Apple's MagSafe wallet review: finally solves the unified iPhone and wallet issue

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 28
There has been much debate around Apple's MagSafe wallet for iPhone 12, but this reviewer thinks Apple has nailed it with its new accessory that perfects a difficult accessory category.

iPhone 12 Pro Max with Saddle Brown leather case and the black MagSafe wallet
iPhone 12 Pro Max with Saddle Brown leather case and the black MagSafe wallet


Alongside iPhone 12, Apple introduced several accessories -- a few of them entirely new. We got MagSafe chargers, a charging dock, sleeves, and a leather wallet.

The wallet is a first for Apple. It is a slim, leather accessory that uses MagSafe to magnetically connect to the back of your phone. A ring of magnets does the bulk of the holding while an additional magnet towards the bottom aids with proper alignment and prevents it from rotating on the back of your device.

Removing cards from Apple's MagSafe wallet
Removing cards from Apple's MagSafe wallet


A cutout on the rear of the case makes it possible to slide your cards easily in and out. And, of course, a subtle Apple logo is depressed onto the back.

Cards are held in place via tension, thanks to a piece of metal on the inside of the wallet, so whether you have one or three cards inside, they won't come free.

Been burned before

We have an expansive, mixed history with iPhone-centric wallets. So quickly, let's look back a bit on this reviewer's lengthy iPhone wallet quests, and how they have led me to appreciate Apple's entry.






I've long idealized a combination of my iPhone and my wallet. In an ideal world, there would be one device, where all my credit cards and ID would be invoked via Apple Pay-- but that fantasy world is a ways off. In the interim, we need something to carry around at least a card or two as well as an ID.

Storing my wallet items with my phone always appealed as a great solution. My friends would criticize me saying, "if you lose your phone, you'll lose your wallet as well!" Which is a fair criticism, but also unfounded. Keeping my wallet in a back pocket is notoriously unsafe and one of the easiest ways to lose your wallet or have it pickpocketed in a crowded environment.

Conversely, my iPhone is almost always glued to me. It is either in my hand or a front pocket easy to keep tabs on. I also check my phone frequently, refreshing Twitter or looking at the latest metrics in YouTube Studio. I rarely check for my wallet unless I'm actively paying for something.

By keeping the two together, I almost guarantee that my wallet will be safe and not lost, stolen, or misplaced. If I did leave my phone behind, at least it can be tracked via the Find My app. In that case, I'd also be able to find my wallet too.

If my phone is stolen, perhaps in the worst-case scenario I'm mugged, they'd certainly want to take my wallet just as much as my phone anyway. Again, little downside to storing my wallet and my phone together. There's are many more benefits to the act than concerns.

Just some of the wallets I've tried for the iPhone 11 Pro Max alone
Just some of the wallets I've tried for the iPhone 11 Pro Max alone


It is because of all that that I've spent years searching for a perfect combo device, and I've tried quite a few. Early on, I would lean towards folio cases, but they added a lot of bulk, and I felt silly when using them to take a phone call. It made my phone uncomfortable and harder to use. I also didn't have any option when I didn't need my wallet other than switching cases altogether.

I also tried cases with card slots on the back. I still love these style cases, and I used them for a couple years. Mujjo and Alto make some of my favorites, and I highly recommend them. My issue was that if I wanted to use wireless charging, I'd have to remove the cards from the back. It, again, wasn't ideal.

Last year, I picked up the Mous Limitless 3.0 case for my iPhone 11 Pro Max. The idea is quite similar to MagSafe in actuality. A series of magnets are embedded in the back of the Mous case, and it would allow an array of accessories to connect. There is a folio cover, car mounts, docks, and of course, a wallet.

My issue here was, and I'm sure at this point you're thinking I am far too picky, that the case was too bulky and not my style. It was a tough TPU material that was very drop resistant. Often, I don't want to use a case and if I do, I want a very minimalist one. By the time you added the folio or wallet on top of the case, it was too much for my daily use.

Enter: MagSafe

After all this time, there we all sat, watching Apple's iPhone 12 keynote. Apple execs paraded across the stage, touting all of the new features of the latest devices, eventually getting to MagSafe.

Apple leather MagSafe wallet
Apple leather MagSafe wallet


We've been using the Apple leather MagSafe wallet for just under a week. While many have complained about Apple's solution, including some of the AppleInsiderstaff, I'm enamored.

Black MagSafe wallet on California Poppy leather case
Black MagSafe wallet on California Poppy leather case


One of its biggest attractions of the MagSafe wallet is its interoperability. Rather than requiring a special magnetic shim, a specific brand of case, Apple's leather wallet will work with any MagSafe device or case.

