Why you can trust ZDNet
ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
It took me a phone months to look at any other phone after using my Z Fold 3, but in early January I picked up an Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and it has served as my daily driver since then. Nomad continues to innovate and expand its lineup for devices with four case options now available for the iPhone 13 series.
We tested a Modern Leather case, two new Sport cases, and the screen protector. Nomad also offers a Modern Leather Folio case and a Leather Skin that consists of a piece of Horween leather that secures to the back of your iPhone.
Modern Leather Case
The Horween leather cases from Nomad have always been my default favorite case and this year it is known as the Modern Leather case, available for $59.95. The case is available in Rustic Brown, Black, and Natural for all four models of the iPhone 13.
One new feature of the iPhone 13 Nomad cases is support for a digital business card where you simply tap another phone to share your contact information, social media info, or other information you setup in Popl. In order to use the Popl digital business card, you need a Popl device and these new Nomad cases serve that function. After setting up a Popl account, you tap the bottom of the Nomad case to your iPhone to activate the case. After selecting information to share, you simply tap another iPhone or Android phone with NFC enabled to share your information.
The internal bumper system on the Rugged Case is designed to help your phone withstand a 10-foot drop, which offers some relief for those drops out of your hand in daily usage. The body of the case is polycarbonate with a Horween leather back panel that wraps up around the bottom of the four sides and transitions into the TPU edges. The Horween leather will patina over time, giving it character and individual rugged good looks.
The interior of the Nomad Modern Leather case is lined with soft gray microfiber material, with the Nomad branding on the inside and a clear MagSafe circle centered in the middle. The iPhone 13 Pro Max snaps securely into the polycarbonate core frame and ensures the case will not fall off the iPhone. There are ample openings for the rear cameras, flash, ringer switch, Lightning port, speaker, and mics.
Two lanyard attachment points are integrated into the bottom openings. The rigid material ensures that your lanyard will not pull out of the case. There is no lanyard included in the case.
The right side button and volume buttons have subtle raised areas for activation. The right side button has some texture to help make it easier to find it with your fingers. This is the one design area I would like to see improved a bit as the volume buttons are a bit too flush for my needs. The buttons on the Sport case are much better.
Nomad iPhone 13 Pro Max case review: in pictures
The frame wraps around all four sides and protrudes just a bit above the display so that your screen is protected when you set your phone down on a table. The inside of the TPU frame has a gray liner that has notches present, likely designed to dissipate shock loads when you drop your iPhone.
MagSafe functionality is a part of the case design and it works as well as any Apple case with the leather wallet holding securely in place and charging adapter fully engaged. Wireless charging and Apple Wallet wireless technology works with the iPhone in the case too.
A new case option from Nomad is the Sport case, available in Black, Lunar Gray, Ash Green, Dune, and Marine Blue. I tried out the Lunar Gray and Marine Blue colors. Each is available for $39.95 for all four iPhone 13 models.
The interior of the Sport case is similar to the Modern Leather case with microfiber lining, MagSafe center, and Popl digital business card support. There is no lanyard securing points on the Sport case.
After spending some time with these Nomad cases, I found three significant differences between the Modern Leather and Sport case that caused me to move from the Modern Leather to the Sport case. The first is the use of distinct metal buttons for the right side button and volume buttons. Second, the TPU bumper material on the sides is concave rather than flat so my fingers have improved grip for holding my iPhone. This is a fairly subtle design change, but I think the Modern Leather case would be improved with this bumper design. One downgrade with this bumper design is that the drop protection falls from 10 feet to six feet on the Sport case.
The third significant difference, and most obvious, is the back material of the case. I love the Horween leather, but also find the colorful high-gloss material on the Sport case to be compelling. I've always preferred matte finish materials for the back, but Nomad did a good job with the lovely glossy back.
I tested the Marine Blue and Lunar Gray colors. The Marine Blue was my favorite color. The five available colors are inspired by the California coastline with a professional look to them that is not bold and bright.
The edges of the case rise about 1 mm above the display to offer some protection too. The bumper is just 2 mm thick.
In addition to the new Sport Case option, Nomad also now has a Screen Protector available for $24.95. It is available for all four iPhone 13 models and is constructed of Japanese tempered glass.
A key part of a screen protector solution is the ease of installation and proper alignment. Nomad includes an alignment frame that helps ensure a perfect fit onto your iPhone 13. The screen protector is 0.33mm glass and has an oleophobic coating too.
The glass covers the viewable display with a slight border around the edge so that you can still use cases with the protector installed. I haven't dropped my phone yet, but I haven't had to worry about the display with the protector in place. There has been no impact to the usability of the display and I honestly forget there was even a protector installed.