Review: Pad and Quill Bella Fino and Traveler Cases for the iPhone XS and XS Max

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A few months ago, I reviewed Pad and Quill’s Linen Journals and came away very impressed. I knew the company by reputation before, but that experience was enough to show me that they are the real deal. Their reputation is well deserved. So, when they reached out to see if I would like to take a look at some a couple of cases for the new iPhone XS and XS Max, I jumped at the chance.

Before I get started on the cases, let’s talk about packaging, because that says something about a company. The packaging for these cases was minimal, but equally impressive.

I especially love the Pad and Quill seals.

The Traveler has come

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and have reviewed all kinds of iPhone accessories over the years. Pad and Quill’s Traveler is one of the more unique cases that I have ever looked at. The design, look, feel, even the smell, are all different than you will find with other Apple leather accessories, even those of very high quality.

As you can see above, this case doesn’t fit the mold of a typical leather flip case or plastic shell covered with leather. The Traveler stands out because it is all leather. Both the back and the sides are carefully sewed and stitched leather sections. As such, the case is more flexible and feels more natural, for lack of a better word. It feels more like an aged wallet or nice leather bag than a typical leather iPhone case, especially a brand new one.

Speaking of aged, this is one aspect that Pad and Quill has absolutely nailed. The Traveler feels soft and pliable, like it has already been “broken in.” Along the same lines, it also looks like it’s been through some battles without losing all of them. The design gives the leather the impression of added age, without the Traveler looking beaten up out of the box.

As you can see here, the open seams between the back and sides give the case the look of a bit of natural wear. It’s a nice balance that fits the character of this case. The Pad and Quill embossed logo on the back is also subtle enough to fit the design, rather than detracting from it.

On the inside of the case, you will actually find the initials of the artisan who made it, which adds a personal touch that you don’t get with most cases.

The Traveler is also very unique in how it fits and functions. Normally, the iPhone will fit or snap into a rigid case that is covered with leather. It is the more rigid portion of the case that holds the iPhone in place. The Traveler doesn’t have that shell, and this is where Pad and Quill’s creativity and design chops come in.

As you can see, the leather sides slope inwards, which holds your iPhone securely in place. I never had any issues with mine slipping or moving around during testing, so I think Pad and Quill nailed this design.

One thing I usually look for in a case is how the holes for ports, speakers, mics, the camera, etc. line up. With a rigid case that is covered, the ports can be perfectly exact and even. I have always equated this with attention to detail. However, like I said before. the Traveler is a bit different than your typical case. Because the entire case is leather, everything is flexible and can move around in a way that a leather covered case won’t. As such, the openings on the Traveler don’t line up in the same kind of exacting way that other cases do.

I’m not talking about any of these openings overlapping the camera or being so far off that they cover something up. However, they are just uneven and “off” enough compared to other cases to be noticeable. That said, I don’t say this as a knock on the Traveler. This case is what it is, and unapologetically so. Even though I would be critical of a case for openings that are a little ragged, it actually fits with the unique design aesthetic of this particular case.

Another unique aspect of this case is the fact that there are no openings for the Sleep and Volume buttons.

That is definitely different. I have seen openings for buttons. I have seen fake buttons set on top of buttons. I have seen the shapes of buttons molded into the sides of cases so you will know exactly where to press. I have never seen a case that just covered them up. However, since the leather sides are flexible and have plenty of give, finding and pushing them is no problem.

While I keep commenting on the fact that the Traveler doesn’t have a hard or rigid shell, this doesn’t negatively impact the protection that the case is able to provide. While the leather is flexible and the case is lightweight overall, it is also still thick enough to cover the back and sides of the iPhone and give basic protection against drops. The sides are also tall enough to give a little bit of screen protection, as well.

I will say that Pad and Quill’s Traveler might not be for everyone. You have to really like a leather case. There is a little bit of a tradeoff with how the openings for ports and the camera line up and that the power and volume buttons are covered. Those could turn some users who are super particular off. However, if these aren’t a problem and you love the look and feel of beautifully worn leather, there is a lot to like here. If you want something hand-crafted and unique, then you will be hard pressed to top the Traveler.

