- Buyer's Guide
Bellroy Tech Collection Review
Bellroy should be a familiar name within our community; a brand that is focused on helping you carry your life in a considered way (and a brand we share founders with, too). Their slogan of “Bring your life to tech” is aptly given in the Bellroy Tech Collection; their sleek aesthetic and color palette provides protection for your devices while adding a dash of style. Over the past few months I’ve been living with the Mod Phone Case + Wallet, the Pod Jacket Pro, and the Watch Strap for Apple Watches. With tech accessories like this, I wanted to spend a good amount of time with them to see how they hold up to daily use. Let’s dive in and take a look at each piece individually.
Bellroy Mod Phone Case + Wallet
Starting off with the Mod Phone Case + Wallet; coming in at $89, the one I’ve been using is designed to fit the iPhone 12 Pro. But there is now an updated model to fit the iPhone 13 series. The primary material is a flexible polymer that snugly covers all edges of the device. It also provides a slightly raised lip to protect your screen when placing the phone face-down. The back portion of the case is covered in eco-tanned leather. This is lightly textured and also features magnetic rails to attach the 3-card wallet with a snap. Leather will naturally take some scuffs and scratches over time and that is evident on my case. But it has kept my phone protected every day and has shown no sign of coming apart despite the constant use and occasional abuse.
The case itself is slim and adds minimal bulk to my phone. This was really appreciated as I tend to prefer no case at all. Additionally, I also like that branding is pretty minimal; just a debossed Bellroy logo on the bottom portion of the case.
The case still gives clear access to the switches, buttons, and ports on the iPhone, though I do wish that they had a slightly more positive “action” to them. It can feel a bit spongy to press the buttons, though I’ve found in use, it always registers the press. The case also maintains compatibility with Apple’s MagSafe chargers and has worked with every third-party wireless charger that I’ve tried. But it is worth noting that you of course maintain unrestricted access to the device’s Lightning port for wired charging or accessories.
The primary party trick of this case, aside from the obvious protection of your device, is the magnetic rail system that allows you to quickly attach and detach a slim wallet that is able to carry 3 cards comfortably. It’s also made from the same type of leather as the case and minimally increases the bulk when in use.
The wallet is designed to only carry cards. While I’m sure you could fit some cash in there, it might be a little troublesome to retrieve. The exterior face features the primary access slot, and you can store two more on the inner face. When I first received the case, I found it a bit difficult to retrieve my cards from the inner face. But with time and use it has become very easy to do (though nothing has ever fallen out accidentally). Though I have used the case and wallet daily for months now, there has been no sign of the magnets weakening or becoming loose in any way. The wallet always firmly attaches every time it’s in use and has never once disconnected without me specifically doing so.
Bellroy Pod Jacket Pro
Moving on to the Pod Jacket Pro which retails for $39; it’s a one-piece design to cover the case of Apple’s AirPods Pro. It makes for a precise fit on the case and features the same quality of materials that are found on the phone case and wallet. The case is designed in a way that supports wireless charging and has an opening to allow you to plug in a Lightning cable for wired charging if needed. In use, I appreciated the fact that the Pod Jacket Pro has kept my AirPods case from getting scuffed or damaged (because my AirPods go with me everywhere). But there was a notable flaw in the design that made it frustrating to use.
The single-piece construction means that there is a thin leather hinge that joins the top and bottom sections together. This hinge would often (but not always) bend in a manner that prevented the case lid from opening fully. Bellroy was aware of this design issue and has since released an updated revision; a two-piece design that removes the hinge altogether. The original version still serves its purpose as a stylish and protective cover for the AirPods Pro case. But I would choose the newer design in this instance purely from a usability perspective.
Despite my complaint about the hinge, I have kept the Pod Jacket Pro on my AirPods case all this time and it has done its job admirably. My case has taken no damage, despite a couple of accidental drops and frequent handling; my AirPods are no worse for wear.
Bellroy Watch Strap
Let’s finish up by talking about the Watch Strap. It comes in at $69, and is, in my opinion, one of the best third-party Apple Watch straps that I have ever used. It’s available in two sizes to support the various sizes of the Apple Watch and the length should support most wrist sizes. The blend of leather and polymer allows the band to hold up to daily wear and tear remarkably well. Despite a few superficial scuffs, there has been zero separation in the strap pieces. And the fit is perfect for the curved design of the Apple Watch itself. It’s available in multiple leather finishes, based on your personal preference, and features subtle and minimal branding.
I was particularly fond of the small orange accent on the buckle, which doesn’t functionally enhance the watch strap in any realistic manner, other than showing me that this is a considered and intentional design choice, which I appreciate.
Another design choice I enjoyed was the decision to blend leather and polymer together for the band; this gives it excellent durability. Not only that, the lightly textured underside helps reduce sweat buildup (I can attest to the validity of this claim). Over time, the leather will develop a natural patina (along with all the other products mentioned in this write-up) and take on an individual character based on how you use it. I like that.
All in all, Bellroy is known for making quality bags and accessories that feature a considered design. But their roots began with focusing on the small daily carry items we usually have on our person. The Bellroy Tech Collection (which features more items than just those highlighted in this review) is a stylish addition to their existing line and provides you, the user, with some great options to protect your tech.