MagSafe wallet directly on iPhone 12 Pro Max without a case
MagSafe wallet directly on iPhone 12 Pro Max without a case


That means you can go case-free and snap the wallet directly to the back of your iPhone 12. You can also pick up any MagSafe case. Apple has leather and silicone ones of its own design, and are a few third-party options to choose from. Right now, that basically includes just Otterbox cases but will soon include nearly all of the major players.

Easily remove MagSafe for charging
Easily remove MagSafe for charging


The wallet is also removable any time you please. Want to use a MagSafe charger, stick your phone to a MafgSafe dock, or want to keep your wallet in your pocket? Just slide it off.

For what it's worth, we also carry cash around with us from time-to-time but for that we use a money clip on those rare occurrences.

Many, many early reviews of Apple's wallet were lackluster, taking Apple to task for weak magnets and poor usability. Reviewers opined that it was too easy to knock the wallet free or, even worse, lose your wallet while trying to slide the phone in your pocket. In my experience, these woes are largely unfounded.

Apple's MagSafe wallet perfectly fits the iPhone 12 mini
Apple's MagSafe wallet perfectly fits the iPhone 12 mini


No pun intended, magnets in this use-case are a positive and a negative. On one hand, it allows you to have a non-permanent, removable container for identification. On the other hand, because of those advantages, it can be knocked free if you're not careful. Any feature of any device has always been a trade-off of advantages and disadvantages, and this is no exception.

Some on staff have said they've had issues. Specifically, the tighter the space the phone and wallet combo is inserted into, the easier the case pops free free. As long as you're aware of where your wallet is, this is less of an issue.

Think of it like a cup of coffee. You know it's on your desk, and you alter your behavior a bit as you work to not knock it over. To be sure that the wallet doesn't pop off the back of the case, you can similarly alter your behavior. If you put your phone and wallet in a tight pocket, for example, you can place your index finger on the wallet as you put it in your pocket, or pull it back out.

Two cards in Apple's MagSafe wallet
Two cards in Apple's MagSafe wallet


We all do agree that the wallet can be a bit tight if adding three cards. If you stick with two cards -- like an ID and Apple Card -- it's fine. Tucking in a debit card pushes it towards the tight side and makes it harder to get the cards to slide out. It may loosen over time, but this is our experience thus far.

Should you pick up Apple's leather wallet?

Deciding whether Apple's MagSafe wallet is right for you is going to be an entirely personal decision. If you have a pile of cards, then this isn't going to be for. If you want to go minimal, then this is about as minimal as it gets.

We love how premium the leather feels, how it will age over time, and slim it is as a whole when mounted to our phones, and how it is one less thing that we need to carry with us.

Apple's MagSafe wallet is fantastic
Apple's MagSafe wallet is fantastic


Some have already requested Apple launch a silicone version to go alongside the leather option that would hit a lower price point as well as provide a non-leather option. The big issue with silicone is that it would made the case too "grippy" and more likely to get stuck in pockets and bags.

The good news is that if you don't like Apple's material choice, it is all but certain we will see many third-party wallets fill that void in the months ahead.

For now, Apple's leather wallet has a design that appeals to most of us, and it solves every issue that we encountered in the past with iPhone/wallet combos. If you think the idea of ditching your standalone wallet is a good idea and have an iPhone 12 -- or an older iPhone with a MagSafe-enabled case -- then there is a good chance you will be smitten with Apple's wallet too. Just be mindful that your wallet is there.

I adore Apple's leather MagSafe wallet. Based on the fact that they've been out of stock since launch, it seems many of you already agree with me.

Pros
  • Great colors

  • Matches Apple's leather cases

  • Between one and three cards fit and won't come out on their own

  • Easily can be removed for MagSafe or Qi charging

  • Works with or without a case

  • Fits any phone that supports MagSafe

  • Won't damage your cards
Cons
  • With three cards it is a tight fit when the wallet is new

  • Putting the combo in a tight space? Be mindful, and take precautions to prevent dropping your wallet

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

Apple's leather MagSafe wallets have been hard to come by but you can order them through B&H Photo as well as Amazon for $59.
williamlondonEric_WVGG
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,749member
    I can't use one all the time, but for a night out or vacation when I thin out my wallet, this looks like it will work great. Will be on my Christmas list.
    williamlondoncaladanianStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 56
    One of the more clever accessories associated with the new MagSafe system What a great idea, especially if you've embarked on a thinning/slimming of wallets in recent years, thanks in large part to things like Apple Pay, the AW, etc.
    caladaniananantksundaram
  • Reply 3 of 56
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 850member
    This is a really good review that fairly balances the pro and cons. Most other reviews I’ve read go out of their way to only highlight the negatives. Yes, if you put your phone/wallet into your pockets using only the tip of your fingers, making sure that the space in between perfectly catches the edge of your pants, then the predictable outcome is that the wallet will fall off. In other words, they purposely concentrated on the failings in order to generate clicks. 

