Ever since I purchased a BookBook case for my first Macbook Pro many moons ago, I’ve enjoyed Twelve South products. Still, I wasn’t expecting much from the company’s new SurfacePad for iPhone case, which looked to me as little more than eye candy. Depending on your needs, however, the case proved quite nice.

The Facts

Company Name: Twelve South
Product Name: SurfacePad for iPad
Price: $34.99
Compatibility: iPhone 5, iPhone 4/4S
Website: http://www.twelvesouth.com
Date Reviewed: Feb. 21, 2013

The Basics

What Is It?

The SurfacePad for iPhone is a strange beast, especially when you consider its pedigree. Twelve South’s line of BookBook cases have always screamed for attention, causing many to ask whether it is a case or a book. By contrast, the SurfacePad for iPhone is designed for those that rather not carry a case at all. As a result, the case is very hard to see, at least from a distance.

This is deliberate, of course.

By their own admission, Twelve South isn’t marketing the SurfacePad for iPhone as a “case that’s military certified or that works underwater.” Rather, the case is for users who have “chosen to let their iPhones go naked.”

The SurfacePad for iPhone is made of Napa leather, and measures less than 0.10-inch in thickness. It weights less than an ounce.

Integration With The Device

The SurfacePad for iPhone exposes three of the device’s four sides. As a result, you must attach the back of the device to the case using a piece of adhesive, which is included. This is reusable (to a degree), and doesn’t leave a residue. However, you really shouldn’t take off the SurfacePad for iPhone on a regular basis.

It should also be noted that attaching the case to the back of the iPhone can prove difficult. A shaky hand, for example, could result in it being attached incorrectly.

The Buttons

The iPhone’s buttons are fully exposed when the case is open. When the case is closed, they aren’t accessible.

Proximity Sensor

No worries here. As long as the case is open, the sensor is naked and works as expected

Camera And Flash

The case doesn’t cover the camera or the flash. As a result, taking a photo or video isn’t a problem.


The SurfacePad for iPhone comes with one adhesive strip and three Twelve South stickers.

Also, the case also works as a stand. While functional, this proved troublesome. The more that I used the stand, the less likely the case was to stay shut when it was laid on a flat surface. As a result, I found myself putting the case cover side down. Otherwise, the case remained open when I didn’t want it to be.

While the stand is fine, by no means buy the SurfacePad for iPhone for this reason alone.

Use and feel

The SurfacePad for iPhone is absolutely stunning, and fits the phone perfectly. My test model came in red, or as Twelve South calls it, Red Pop. The case is also available in Jet Black, and Modern White.

Because the case isn’t bulky it fits perfectly in pockets. Good rule of thumb: Wherever your iPhone fits currently without a case, it will do the same here.

How Long Will It Last?

Scratches, Scuffs, and Dirt

After two weeks, my case continued to hold up just fine without aging, as some other leathers do. And yes, the leather smell is alive and well. In addition, minor spills clean up with no problem.

Still, I wouldn’t recommend using the case while around food. Also, avoid using the case around kids. Dirty little hands could mark it permanently.


As I already mentioned, the SurfacePad for iPhone shouldn’t be confused with an Otterbox, or another bulky iPhone case. As a result, it provides only minimal protection. I was so concerned about the health of my iPhone, I refused to do a drop test with the case.

Don’t take the case out

The case is not meant to be taken off on a regular basis, so we suggest not doing it.

What’s Hot

  • High quality leather
  • Color choices excellent
  • Price sounds about right

What’s Not

  • Putting on adhesive can prove troublesome
  • The stand causes case to open on its own
  • The name sounds like it should be for an iPad

How Does It Stack Up?

The SurfacePad for iPhone case isn’t for everyone. If you’re the type of person that often worries about dropping your phone, this isn’t the case for you. However, if you’re looking for a case that looks beautiful, go for it.

Where Can You Get It, And How Much Does It Cost?

The SurfacePad for iPhone is available now via the Twelve South website. In addition, the case will soon be at retailers too.

Our Advice

If you dislike cases, but still want minor protection for your iPhone, this case could be for you. Otherwise, it might be wise to look elsewhere.

The SurfacePad For iPhone’s Overall Scores:

Aesthetic Appeal: ★★★★★
Wow Factor: ★★★★☆
Build Quality: ★★★★☆
Value: ★★★★★

Buy now: Get it from Twelve South for $34.99.