Camalen Hexa (for iPhone 4/4S)

Camalen’s $59 Hexa for the iPhone 4/4S is a high-end flip-style case constructed from handcrafted leather. Although I found it to be stylish and very well made, one key aspect of the case’s design led to an often-frustrating experience.

There’s no denying that this is a luxury case. the leather has an intoxicating aroma and feels great in hand; the stitching that holds the case together is expertly applied (despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find a single frayed stitch), and the Hexa’s price tag is consistent with that of other high-end leather flip cases.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Hexa is its ability to act as a kickstand for your iPhone. the case’s flap has two small leather ridges sewn into it, which enable you to prop up the iPhone at two different viewing angles. in addition, the flap—which is attached to the rest of the case at the back—swivels so that the phone can be oriented for either portrait-or-landscape-viewing.

Don’t get me wrong, the kickstand works great—but the rigid back that enables that functionality is the Hexa’s Achilles’ heel. because it extends far beyond the width of the iPhone, I found that I had to awkwardly curl my fingers around the back of the case to reach the volume buttons and the Ring/Silent switch. I initially thought I’d get used to it, but I never did. it was extremely frustrating.

With all that said, the Hexa truly is a beautiful and otherwise functional case. I had no problems taking photos (as long as I used the onscreen shutter button and not the volume button) or charging my phone with the case in place, and I enjoyed using the Hexa as a kickstand. if you can get past the difficulty in accessing the buttons (and switch) along the side of the iPhone, and you’re looking for a high-quality case with an elegant design, the Hexa just might be the case for you.

[Frank Tisellano is a user-interaction designer, born and raised in new York City. When he gets fed up with markup, he plays hockey or writes about technology, politics, and design at his blog.]