I love having exactly the right tool for the job. I love it even if that means spending more on a single use tool. I like things to be in their place, and I value a bit of style. The Silca phone wallet appeals to all of those personality quirks. It’s not something you need, and it’s really only designed for one specific use.
A single use tool carries a higher burden, and as much as I value a bit of style, I don’t like throwing away money on something that’s not great. The Silca phone wallet is designed to hold your phone, and a few essentials, in an organized manner. It’s designed to carry these items through the worst weather you’d be willing to ride in, and it’s designed to look good while doing so.
There are other companies making similar products, but really the main competition is a plastic ziplock bag, an item so cheap it can essentially be considered free. That’s a high bar. When you can’t compete on price, you’ve got to bring value and innovation.
The Silca phone wallet is a mixed bag when it comes to both value and innovation. A lot of its usefulness is going to come down to the phone you are trying to use it with and your propensity to use a case, or not. If you are using a smaller phone, without a case, then the Silca case is going to fit a whole lot better, and by extension, be more useful overall.
I tested it with a Nexus 5x and an Essential Ph-1, and I used a case on both phones that I left on when sliding the phone into the Silca case. The Essential phone is a bit smaller which made it easier to use with the Silca case. This points out design problems with the case, though.
When you are competing with free, you’ve really got to make life easier through design. The Silca case misses a bit in this department. It’s got too much wasted space width wise and doesn’t take advantage of the extra vertical space available. Remember, the idea here is to fit in a jersey pocket.
Jersey pockets are limited on how wide of an item they can take as well as how deep an item can be. There is actually a bit more leeway on how tall something can be. The Silca case is wide enough that while it does fit in my jersey pockets, it’s really tight. This also creates a problem with the zipper closing over the internal bag that holds the phone. Since phones are taller than they are wide, it ends up being a squeeze to get the zipper closed over the top of the phone, and the pull tab only makes this a tighter squeeze. If the case was a bit more narrow, and a bit taller, it would both close easier and fit in a jersey pocket easier.
The fit continues to be an issue in terms of actually using the case. Because it’s difficult to get my phone in and out, I pretty much never bother pulling out my phone for pictures when I’m riding with this case. Also, forget about managing to get your phone out in time to actually answer a phone call.
Remember, though, a lot of this is going to come down to your particular phone. If you aren’t using a case, and your phone tends towards the shorter, wider design, it’s likely going to fit a whole lot better and make the whole experience nicer.
Although I spent a lot of time talking about the drawbacks of the Silca case, I do want to highlight the things it does well. By using an internal dry bag design, it does a really good job of keeping your phone dry. It also protected my phone when I fell on my back and put a few scratches in the details of the Silca case. Honestly, I’d consider those enough to warrant the $40 pricing, but I’ve also found that the corners of ziplock bags will snag jerseys over time.
When you consider the price of a good jersey, I feel like the Silca case actually does a pretty good job justifying its price, even though it has some drawbacks and design misses. The bottom line is that it’s not perfect, and it depends a lot on your particular phone, but if you like having just the right tool for every job, the Silca phone case is worth considering.