Bottom line: SANDMARC's case is made with premium full-grain leather that is supple and smooth to the touch. It has tactile buttons and precision cutouts, while also going a step further with complete camera protection that allows for versatile mounting for SANDMARC lenses and filters.
Premium full-grain leather
Tactile buttons and precise cutouts
Easy, versatile mounting for SANDMARC lenses and filters
Camera bump is protected
Camera cutout protrudes even more
Branding not very subtle
Only compatible with SANDMARC lenses
Only two color options
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Ever since the iPhone 4, a lot of people, including myself, have relied on the iPhone for photography. In fact, believe it or not, I don't own a digital camera anymore. All I use to take photos, including all of my photos for iMore, is an iPhone.
And with iPhone photography came an entire market of iPhone photography-related accessories, including lenses and filters that take your pictures to the next level. One of the brands that you may be familiar with for iPhone photography accessories is SANDMARC. The brand recently came out with a new leather MagSafe case for the iPhone, and if you like its large selection of iPhone lenses and accessories, then this is a case you should check out for your best iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro.
SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case: Price and availability
While there are some select SANDMARC products on Amazon, the Pro Leather iPhone case is not available there, unfortunately. The only place you can obtain the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case is direct from SANDMARC's website. The Pro Leather Case is available for the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max models. It comes in two colors: brown or black, and all versions of the Pro Leather Case are MagSafe-compatible. The SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case costs $50.
SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case: A leather case for iPhone photographers
The SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case is made with a genuine, premium full-grain leather that is soft and supple to the touch. It even has a faint leather smell to it, which, if you're a real leather fan, you'll love and appreciate. The interior is lined with a soft microfiber material (it feels like suede) that won't scratch up your iPhone's body. You will also see the magnetic ring on the interior, but there is no sign of it on the exterior. On the backside, you'll find a simple "SANDMARC" logo embossed in the leather toward the bottom. Near the bottom left side of the case are two small holes — you can thread an optional wrist strap here if you choose.
You'll find metal button covers for the side button, as well as the volume buttons. Despite not actually going around the buttons (the inside where the buttons are is flat; see picture to see what I'm talking about), these metallic buttons feel tactile and are very easy to press. I've come across other cases where buttons become hard to press or feel squishy, so I'm glad to see that isn't the case (pun not intended) here. On my brown case, the bronze/copper buttons are a nice contrast to the leather color and give it a touch of professionalism.
Like most other cases, you do get a slight lip around the front screen to protect it from scratches and scuffs if you place it face down on a flat surface. However, like other leather cases, it's not very thick. If that's a concern, then you may want to look elsewhere.
The cutouts on the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case are very precise. Despite that, the cutout for the Lightning port still has a bit of room around it, so it should be able to accommodate whichever Lightning cable you use, even ones with reinforced ends. I did notice that the cutout for the mute toggle is a little deep, so you may need to flick the toggle with your nail.
The most unique thing about the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case is the camera area. The Pro Leather case has an aluminum camera bump that is a bit thicker than what you would normally find on most cases. It's thick enough that it protrudes a little more than the actual cameras themselves, so even if you place the iPhone down on a surface, it shouldn't be touching the lenses. The camera cutouts also have machined threading on them (except the telephoto lens) so they can work seamlessly with SANDMARC-branded lens and filter accessories. If you are an iPhone photographer, then the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case is a great choice to consider.
SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case: The magnets could have been better
Even though the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case is MagSafe-compatible, it doesn't feel like the magnetic hold is as strong as it could be. For example, I slapped my PopSockets PopGrip for MagSafe on it and could pull it off with minimal effort, whereas it takes a bit of force to take it off my Sonix MagSafe case, which is my daily driver, or even the Apple Silicone Case. This is a little disappointing, and I'm not sure if it's strong enough to stay on my MagSafe car mount if I'm on a bumpy road (this has happened to me before, where a weak MagSafe case caused my phone to fall off the mount while driving).
Another thing I personally didn't care for was the thin front lip. I personally like the front lip of cases to be a little thicker for extra protection (I'm clumsy), so I'm not too thrilled with the minimal lip that the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case provides. However, I know that this is a common design with most leather cases, so it just comes with the territory.
I also wish there were more color options besides brown and black, though I suppose this is because it's a leather case and choices are limited. I would have also preferred the branding to not be on the back, and the camera cover is marketed as only compatible with SANDMARC lenses. So if you already have some lenses of your own, then it may not work with this case.
SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case: Competition
For those who are looking for a great leather iPhone 13 Pro case, there certainly is no shortage of options out there. One of my personal favorites comes from CASETiFY, which I've reviewed with the CASETiFY MagSafe Leather case. I like these because CASETiFY offers a wide range of different colors for its cruelty-free leather, and you can even pick from fun designs, including collaborations with big brands like Disney. It also has a strong and secure magnetic hold, and you can customize them if you desire. However, it definitely is a little pricier.
Another nice leather case is the Woolnut Leather Case for iPhone with MagSafe, which our own Karen Freeman reviewed. In her review, Freeman likes the case and recommends it to anyone who wants a high-end, full-grain pebbled leather case that not only looks great but feels amazing too. It's also very lightweight and unobtrusive, with strong magnets.
But if you want a phone case that can protect your iPhone cameras without breaking the bank, consider the Nillkin CamShield Pro iPhone case, which Freeman also reviewed. This one is made with silicone though, instead of leather, but it has a cover that slides over your cameras to keep them safe and protected when you're not using them. It's also super affordable at less than $20.
SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You're an iPhone photographer
- You like leather cases with MagSafe
- You want something that looks elegant and feels good
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't need camera protection
- You don't plan to use SANDMARC lenses and filters
- You don't like or prefer cruelty-free leather
SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case is definitely a unique leather iPhone case on the market. Not only does it look elegant and professional, but it also adds some extra protection for your camera lenses. Plus, if you're into iPhone photography, then you should check out SANDMARC's outstanding lineup of iPhone lenses and filters, which also work seamlessly with the Pro Leather Case. The metallic buttons also add a nice bit of contrast to the leather and are incredibly tactile too.
However, while the SANDMARC Pro Leather iPhone case has a lot of good going for it, there are also some flaws to consider too. For one, the magnets don't seem as strong as some other cases on the market, so you would need to be extra cautious about using it with something like a MagSafe car mount while driving. And as nice as the extra camera protection is, if you don't plan on using SANDMARC lenses and filters, then this case may not be the best choice. After all, there are a lot of other nice leather cases for your iPhone that are just as effective.
But if you are an avid iPhone photographer and already have, or are planning to get some SANDMARC lenses and filters, then this is a nice case to try.