Last year, with the launch of iPhone 12, Apple released a new MagSafe accessory, the Apple iPhone Leather Wallet. For the iPhone 13 in 2021, Apple revised their wallet accessory. I finally broke down and bough one. Here are my thoughts about it.
The iPhone Leather Wallet is a minimalist accessory for iPhone 12 and 13. Owners of earlier iPhones will need to find an alternative solution for their wallet needs. And that is because the Apple Leather Wallet is a new MagSafe accessory that uses magnets in the iPhone and the wallet to magnetically attach. You might be thinking, as I was, that magnets and magnetic strips on the cards we carry don’t mix. And you would be right if not for the shielding that has been built into the wallet.
My original idea for using the Leather Wallet was to hold my work ID badge and a few business cards. The shielding works so well that I was unable to scan my card at card reader while it was the topmost card in the wallet. Credit and bank debit cards with the new EVM chips are not magnetic so the chip will continue to work regardless.
The magnets in the iPhone Leather Wallet are strong and yet the case is easy to remove. You will want to be careful about how you handle iPhone with a wallet attached. My main concern with the Wallet is that it may come detached from my iPhone without me knowing it. I feel this concern that is born out of the fear of not always being able to feel my bulky traditional billfold wallet in my back pocket.
To that end, in my opinion, you will want to use the iPhone Leather Wallet with an Apple iPhone Leather Case. This is because I feel that the leather case and the leather wallet offer the most grip. When I attached the Leather Wallet to my iPhone 13 Pro Max without a case (leather to glass) or an iPhone 13 in the Apple Clear Case with MagSafe, I felt that it was easier to slide the wallet off the iPhone by pushing it horizontally or vertically.
A nice feature to help put my mind at ease is the new Find My integration with the 2021 iPhone Leather Wallet. When the Wallet is detached from the iPhone, the iPhone updates the location where the Wallet detached on the Find My map and sends an alert to iPhone or Apple Watch if you move away from where the Wallet detached. A future enhancement that I would like to see is the inclusion of a “safe place” designation that is available with AirTags so that when I detach the Wallet from my iPhone at home or at the office, no lost notification is sent.
At $59.00, the 2021 Apple Leather Wallet is not exactly cheap. You also need to consider how many items you plan to carry with you. The Leather Wallet is intended to be used with only three cards. I was able to wedge four cards in but getting them out quickly at the checkout counter was not an easy task. Clearly, Apple is working toward a future where the iPhone takes the place of your wallet and will hold digital versions of your state issued ID, credit cards, bank cards, and more.
For comparison, the Bellroy Card Sleeve wallet has a similar price, color, and size but can hold more cards and folded bills without the magnets. While I do like the minimalist feel of the Bellroy Card Sleeve, I am worried that it will slide out of my back pocket. Having a wallet that attached to the back of my iPhone and can notify me that it has been detached is a nerve calming feature that gives you a chance to find your wallet quickly.
The Apple Leather Wallet comes in the same variety of case colors as the Apple iPhone Leather Cases. That is good or bad news depending on your view of the 2021 iPhone case colors. I am not a big fan of this year’s colors, so I got the Golden Brown one. It matches the Golden Brown case that I have on my personal iPhone. I also think that the Golden Brown case goes well with the Blue iPhone 13 but not so much with the bare Sierra Blue iPhone 13.
When it comes to wallets, I have learned that there are more personal taste and security considerations at play. The Find My integration gives Leather Wallet users piece of mind that you have a fighting chance to find a lost wallet. However, if you want to carry lots of cards and cash, the three-card limit may be a deal breaker for you. Not being able to use my iPhone Leather Wallet for my work ID, I plan on alternating between the Apple iPhone Leather Wallet and my Bellroy Card Sleeve depending on what cards I plan on taking with me.