Twelve South just announced they’re shipping the latest revision of their popular BookBook for iPhone 5. Sporting a slim phone bracket and a new camera hole, it looks like the new case solves my biggest gripe with the BookBook for iPhone 4 and 4S.

Unfortunately for those of us still using an older iPhone, Twelve South didn’t upgrade their older BookBook alongside the new one. To see if there was still hope for a camera-capable iPhone wallet, I ordered the Little Pocket Book for iPhone 4/4S from Pad & Quill.

There are three obvious differences between Twelve South’s BookBook and Pad & Quill’s Little Pocket Book. The first and most obvious is the way the iPhone is held in place. Twelve South uses a leather pocket, which was surprisingly stable in day-to-day use and held up well over time. That durability is important, because without a camera hole I found myself sliding the phone into and out of the pocket on a very regular basis.

Pad & Quill uses a wood frame instead of a pocket, which adds rigidity to the wallet and aligns your phone with the camera hole. Once in place, the phone is held in by small strips of rubber at the corners. There’s a cloth bookmark which helps pop your iPhone out when necessary. I’m glad they included it, because once your phone is in the bracket it’s a very tight fit.

The unobstructed front face of the phone also avoids the blocked proximity sensor issues I experienced with the BookBook and the sensor’s new location on the iPhone 4S.

The wood frame of the Pad & Quill case comes at surprisingly little cost in added bulk. The two cases are identical in thickness and width, and the PQ case is only 9mm taller in height. From a subjective perspective there’s no difference in day-to-day use.

Which is not to say these wallet cases are small. They’ll save you from having to carry a phone and a wallet, but both are among the biggest iPhone cases I’ve ever used. Whether that’s a worthwhile trade depends on your personal needs. I’m still undecided.

The final two differences are the biggest for me: the addition of a camera hole and strap. As I mentioned in my earlier article, having quick and unfettered access to the camera is a necessity for me as a parent. I also found typing on the open wallet case was distracting if the front flap wasn’t held firmly in place. The strap takes care of this nicely and also keeps the front cover from popping open at inopportune moments.

Unfortunately, the strap is also one of the few weaknesses in the PQ case, because it seems both too thin and too tightly stretched. Closing the case pulls the band so tightly that I worry how long the elastic will hold up. With such a beautiful piece of leather and wood you want everything to last, and I’m afraid the strap won’t make it a full year.

Another weakness is the lack of a thumb hole in the ID pocket. The sleeve is so tight that you can’t pull your card out without a lot of work. I take my military ID card out fairly frequently when going through the gate on base, so I’ll have to use one of the more accessible top slots instead.

Overall, the Pad & Quill case is a vast improvement over Twelve South’s iPhone 4/4S case. Given the camera hole and bracket upgrades in Twelve South’s new iPhone 5 case, I think the competition is much tighter if you own Apple’s latest and greatest.


  • Camera Hole
  • Strap
  • Carry one less thing around
  • Elegant and attractive
  • Find My iPhone, find my wallet!


  • No thumb hole in ID pocket
  • Strap seems fragile
  • Bulkier than most cases
  • Say goodbye to any docks you might use
  • Lose your iPhone, lose your wallet