Tested: Waterfield Ranger Phone Case Holster

The Waterfield Ranger Phone Case Holster has been the final piece in my iPhone 12 Pro Max puzzle. Back when I first took delivery of the device, I said that it felt like a giant phone.

It really does feel like I’m trying a whole new product category here […] I got an early hands-on preview of the size when the case arrived ahead of the phone, but even that didn’t fully prepare me for just how big the iPhone 12 Pro Max feels. It really does feel more like a next-gen iPad mini than an iPhone…

That’s no longer the case. Some four months later, the size feels relatively normal to me. I mean, it does still feel on the large size, but it no longer feels like a giant phone.

But I knew that spring, whenever it finally decides to arrive in the UK, was going to throw up one last problem: carrying it without a jacket. Although it does technically fit in trouser pockets, it definitely feels awkward when sitting down, and carrying it in front jeans pockets while cycling feels both uncomfortable and insecure.

My suspicion was that I was going to need some kind of belt holster in warm weather, when I was wandering around in short sleeves. That problem has now been solved.

The Waterfield Ranger Phone Case Holster is a way to carry a phone on your belt. It’s available in six sizes, to suit everything from a iPhone 12 mini to the Pro Max. The one I’m using is size 6. Other sizes are compatible with the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max.

Look and feel

The size 6 holster measures around 7 inches high by 4 inches wide by around 1.5 inches thick. As with previous Waterfield products I’ve tested, it’s made from heavy-duty distressed leather.

Not everyone is a fan of the distressed look, but whether you are or not, any leather product is going to pick scratches and marks, and develop a patina over time. Personally, one of the things I love about leather is I don’t have to baby it, and it generally looks better as it ages, so I just see distressed leather as cutting out the middleman.

As with all the company’s products, it’s made in Waterfield’s own workshop in San Francisco. The holster feels really heavy-duty, with thick leather and strong stitching. The leather is naturally tanned, full-grain, and the liner inside is ultrasuede. It’s thick enough that I feel confident the phone would be safe from damage even if I were to clonk it against a table or something.

The sides are partly open, but the seams mean the phone is still totally protected. Inside, there’s a rear slot for the phone, and a thinner front slot which the company suggests is perfect for some cash or a pair of wired Earpods, but I find ideal for the MagSafe wallet.

In use

I’ve used phone holsters in Ye Olden Days, before iPhones, and WaterField has solved two of the problems I encountered back then.

First, the usual way to attach one to a belt was a snap fastener, which could be fiddly to close and would occasionally spring open. WaterField instead uses a super-strong magnet, which closes automatically and is rock-solid.

Indeed, Waterfield even suggests you can use the holster without a belt, by simply passing the flap behind the waistband of your trousers and letting the magnet do its thing – or even attach it to the webbing belt of a bag. I tested both, and both felt 100% secure.

To give you a sense of the strength of the magnet, it you have experienced MagSafe, I would say this magnet is about three times as strong. Nothing I tried made it come open without me opening it deliberately.

The second issue with holsters is that some activities – like cycling or running – can risk the phone falling out. WaterField has a really clever secure fastener here.

To open it, you need to first pull down the tab. Since the only way a flap can allow a phone to fall out is if it opens upwards, there is no way for this to happen accidentally. And yet closing it is as simple as allowing the flap to slap closed. I love this fastener.

Waterfield Ranger Phone Case Holster: price and conclusions

As with any quality leather product, the holster isn’t cheap, at $89. But given that Apple wants $129 for a leather sleeve for the phone, I don’t think the price is in any way unreasonable. I’d expect it to last pretty much forever.

The Waterfield Ranger iPhone Case Holster is available from the company’s website, priced at $89.

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