Grove’s decked-out SkateCases are more art than accessory

Let’s get this on the table: You’re looking at a $149 iPhone case.

For most people, that fact alone makes Grove’s SkateCase more curiosity than actual product – the type of aspirational wonder you see slapped on Pinterest boards and retweeted but never in anybody’s pocket.

Is that really a surprise? Considering how many people walk into Apple’s white-lit stores and balk at the $30 for an ordinary Made-in-China case, Grove’s willingness to price one for five times the cash is nothing short of ballsy. Brash. Maybe a bit stupid.

But here’s the surprising thing: It’s actually a way better deal than the $30 garbage Apple is hawking.

You roll your eyes at paying $30 for those cases because you know they’re minted 1,000 a minute at some factory in Shenzhen at a cost of about 3 cents apiece. But if you saw what went into making Grove’s SkateCases … well, you might think twice about dismissing the triple digits.

Those rainbow stripes? They’re individual strips of maple, recovered from a skateboard factory, that Grove laminated together. And milled into a case. And hand sanded. And oiled. Those needle-sized holes in the bottom for the speaker? They line up millimeter-for-millimeter with the holes in the iPhone’s speaker grille. The button up top? That’s maple too, perfectly fitted to hover over the iPhone’s power button and mimic its springy action.

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These cases are art, and radiate all the care that went into their precise construction. They feel nice in the hand, and unlike any scratch-collecting shard of injection-molded plastic, get nicer the more you handle them. I’ve toured Grove’s factory here in Portland, tried earlier iterations of its bamboo cases, and can vouch that the SkateCases are the pinnacle of a process two very talented guys have spent a long, long time perfecting.

So if you want protection for your phone when it fumbles out of your hands on a drunken Saturday night, go ahead and grab the one with your school colors at Best Buy. You won’t feel so bad when it collects a little road rash. If you want to deck out your iPhone with a much-needed dash of originality, that you can cherish, show off, and appreciate every time it comes out of your pocket, save your cash and give one of these handcrafted gems a try.

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