Some iPhone 15 owners are branding Apple’s new FineWoven case its ‘worst ever’ product

An iPhone inside an FineWoven case made by Apple. There is a close-up showing damage to the case.
An iPhone inside an Apple FineWoven case, with a close-up showing apparent damage to the case (Image credit: Joanna Stern)

Apple is making a big push to improve the green credentials of its products, one component of which is phasing out the use of leather in iPhone cases and introducing a new $59 / £59 / $99 FineWoven alternative made from recycled materials. Unfortunately, that case has just been subjected to a scathing review from a prominent Apple reporter.

Wall Street Journal reporter Joanna Stern took to X (formerly Twitter) to show users how her FineWoven case was holding up five months after purchase – and the results are far from impressive.

“Here it is,” said Stern, “Peeling edges, scratches and browning like a rotten banana.” Following up in her Tech Things newsletter, Stern dryly added that “I’ve been waiting for the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to show up at my house to declare it a biomedical concern.”

After contacting Apple, Stern was told that “the company’s cases are engineered at the highest standard to protect iPhones and that the FineWoven case’s durable microtwill will protect an iPhone for years.” After the experience of Stern and various other members of the public, however, that doesn’t sound too convincing.

A familiar story

iPhone 15 Pro review FineWoven back angled BLTR

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

This isn't the first time Apple’s FineWoven case has come under fire. Soon after its launch, various news outlets noticed that it was easy to accidentally carve permanent marks and scratches into the case. Social media was flooded with complaints over the perceived lack of durability of the product, and our reviewer was also less than impressed. It all seemed especially galling given the case’s high price tag.

Stern didn’t despair completely. Apple provides instructions on how to clean the FineWoven case, and Stern said that helped to some degree. Yet it did nothing to alleviate the scratches and peeling.

Now, Stern says she has drawn up some new rules that govern how she buys phone cases going forward. They mustn’t cost more than $40, must have MagSafe compatibility, and need to protect her phone’s camera and screen.

Those sound like fair guidelines for anyone thinking about getting a new iPhone case. Using Stern’s parameters, Apple’s FineWoven wouldn’t make the cut – but given its apparent lack of durability, perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.