Ciao Bella

From unique to a little more conventional, Pad and Quill’s Bella Fino is a folding wallet case for the iPhone XS and XS Max. It has a more traditional side-flip leather wallet case design with a couple of interesting twists.

One of the first things I noticed about the Bella Fino is that it is noticeably thicker and heavier than most leather cases. While the Traveler is made from a single layer of leather, the Bella Fino is double layer with a rigid core.

I don’t think this thickness is an issue with the iPhone XS model of the case. However, the XS Max version is big enough and thick enough that it may not be very pocketable for some users. You have to consider how big the XS Max is, and then how big any folding case will be wrapped around it. This case is thicker than average, so the end result is pretty substantial. I can fit the iPhone XS Max version of the Bella Fino in my pocket, but I am not a small person and I usually wear pants with a little room. Others who don’t may find the case a little harder to deal with. This is something to be aware of before you buy.

One positive, however, is that the Bella Fino’s thickness will provide much more device protection than most other leather cases. On that note, Pad and Quill has also given users some options to customize just how much protection it gives your iPhone. Out of the box, the Bella Fino has a plastic insert that your phone snaps into. This provides even more protection than the thick exterior, but it does add a little extra thickness.

If you would prefer to slim the case down a tad, you can remove the insert. It is held in place with a reusable 3M adhesive pad, allowing you to peel it right off and stick your iPhone directly on it.

I have used a Vaja case with this adhesive backing in the past, so I know it works reliably and it lasts. You don’t have to worry about your iPhone falling out and smashing on the ground. This adhesive will hold, and when you remove your device, it won’t have unwanted residue on the back.

One thing to note about the adhesive is that it holds the insert very tight out of the box. It takes a little effort to remove the peel the insert off the first time. So much so that you may think you are damaging the case. Don’t worry. You won’t. It’s doing exactly what it is supposed to.

The rest of the Bella Fino’s design and function is pretty straightforward. It works very well as a wallet and has plenty of room for cards, your license, money, and other items.

The thickness will increase as you pack more in it, but this is the purpose of a wallet case, so if you are looking at the Bella Fino, you probably know what to expect in that department.

The look and feel of the exterior leather on the Bella Fino is similar to the Traveler,  but cleaner and smoother. All of the models I got to review are Pad and Quill’s Whiskey brown, and the coloring is pretty uniform across all three.

The stitching on the exterior is a closer match to the leather on the Bella Fino, giving it a more uniform appearance than the Traveler. Other than the Pad and Quill stamped on the back and the logo on the fold, the rest of the case’s exterior is beautifully unadorned leather. This is a good thing. And like the Traveler, the leather feels as good as it looks.

The interior of the Bella Fino that I got to review came in Deep Sea Blue, which pairs nicely with the Whiskey exterior.

The interior leather is smooth and has less texture than the exterior and feels like it will hold up to the grind of constantly inserting and removing cards and cash.

I believe in honesty in reviews, so here it is- I am not a huge fan of side-flip wallet cases in general. I used Apple’s leather folio for a while with my iPhone X last year, but I always found myself drifting away from it after a few days. However, this is just my personal, subjective opinion. These cases wouldn’t be around if people weren’t buying them. Some users want to keep their phone together with all of their other vital personal items, and a wallet case is a great way to do that.

The bottom line on the Bella Fino is, if you are a fan of the wallet case and you like great craftsmanship and high quality leather, the it is an excellent choice. Just be aware of the thickness of the case before taking the plunge. If that won’t bother you, then you should love it.

I’ve reviewed other high quality leather cases from companies like Vaja and Piel Frama in the past, so I know what quality materials and craftsmanship look like. This review was my first experience with Pad and Quill’s cases, and I see that same high level of expertise and attention to detail in their products, as well. If you prefer fine leather accessories and don’t mind paying a little more for quality workmanship, then you won’t go wrong looking here. Whether you prefer a wallet case or more straightforward protection for your iPhone, the Bella Fino and Traveler from Pad and Quill have you covered.

The Traveler case is available from Pad and Quill for the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max for $59.95.

The Bella Fino wallet case is available from Pad and Quill for the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max for $89.95.

The Traveler and Bella Fino cases for iPhone XS and XS Max were provided for review on iPad Insight by Pad and Quill. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the About page.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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