You only have so many pockets to spare, so why waste one on a wallet when you could easily fit those credit cards into your phone case? Between Apple/Android Pay and a decreasing reliance on cash, you can probably end up slimming down your total everyday carry, while keeping your phone well-protected. I spent the last month testing a number of different wallet-style cases, and here are the best ones I found.
After a lot of testing, I’d have to say my personal favorite comes from leather goods manufacturer Nomad. The Nomad Rugged Folio adds a bit of card storage to your phone case without making it feel too bulky, with quality leather to boot. (Seriously, this thing smells amazing.) The leather starts out pristine, but Nomad says it should wear naturally over time, giving it a unique look perfectly tailored to your usage. It comes in black and brown, and there’s also a tri-fold version if you want a little more storage.
If you like the leather look but want something a bit more focused on drop protection, legendary case maker Otterbox has the Strada series for you. The magnetic clasp keeps things closed without being annoying, the case is nice and protective, and the pre-worn leather looks nice without adding extra bulk—all the bulk in this case goes toward drop protection. I found it can only hold one card comfortably (while most wallet cases can hold at least two), but if that’s all you need, this is a close runner-up to the Nomad, in my opinion.
A lesser-known company known as Waves Protect makes a very slim wallet case that is sort of an in-between version of the above two. The Waves Protect wallet case is extremely thin, with only a 1.2mm plastic shell and a hard leather cover with a magnetic clasp. It even has little spots for a SIM removal tool and a SIM card—not something most people need, but neat nonetheless. At such a thin size, it won’t hold as much as the options from Nomad, and it isn’t as protective as the Otterbox, but if you want something extremely thin and don’t need a ton of storage, it’s a well-made alternative.
If the high-end leather cases are a bit too pricey, you aren’t out of options. The Case-Mate Folio has a very wallet-like design at a more wallet-friendly price. The actual shell inside is thin, so it isn’t super durable, but the outside leather is thick enough to provide a little drop protection, along with lots of room for cards and cash. It also folds back into a kickstand for watching movies or playing games, and while I’d loved to have seen a magnetic clasp, I really can’t complain at this low a cost. For a similar option, check out Spigen’s Wallet S case for the same price—it has a flip-over magnetic clasp and feels a bit more durable, but with a more plasticky-feeling texture.
If you aren’t a fan of the leather look, Speck’s Presidio Wallet case is a more traditional plastic case, with the addition of a card slot on the back. The cardholder does bend a little bit the more you add to it, but it does the job admirably for the price, and only adds bulk where it’s absolutely needed. If you can’t find the Speck Presidio for your phone, check out the Smartish Wallet Slayer, which is very similar and comes in some cool styles, albeit with less defined button covers on the sides.
If all you want is a case that can take a beating and hold your credit cards, the Spigen Slim Armor delivers. I don’t know if I’d really call it “slim”—it has the bulk you’d expect from more protective cases—but it does its two jobs well. Protect your phone, hold your cards, and don’t get fancy. The cards are hidden under a sliding door, which is nice if you’d rather not advertise that you’re carrying a wallet case, and it comes in a few colors if you want a little personality.
At first blush, the Burkley Case Carson looks similar to other leather wallet cases—but you can pull the phone case portion out when you don’t need the wallet’s extra bulk. That’s a huge convenience, and with a built-in kickstand and ton of colors to choose from (in quality pre-distressed leather), this is one of the most versatile wallet cases you can buy—at a price. I’m not a fan of the fold-over magnetic clasp (I prefer Otterbox’s smaller flap, personally), but for many, its benefits will outweigh the downsides. If you want something a bit cheaper, the Dreem Fibonacci is similar, with a different clasp and faux-leather.
Twelve South has made a name of themselves in uniquely-designed Apple accessories, and they have a number of leather wallet cases that fit the (heh) bill. The Twelve South BookBook is one of the most unique cases on the market, though, with an old-school book spine and plenty of storage for all the cards, cash, and knick-knacks you may need to hold. Dual magnetic clasps, a detachable case, and a built-in kickstand make this a jack of all trades, but it’s also very large. This is more of a purse or backpack-style case than an easily pocketable case, so keep that in mind when you shop. For something more portable, the Twelve South Journal is a nice alternative, albeit not available for the latest iPhones (yet).