In the grand scheme of phone cases, it would seem natural to assume that a stick-on leather back for a phone would seem rather pointless. An all-round needless accessory of style over substance that sacrifices too much of its protective qualities.
But in the case of the Grove Leather Back, this is where you'd think incorrectly.
Following the classic traits of the Portland, Oregon based company, this line of leather backs for the iPhone 4/4S have a rather unique homegrown story to them, which creates a personality around it that's impossible to find shopping for accessories in your local shopping centre. 100% vegetable tanned natural leather from one of the last remaining tanneries in the U.S, it's a statement of a material that has been somewhat depreciated with machine-line quality and counterfeit trade.
This will also create a patina: a gloss or sheen to the back over time, showing the design language of a product that gets better with use. Something of a unique quality that you rarely see in hindsight of some of the cases/accessories I've tested in the past.
In terms of the back itself, the adhesive means it can be re-applied multiple times, meaning you can get it lined up perfectly; but after this, I've had some fraying around the edges where the glue has loosened. With the sides completely exposed, all of your accessories will fit without the hindrance of cut-outs; but this puts the iPhone's rather sensitive design (glass right to the edge of the stainless steel band, creating a 'weak point') susceptible to cracked glass on drops.
It's a catch-22 that you get with many products in this class: just how careful are you with your phone? If you answer yes, you have the best in class. A beautiful looking (depending on which design you pick) and feeling back to your phone that doesn't compromise the style of the iPhone; but complements it in a unique fashion. But if you said no, you're better off looking for something more protective: the bamboo case maybe? 7/10
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.