The idea of a third-party Steam Deck case is something that appeals to me because, as anyone who owns a Steam Deck knows, Valve already includes a protective case with every device. Most tech deals don’t include any type of case if you want to provide some protection for your device. With popular devices like smartphones and tablets, choose from an almost infinite number of options, at almost any price you’re comfortable with. Steam Deck already coming with its extremely good case is really necessary as a compelling system to be tested in an alternative case. People have a taste though, and the choice is always good, and to be honest there are some things that bother me about the lack of a Steam Valve Surround cause I’m considering looking into the game.
To celebrate the Steam Deck’s one-year anniversary, San Francisco-based WaterField Designs has released a new line of magnetic gaming cases for the Steam Deck as well as Nintendo Switch, Analogue Pocket, and Playdate. We’ve been a long time WaterField gear around the TouchArcade Towers, and several years back we also reviewed their cases at the time of the entire Nintendo Switch lineup. Their stuff is expensive but the quality is second to none, and so the announcement of their new Steam Deck Magnetic Case was perfect for a nod to the need to finally try something different after spending the past year with Valve’s included Steam Deck case. WaterField was generous enough to send me one to review and so here are my thoughts on it compared to the original Valve case.
First I’ll talk about the fit and finish of WaterField. This company is legendary when it comes to quality, and that doesn’t change with their new Steam Circumda case. The main front and back panels are full grain leather, chocolate leather on my model, but black, blue and white leather options are also available. Holding those panels together and efficiently shaping the case is the black ballistic nylon top and sides. Additionally, there is the option of a chocolate leather panel with waxed canvas exterior sides, and this is a mix of materials that is kind of the “signature look” of WaterField containers, well, there are options for those who don’t dig leather. for plain ballistic nylon or plain waxed canvas cases that are even a few bucks cheaper.
The inside of the case is a very soft gaussape coat with a bit of foam between it and the outer layers. The entire inner seam is reinforced with thick piping (it’s that fabulous quality I was talking about) which, apart from giving it an extra chunky construction, adds something to the outer edges of the quilted case. There’s no way the case is super shock-absorbing, and while it helps protect the frame from drops compared to the bare fabric, I wouldn’t count on it or anything. The Valve case feels like it protects the Deck from dripping, and in fact the case feels almost bomb-proof, but it’s also about twice the thickness of the Waterfield case, which is probably what caught me off guard with it. Because of how slim the WaterField case is, it seems like a good defense against the common slip and tear of toting your device around in it, or transporting it in a larger bag. The interior also includes two pockets, a larger one on the inside that will hold a plate and a smaller pocket on the front that will be perfect for cards or a polishing cloth.
The biggest standout feature of the Steam Deck Magnetic Gaming Case is of course its magnetic closure. I mean it right in the name, you know? I said that I doubted how well the magnetic closure would keep my precious device safely wrapped in its case, but now I’m convinced. The magnetism is strong, but not too strong, so that it opens easily, and the two-sided closed way is incredibly satisfying. I didn’t think a zipper could ever be this fun, which is not something I ever thought I’d say about opening and closing a game. Another key benefit is that it allows you to charge the Vapor Surround while it is in the case, since the magnetic edges allow the cable to release while still locking the two sides together.
The magnetic zipper only extends across the top and side of the case, which brings me to the first negative about this product after so much praise heaped on it. I prefer a case that can be fully opened so I use my steam around the house and keep it in the case unless it’s actually being used in my hands. If I get up and want to put the device down, I like to have the case open to rest there, and maybe even just close it with a motion without actually fully closing the case just in case of, I don’t know, going astray. a toddler’s toy or something flies. The issue with the WaterField only opening on both sides is more up the sleeve, and while the steam deck is not at all difficult to slide in and out of steam, it’s still not something I’d be happy to do so I’d put my system down to a few. moments It is not the fault of the organization, but it is rather my personal reason that it can be opened on 3 sides.
Which brings me to my second criticism. The WaterField case as named is almost half the thickness of the Valve case, and this also means a tighter fit all around. The leather exterior panels are reasonably hard, but they’re not semi-hard shell molded like Valve and other case manufacturers, so they give a little more in the case of the WaterField. This isn’t a huge deal, but you can see analog sticks can be depressed by pushing them out of the case, and that makes me feel just… uncomfortable, I guess. Now, my Nintendo Switch Slim Case does exactly the same thing, and the whole thing has been with me around the world, and it has never damaged my device. I actually bought that case alongside my Switch on launch day and still use it to this day with my OLED Switch some 6 years later. I have never even worked on my staff!
In fact, the analog is stuck in the million if not pressed anymore, so I don’t think I’m putting my device at risk or anything, but I’d still prefer it if it was faked in some way. on the inside of the front panel with recessed areas for them to sit on. It is also worth noting that once I noticed this problem after putting my Deck in the Waterfield case, I grabbed my curious valve case, which has a nice design inside that fits the device perfectly, and see if you squeeze the case together. You can do the same by clicking on the logs. I think that unless you want to carve a fully hard case out of plastic or metal this is going to happen.
Overall I love the Steam Deck Magnetic Gaming Case WaterField steam despite those two issues I mentioned. The quality and style of this thing is unique, the magnetic closure is fun and functional, and the size is much more manageable than the beast of a Valve case. However, I think the real question is if this will restore my case for Valve, and the answer to that is complicated. If I’m just tossing my round in a lightly packed backpack to head over to my buddy’s house, then I remember WaterField all the way. If I’m going on a heavier trip abroad and want to stick to a more tightly packed Deck suitcase or something, especially if a major cause outside of space isn’t such an issue, I’d probably opt for the Valve case. For it is a stronger cause, as is evident from its gigantic size.
That said, I don’t have to go all that often outside of my house, and I don’t need to make big “visual” trips, so that scenario isn’t super likely. There is a bigger problem. How about my steam deck around the house today, and the WaterField case is just what I was looking for. $84-89 Is it worth it when every Steam Deck already comes with a great case? While my review unit was provided free of charge, I was probably going to buy one of these anyway, and if I had dropped the cash for one I can say now after using it that I don’t regret the decision. sounds like something. You can order your Steam Surround Magnetic Gaming Case—or versions for Switch/Switch Lite, Analogue Pocket, and Playdate—over at Designs on the WaterField website.