One of my favorite phones of all time is the 2014 Moto X. Not only did it run a clean version of Android with Motorola’s excellent customizations it also was available with wood and leather backs. Real wood and real leather. Since moving on from that phone I’ve owned many real leather cases for various phone models but I’ve always wanted to find a wood case that wasn’t cheap, faux, or ugly. KerfCase has delivered with their excellent Pixel 2XL case. Read on to learn more about it.
The thing that sets KerfCase cases apart is that they are unibody rather than snap-together designs. It’s basically a shell formed from a solid block of real wood and then fitted with a foam cushion system that protects your phone and securely holds it in place. The review unit I received is the walnut version for the Pixel 2XL. It runs $69 but prices vary depending on phone model (Samsung, Google, Apple) and material. They also have cherry, maple, rosewood, and many additional options available.
The case feels solid but isn’t heavy. There’s an excellent natural feel to it that elevates the experience of using a phone. Edges and corners are nicely rounded. I was concerned that the case would be sharp or square and would be uncomfortable for long-term use. But that’s not the case. I’ve been using the case for over a week and have had no issues with hand feel.
Another concern I had was how the case might negatively impact button use. The button cutouts are wood and have just the right amount of give. They have always transferred pressure to the phone buttons perfectly. The only issue I have with the buttons is that the on-phone volume rocker is transformed to two distinct buttons on the case. By itself that’s fine. The problem is that the volume buttons become the same size, shape, and texture as the power button which makes it very difficult to distinguish them from each other. I find myself constantly having to double check which button my finger is resting on.
Other things to note are the cutouts for the fingerprint reader, camera, and USB port are perfect. There’s plenty of room for even the largest USBC cables. One thing that doesn’t work with this case is the squeeze gesture. The case is made from rigid wood and does not transfer squeezes to the phone. That’s not a big deal for me as I run the phone in immersive mode which generally disables the squeeze gesture anyway but it may impact you if that’s something you do regularly.
[UPDATE – I got some feedback from KerfCase and after amping up the sensitivity and squeezing really hard I can get the squeeze gesture to activate. It’s still not perfect but it is there if that’s important to you. I imagine different blocks of wood might have different properties and could affect the ease of using this feature.]
I love this case. It feels great. Looks great. Even smells great. It’s not perfect and it is a little pricey but it offers an excellent option for upgrading the experience of using a phone. If you can afford it then I recommend checking them out.
P.S. Check out this short video from KerfCase to get a glimpse of how these cases are made.
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