While I think we all wish we could live in a world without smartphone cases, they’re a necessary thing for many. In my review of the Pixel 6 Pro, I said the phone was so slick it demanded a case. Recently, I picked up Bellroy’s leather case for my Pixel 6 Pro, and while I’ve been happy with it, it’s just short of being truly great.

Bellroy is a longtime partner of Google when it comes to Pixel accessories, and this year’s partnership resulted in Bellroy’s “most popular product ever” in this Pixel 6/Pro case. Stock was hard to find for months, but things have settled down at this point.

It’s pretty easy to see why so many flocked to this case. It’s slim, but it still has enough of a lip to leave some screen protection, and the case is grippy along all sides. The camera bar is fully cut out with gray accents around the module and the buttons. Those buttons, too, aren’t hard to click, but they do lose a fair bit of their tactile feel. Cutouts are fully accurate, and the case is easy to slip on without being too tight. It really just gets all of the key elements of a case right.

And beyond that, it does everything for a reasonable price. Bellroy asks $49 for its Pixel 6 cases, regardless of if you buy it from the Google Store, Amazon, or elsewhere. You can buy it in several different colors, too. On Amazon, you can buy the case for both phones in Black, Basalt, Cobalt, and Terracotta – the one I picked. The smaller Pixel 6 also gets a “Sea Mist” color on both Amazon and the Google Store, and the Pixel 6 Pro has a “Biscotti” color variant that we could only find on the Google Store, which looks like it’d be a wonderful fit with the “Sorta Sunny” Pixel 6 Pro color.

While Bellroy’s Pixel 6 case hits most of the right notes, and truly is a great case, I struggle to call it a great leather case, because it misses a key element. Patina.

Over time, genuine leather cases develop wear and tear that can look truly beautiful. Scuffs and scratches on a leather case just make it better, and the constant slipping in and out of a pocket often makes the color of a leather case darker and gives the visual look a bit more depth and texture.

Patina is a great thing for leather cases, but it’s just not Bellroy’s focus. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as leather patina is a look that comes down to personal preference. Some hate it while others, myself included, love it. A quick look through some longer experiences with Bellroy’s leather cases show that patina doesn’t develop on this material very nicely at all. Bellroy does use real leather, but the company’s “flex polymer” material is probably the key reason for the lack of patina.

But the tough thing right now is that, if you want a leather case for a Pixel 6, Bellroy is pretty much the only choice. A quick search through Amazon shows a bunch of leather cases for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any known names outside of Bellroy. dbrand is one of the only names that come to mind for adding a leather look to the Pixel 6, but the company’s case is only leather on the back, not the sides, and it’s a thicker design too. Still, that might be a better route for patina – the Fold 3 skin I use from dbrand’s leather collection already looks great.

Really, I just want Nomad back as an option.

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Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

Find him on Twitter @NexusBen. Send tips to schoon@9to5g.com or encrypted to benschoon@protonmail.com.