    That said... this may not be the right place, and I’m not trying to sound preachy, but it is way past time for Apple to investigate vegan leather options. For all their environmental causes, to continue to ignore this is a glaring oversight. 
  • Reply 4 of 56
    Looks nice, but I want to see some tests about how well it will shield the magnetic stripes on your cards from the magnets in the MagSafe connector.  And from the charging field, for that matter.
    williamlondonrandominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 56
    My wife and I have been using the MagBak case and wallet for years. Just like Apple's MagSafe, it combines a thin case with a magnetically attached thin leather wallet. I keep 2 credit cards in it, and my wife stuffs 6 or 7. The magnets are much stronger than Magsafe, and can support holding the phone on the side of a refrigerator or metal cabinet. The wallet includes a finger loop (which is awesome for 1 handed use), and because of the strong magnets, it feels very secure and have no fear the phone go flying. The case also comes with a small magnetic bar that can be stuck to the dash of my car to hold the phone securely, with or without the wallet. And because the magnets don't block the charging coil, I can still charge wirelessly.

    We just bought iPhone 12 Minis, and immediately ordered MagBak cases for them. 

    It really blows away MagSafe.
    williamlondonmobirdJaphey
  • Reply 6 of 56
    I've been using stick-on-wallets going all the way back to the iPhone 4S days. The thing that's been preventing me from trying MagSafe is that the best of the stick-on wallets has this great little elastic strap to hang on to, I'm pretty sure a design like that with MagSafe would not be "safe" at all. 
      https://www.amazon.com/Sinjimoru-Holder-Credit-Functioning-Android/dp/B07FT8KSHZ

    Still, nice to see a review from an actual phone+wallet person, most of the reviews I've seen start with "what, I can't fit my George Costanza wallet in this!!#!" I'll probably wind up giving one a try sooner or later.
  • Reply 7 of 56
    There has been much debate around Apple's MagSafe wallet for iPhone 12,

    Anybody get into one of these debates? I guess I live a sheltered life...
    williamlondonfred1igorskyrandominternetperson
  • Reply 8 of 56
    GeeAyeGeeAye Posts: 25unconfirmed, member
    As a vegetarian - which is not a rare thing in this world - my issue is the leather. I can understand the issue with silicon being grippy but I'd buy a knock off faux leather one even if it had a limited life span. I still like the wallets which cover the screen as my experience is that my screen stays mark free and it survives face first drops. They fold back behind the phone so I'm not sure about why that would make one feel silly using it.
    williamlondoncrowley
  • Reply 9 of 56
    I have it. Like the article says, it’s fine. When using on a naked iphone, it’s a little less grippy than with the silicone case. It could slide off if you don’t use your fingers to shield it as you slide into a tight pocket, so you use your fingers to shield it as you you slide it into a tight pocket. But on the silicone case, the thing is super grippy. I imagine the rubber is more non-slip than the slippery frosted glass back, and it just sticks. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 56
    I thought that the https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MRX22ZM/A/iphone-xs-max-leather-folio-black solved this "problem" quite well; and I'm at least partially not instantly getting the pro max simply because I haven't found a case that will replace that folio perfectly.

