The first thing I noticed about Mapi's US$90 Orion case for the iPhone 5 is its stylish look, with a soft leather exterior and leathery smell. Upon closer inspection, however, I found that the case emphasizes style over protection, and the high-quality feel is limited to its looks. I reviewed a red Orion, but you have your choice between white, black, brown, or tan as well.
Mapi's Orion covers your iPhone enough to protect against scratches and nicks, but won't stave off damage if your iPhone slips out of your hands and hits a hard surface. The case is too bulky to easily fit in a smaller pants pocket, so it's best suited for people who keep their iPhone in a bag or purse.
To install the case, you slide your iPhone in from the bottom and wrap a small flap around the bottom of the phone. At first, I seriously questioned that this small, wrap-around tab could stop my iPhone from falling out, but no matter how much I shook the case, my iPhone wouldn't budge. There's no way to use the iPhone with a dock-cradle accessory while in the case, but it's easy to slide out the phone to dock.
The Orion has a front flap that covers the bottom of the iPhone and its screen when not in use, and is held in place by two magnets at the top of the case. Unfortunately, the magnets feel weak and don't do a great job of holding on to the flap when you slide your phone into a pocket. There is a small cutout to plug in headphones with the flap covering the phone, but the flap either gets in the way or just unplugs your headphones if you try to use your iPhone at the same time.
Just like Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad, the Mapi case's front cover folds back to create a stand to hold up your iPhone in portrait orientation. There's also a back panel that rotates to prop your iPhone up in landscape orientation. The stand is easy to set up and feels secure enough to hold up my iPhone to watch videos or conduct a FaceTime chat.
This rotating back panel doubles as both a stand and a handle. When you rotate it 90 degrees, it juts out to create a nice place to grip your iPhone if you're recording video or taking photos. However, the back panel makes the case bulky and is hard to rotate around, as it tends to stick.
The Orion has cutouts for the Sleep/Wake button, earpiece, front and back cameras, and ring/silent switch, and press through overlays for the volume buttons. A small leather flap protects the Lightning port, which can be easily moved for charging. I had no trouble using any of the buttons or switches, and the case didn't obstruct the back camera or flash.
The Mapi Orion case is big on style, but low on protection. It's bulky and doesn't feel great to hold, but makes up for it with a nice leather exterior. The Orion might win you some style points, but it's not the case for you if you're rough with your iPhone.