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Nomad Horween leather cases for Apple iPhone XS Max: Functional, rugged, and attractive

The Apple iPhone XS Max is the most expensive smartphone currently available so spending $45 to $80 on a case seems like a reasonable investment for protection and function. Nomad makes some of the best leather options and we took two of them for a spin.
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1 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nomad Rugged Tri-Folio and Rugged Case for the iPhone XS Max

The Apple iPhone XS Max just launched last week, see our full review, and over the past few days I have been testing a couple of Horween leather cases from Nomad.

Black and brown leather in Rugged Case, Rugged Folio, and Rugged Tri-Folio (brown only) are available for the iPhone XS Max. I was primarily interested in testing out the Rugged Tri-Folio in rustic brown because I've never seen a folio with a tri-fold arrangement. On my commuter train it seems just about every other person has some kind of folio case for their phone where cash, credit cards, transit cards, door access cards, and more are carried in one accessory.

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2 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Tri-Folio case before inserting my gear

Some of these folio cases are packed to the gills with stuff hanging out all over. Nomad's Rugged Tri-Folio is designed to provide ample space for everything with another dedicated flap to carry more.

The back of the main iPhone shell and both flaps is covered in rustic brown Horween leather that is designed to develop character over time. There are four card slots on the first flap and then long cash slots on the front and back of the third flap. A black TPE bumper is attached to the high-grade polycarbonate body to safely hold your iPhone in place with a six foot drop protection rating on the case.

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3 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Loaded Tri-Folio case

Strong material is used on the hinges with grooves to make closure easy and not feel bulky at all. Stitching looks solid and the leather looks, and smells, fantastic. Wireless charging and Apple Pay work through the case so no problems there. An ample opening for the rear camera is also in place.

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4 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Rugged Tri-Folio is fairly compact for such a design

As cool as this tri-folio case looked, I thought it would be way too awkward to hold and use. However, I decided to give it a chance and have come to thoroughly enjoy using it to carry two credit cards, my driver's license, ORCA transit card, office access card, and some bills in the cash slot. The front two flaps fold down onto the display to protect the display with no cards pressing against the glass.

When in use, the front two flaps fold behind the shell part of the case and don't bother me at all with the added bulk. Raised buttons are present for the volume and right action button. An opening is present for the ringer switch too. Taking photos can be a bit awkward holding the case with the two flaps dangling down below the main body of the case, but that is a compromise you have to make to use such a folio design.

The Rugged Tri-Folio is available for $79.95.

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5 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Awesome Horween leather back panel of the Rugged Case

The Nomad Rugged Case is one of my favorite designs with a very simplistic form that protects your phone while providing a case with character.

The $44.95 Nomad Rugged Case is composed of a TPE bumper shell, polycarbonate body, with Horween leather secured to the back. It is designed to survive a six foot drop and adds very little size or weight to your iPhone XS Max.

The Horween leather is designed to patina so over time your case will develop some cool features. The case is built well and I look forward to checking it out in a couple months.

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6 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Raised volume buttons and a ringer switch opening

The volume and right button are raised and work well with the case. There is an opening for the ringer switch, but my fat fingers are somewhat challenged to reach in and flip the switch.

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7 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Raised TPE edge rises above the display to protect the glass

The TPE bumper surrounds the four edges and rises just about the glass. This lets you set the iPhone face down and rest assured that the glass is not on the surface.

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