In defense of Apple's iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 5
As a thin wallet fan, the idea of ditching my wallet entirely has been appealing for some time. While I don't yet live in that wallet-less utopia, Apple's frequently maligned iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe is great, despite what you may have heard from critics.

A Magsafe wallet placed on top of an iPhone 12 Pro
A Magsafe wallet placed on top of an iPhone 12 Pro


I've been using Apple's MagSafe wallet in combination with the iPhone 12 Pro and Apple's official MagSafe silicon case since they all launched last fall. Depending on the thickness of your cards, it can hold two or three -- in my case, a driver's license, a credit card, and a New York City MetroCard. Since switching to the Apple MagSafe wallet, I've also picked up a money clip, for the times when I need cash.

Priced at $59, it's on the pricier side as far as wallets go (as are all official iPhone accessories), but the MSRP is not exorbitant. For example, I see a lot of ads on TV for the Ridge wallet, a pocket-friendly thin-and-light product that starts at $85.

It's made of "tanned and finished European leather," it comes in four colors (I chose "saddle brown"), it carries a few cards, and it sticks to the back of your iPhone 12.





If I replace my paper-thin MetroCard with a third full-thickness card, it becomes too difficult to push the cards up and out. As such, I've defaulted to two cards since launch, and I haven't had any issues.

Since it launched, I've seen a number of complaints about Apple's leather wallet, with iMore deriding it as "more of a collector's item than a must-have accessory," and MacRumors initially declaring it "kind of a mess" before their reviewer changed his mind. Suffice to say that if this was an accessory or wallet from any other company, there would not be so much criticism, let alone revisiting and reassessment.

The MagSafe wallet can be used with or without an iPhone case, depending on your personal preference.
The MagSafe wallet can be used with or without an iPhone case, depending on your personal preference.


I'm not going to try to convince you that you should or should not use the Apple MagSafe wallet, as everyone has different needs and this product seems to serve a very specific type of user who appreciates a minimalist wallet. Plus, we've already reviewed it. Instead, I will refute some of the main criticisms of the product:

Of course it doesn't hold many cards or any cash

Apple's primary interest is in selling you an iPhone (and an Apple Watch) and having you use your Apple Card or other credit cards through Apple Pay. If Tim Cook and Co. had their druthers, you wouldn't be using physical cards at all, but we still live in a world where cards -- and, in some cases, cash -- are necessary.

Apple split the difference by offering a wallet that holds a few cards but no cash, intended to be used in tandem with Apple Pay.

Using a MagSafe wallet can seriously cut down the amount you carry.
Using a MagSafe wallet can seriously cut down the amount you carry.


Consider that the Apple Card offers users 2% cashback on tap-to-pay transactions with Apple Pay, but just 1% back on purchases that use the physical titanium card. Apple went out of its way to make a credit card out of titanium and disincentivizes you using it, because it wants to make NFC-based payments with Apple Pay the norm.

It should come as no surprise that the company is interested in giving you a jumbo-sized monstrosity of a wallet that hangs onto your phone.

The magnets are fine and work well

I've seen some videos and complaints that the MagSafe wallet doesn't connect straight, with users haphazardly slapping it on the back of their phone and showing that it doesn't magically align itself. This seems like a weird complaint to me -- do they randomly jab plugs and ports together?

The other complaint is that the magnets aren't strong enough and the wallet falls off. I admittedly don't wear skinny jeans, but I have not experienced this issue.

The wallet aligns perfectly with the back of the iPhone when attached.
The wallet aligns perfectly with the back of the iPhone when attached.


When I push the wallet and deliberately attempt to lodge it out of place, it's more secure when held against Apple's silicon case for the iPhone 12, presumably because the case material provides more friction. The wallet does budge easier when just attached to a naked iPhone 12, which has a smooth glass back, but I've never had it dislodge when pulling out of my pocket.

I feel this is a "be careful what you wish for" scenario, because stronger magnets could make it difficult to detach your wallet from your iPhone, which is not a great situation to find yourself in when you're trying to pay for dinner.

