Handheld gaming offers a unique experience that console gaming can’t quite replicate. It provides players with a stronger sense of ownership, intimacy, and flexibility. Whether I’m out running errands, waiting to pick up my children, sitting at my desk, or relaxing at a local cafe (as shown in the photos here), I can easily grab one of my handheld consoles and immerse myself in gaming. Recently, I got my hands on the Valve Steam Deck (yes, I know I’m a bit late to the party), and along with the purchase, I realized I needed a good case to protect it. That’s where the WaterField Steam Deck Magnetic Case from WaterField’s website comes into play.
It’s worth mentioning that the Steam Deck comes with its own case, which is a rare treat these days. To my surprise, the included case turned out to be of exceptional quality. It boasts a heavy-duty build, a premium feel, and functions admirably. In this review, I want to focus on the WaterField Steam Deck Magnetic Case and highlight what that sets it apart from the OEM Steam case.
My history with WaterField dates back a decade when I made my first purchase, the CitySlicker case for my Nintendo 3DS. Since then, I’ve continued to be a happy customer, acquiring a Vita CitySlicker, a Nintendo Switch CitySlicker, a Vita limited-rerelease CitySlicker, and a Folio Laptop Sleeve for my MacBook Pro. So, when the time came to get my hands on a Steam Deck, I couldn’t help but feel equally excited about exploring the available options for WaterField cases.
LOOKS AND QUALITY
This company has built a tremendous reputation for its exceptional quality, and that remains true with their new Steam Deck case. The front and back panels are made of full-grain leather, and in my case, it’s the Chocolate leather option. However, you can also choose from Black, Blue, and White leather options. These panels are skillfully combined with black ballistic nylon tops and sides, creating a sturdy and stylish case structure. For a distinctive touch, some models offer Chocolate leather panels paired with waxed canvas exterior sides – a signature look that defines WaterField’s products. If leather isn’t your preference, there are alternatives too, such as entirely ballistic nylon or entirely waxed canvas cases, which also come at a slightly lower cost.
PROTECTION AND BUILD QUALITY
The interior of the case features a luxuriously soft plush lining, carefully sandwiched between the exterior leather panels and a thin layer of foam. To reinforce the interior, all the sewing is done with thick piping, not only adding a robust construction but also providing some padding to the case’s outer edges. While it’s not designed as a super shock-absorbing case, it should offer reasonable protection against short drops compared to leaving your Deck unprotected. However, I would be cautious about subjecting it to a drop from more than a couple of feet.
On the other hand, the Valve case feels like it could handle rough treatment and is nearly indestructible, but my main gripe with it is its thickness, being about twice that of the sleek Waterfield case.
The elegance of the WaterField case doesn’t compromise its ability to protect your device from general wear and tear, whether you’re carrying it around or packing it away in a larger bag. As a thoughtful addition, the interior boasts two pockets – a larger one along the backside, perfect for fitting the Deck’s charger, and a slimmer pocket on the front side, ideal for storing SD cards or a pair of earbuds.
The standout feature of the Steam Deck Magnetic Gaming Case is its magnetic closure. The magnetism is strong, yet it’s easy to pull open with a satisfying snap when the two sides shut. Surprisingly, it adds a fun element to opening and closing the case, something I didn’t expect from a gaming case!
A notable advantage is the silent operation when you open and close the case, which could be a selling point for many. Moreover, the clever design ensures that you won’t be running your Steam Deck’s screen along zipper teeth when you insert or remove it, alleviating worries about scratching.
Another benefit is the ability to charge the Steam Deck while it’s safely inside the case. Thanks to the magnetic edges, the charging cable can stick through while still closing the two sides together, providing both convenience and protection.
FIT AND PURPOSE
The WaterField case is about half as thick as Valve’s case, resulting in a tighter fit all around. Unlike Valve’s and some other manufacturer’s cases that have a molded semi-hard shell, the outside leather panels of the WaterField case offer a bit more flexibility. While this might not be a significant issue, you may notice that the analog sticks can be clicked when pressure is applied from the outside of the case.
Personally, I believe every case serves a specific purpose and function, and this case isn’t designed to be a vault-type case. This is a light case, meant to keep your Steam Deck from getting scratched or scuffed. I would have no problem carrying it in-hand while running errands or keeping it in my backpack for work. However, I wouldn’t feel comfortable placing it in a tightly-packed suitcase, as I don’t believe that’s the intended purpose of this case.
The quality and style of this case are truly unmatched. The magnetic closure not only adds a touch of fun but also serves its purpose effectively. Plus, the case’s size is much more manageable compared to Valve’s bulkier option. It’s evident that this case is designed with a specific, practical purpose in mind. It offers the protection most users need for their daily use of the Steam Deck while showcasing an absolutely stunning design.
Given that Valve includes a case with every Steam Deck, it’s natural to compare it with this one. For me, the WaterField case will become my daily driver for the Steam Deck, as it’s perfect for tossing it in a lightly packed backpack when heading to a friend’s house or running errands. However, when I’m traveling with heavier luggage and need to fit my Deck into a more tightly packed suitcase, especially if the extra space the larger case takes up isn’t a significant issue, I’d probably opt for the Valve case. In this way, both cases will serve their purposes – the WaterField case for everyday use and the Valve case for bigger excursions.
I have been impressed with the quality of every WaterField product I’ve encountered, and this experience with the Steam Deck Magnetic Gaming Case only reinforces that belief. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can order the Steam Deck version or explore their offerings for Switch/Switch Lite, Analogue Pocket, and other gear on the WaterField Designs website.