When it was time to purchase a new phone, I also had to pick up a new phone case. Like many people, I dug deep and went super bold on my choice; I got on Amazon and purchased the same case I had been using for my previous phone. Yep, I protect my $1000 phone with a plain, matte black $17 case that has held strong through more drops than I care to remember.
Carved doesn’t have the same utilitarian approach to phone protection that I do. Founded in 2011, Carved has been creating wood phone cases ever since. Their most recent cases are created using wood burls and resin, each case a one-of-a-kind design that is a work of art as much as it is a protection device. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve recently been introduced to the artistic world of wood and epoxy, so when Carved asked if I’d like to try out one of their Traveler phone cases, I just had to say yes.
Carved Traveler – Specifications
- Price: Traveler For Samsung S23+: $59.00 (Price Varies By Phone Model)
- Phone Coverage: iPhone SE – 15 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S22 – S24 Ultra
- Wireless Charging: Yes
Carved Traveler – Design and Durability
Carved currently makes two types of phone cases, the Traveler and the Live Edge. Both cases involve using real wood burl and epoxy resin to create a one-of-a-kind design. The Live Edge is an all-wood/resin case that extends the wood design around the edges of the phone, while the Traveler is rubber-sided with a polycarbonate back and wood/resin inlay. To create a case, Carved sources wood burls from the Western United States, cuts them into blanks, and then uses an epoxy resin pour to fill in the empty spaces. Each burl cut has a unique grain pattern, and each epoxy pour can combine multiple colors that are swirled together. the result being one of an infinite number of designs.
The Traveler has a couple of add-ons available for purchase. A premium screen protector can be added to any case purchase for $9.99, and additional options like a camera lens protector and wrist strap are available for some phone models. Cases for iPhone 12 and later phones are MagSafe compatible, and a wood/resin-covered MagSafe Wireless Charger runs $34. All Samsung models work with Qi wireless chargers, and the S23+, S23 Ultra, and all S24 models also have a MagSafe upgrade available for $5.99 that adds a magnet array to the case that is compatible with any MagSafe accessory.
The Traveler case has a snug fit on my S23+. The case is a little stiffer than an all-rubber case due to the wood inlay, but the rubber edging still makes for easy installation and removal. The front lip extends far enough past the phone’s screen to protect it from a flat drop while being thin enough not to extend past the phone’s plastic edge and obstruct the screen. All cutouts on the side and back of the case line up perfectly with the phone’s charging port, speaker, microphone, and camera cluster.
My only fitment issue is with the Traveler’s button covers. The cover for the on/off button works fine, but the S23+ uses a single bar for volume control, while the Traveler has two separate bars to facilitate volume up and down. The two buttons are too close to each other, and pressing near the edges of the case’s buttons can cause the opposite of the intended function. The use of two buttons over the single volume bar also makes the button presses very sensitive, and I often found that the phone would have the volume turned all the way up, or more commonly muted, while in my pocket.
As for durability, the Traveler case we were provided has done its job admirably. Over the last few weeks, the case has protected my phone through multiple unplanned drops on everything from carpet to wood flooring to a concrete sidewalk. The Carved site notes that the Traveler should protect your phone from occasional drops from a 3.5-foot height. I’m not about to test the Traveler’s limits, but it has protected my phone as well as any other case I’ve used.
That doesn’t mean the Traveler has come through the last few weeks unscathed. The rubber sides look as good as new, and although the wood inlay hasn’t suffered any major damage, there are already a lot of visible scratches. I suspect that will only worsen over time, and the all-black resin of this case probably shows the scratches more than one with a swirl design. Since the Traveler is as much an art piece as it is a protective case, the ease with which it acquires scratches leads me to wonder just how long I will be able to use the case before it loses its attractiveness and has to be retired.
If you are looking for a unique case to protect your phone, you can’t find anything more unique than a Carved 1 of One case. The Traveler fits my phone perfectly, and other than a small issue with the volume buttons, I couldn’t be happier with how it has performed. The Traveler’s wood inlay and rubber sides may not be as attractive as the all-wood Live Edge case, but at one-third the price, the Traveler is still within the range of other decorative cases. My only true concern about the Traveler is how well the wood and resin inlay will stand the test of time, although I suspect a case with a swirl design will hide scratches better than the reviewed case does.
The only question left to consider is whether the Traveler case is worth the price tag. $60 for what boils down to a basic rubber case with a wood inset is expensive at first glance. And if the inset was just a generic, mass-produced piece of plastic, then yes, the Traveler would be an overpriced case. But it isn’t. Each inset is a hand-crafted piece of art, and if one of the ever-changing designs found on the Carved site catches your eye, then it is definitely worth the price.