The material is nice and looks good

As I said, it's made of "tanned and finished European leather." Based on the description alone, I'm kind of surprised Apple doesn't charge $99 for it.

Apple's pricey accessories have always been an easy target for critics

In the end, the criticism directed toward the official iPhone Leather Wallet is more about Apple than it is about the product itself. A $60 leather wallet only compatible with the latest iPhone models is, in the grand scheme of a massive corporation the size of Apple, a pretty small and inconsequential offering in its sprawling product lineup.

This pointless wailing and gnashing of teeth is nothing new -- see the $700 wheels on the Mac Pro, the $1,000 stand for the Apple Pro Display XDR, or the $10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition. Except, at least in those instances we were talking about optional accessories priced in the three-, four- and five-figure range.

In this case, the hue and cry is over a $60 wallet -- one that does exactly what it promises to do, at a price that isn't really out of line with other small leather wallets.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    mr lizardmr lizard Posts: 226member
    I've seen some videos and complaints that the MagSafe wallet doesn't connect straight, with users haphazardly slapping it on the back of their phone and showing that it doesn't magically align itself. This seems like a weird complaint to me”

    Apple’s promo video literally showed a hand letting go of the wallet and the wallet then snapping securely and perfectly straight onto the back of a case-less iPhone. 

    You may think it’s weird to complain that the product does not perform as the manufacturer has stated, but some would disagree. Apple didn’t have to put that scene in their promo video; they chose to. 

    The other complaint is that the magnets aren't strong enough and the wallet falls off. I admittedly don't wear skinny jeans, but I have not experienced this issue.”

    There’s enough videos out there which confirm that this issue depends entirely on what type of clothing you’re wearing. If it’s skinny jeans or the pocket is tight, the wallet can slide off. If it’s baggy jeans or the pocket is lose, the wallet doesn’t slide off. 

    A magnetic wallet that sometimes stays on and sometimes doesn’t depending on your clothing is a valid criticism. Implying or pretending that it isn’t a problem at all is just pointless. 
    muthuk_vanalingamCloudTalkin
  • Reply 2 of 36
    CX226CX226 Posts: 2member
    I have it and I love it. I wanted to make 2020 the year I was getting rid of my wallet.

    Now my MagSafe leather wallet is the only wallet I have, and I only attach it to the phone when I leave the house. 

    The only two cards I have with me is my ID card and a backup debit card to withdraw cash if necessary. (I‘m German, so an ID card in public is basically mandatory and debit cards are far more common than credit cards.)

    I pay basically everything with Apple Pay. 

    So as I said - no „real“ wallet anymore.
    edited April 4 Rayz2016StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 36
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,392member
    I’ve been looking for a solution. I have a money clip that carries cards. Admittedly I have not been quick on the uptake with NFC payment. I have Apple Pay set up for my cards but I still end up using the cards.  Likely my age...I’m 45 and have been using cards since I was 16.  

    I ordered a folding wallet case for my 12 Pro Max on Amazon but I didn’t like it.  It looks like a women’s wallet to me.  The issue is I at minimum need my license, work ID, insurance cards, some cash, etc.  And that’s if I give up using my physical debit and credit cards.  That’s not really possible or feasible  with some of my spending, from home improvement store credit cards to non-Apple Pay locations.  Last night we went to dinner at a nice steakhouse.  I doubt they even do NFC.  

    Looking it up, it looks like there are some third-party solutions to adding non-supportive cards. Maybe I will try that.  I’d love to carry my DL, work ID and one card.  
  • Reply 4 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,047member
    This, for me, is probably the single biggest reason I would upgrade from my iPhone Xr to an iPhone 12.

    I''ve been using a wallet case (not a folio) with my iPhone for a couple years now and will likely never go back to carrying a separate wallet again.  I carry a credit card, my driver's license and a $20 bill (which has not been used in at least 6 months).   And, I seldom ever even need them as 90+% of my spending is done via Apple Pay.

