Pebbled leather iPhone case offers stylish protection with a vintage vibe [Review]

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Woolnut leather iPhone Pro case: Style and substance.
Woolnut's sleek leather iPhone Pro case adds a touch of old-school class.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Sorry, cows: I love leather iPhone cases. They add a layer of warmth on top of the iPhone’s cold metal-and-glass construction that can’t be beat. And, unlike most thermoplastic polyurethane cases, a good leather case looks sophisticated and, dare I say it, grownup.

Woolnut’s leather iPhone 11 Pro case takes things a step further, adding a pebbled look that reminds me of vintage gear from the ’60s. It’s so freaking manly I can almost smell the English Leather and Old Spice.

The bumpy finish feels good in the hand, adding a bit of welcome grippiness that smooth leather can’t. I like the appearance of the pebbled leather so much that I asked Erik Lavin, co-founder of Woolnut, how the small Swedish leather accessories company achieves the look.

“The pebbled leather structure is achieved by running a ‘dry drum’ as a part of the tanning process,” he said in an email. “Basically, that makes the leather ‘wrinkle’ as it tumbles around — after a certain number of drum revolutions the leather finally gets that pebbled structure throughout.”

Woolnut leather iPhone Pro case review

Drop the Woolnut leather iPhone 11 Pro case hard enough, and it will scuff.
Drop any leather case hard enough, and it will scuff.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Like previous Woolnut iPhone cases I’ve used, the new one for the iPhone 11 Pro fits like a charm. (Woolnut also makes cases for iPhone 11 Pro Max and other recent models.) The case covers the phone’s buttons but does not interfere with them. A wide cutout at the bottom exposes the entirety of the iPhone 11 Pro’s holey speaker grille (and, of course, the Lightning port). All cutouts look and feel quite precise, too.

The case is very slim, adding hardly any size or weight to the phone. It brings to mind a form-fitting leather cover that encased my Dad’s 35mm camera from the ’50s. It evokes a nostalgic feel — a reminder of a time before plastic took over our lives. It looks snazzy and provides a decent amount of protection from drops, thanks to a hard lip that extends ever so slightly above the phone’s touchscreen. Plus, wireless charging still works like a charm.

Protection and style

To be clear, it’s no OtterBox. It won’t protect your phone from falls from outrageous heights. It’s not built for an adventurous lifestyle spent shooting the rapids or rappelling down mountainsides. It’s more about stylishly covering your iPhone without taking away from Apple’s beautiful design. The Scandinavian leather on the outside keeps scuffs and scrapes from trashing your iPhone’s shiny surfaces. And a microfiber lining keeps the phone’s original finish sparkly and smooth. The case hints at the iPhone’s sturdy construction, while protecting it from everyday wear and tear — and the occasional nonfatal drop.

Still, after using the Woolnut leather case for a few weeks, I can tell you that the vegetable-tanned, full-grain leather holds up well. Every time I get a new leather case, I worry that accidentally setting it down in some water on a countertop will leave it blemished forever. But leather cases prove more durable than you might think. I wouldn’t leave one soaking in water, but they take a surprising amount of abuse. Plus, high-quality leather cases typically only look better as they age, picking up a patina that adds to their vintage vibe.

Colorful leather iPhone 11 Pro cases

The Woolnut logo: Love it or hate it, it's inescapable.
The Woolnut logo: Love it or hate it, it’s inescapable.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

The case I tested, in Woolnut’s Cognac color, stood out from the crowd of leather iPhone cases. (It also matches my beloved Woolnut leather MacBook sleeve, which is going strong after years in use.) Woolnut also sells its iPhone cases in black and a refined green color to complement Apple’s new midnight green phones.

If you like a premium, minimalist leather case, there’s only one possible drawback I can imagine with the Woolnut case. That’s the embossed Woolnut logo on the back. Personally, I love Woolnut’s cartoonish sheep’s head logo. It’s subtle (and kind of comical). But if you’re a “no logos allowed” purist, it could be a deal-breaker. Otherwise, this is a fine leather iPhone case at a very reasonable price.

Price: 35 euros (about $39) for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro; 40 euros (about $44.50) for iPhone 11 Pro Max

Buy from: Woolnut

Woolnut provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.