhone 4 on the right. Trade your wallet for this handsome little book and you’ll have one less thing in your pocket or purse when you walk out the door. And, as long as you remember your phone, you’ll never forget your wallet again.

Put your money where your phone is. Wallets and phones go hand in hand. You rarely leave home without the two of them. Now you can carry both in one BookBook made exclusively for iPhone 4. This little book has a convenient ID window and slots for your debit/credit cards, reward cards and cash. Instead of grabbing your wallet, phone and keys when you walk out the door, simply grab BookBook and your keys.

Your phone is safe in a BookBook. Protect your iPhone 4 between two hard-back covers. Fold the covers back-to-back to talk. It feels great in your hand. BookBook allows edge-to-edge iPhone access. No frames in the way of your thumbs here. You can access all iPhone controls and ports with BookBook. Charge, sync and use the headphone jack while your iPhone is safe and sound in its phone book.

Yes, it’s also a quick book. Need to show your ID? Flip open BookBook and there it is. To quickly remove your ID, simply use the handy thumb slide. To grab a photo or video, pull the book’s quick tab and slide your iPhone one quarter inch to expose the lens and capture the moment. BookBook simplifies your life. It’s a check book, phone book, address book, picture book, audio book. You get the idea.

The book of style. One look and you’ll be hooked. Beautifully designed and hand distressed using high quality leather, BookBook is a conversation piece. A totally unique case that disguises your phone and wallet, while protecting both. It’s a wallet that looks like no other and a case that keeps your iPhone from looking like everyone else’s.

Before we go any further with this review lets take a video look…

 I can recommend the Flipside Wallet. It has served me quite well and looks brand new after months and months of use. At the same time, if you want your phone and wallet together, the BookBook for iPhone 4 is the way to go.



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Like its larger siblings, the BookBook for iPhone 4 looks like a vintage book. The case is made from gorgeous vintage leather that looks and feels great. The “BookBook” name is embossed where the book title would be were this a real classic book. (As I mentioned in my video look, I would love to see the company offer a custom case with whatever words the customer might want in place of the “Book Book” imprint. Think BookBook with “Gear Diary” on the binding.)

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Inside, the case offers a slot for the iPhone on the right and a few card slots on the left.

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The iPhone is held in place by a small leather tab that is placed behind the iPhone to hold it inside.

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You simply slide the iPhone down into it and then put the tab behind it. The red material that remains loose is key to this case allowing the iPhone to still function as a camera. Since the BookBook does not have a camera lens cutout, you need to lift the iPhone from the case slightly to take a picture. That’s done simply by pulling the red tab, sliding the phone up, taking your picture and then pushing the phone back into the case. I know this sounds cumbersome, but after doing it a few times it becomes quite fast and natural.

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Inside the case the iPhone is held securely. Having used minimalist cases for quite some time it took me a while to get used to using the iPhone in this case, but it is quickly becoming more and more familiar and easy to use.

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The bottom of the case has all the cutouts you need to protect the iPhone while not losing accessibility.

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The same goes for the top where the mic, the 3.5mm headphone jack and the sleep/awake button are fully accessible.

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Finally here is a side view of the iPhone when it is in place.

The other side of the case lets you bring your license and a few credit, health or business cards with you. I went toward a minimalist wallet with the FlipSide wallet, but the BookBook for iPhone 4 makes it even more important for me to streamline what I carry. Overstuff the wallet side of the case, and you will find that it doesn’t close and sit quite flat enough. Moreover, there really isn’t a place for cash. I’ve ended up carrying my license, a few credit cards and my health insurance card. All of my other cards need to either be kept separate or added to my eWallet iPhone app and carried virtually. Yes, this requires some compromise but, at least so far, I’m finding the compromises to be worthwhile.

This leads to another question one needs to ask before choosing to get and use the BookBook for iPhone 4. Last week we had a bit of a debate here on the site with regard to whether or not you want to carry your smartphone AND wallet contents together, since that means losing one means losing both. Clearly I fall on the side of being okay with doing so; your mileage may vary.

I like the BookBook for iPhone 4 a great deal. I love the vintage feel and am happy to use a case that also lets me grab my key cards when I leave the house. I’ve gotten some positive comments on it from a number of people who have seen me using it the past few days. Yes, it is a bit bulky and does limit what you can carry, but it also adds a feeling of luxury and “wow-factor” that I have not found with many other cases.

The BookBook for iPhone 4 is available now and can be ordered directly from TwelveSouth.

MSRP: $59.99

What I Like: Gorgeous vintage leather; a unique eye-catching design; let’s you take your phone and some important cards with you in one cool package; well-made; gets comments

What Needs Improvement: No camera cutout; a bit bulky out of necessity; lose your phone you lose your cards; limited number of cards can be carried at one time


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1 reply

  1. Dan,

    I have been using my Book Book cover for the past week or so. I like it as well, although I have already decided to shelve it for another case.

    My thoughts:

    1. The camera cutout (or rather, lack thereof) was half of the reason I decided the shelve the case. I’m glad that you were able to overcome the cumbersome nature of sliding the phone in and out of the case, but it was something to which I just couldn’t adjust.

    2. Typing doesn’t work for me on these type of cases. I am a 2-thumb typer on the iPhone and other Android phones. With this case, and actually most other wallet-type cases that open in portrait orientation, I cannot get the cover to lie flat against the back side of the phone case to allow easy 2 thumb typing.

    3. The case is not very protective against drops. I don’t drop my phone very often, but I drop it from time to time. I recently dropped my phone a couple of feet above the ground and the phone landed on the top of the case and phone. While the phone itself still works perfectly, there is a significant scratch along the corner of the phone that bore the brunt of the impact. So if you tend to drop your phone on occasion (like me) you may want to consider a case with more protection.

    I will vouch for the feel and build quality of the case. It is a pleasure to hold and the build quality seems to be top notch.