    Further, my 14 year old grandson uses an Apple Wallet to carry his debit card and, knock on wood, has not had a problem with it in the 6 months he's used it.  So, that might be the "trial by fire" that proves the security of this wallet.

    The main reason for me to switch from my wallet case to Apple's wallet is the weight and bulk it adds to my Xr.  It is much more noticeable than it was with my smaller iPhone 7. 

    So, yeh, I want one.   But spending a grand to get a nicer wallet (since my Xr otherwise serves my needs well) is still a little out of my spending league.
    edited April 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 36
    cjcoopscjcoops Posts: 89member
    I’d love to ditch my wallet, but going cashless isn’t going to be possible here in Thailand for quite some time... so since i’ll carry a few cards anyway and need somewhere for some cash - think i’ll be getting a Johnny Wallet ofr minimal leather happiness fyi for anyone else still needing a wallet have a look
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Dcg_iwmXQ
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 36
    So far I haven’t really had a need to pull my wallet off because my wireless charger didnt fit the pro max so i dont use it. If you put a card with stamped numbers facing the thumb hole, getting cards out is easy 
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 36
    If you have to carry a money clip, you haven’t really solved a problem with that wallet, have you?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 36
    tpurdytpurdy Posts: 6member
    I replaced my wallet with one and I love it! I’ve gone with the 12 pro max in space gray, no case, and saddle brown MagSafe wallet (my car is black with brown interior and I wanted to match hehe). 

    I never have or want cash and it perfectly fits my two most used cards + state issued drivers license. I attach via MagSafe when I’m clearing my pockets and setting everything down, but I often have my wallet in a separate pocket when out and about, which is perfect for me. It’s so thin! 
    GeorgeBMacurashidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 36
    robabarobaba Posts: 71member
    Call me an uninformed Luddite, but don’t credit cards still have a magnetic strip on the back?  Wont storing it next to a huge frickin magnet foul them up?  Seriously not trying to troll, what am I missing?
  • Reply 10 of 36
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 504member
    I haven’t really seen any of the criticisms referred to in the article since the wallet was released last fall. In my opinion, they were mostly contrarian videos made by click thirsty bloggers. I’ve been using one with an official Apple leather case since December and have not had a single issue with it falling off as some of those videos dramatically showed. Not one. Sometimes I carry it attached to the phone, sometimes separately in another pocket. Sometimes with three cards, and sometimes with two cards and a couple bills sandwiched in between. In any case, it has proven to be a great purchase for me, and I have zero regrets. As for the price, I personally thought that $59 was very reasonable considering the cost of other leather wallets on the market. If anything, I was more annoyed by the $10 price increase across the board for the official iPhone cases. I paid it, and am about to pay it again, but an extra $10 just for that little magnet inside is annoying and strikes me as a bit on the greedy side. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 36
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,771member
    The Ridge Wallet is dumb. It can hold more cards, but it's hard, still limited in card capacity, and whoever thought putting filthy money on the outside to be touched and lost is an idiot.
    badmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 961member
    mr lizard said:
    “I've seen some videos and complaints that the MagSafe wallet doesn't connect straight, with users haphazardly slapping it on the back of their phone and showing that it doesn't magically align itself. This seems like a weird complaint to me”

    Apple’s promo video literally showed a hand letting go of the wallet and the wallet then snapping securely and perfectly straight onto the back of a case-less iPhone. 

    You may think it’s weird to complain that the product does not perform as the manufacturer has stated, but some would disagree. Apple didn’t have to put that scene in their promo video; they chose to. 

    “The other complaint is that the magnets aren't strong enough and the wallet falls off. I admittedly don't wear skinny jeans, but I have not experienced this issue.”

    There’s enough videos out there which confirm that this issue depends entirely on what type of clothing you’re wearing. If it’s skinny jeans or the pocket is tight, the wallet can slide off. If it’s baggy jeans or the pocket is lose, the wallet doesn’t slide off. 

