Rareform iPhone XS case review: Reuse, reduce, recycle with style

When you have an iPhone case that no one else has, you've got something special. When it's a case that no one in the world will ever have the same version of, it's really special. When it's made out of repurposed materials, you can feel good about owning something that has helped reduce the amount of waste that is produced.

That's what Rareform is doing in collaboration with the popular case maker Nomad, with a line of iPhone cases, each uniquely individual, made from old billboard signs that may have otherwise ended up in our landfills.

The Good

  • Nomad case dependability
  • Dozens of different designs
  • Rugged but slim
  • Raised edge for screen protection

The Bad

  • Buttons stick

Uniquely you

Rareform iPhone XS case: The features

Rareform iPhone case

The Rareform iPhone case is made in collaboration with Nomad, which makes rugged iPhone cases (usually with leather backing). If you've ever owned a Nomad case, this is exactly the same design.

It's rugged, but not too thick, made out of sturdy, yet flexible polycarbonate.

There are cutouts for the camera, mute switch, Lightning port, and speakers, and raised buttons for the volume and sleep/wake/Siri buttons.

The back of the case has a very thin piece of vinyl billboard attached to it (it's not just glued to the back — the billboard strip is tucked into the edging).

Each case is made from tossed out billboard signs that are shipped to California and prepped for different products. No two cases are the same. I couldn't even find two cases that looked like they were cut from the same billboard.

Rareform makes more than just cases. The company also uses billboard waste to make bags, wallets, pouches, laptop sleeves, and a whole lot more.

I'm special

Rareform iPhone XS case: What I like

Rareform iPhone case

For starters, it's a Nomad case by design, which I really like. It's sturdy and protects your iPhone from drops (up to six feet), while still feeling slim. It's not thin, mind you. It's a thick case, but not as thick as many of the rugged cases I've tested in my lifetime.

The front edge goes up above the iPhone just a millimeter or so, but enough to keep your screen from touching any flat surface.

The backside of the case is thick enough to rise above the camera lens, but far enough away from the edge that it doesn't disrupt your camera's lighting or usability.

My favorite thing was going to the website and choosing my perfect design. I picked something that looked like black with strips of pink neon. I have no idea what billboard it came from, but I love the way this swath of it looks on my phone.

It would be even cooler if each case showed a picture of the billboard it was taken from, but that's asking a lot.

Those buttons

Rareform iPhone XS case: What I don't like

Rareform iPhone case

The buttons on Nomad cases are famously stiff and the Rareform case is no different. They work, but you have to use some pressure to press them, which is especially annoying when you're trying to put your screen to sleep but keep accidentally triggering Siri.

The bottom line

Rareform iPhone XS case

Rareform is doing something good for the environment by keeping tens of thousands of pounds worth of vinyl from being dumped into landfills around the U.S. Nomad makes a fantastic, sturdy case that you can trust to protect your iPhone. Put them together, and you've got one stellar case on your hands.

See at Rareform

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).