When it comes to leather phones, a removable back is the only way to go
Last September, I went to Motorola’s headquarters with Adam Doud for the company’s 2014 Moto X unveiling. They took us through their manufacturing process for the phone, and we got a behind-the-scenes look at how they incorporate the Horween leather onto the Moto X. I briefly got to pick up the leather units, but at the end of the tour when we were given our press bags, I wound up with the soft-touch plastic back model. Sure, I saw the leather in person, but a few moments in the hand a lasting impression does not make. What do make lasting impressions are the scratches, dents, and scuffs on the soft leather back, which Michael explored back in December.
Fast-forward to last Friday, when a package from Michael arrived at my doorstep — the LG G4, complete with the T-Mobile-exclusive, vegetable-tanned brown leather backing. I’ve probably been more excited about this back than for the rest of the phone itself (though that’s by no means a dig at the phone), and in my five days with the phone I can already say that it might’ve converted me over from all-aluminum phones. The back of the phone feels terrific and looks classy as hell; I feel like I need to start dressing nicer to carry it around. It even smells great, like a leather jacket. The only problem with it is the same problem from the Moto X: leather wears easily. It picks up dirt, and the center stitching has already started fraying a bit on mine. There are already some visible, and more notably, tangible scratches. If you run your finger across the leather, you can feel it indent along the compromised material. This thing bruises like a banana … and that’s why I’m thankful that the back is replaceable.
Some people love the worn look of leather after a few weeks of being broken in. Some say it gives it character. Others are more particular; they want their phones to stay in pristine condition, from the moment they buy it until it’s time to sell it/move on to the next one. I fall somewhere in between; I don’t like to use cases on my phones for a number of reasons, and I don’t mind if my phone suffers a nick or two along the way, but I cringe when I see a phone as beaten and battered as my G Flex 2. Still, on such a soft material some wear is inevitable, and whether you want to replace a battle-damaged back, swap out for a ceramic plate before a rainstorm, or you just want a change of pace, a replaceable cover is nice to have — not to mention the added benefit of a removable battery and expandable storage.
Have you ever used or owned a leather phone? And should all leather phones come with removable back covers, or am I way off and integrated is still the way to go? Share your thoughts in the comments below!