    A magnetic wallet that sometimes stays on and sometimes doesn’t depending on your clothing is a valid criticism. Implying or pretending that it isn’t a problem at all is just pointless. 
    You are gullible Mr Lizard to believe what you watch on YouTube.  I have the Apple MagSafe wallet and wear skinnish jeans without an issue.  Mine replaced my Ridge wallet which got badly scuffed up over time.  My Apple wallet is going strong and has liberated my back pocket and has relieved my back.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 36
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 122member
    I would prefer it to carry 1 more card, but otherwise it's great and the only wallet I carry since last fall. 
    mike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,392member
    robaba said:
    Call me an uninformed Luddite, but don’t credit cards still have a magnetic strip on the back?  Wont storing it next to a huge frickin magnet foul them up?  Seriously not trying to troll, what am I missing?
    It’s not supposed to be a problem.  
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 36
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,163member
    I absolutely **love** mine. Pacific Blue + CA Poppy. 

    Superb product. 
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 36
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,428member
    Love/hate relationship with mine. Had it since debut. Love the idea, but must carry three cards: driver’s license, main credit card, Costco card for gas. As a retired guy I feel a bit vulnerable without my Medicare and Part B cards, especially when out of my local area. So, lots of card shuffling which would be okay, but none of my cards have the old embossed numbers so nothing for my thumb to get a purchase on. So I find myself taking the wallet off the phone, knocking the corner of it in a hard surface to get the cards out just far enough to bite the corner of a card to pull them out. Add a mask and it’s worse. Love it, hate it. A pull ribbon sewed into the bottom of the card pocket would help—some wallets have them. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 36
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,428member
    P.S. I use ApplePay most of the time, but a few places where I must shop don’t take it (I’m looking at you, Home Depot!). Also, it does come off in my pocket when pulling out my phone sometimes, even with Dad jeans. Maybe a slightly bigger card pocket with a springy metal clip inside to hold one card firmly, but to allow two more cards or a couple of folded bills. Hardly ever use cash, but sometimes need it for tips and such. 
  • Reply 18 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,047member
    If you have to carry a money clip, you haven’t really solved a problem with that wallet, have you?

    Yes, to a large extent you have -- because it's much less bulky.  The typical wallet is not only thick by itself but filled with multiple cards for ID, etc in addition to cash and other stuff.

    Of course for some of us that money clip would be more bulky than for others.  But I don't think I'd typically have that problem.  For me, $20 seems to be not only all I need but more than I need to carry.   Mostly, since I've been carrying the same $20 bill for months now, it's more than enough.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 504member
    P.S. I use ApplePay most of the time, but a few places where I must shop don’t take it (I’m looking at you, Home Depot!). Also, it does come off in my pocket when pulling out my phone sometimes, even with Dad jeans. Maybe a slightly bigger card pocket with a springy metal clip inside to hold one card firmly, but to allow two more cards or a couple of folded bills. Hardly ever use cash, but sometimes need it for tips and such. 
    Not trying to sound like a dick here, but if they made all the changes you require in order to love it, then what you’ll end up with is…a regular wallet. Maybe you should just stick with one of those. The MagSafe wallet isn’t for everybody, nor was it intended to be. You’re obviously one of the people it wasn’t intended for, and that’s ok. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,047member
    Love/hate relationship with mine. Had it since debut. Love the idea, but must carry three cards: driver’s license, main credit card, Costco card for gas. As a retired guy I feel a bit vulnerable without my Medicare and Part B cards, especially when out of my local area. So, lots of card shuffling which would be okay, but none of my cards have the old embossed numbers so nothing for my thumb to get a purchase on. So I find myself taking the wallet off the phone, knocking the corner of it in a hard surface to get the cards out just far enough to bite the corner of a card to pull them out. Add a mask and it’s worse. Love it, hate it. A pull ribbon sewed into the bottom of the card pocket would help—some wallets have them. 

    Why not try carrying the CostCo card and medical cards in your now useless old wallet in the glove box of your car?   Most glove boxes can be locked.  That's what I've been doing and it seems the only time I access it is when I need to use the credit card that's in there or going to see a physician or when voting (I carry my registration card there).
    urashidwatto_cobra
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