Poll Results on Apple’s FineWoven iPhone Cases

Prompted by a post from Joanna Stern complaining about the durability of Apple’s FineWoven iPhone cases — the new material replacing their previous leather cases — I ran a poll over the weekend on Mastodon, Threads, and Twitter/X, with identical phrasing on all three platforms:

If you own an Apple FineWoven iPhone case and have used it regularly for the last few months:

  • It’s held up well.
  • It’s held up OK.
  • It’s a piece of junk.

I’m not sure if that was the best way to phrase the question, nor if those were the best options to offer. And while I hope the poll was mostly answered by people who actually have been using a FineWoven case for a few months, there’s no way to know if that’s the case (no pun intended). The results:

Votes Held Up Well Held Up OK Piece of Junk
Mastodon 916 33% 28% 40%
Threads 2,819 20% 25% 56%
Twitter/X 3,324 18% 27% 55%
Total 7,059 21% 26% 53%

I wouldn’t call these results disastrous, but they’re pretty bad, with over half of participants choosing “It’s a piece of junk”, and only one-fifth choosing “It’s held up well.” And the FineWoven cases only started shipping five months ago. So by Apple’s standards, maybe this does qualify as disastrous.

For many (including Joanna Stern), it’s the FineWoven material on the back that hasn’t worn well. But for some, it’s the plastic sides — they peel away. Here’s a post with photos from Stu Maschwitz from three months ago, after his case had only been in use for a few weeks. Kevin Fox posted a series of photos suggesting that washing a FineWoven case with Dawn detergent — not merely water alone — can clean off at least a bit of the grossness. There are more examples in each of the three social threads, if you’re interested — including some from the people for whom their FineWoven cases have held up well.

I also noted this reply from “Ambiorickx” on Mastodon:

Mine delaminated after one or two weeks, but the replacement has held up just fine.

So perhaps the problem Maschwitz (and others) experienced, with the plastic sides flaking apart, was a production issue with early batches, that Apple has since fixed. If you’ve got a FineWoven case with flaked-off sides, maybe see if Apple will exchange it for a new one?

But the FineWoven material itself seems not nearly durable enough. Good leather products often look good as they age and get used; FineWoven doesn’t have that quality. Hopefully Apple’s materials team is back to the drawing board, working on something better. Apple’s not going back to leather, but they need a better-than-leather replacement, and FineWoven 1.0 isn’t it.

Sidenote 1: DF Readers and iPhone Cases

In April last year, I conducted a somewhat related poll asking DF readers:

How do you typically — meaning, majority of the time — carry your iPhone?

  • No case
  • Apple case
  • Third-party case

With over 17,000 combined responses across Mastodon and Twitter, the responses were surprisingly close:

  • No case: 31%
  • Apple case: 34%
  • Third-party case: 36%

I will reiterate now what I reiterated then — Daring Fireball’s audience is not representative of the general public. There’s a belief amongst many case-users that “almost everyone” puts their phones in cases, but the best survey I’ve found, from 2017, suggests the number is around 80 percent. So DF readers are seemingly only slightly more likely to go caseless than the general public.

Where I suspect DF readers are outliers is in the number who pay the premium price for an Apple-made case. People buy Apple cases (and wallets, and watch bands) because they expect them to be great products. A $60 iPhone case (or $60 MagSafe Wallet) that looks like crap after just a few months of use is not a great product.

Sidenote 2: The Best Leather Cases for iPhone 15 Pro

If you, like me, remain a fan of leather products, I wrote a post in October with some suggestions for iPhone 15 Pro cases. (Spoiler: my favorite is from Bullstrap.)

Sidenote 3: Shifting Sands of Social Media

When I conducted the “do you use a case?” poll last April, Threads hadn’t yet launched (and Twitter/X was still named “Twitter”1). With that poll, there were about 9,000 responses on Mastodon, and 8,000 on Twitter.

But with this weekend’s poll, Twitter/X had the most responses:

  • Twitter/X: 3,324
  • Threads: 2,819
  • Mastodon: 916

Mastodon and Threads combined outnumbered Twitter/X, but Twitter/X finished first.2 It’s pretty striking that Mastodon garnered more responses than Twitter in my poll last April, but this weekend finished a distant third. Threads, though, seems to be thriving. Not sure if Threads took usage away from Mastodon, or if Mastodon is just fading, but it does seem like usage between the three platforms — amongst my followers — remains in flux.

It’s also slightly interesting to me that while the responses between Threads and Twitter/X were nearly identical, the responses from Mastodon were significantly more favorable regarding FineWoven cases. My only theory to explain that is that Mastodon is more of a boutique platform. It takes a bit more work to use and to understand, but rewards you with benefits like a choice between an array of outstanding third-party client apps. So I’m thinking maybe the sort of people who prefer Mastodon over Threads or Twitter are the sort of people who are a bit more likely to treat their devices — even in cases — carefully.

  1. When Elon Musk renamed Twitter to X in July, I decided to use “Twitter/X” as a transitional name. Many publications chose a formulation like “X, the platform formerly known as Twitter...”, but just spelling it Twitter/X struck me as both more clear and concise. I planned to use the “Twitter/X” transitional name until the company had fully switched the platform’s own use of “Twitter” to “X”. I figured I would switch to just calling it “X” when twitter.com URLs began redirecting to x.com. But here we are on the cusp of March 2024 and all links to tweets still redirect to twitter.com. I suspect there’s some mishmash of spaghetti code behind the scenes in Twitter/X’s architecture that makes this domain name switch extremely difficult, because (a) Twitter’s infrastructure is infamously convoluted; and (b) no one at old Twitter ever considered the possibility that someone would buy the company and throw away the name. I also suspect that Musk himself has lost interest in the name transition, leaving the platform in a permanent state where it refers to itself as “X” in most places, but “Twitter” in others (most prominently in its URLs). If the URLs do eventually start redirecting to x.com, I’ll start calling it “X”. Until then, “Twitter/X” it is. ↩︎

  2. Looks like I better — finally — fix my auto-posting script for the Twitter/X @daringfireball account. When it broke (again) last summer after Twitter API changes (again), I sort of spitefully ignored the breakage, hoping Twitter/X would fade into irrelevance. But that seemingly isn’t happening. Things were simpler and better when Twitter itself was the only popular tweet-like social network, but now there are three. (Maybe four, with Bluesky?) Consider this footnote a promise that I’ll fix this soon. ↩︎︎