Woolnut’s slim leather cases look fantastic enough that you might not mourn covering up your beautiful iPhone. And when I put a blue one on my ridiculously huge iPhone 12 Pro Max, it did more than provide an acceptably luxurious layer of protection.
It actually made my phone feel better.
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Woolnut iPhone 12 Pro Max case review
Arriving in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the iPhone 12 Pro Max was so big, and so beautiful, that I didn’t want to put a case on it. Covering up its oceanic Pacific Blue finish, and Apple’s exquisite industrial design, felt almost criminal.
To use an iPhone case or not. It remains a controversial topic, even though the latest iPhones see almost indestructible thanks to Corning’s continuing quest to make tougher glass. Since I was working from home under virtual lockdown in California, the need to protect the iPhone didn’t seem quite so pressing.
After a few months of using the iPhone 12 Pro Max, though, I found that its large size — and the unforgiving stainless steel frame — actually became slightly irritating to hold. Those hard, straight edges dug into my tiny little hands and became uncomfortable. Granted, maybe I was spending a little too much time staring at that massive screen and due to pandemic doomscrolling.
A leather case that feels good in the hand
Placing the iPhone 12 Pro Max inside Woolnut’s full-grain leather case made it instantly more comfortable in my hand. The slimline case makes the phone slightly bigger, but somehow easier to manage. The pebbled leather finish made the iPhone easier to grip: It was simultaneously slightly cushioned and less slippery. Plus, I didn’t worry as much about inadvertently cracking that gorgeous glass back.
Functionally, the Woolnut case hits almost every mark (more on that later). The iPhone 12’s buttons feel firm and responsive underneath their covers. The cutouts for the Ring/Silent switch, the speakers and Lightning port on the bottom, and that gynormous camera bump on the back look precise and don’t interfere with anything.
The pebbled Scandinavian leather provides a unique look. As with all leather cases, that eventually will begin to smooth out on the corners (or wherever your fingers typically touch it). But that slightly weathered look gives leather cases some character.
Overall, Woolnut’s craftsmanship feels top-notch, top to bottom. And now that I’m getting out and about a lot more, I appreciate the protection.
A blue leather iPhone case to wash away the blues
Woolnut produces the iPhone 12 Pro Max case in four colors: black, cognac, green and blue. I chose the blue to match the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s Pacific Blue. While that’s mostly covered up now, the two blues have something in common. They both look spectacular in bright sunlight.
Apple’s Pacific Blue finish seems dark and moody indoors, but sparkles outside in the California sun. And Woolnut’s case does the same. It looks borderline black inside, but the deep blue brightens up noticeably in natural light. It’s the kind of subtle transformation that makes me smile on a sunny day.
A couple of quibbles
There are only two things I don’t love about this latest Woolnut case. One is practical and relates to MagSafe. The other is strictly stylistic (and you definitely might not agree).
First, with the case on, the MagSafe charger doesn’t stick to the iPhone 12 as well as I’d like. Woolnut opted not to add additional magnets to the case the way some other manufactures did. That means even the thin leather of this case leaves MagSafe’s magnetic pull weaker.
That makes it harder to connect the charger. With the case on, it doesn’t “snap” into place the way it does with a naked device.
While that’s only mildly annoying with Apple’s puck-like MagSafe charger, it might make it a no-go with other MagSafe-compatible accessories like wallets and charging stands. Woolnut acknowledges as much, saying the case “may not be suitable for second layer accessories.”
Where’s the sheep?
My second quibble is with the updated Woolnut branding on the case’s back. Previous editions featured the cute Woolnut sheep head above the brand’s name. The iPhone 12 lineup simply bears the Woolnut logo, stamped unsassumingly into the leather.
That makes the branding less visible — but also less quirky and less fun, IMHO. Your opinion on cartoony critters might differ.
Woolnut leather iPhone case: Final thoughts
If you like leather, and you want a distinctive-looking iPhone 12 Pro Max case, Woolnut’s entry is a solid contender in a crowded field. High-quality craftsmanship, and that sweet pebbled finish, should lessen the blow of covering up Apple’s handsome design. However, if you love your MagSafe charger and other MagSafe accessories, it probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
Price: 45 euros ($54.33)
Buy from: Woolnut
Alternative leather cases
Loads of other companies make leather cases, including Cupertino itself. Apple’s leather iPhone case comes in several colors, including Baltic Blue, and retails for $59. Mujjo’s luxurious leather case, which comes with a smooth finish and with or without a built-in wallet for credit cards, starts at around $50. And Oplr. Leather goods co., whose products we stock in the Cult of Mac Store, sells a leather iPhone 12 Pro Max case for just $39.