If you’re looking for a leather MacBook Pro sleeve, the official Apple $199 one is beautiful-looking, but our review found that it had two drawbacks.
My biggest gripe with the MacBook Pro Leather Sleeve, outside of the obvious cost factor, is that it’s not designed to be used in concert with a USB-C charging cable […] Even if you go against the grain (heh) and put the MacBook Pro inside the sleeve “backwards”, the USB-C ports would still be recessed too far inside the case to connect to a USB-C charging cable while completely inside …
A secondary complaint is that the bottom edge of the sleeve can be uncomfortable to hold, because a hard edge is created where the two pieces of leather are stitched together. With a 3 pound MacBook Pro inside, I found it slightly uncomfortable to carry around with the edge pressed into my fingers.
The new Picaso Lab MacBook Pro sleeve offers the same quality as Apple, but without either downside. The company offers a lifetime warranty on its products, and Steve Wozniak is a noted fan.
I previously tested the company’s leather iPad sleeve, which I liked – although the Brydge one ended up being my preferred option thanks to the more subtle design. This time around, I tested a more discreet design. The version I tried is for the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Look & feel
The company offers a range of different color options. The version I tested is a dark brown exterior, with matching stitching; grey felt interior; and red snap clasps.
It’s again beautiful Napa leather, and the stitching is a work of art.
It’s soft to the touch and comfortable to hold.
You can opt to have your name laser-engraved in the leather. This is very discreet and is a no-cost option – though I’m not personally a fan of the Myriad Pro typeface.
As with all such leather cases, it’s a relatively snug fit when new but will loosen over time. Leaving your MacBook Pro in the sleeve overnight helps to break it in.
The gradual loosening is where those snap clasps come in. To guard against the worry of the MacBook slipping out, there are two leather clasps. These are permanently attached on one side, with a rotating mount, and have a press-stud fastener on the other side.
The fasteners snap closed with a very satisfying sound and feel! I was never worried they might come undone, but they are also easy to open by flicking up the leather tab.
The rear-most USB-C ports are accessible when the machine is in the sleeve, allowing it to be charged without removing it. The headphone socket is also accessible, should you ever be as crazy as me and find yourself using your MacBook as an over-sized mp3 player (long story …).
The sleeve is thick enough to provide plenty of reassurance for protection against knocks, and the felt lining guards against scratches.
It does, of course, add bulk to the laptop, but it fits comfortably into the laptop slot in my bicycle bag, as well as into my carry-on case when traveling.
Which MacBook Pro leather sleeve?
Apple’s sleeve is $179 for the 13-inch, $199 for the 15- and 16-inch models.
The Picaso Lab sleeves are $108 for the 13-inch, and $128 for the 15- and 16-inch versions.
In terms of the quality of both the leather and the workmanship, I would say there is nothing to choose between the two. The Apple sleeve is a little slimmer, while the Picaso offers greater practicality, comfort, and security – at a lower price. The combination of all these factors means, for me, Picaso wins.
The Picaso Lab MacBook Pro leather sleeve is available from the company’s website at $108 or $128, depending on model.