I became a fan of the integrated phone wallet approach a few years back. I’ve tested a ton of different implementations of this and have finally settled on the elastic card holder method. But before I compare the two best in that category, I’ll start by outlining how I landed on elastic card holder vs. other types of phone wallet cases.
The Phone Case Styles
I initially did a ton of research on different cases, and there are literally hundreds out there. Each with different approaches and bells and whistles. And there are tons of good articles that review various cases. But in this article I’m just going to highlight the general “methodology” that each case uses. I have categorized the different approaches to phone wallets into three distinct categories: The Folio, The Slot and The Box. Of course there are tons of variations and many manufacturers would probably slam me for simplifying things to just 3 styles, but I’ve found this is really all there is.
This is where I first started. The folio essentially connects to your phone either by a case or snap and folds over the top. This provides a large area to store cards and money as well as protects your phone face. Immediately after purchasing this type of case I realized two things. First, while I liked the ability to hold just about everything I previously had in my wallet (6+ cards and 5+ bills), the added bulk was too much. Second, I found it too difficult to use my phone with one hand because of the case flap getting in the way. And to boot, it was just too time consuming to open and get a peek at my phone. So for me, this method really doesn’t work.
The box style is quite similar to the slot in that you have limited space to store cards and money, but is more secure because it completely closes and nothing can fall out. I didn’t actually try this method personally because I felt I was going to be too limited in getting my cards in there. Most only take 1 card and 1 bill or some of the larger ones act like a clamshell around phone which has the same downsides as the folio model for me except it’s more secure.
The “Slot or Sleeve”
I quickly landed on the slot (or sleeve) style. This is probably the most common and certainly has the most variations. There are hard slots, leather slots, elastic slots, slots with magnets, stick on slots, and hundreds more. I initially tried a hard case slot and found this to be too limiting because you could not jam more than 1 or 2 cards in there as we’re dealing with hard plastic. Generally I found it to be fairly secure and most have a nice finger push spot to get your card out. But they tend to be bulkier and you don’t get more storage for that added bulk. Next I tried a simple leather and soft plastic slot models. I actually keep this for about a year, testing 2 or 3 different ones. Generally this worked pretty good in that it wasn’t bulky, I could jam more cards and money in because the leather or plastic stretched a bit. I was able to keep 2 cards, driver license and about 3 bills in this one. The downside was that after it stretched, I could not go back, I had to keep it tightly packed or things would just fall out. And eventually, it just got too stretched and my junk wasn’t secure at all. In fact, I nearly lost my cards, license and money while j-walking in New York. Someone noticed and picked it up and ran it to me; there are some good people out there.
I started researching an alternative approach that wouldn’t stretch out but could still stretch. As obvious as it sounds, the “elastic” style didn’t initially dawn on me and it wasn’t included in any of the dozens of articles I had read about wallet cases. But when I finally searched for “iPhone elastic wallet case” I found what I was looking for.
One word, "elastic". AndI really only found 2 companies that offer this: Thread Wallets and Jimmy Case.
The “Elastic” Phone Case Wallet
For me, this has been the best solution. It has all the 5 key factors that are important to me:
1. not bulky — only slightly more than phone with regular case
2. expands to hold 2–4 cards and 2–3 bills
3. quick access and no impact to phone use
4. can increase or decrease holdings — meaning i can have 2 cards + $20 or 4 cards + $20 and it works over time no matter what (the magic of elastic)
5. remains secure over time — can’t stretch out so things fall out
Now let’s compare the two companies that offer elastic phone case wallets: JimmyCase and ThreadWallets.
After researching these two companies as best I could I ended up starting with ThreadWallets, then later replacing that purchase with JimmyCase. Initially I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the two, they seemed to offer nearly the same product and called out the same features and benefits. And generally speaking this is true, but they aren’t identical. There are some differences.
ThreadWallets “Elastic” Phone Case Wallet
My first purchase. I was generally happy and kept it for about 6 months until it wore out. The designs are nice, although I’m not a huge fan of the faux leather behind the elastic holder. I’d rather just plastic there honestly, or some other design material. But the various elastic styles/colors/patterns are nice. I chose the “weekend” style (featured below).
The main issues are:
- elastic doesn’t keep elasticity as long as it should; so eventually things do become loose. Still way better than the leather or plastic options mentioned above, but you’ll have to replace every 4–6 months.
- the fabric gets dirty pretty fast; again, not a big deal in terms of functionality, but for how good it looks, would be nice if I could easily clean it.
- the buttons don’t press so good; this got annoying, they work, but I’d frequently mis-press or press and not get response from the phone.
- not loving the leather; maybe some would, but it’s just trying to be more than it actually is in my opinion.
Jimmy Case “Elastic” Phone Case Wallet
After my Thread Wallets case was worn, both the fabric dirty and the elastic too loose, I figured I’d try Jimmy Case. And it’s the winner in my book. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that much better, but it’s enough.
The superior aspects are:
- elastic seems to keep it’s elasticity longer; i’m over 6 months now and no change to tightness
- the fabric has stayed cleaner and i’ve been able to gently wash it back to near original luster
- the buttons are very responsive and rarely fail to press or misfire
it doesn’t have the fake leather, but honestly I don’t like the faux wood either, same issue — feels too fancy for what it is.
So that’s my story and review. LMK what you think in comments or give me a clap++ if this is helpful.