Since writing my iPhone wooden case roundup back when I was using the iPhone 4, I have continued to search for other wooden cases that I thought were as good or better as those I had already tried. A small part of the reason that I like wooden cases is that they are usually lightweight, they can offer good back, side and corner protection without adding too much bulk, and they will not interfere with the iPhone’s reception. Then there is the way that they feel; wooden cases have a lovely organic way about them. They are cool to the touch, but they look warm and inviting; perhaps that is why wooden cases almost always seem to garner comments and compliments. So it should be no surprise that when Luke, the artist behind Not A Scratch, reached out and asked if I would be willing to take a look at his cases, he didn’t have to ask twice.
A mathematician at heart, Luke understands engraving as a beautiful inequality. Take something, reduce it, and improve it. No fuss. This elegant formula runs at the core of Not A Scratch, and it is working.
The Not A Scratch case is similar to the Species shell that I included in my roundup, only in that it is a single piece of wood. The Not A Scratch (NAS) case seems much more refined, lighter and less bulky than the Species shell. The inside of each NAS case is lined with a sheet of black felt, which protects the iPhone’s back and keeps it from being scratched.
A single-piece design, our wood iPhone 5 cases and wood iPhone 4/4S cases are slim and sleek and never chip. This means we can design engravings to cover the whole back face without looking disjointed. Every case allows for easy access to all sockets and buttons, no matter whether you have official iPhone peripherals or unbranded alternatives.
What sets the Not A Scratch cases apart from others is not just their design, it’s their beautiful laser etched designs. I was sent a selection of three cases — Floating Tree, Zombie, and Aztec — each composed of cherry wood. iPhone 4/4s owners may choose cases made from bamboo, cherry, zebra or sapele wood; iPhone 5 owners may choose from cherry, zebra or sapele wood. NAS offers a great selection of ready-made designs, or you can submit your own custom logo, photo or text.
The Not A Scratch case uses friction to hold the iPhone in place; I found the best way to insert my phone was to start by placing the left side (that has the volume buttons and mute switch) in first, and then lowering the other side into the case until the phone was snugly placed. Removing the iPhone is done by grabbing the top and bottom of the iPhone on the right side and simply lifting up.
One thing to consider is that the Not A Scratch case doesn’t offer a lot of face-down protection; I definitely recommend using a screen protector in conjunction with this case. If you already have a skin on the back of your iPhone, you may want to remove it, as even the thinnest skin will push the screen of your iPhone out a bit further past the case’s edges. As you can likely tell, I have a back skin in place.
The cutout for the camera is large enough so that the LED flash and the camera lens are unfettered.
There is no problem accessing any of the iPhone’s ports, speakers, switches, microphones or buttons …
… yet most of the iPhone’s corner edges are protected, and the case protrudes a bit above and below to offer edge protection.
I’m a little bit worried that, with my luck, I will drop my iPhone when it is in this case and in the process find the one way it could land while adding another ding-dong to my already battle-scarred device. That hasn’t stopped me from using the Not A Scratch case, however. Not A Scratch cases are smoothly sanded, so they feel absolutely wonderful to touch; the laser-etched designs on the back add layers to that experience.
I carried my iPhone in the Not A Scratch case for most of CES. I never dropped my phone while carrying it, so I can’t vouch for any drop tests, but I can tell you that the case and phone slid easily into and out of my pant pocket, and I never really worried about my phone while I was carrying it. The case even got a couple of compliments, which is not bad for the jaded crowd usually hanging around such a tech show!
Not A Scratch wooden cases are available directly from the manufacturer. For the iPhone 4/4s, they are available in bamboo, cherry, zebra or sapele wood; iPhone 5 cases are available in cherry, zebra or sapele wood. You can choose from ready-made designs, or you can submit your own custom logo, photo or text.
MSRP: £17.99 (about $28.50) for regular cases or £25.99 (about $41) for custom designs
What I Like: Form-fitting one piece wooden case that doesn’t add a lot of bulk or weight to your iDevice; Beautiful etched designs that you can select from their catalog or upload your custom logo, photo or text; Offered in a variety of woods
What Needs Improvement: The sides don’t come up quite high enough to offer face-down protection