I have a certain affinity for wooden or bamboo phone cases. A modern, sleek device wrapped up in a natural, organic material is an interesting juxtaposition. Plus, they're usually quick to stand out, lightweight, and sturdy.
That's why it was exciting, at first, to receive this accessory from XA Wireless. Its line of bamboo cases, labeled "the Vortex" (don't ask me why), is made from 100 percent organic material. It comes in 12 variations, each priced at $44.29. Most of them are etched with some uplifting (though at times, eye-roll-inducing) words or messages like, "Life is supposed to be fun," "I am thankful, I am grateful," and "Follow your dreams."
The case comes in two pieces and when assembled together measures 4.75 inches tall, 2.5 inches wide, and 0.5 inch thick. It weighs 0.64 ounces and feels pretty lightweight. The sections are joined together by a small piece of metal that juts out of one portion of the case. The metal then fits into a small groove in the other piece. To ensure that the phone will fit snugly, the case's back is lined with a black feltlike material for extra friction.
When I first placed the Vortex on an iPhone, it didn't look too bulky. It's a lot chunkier than the usual slew of plastic cases out there, but you have to expect a certain amount of bulkiness with wooden or bamboo cases. I was able to fit the whole ensemble into my jean pocket easily.
However, because the case adds a good amount of thickness all around, pressing down on the handset's sleep/power button and two volume keys is more difficult when compared with when the phone is au naturel. To get to these keys, I'd either have to use the tip of my finger, or press the flat of my finger down really hard so I'd be able to reach past the case and touch the buttons. Furthermore, you can only use earphones or headphones with slim wires to connect to your device. If your headphones have a thick cord beyond its 3.5mm jack, it won't be able to get through the case.