Case-Mate Barely There Leather iPhone Case review: Simple and lightweight protection

Not everyone wants an elaborate or heavy-duty case. Most ultra-light cases are plastic, but Case-Mate offers this barely there, genuine leather case as another option. If you need serious drop protection, look elsewhere. However, if you want to protect your phone from scratches and perhaps light drops, and you like the look and feel of leather, read on.

The Good

  • Non-bulky and lightweight
  • Genuine leather
  • Several color options
  • Microfiber interior

The Bad

  • Not heavy-duty protection

No compromises

Case-Mate Barely There Leather iPhone Case: What I like

Most of the leather cases I've tested and seen are fairly bulky. Case-Mate's Barely There Leather iPhone Case is just what it sounds like. It may be the thinnest leather iPhone case I've seen. It's similar in design to Apple's leather iPhone case but somehow thinner.

Since it's a thin case, some features normally seen on cases are missing. For example, it doesn't have a bumper all the way around. Rather, the bottom of the case is completely open to allow unfettered access to the speakers and Lightning port. The buttons are covered with metallic covers that match the leather exterior. Plus, the camera and mute switch have cut-outs to allow access. The case doesn't interfere with the phone's functionality, including wireless charging, at all. Even though it's a minimal case, the lip of the case does come up slightly over the screen to protect it from scratches if you set it face down.

The interior of the case is lined with microfiber the same color as the leather and metallic buttons. The microfiber protects your phone from scratches. There are four color choices: Black, Butterscotch (light brown), Cardinal (red), and Metallic Blush.

I was surprised to see some negative reviews for this case on Amazon. There seem to be some people who feel that it's poor quality leather in look and smell. I don't even notice any off smell; if I sniff hard I can detect a slight leather scent, so I don't understand that particular complaint. As for the quality, it seems fine (not special, but fine) to me, though I don't claim to be a leather expert. I guess high-end leather is usually pretty thick, while the leather here is very thin. Of course, this is advertised as an ultra-thin case, just 2mm, so it's expected.

Not the most protective

Case-Mate Barely There Leather iPhone Case: What I don't like

This is not a heavy-duty protection type of case. Not everyone likes the bottom of the phone completely exposed, though it doesn't bother me. While it's nice to have a microfiber interior, this particular microfiber isn't super plush. This is a basic case.

As previously stated, some people have a problem with the quality of the leather, so if you're specific about how you want your leather to look, feel, and smell, you might want to weigh your options.

Great for what it is

Case-Mate Barely There Leather iPhone Case: Bottom line

It's all in the name. If you want a barely there leather case for your iPhone, this is a great choice. It's just 2mm thick and weighs very little. If you want heavy-duty protection, or an ultra-plush, sumptuous leather covering for your phone, this isn't it. However, if you don't want to add any extra bulk, but like the luxurious look and feel of leather, this might be the case for you. Just be careful you don't drop it too often.

See at Amazon

Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, CNET, AppAdvice, and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.