Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Three Mobile Phone Cases That Double as Wallets

Earlier this year, I was introduced to one small product that changed my tech-laden life in a big way: A mobile phone case that could also carry my credit card, debit card and driver’s license.

Now, when I go for a run, I don’t have to find creative places to stuff my ATM card or subway pass. At restaurants, I can leave my “wallet” at the table and also keep an eye out for work-related calls or texts. Grabbing said wallet before running a quick errand means I am also, undoubtedly, bringing my phone with me.

Some consumers might not like the additional bulk these wallet/cases can add to super-slim smartphones, and with constantly changing phone form factors, these cases won’t suit your needs forever. More importantly, if you lose your phone, in this case (no pun intended) you lose your wallet, too. But if you still prefer to consolidate all the clutter in your purse or pocket, these three products might do the job:


Let’s put this right out there: Sena cases aren’t the cheap, $7 to $10 phone cases you might order on They’re designer leather wallets that act as part smartphone case, part card-carrying case for a variety of smartphones and tablets, including iPhone 4 and 4S, iPad, BlackBerry and the new Samsung Galaxy S III.

The Magia Wallet for the Galaxy S III is available for preorder at a price of $44.95. This one here, the walletbook for iPhone, costs $52.

Most Sena cases fit a couple of credit cards, a license or photo ID and, if you squeeze it in there, a cash bill or maybe a couple of small receipts. All buttons, camera lenses and charging ports are accessible through the cases; the fold-over styles include a small leather strip that tucks around and under your phone to hold it in place while it’s in the wallet.

I had a love affair with a red Sena walletbook for about five months, before the case started to fray and look tattered. But during that time, at least a half-dozen people stopped me at the gym or in coffee shops to ask where I got such a nifty case.

For a slightly cheaper alternative, try the Ardium smartphone wallet for $37.95.


The worn Sena became but a distant memory when a colleague showed me the Speck iPhone case.

The slightly less spendy ($39.95) Speck CandyShell Card case adds a lot less bulk than the Sena does.

It fits neatly around the back of my iPhone 4, offers solid protection in the form of hard plastic, and has a carved-out slot in the back that can fit up to three cards or other plastic forms of ID (and unlike the Sena case, which has a clear plastic insert, the information on your cards is concealed by the Speck).

The matte-plastic Speck CandyShell Card case for iPhone 4 and 4S comes in six different colors and, like the Sena, has cut-outs for the phone’s charging port, camera lens and side buttons. My only gripe about the Speck so far is that credit cards, once wedged in the case, can be a little difficult to pry out of it. But, if you’re going for a less-distinguished look or don’t have the dough for a leather wallet case, the Speck might do the job.

Cheaper alternative: The Callet, for $20.

Handmade Cases

If you want to make a statement or stand out from the crowd with your mobile wallet, Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, might be the way to go. One of my favorite Etsy finds is this “Beetlejuice”-inspired phone-and-card case, called the Nerd Herder, for $30 (there’s also one with a circuit-board design, for the true nerd herders).

You can also find a $30 gray merino-wool felt wallet for iPhone; and, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, this $80 gray chevron-striped case, which holds not only your smartphone and multiple cards, but also a passport.

Just keep in mind that, as stylish as some of these are, cloth or wool isn’t going to protect your phone very much if you’re prone to dropping it.

Cheaper alternative: Make your own.

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