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A $229 iPhone case? Are you kidding?

A company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, makes artisan wood cases that aren't cheap. But they are unique.

No two Kerf cases are exactly alike.
Sarah Tew/CNET

When CNET's New York-based photographer, Sarah Tew, shot the photos for this post, she thought she was shooting some run-of-the-mill wood iPhone X cases. But Kerf cases, which are made in Pittsburgh, aren't so basic.

"The ones on the right and left cost $229," I said.

She was a bit shocked. "$229? Are you kidding?"

I kid not, I explained calmly. "And those aren't even their most expensive cases."

"What's so special about them?" she asked.

Well, apparently, the wood -- and the fact that every Kerf case is handcrafted and unique (Kerf is a woodworking term). The darker wood is Figured Walnut, while the lighter colored wood is Spalted Maple. The non-Figured and non-Spalted varieties cost less. Whenever they can, the small team of folks at KerfCase use reclaimed local hardwood. 


The interior of the cases are padded with ultrasuede. I had no problem getting my iPhone X in and out of the cases. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Alloy frame, which comes in black, matte black, silver and gold, also factors into the high cost. On top of that, it adds some weight to your phone. The Alloy frame cases are very solid but they aren't light. Which is why I ended up being more taken in by the wood-only cases. Not only are they light but they're less expensive -- unless you get one of the limited-edition cases, like the Australian Eucalyptus Burl Case, which will set you back $409 (approximately £294 or AU$540).

"If you want some real sticker shock, check out our Kerf Select collection," Phil Giammattei, the company's operations manager, wrote me in an email. "This is an exclusive email list for high rollers that want something really unique. You'd be amazed at how well these sell."

The good news is Kerf cases sometimes go on sale. For instance, you can get 20 percent off through midnight ET April 29 using the code "Earth2018" at checkout. And shipping is free in the US. And only $3.99 internationally. That's a bargain.