The Verge (a website walking a fine line between reporting and clickbait) reports on what many think is a rare miss by Apple with the FineWoven items. My cynical view of this issue, is that these misses from Apple are more common than Apple fans admit, but it’s fun to call them out all the same. The issue, essentially, is that FineWoven cases/wallets seem to wear in very unpleasant ways, very easily. Which is readily apparent if you scratch the case with your finger nail.
Independent Apple and Meta marketing blog ‘Daring Fireball’ uses the ‘but leather scratches too’ argument, writing:
I’m curious what real-world usage will look like, but that fingernail test doesn’t seem fair when comparing FineWoven to leather. One fingernail scratched across one of Apple’s leather cases or wallets will leave a permanent mark too. Perhaps it’s the case that such wear looks good on leather but bad on FineWoven.
Man, there’s a lot going on in that paragraph. And it really feels like maybe John Gruber doesn’t use leather very much, because that’s really not how leather works. And what is with the statement “perhaps” leather looks good with scratches? Sure, some leather does, but not all leather. Just an odd add on there.
But Gruber has completely missed the real issue with FineWoven, which Allison Johnson writes in the opening statement of the issue:
But FineWoven is very much not the premium material that leather is. When I popped the MagSafe wallet out of its box, I could clearly see some places where it was already showing wear along the edges. Little bits of lint immediately caught on the fabric, too. And then there’s the fingernail test.
There’s only one statement here, which is supported by three bits of evidence. The statement: FineWoven is not the same premium material leather is. That’s a really clear statement.
The evidence: the case came worn right out of the box on the edges, something which anyone paying for something should be pissed about. The material picks up all sorts of lint, which (and there’s no perhaps about it) is never desirable. And then the nod to the failed ‘fingernail’ test which really seems to be the nit that Gruber has latched on to.
So look, leather doesn’t come worn out of boxes in a manner which is not really easily fixed. And leather doesn’t typically pick up lint. But I can see how people wouldn’t understand the fingernail test as it’s a little counter intuitive. The good thing is, I have five leather things on hand, all of which are design to be in pockets — just like the FineWoven goods.
I scratched each item down the center-ish with the same pressure and same finger nail. This should roughly simulate the goods being drug across any non-smooth item — maybe like a jeans pocket rivet since we know that’s popular at Apple.
Here’s the picture (I’ve circled where it was scratched):
On three of the four in that image, you can see the scratch (and tons more on the first item, which is treated the same as the other leather you see in the picture). So most of the leather scratches, which is to be expected. But as The Verge noted, the scratches on FineWoven don’t “buff” out when you rub the pad of your finger over the mark. I did just that to those same leather items: rubbing each scratch with my index finger pad quickly, no added saliva/water/anything. Here’s the result:
So the scratches are essentially gone. Wild, right? That’s the difference between a premium material and a non-premium material. Which is the entire argument made by The Verge. But to really put a finer point on this, here’s some of the best leather I have — a wallet. It’s been scratched via the same method with my nail, and not buffed, here’s the result:
The scratch was right down the center, you cannot see it because it didn’t scratch. That’s a premium grade, of a premium material.
Leather is a fair comp for FineWoven because that’s what it was designed to replace, Apple said it themselves. And it’s not just that leather looks great with ‘patina’ on it, it’s that leather also is effectively ‘repairable’ in some sense. Which means, FineWoven is bad, if for no other reason than the fact it shows wear from being shipped to your damned house. If it cannot withstand that, how can it withstand life?
Absurd to even remotely defend this bullshit.