    (Having gone mostly vegan also complicates things, it's surprisingly common that companies use (bad quality) leather even when a faux material would make more sense; just because the company want to call their product luxurious.)
    williamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 56
    GeeAye said:
    As a vegetarian - which is not a rare thing in this world - my issue is the leather. I can understand the issue with silicon being grippy but I'd buy a knock off faux leather one even if it had a limited life span. I still like the wallets which cover the screen as my experience is that my screen stays mark free and it survives face first drops. They fold back behind the phone so I'm not sure about why that would make one feel silly using it.
    No one tells you to eat the wallet.  :p
    williamlondonNaiyasanantksundaram
  • Reply 12 of 56
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,467member
    shamino said:
    Looks nice, but I want to see some tests about how well it will shield the magnetic stripes on your cards from the magnets in the MagSafe connector.  And from the charging field, for that matter.
    And you assume this never crossed Apple engineer’s minds when they were developing this product? Really? They didn’t care if their case erased your credit card? Really? 
    igorskywilliamlondontapeanantksundaram
  • Reply 13 of 56
    Bought one and returned it. Didn’t feel secure. I’ll be keeping my old wallet for now.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 56
    It’s a good idea, Apple was not the first to do this either.  I am happy with my Magbak case and magnetic wallet.
  • Reply 15 of 56
    DaRev said:
    It’s a good idea, Apple was not the first to do this either. 
    Good thing "Apple Wallet...we're the first to do this!" wasn't in the advertising campaign.
    williamlondonanantksundaramsvanstrom
  • Reply 16 of 56
    tapetape Posts: 35member
    I tried the wallets out at a store last week and found they come loose with a comically small amount of applied pressure or shaking. I tried different wallets on the bare phone and with a couple of cases on, just to make sure it wasn't the specific wallet or case, and the things just fall off. I could not possibly trust one of these, in their current state, considering its ostensible task.
    williamlondonMacQuadra840avsvanstrom
  • Reply 17 of 56
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,277member
    GeeAye said:
    As a vegetarian - which is not a rare thing in this world - my issue is the leather. I can understand the issue with silicon being grippy but I'd buy a knock off faux leather one even if it had a limited life span. I still like the wallets which cover the screen as my experience is that my screen stays mark free and it survives face first drops. They fold back behind the phone so I'm not sure about why that would make one feel silly using it.

    I recognize your concern and believe it is valid.   For myself, I rationalize the use of leather by telling myself that the poor cow wasn't murdered to get it's skin but for it's meat to feed the carnivores who mistakenly believe they need meat to be healthy and strong.
  • Reply 18 of 56
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,277member
    It's perfect?
    Huh?   I would say that it's nice and it's step forward, but not perfect.

    For one, it doesn't hold enough.  What do you do, for instance, if you need to carry cash?
    For another, it sounds really awkward that, to use a card you have to pull the phone out of your pocket, remove the wallet from the phone then remove the card from the wallet -- then stick the card into the reader.    I only have two hands and it sounds pretty awkward as you try to negotiate a check out line.
    For another,, 3 cards simply isn't enough for most people:   They need to carry credit cards, drivers licenses, insurance cards (for medical emergencies) and often other cards and documents such professional licenses and such.   For this last, Apple could help by letting people add those cards to their phone -- but that involves coordinating with government and private agencies to get them to recognize such digital documents.   And that could be hard.

    The hang up is that most current wallet cases (and all of Apple's) are also equally inconvenient to use -- mostly because they rely on a flap that goes over the screen of the phone -- so you have to open your wallet simply to use your phone.   That's just plain stupid.

    I stumbled upon this one on EBay and myself and my grandson have been using it and loving it for the past year.   It leaves the screen of the phone open, provides for plenty of storage as well as protection for the phone, its easy to use because you simply flip the back open to get to your cards and, while not thin, does not add a lot of bulk or weight.   And, for $7.00, what's not to like?  I have no intention of switching (or going back to carrying a separate wallet) because it is both highly functional and highly convenient to use.

    Leather-Flip-Wallet-Card-Holder-Case-For-Apple-iPhone-11-Pro-XS-Max-X-8-7-6-Plus


  • Reply 19 of 56
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,467member
    GeeAye said:
    As a vegetarian - which is not a rare thing in this world - my issue is the leather. I can understand the issue with silicon being grippy but I'd buy a knock off faux leather one even if it had a limited life span. I still like the wallets which cover the screen as my experience is that my screen stays mark free and it survives face first drops. They fold back behind the phone so I'm not sure about why that would make one feel silly using it.

    I recognize your concern and believe it is valid.   For myself, I rationalize the use of leather by telling myself that the poor cow wasn't murdered to get it's skin but for it's meat to feed the carnivores who mistakenly believe they need meat to be healthy and strong.
    Your superiority complex is impressive. What must it be like on your pedestal looking down at we dumbass, Neanderthal  carnivores.
    inTIMidatorGG1
  • Reply 20 of 56
    lkrupp said:
    shamino said:
    Looks nice, but I want to see some tests about how well it will shield the magnetic stripes on your cards from the magnets in the MagSafe connector.  And from the charging field, for that matter.
    And you assume this never crossed Apple engineer’s minds when they were developing this product? Really? They didn’t care if their case erased your credit card? Really? 
    Why jump down his (?) throat?  It's a valid concern.  Obviously Apple designed with this in mind, but what's wrong with waiting for independent confirmation?  Has Apple never done anything wrong with a version 1 product?  (as if)
    williamlondonGeorgeBMac
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