I like my iPhone cases sharp and small. What I mean by that is I like cases that look GREAT and don’t add unnecessary bulk. And if they add some extra functionality to my phone in the process that’s just icing on the cake for me. I’ve reviewed so many iPhone cases over the last few years that I’ve become very picky as of late. But the Nodus Shell is a case I couldn’t resist getting my hands on for a closer look — and that should tell you something right there.
Convenient magnetic docking
The Nodus Shell — along with the Nodus Access portfolio case — isn’t just outerwear for your iPhone. It’s outerwear that lets you stick your iPhone just about anywhere thanks to the magnet embedded in it’s back and the small sticky magnet accessories Nodus sells.
I like the idea of being able to use a magnetic system like this to conveniently place my iPhone in a variety of handy places: on the dashboard in my car, on the wall above an outlet for charging, on the side of my large Apple computer monitor — stuff like that. It just seems like it would be awesome. And it is, for the most part.
Nodus’ magnetic docking system works well. The magnets hold firm but are still easy enough to pry apart.
I’ve mostly been using the Nodus system at my desk with a magnet stuck on the wall so I can view my phone screen at eye level while I’m working. As mentioned, the actually docking works great, but there are two small annoyances with this setup.
First, obviously, there’s a magnet stuck on the wall. I have a white wall and the magnet itself is silver so it’s not like the magnet sticks out like a sore thumb, but still… there’s a magnet stuck on the wall. And when I say stuck, I mean stuck. I’m worried that if I take it off it may peel the paint. A word of caution to potential buyers: you might want to keep to sticking your magnets on smooth, hard-to-destroy surfaces: whiteboards, glass, plastic, etc.
Second, tapping or typing on the phone’s screen while it’s docked can be tricky — especially down near the bottom or up near the top of the screen. That’s because the magnet is close to the middle (centered) and tapping on the end of the phone produces a see-saw like effect where the phone tips in that direction. Hardly a big deal if you are just stashing your phone somewhere to charge or to passively view the screen. Somewhat annoying if you’re trying to interact with the phone, though.
The magnetic docking works really well, though, as advertised. I love the fact that the magnet is completely hidden within he phone case itself so you’d never know it was there — not a bump, nothing raised, etc. But it’s worth noting that to get the most out of this case you’re going to have to really commit: only place those magnets where you’re really going to want them.
Premium design and feel
The design and feel of the Nodus case is such that it would be a nice case all on it’s own — even without it’s magnetic superpower.
Because it’s made of leather, the Nodus Shell automatically gains a premium look and feel. But the leather is somehow tougher and more premium than other leather cases I’ve come across. It’s not a soft, wimpy leather. It’s a durable leather that will still wear in time, but less and slower than other leather iPhone cases. And I like that a lot.
In hand an iPhone wearing the Nodus Shell is less slippery than a naked iPhone by far. It’s comfortable to hold this case and it’s not all that heavy. It’s also thin enough to not be a bother. Nodus has done a very good job of keeping the case more on the minimal side. What I mean is that there are openings on the top and bottom of the case to let a hint of your iPhone’s metal finish shine through and also to give you full, unencumbered access to your ports on the bottom. And the sides of the case just barely peek over the screen so that if you sat the phone screen-down it wouldn’t be making contact with a table’s surface.
The buttons on the side of the iPhone are easy to press and don’t stick out too much. In fact, they’re nearly flush which I kind of like although there are times when I’m wondering which button is which because there’s nothing to really distinguish any of them from each other. I think the cutout for the mute switch could be just a little bigger in the next version of this case, but as is it’s usable.
In terms of protection this case is just thick enough and soft enough that I wouldn’t be worried at all about dropping my phone from pocket height or knocking it off a table or counter.
And the color options… the color options are on point. I tested the Midnight Black but the Yellow (yes, yellow leather looks awesome) and Chestnut Brown are going to make choosing a color really tough.
I’ve been using this case as my daily case for a few weeks now. Typically I’ll try a case for a few days, review and say sayonara. But I really truly do like this case to the point that it would be hard to part with it.
At just over $70 the Nodus case is not cheap, but it’s also not the most expensive case I’ve ever encountered (not by a long shot). But that price point does put it squarely in the luxury category and deservedly so since it is so well made.
You’ll get one “free” magnet with the case (Nodus calls them Micro Docks)with additional 2-packs being sold for just under $30. I wouldn’t recommend getting this case without at least 2 extra magnets — seeing as that is the whole reason for buying this case in the first place — and that would bring your total price to around $100.
I’m fond of the Nodus Shell. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a great leather iPhone case just because it’s an outstanding case in it’s own right. The magnetic docking is the icing on the cake. I would recommend buying this if you’re looking for a luxury iPhone case that looks great, feels good in-hand, offers a decent amount of protection, keeps your ports easy to access and offers some extra functionality.