Hands-on: iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe offers a compelling but tricky experience

2020 marks Apple’s first major foray into making a wallet (not counting past Apple iPhone folios) and it comes thanks to the revived MagSafe system for iPhone 12. While many seem to be intrigued by the new product there have been some early concerns like how strong the magnets are that keep it in place. I’ve just got my MagSafe Leather Wallet for iPhone, here are my initial thoughts.

The new iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe started arriving to customers over the weekend with some stock of the anticipated accessory showing up at some Apple Stores too. I just got the black version and have been checking it out for the last few hours to get a feel for it.

At the time of writing, the Apple Leather Wallet with MagSafe has about a 4 week shipping time, but some third-parties are already selling copycat versions.

Side note: Apple’s Leather Cases will go up for sale at the end of the week on November 6, while the new Leather Sleeve will debut sometime later.

Build and materials
Just like we’ve come to expect from Apple’s other leather accessories, the iPhone Leather Wallet continues the tradition of using premium leather (specially tanned and finished European leather in this case) with great attention to details like precise stitching
The interior features a soft material, likely a polyester or something similar (not microfiber) on one side with leather on the opposite so your cards or ID won’t get scratched up
The leather already has a supple finish and will no doubt improve with age
The back of the wallet (what attaches to the iPhone and has the embedded magnets) has a rigid quality. Includes shielding so the magnets won’t mess with your credit cards
Great compact, minimal design

Functionality
Apple says to insert credit/debit cards with the magnetic stripe away from the MagSafe magnets (back of cards toward Apple logo on wallet/front of cards toward the rear of the wallet). You’re looking at storage for 3 cards here, maybe four if one is a super-thin insurance card or something similar.

There is a compression mechanism at the bottom of the wallet that secures your cards. This means even if you only want to keep 1 or 2 cards in it they stay secure (even though they look a bit loose at the top).

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The biggest downside for me so far is getting cards out. If you’re carrying 1 or 2, you can usually slide one out while the wallet remains attached to your phone by pulling from the 1/8-inch or so of exposed card (not easy though). However, if you have the wallet filled up, you pretty much have to remove it from your iPhone and use the push slot to get your cards out.

The iPhone 12 Pro + the Leather Wallet has a nice/comfortable feel and contour in hand (used so far without a case)

Magnet strength
MKBHD did a great job demonstrating what to expect with the MagSafe strength of the iPhone Leather Wallet, so I knew what I was getting into here thanks to him. I’ve found the same with my hands-on time, it can definitely fall off easier than you’d hope. But I think once you get used to it, you’ll be aware of how to carefully put it in your pocket (especially with tight jeans/pants etc.) so you don’t knock it off.

It doesn’t take a lot of force for the wallet to slide out of alignment but it, of course, locks back into place quickly and easily

It seems like the (important) shielding aspect of the wallet could be why it’s a bit less strong than other MagSafe accessories

The wallet feels/works great as a standalone option for those that want to carry it in a separate pocket from their iPhone

Wrap-up
At a list price of $59, Apple’s iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe runs about the same as the company’s leather cases. All in all, it feels like a decent value if a minimal wallet like this is something you appreciate and you go in with realistic expectations.

Keep in mind that it’s not a super-strong magnet here so you’ll probably need to adjust how you put your iPhone in your pocket if you want to keep them consistently attached
With the wallet backordered several weeks, you may want to try your luck at your local Apple Store or look into third-party alternatives.

A wallet case or a different wallet may be a better option if you’ll find some of the compromises like it falling off your iPhone or difficulty getting cards out to be a deal-breaker