Review

Nomad iPhone 13 case review: Protection that hides a nifty secret

4.5
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Nomad has a new lineup of cases for iPhone 13 that includes new Sport Cases alongside the usual leather versions, but they all contain a cool feature that relies on NFC.

The Modern Case & Modern Folio

Historically, Nomad is known for its leather cases. They use high-quality Horween leather, based out of Chicago, rather than some unknown foreign factory that cheap case manufacturers employ.

The updated iPhone 13 models are no different. With use, the cases develop a wonderfully rich patina that is unique to you.

The Nomad Modern Case
The Nomad Modern Case

These leather cases boast very similar features to the iPhone 12 versions. Specifications like ten feet of drop protection, dual lanyard anchor points, internal shock absorbing bumper, and MagSafe support.

The buttons are the only downside to these luxurious cases, consisting of molded TPE like the rest of the bumper. It lacks some of the tactile feel we'd expect from a case button, giving off a somewhat "squishy" feel as you press the buttons without a solid "click" when depressed.

The new Sport Case Nomad has a much more satisfying button.

The Modern Folio Case
The Modern Folio Case

When it comes to the Modern Folio, it has the same back as the Modern Case but has a folio to protect the front. The folio has three card slots — which is ideal for your Apple Card, debit card, plus your ID.

There's a cash pocket too, though we tested, and yes — you can store receipts or business cards there too.

The Modern Case is available in Rustic Brown, black, and natural colorways, while the Modern Folio is limited to just Rustic Brown and black.

Sport Case

Enter the Sport Case. This is a departure from Nomad's usual lineup of leather goods for an entirely new design.

Metal buttons on the Sport Case
Metal buttons on the Sport Case

The case's back is a glossy plastic panel in black, Lunar Gray, Dune, Ash Green, and Marine Blue. They're also fairly earth-tone colors that feel like they match well with the rugged leather looks of its other gear.

A TPE bumper goes around the edge to act as a shock absorber. There are raised edges around the camera bump as well as around the display.

The Sport Case and Modern Cases all support MagSafe
The Sport Case and Modern Cases all support MagSafe

One of the nicest features here is the anodized aluminum metal buttons for the side button as well as the volume buttons. They are especially ultra-tactile as they make direct contact with the phone's buttons beneath.

We need Nomad to bring these to its leather cases because they are far superior and easier to press than the soft buttons.

Our only issue with these cases is the glossy back. It does hold up surprisingly well to scratches, but it's just too slippery, as some of our MagSafe accessories just seem to slide around a little bit more than usual.

Another detracting aspect of these cases is there's a bit of a lip, a mold burr on the TPE bump. As you pick up the phone you can feel this ridge, which is a little sharp.

Nomad says they're adjusting the tooling to take care of this issue so it shouldn't be an issue in the future.

New smart NFC chip

All of Nomad's cases though contain one very unique feature that we love. The company's partnered with Popl to integrate an NFC chip into the bottom of each phone case.

The NFC chip can be scanned to pull up your personal Popl profile, similar to LinkTree. Here, you can link out to your LinkedIn, Twitter account, contact information, SoundCloud account, and much more.

Sharing information with NFC
Sharing information with NFC

Nomad calls it a digital business card but we feel that's a bit limiting. Share your number with a flirty person at the bar, share your YouTube channel or Apple Music account with a friend, and yes — share your business website, contact details, demo videos, and more with a potential client.

You set up the cases in the Popl app. The Popl app has not been updated to include the Nomad case, at the time of publication, but it can still be activated by choosing the normal Popl device.

When you tap to activate, the native iOS NFC scanning interface appears, and you tap it at the bottom of your case. This will register your NFC tag.

We've been testing using a prerelease version of the Popl app. Version 4 will be a massive overhaul to the app that brings a much-improved interface and takes better advantage of the newer device.

Popl, which has an entirely free tier, splits your account into two. You have a personal profile as well as a pro-level business profile.

For either, you can assign a profile photo and add a myriad of links. We don't want to name every link, but to hit the highlights for social media, there is Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more. You can link to your number for texting, email, FaceTime, phone number, WhatsApp, or a full-fledged contact card.

Send people to your website, your Etsy shop, the App Store, among others. Payment links are available such as Venmo, PayPal, or Cash App. And there are music links for Apple Music, SoundCloud, and Spotify.

Adding links, editing our profile, and sharing our profile
(From left to right) Adding links, editing our profile, and sharing our profile

If you'd prefer, there are custom links, file downloads, LinkTree, OnlyFans, MediaKits, and several others. Some of these though are marked as pro and require a subscription. Those are mostly business-oriented ones, though.

How it works is when you're out and want to share your information, you ask someone to tap the bottom of your phone case with the front of their iPhone or Android device. It will read the NFC tag and open up to your Popl profile, which has your image, an optional logo, and all the links you've added.

There is an option to send users directly to your preferred link, bypassing your profile altogether. Instead of going to the profile and tapping your website or Etsy store, it will send them directly there.

It is more seamless this way if you have one destination. For fans of LinkTree, this may be a good option because that is full of additional links and has more customization, and cuts Popl out entirely.

This is a genius utilization of NFC and Popl's tech, and we're thrilled to see Nomad do something unique that we haven't seen in other cases. This may be a big enough reason alone to consider a Nomad case this year.

Should you buy Nomad's new iPhone 13 cases?

Nomad's leather cases have always been popular. The design hasn't changed much this year (where are the metal buttons!) but they did at least gain the new NFC capabilities. The Sport Cases are similarly cool looking and also have smart tech built-in.

These cases will do more than protect your phone and are great options if you want a stylish, protective, innovative option for your iPhone 13.

Pros

  • Leather cases use quality USA Horween leather
  • Leather cases develop rich patina over time
  • NFC chip for sharing social, contact, or business information
  • Sport Case is all-new for Nomad
  • Very protective cases
  • High quality and craftsmanship
  • Popl has a great free tier available
  • All support MagSafe
  • Folio has copious storage

Cons

  • Burred edge on back of Sport Case, but will be resolved soon
  • All color options for Sport Case not currently available
  • Few leather designs overall
  • New design changes to leather cases and lack metal buttons
  • Glossy backs can be slippery

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

Nomad's new Sport Case is available for $39.95 in all sizes of iPhone 13, as are the two leather cases that start at $59.95.