Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: The Nomad Rugged Case is a perfect pairing for the Pixel Buds if you want some fresh styling and extra protection at the same time. The leather is great now and will look even better over time. The fit is perfectly snug without any adhesive and doesn't compromise the function of the case. Sure it's an expensive accessory for expensive earbuds, but some will be able to appreciate the design and utility it offers.
Excellent quality and style
Preserves all case functions
Leather will age nicely
Lanyard loop if you want it
Adds bulk to a small case
Expensive for an earbuds accessory
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One of the funniest recent trends to me is people buying a case to put on their earbuds case. The rampant popularity of Apple's AirPods can probably be credited for creating this category (ranging from reasonable to way overboard), but now it isn't an AirPods-only affair. Though I've found the idea of buying an accessory for your accessory a bit silly, lately, I've been using Google's new Pixel Buds a ton and was intrigued when I saw that Nomad makes a gorgeous leather case for the new headphones.
I've loved Nomad's accessories — particularly its leather phone cases — for a while, so I figured its new leather case for the Pixel Buds was a perfect first foray into true wireless earbud cases.
I'm a sucker for cases made out of high-quality leather, and Nomad's execution is just as good here as it is on all of its products. The Horween leather is rugged and nicely stretched over this Pixel Buds case, tying into a hard plastic accent band that wraps around the outside. The dark brown looks and feels fantastic, and I think it goes well with a wide range of clothing and accessories — and obviously, it can match your phone's Nomad case, if you wish. This leather is going to age, darken and wear down gracefully over months to come, which really personalizes it as you use it.
I'm particularly impressed by how well the case fits — the sizing is perfect to snugly slide on, but not budge a millimeter unless you specifically try to pull it off. It does this without any clasps or adhesive, which cuts down on bulk. Even the lid portion stays put perfectly, which I was worried about. And of course, it in no way obstructs any of the case's functions, with a light pipe to show the status LED on the front, an indentation for the pairing button on the back, and a smart cutout for the hinge.
Just like every other case, there's a trade-off of size for protection — and leather cases typically have a bigger trade-off than most. The Nomad case adds a noticeable amount of thickness, but considering the Pixel Buds case is very small to begin with, the total size isn't troublesome. It still slips into my pocket comfortably, and the smooth plastic and leather don't snag on anything. And now, with a case on my earbuds, I'm much more liberal about tossing them on a table or in a bag without worrying about picking up scratches — again, I look forward to the way the leather will age with normal use.
The case has a small lanyard loop on the side (connected to the base, not the lid), which I'm still unsure about. The included lanyard is big enough to go around your wrist and matches the case well, but it feels like it's maybe going a step too far in adding bulk to what begins as a very compact Pixel Buds case before adding all of this accoutrement. I like being able to hang my Pixel buds on a hook by my front door, just like my keys and sunglasses, but it gets bunched up in my pocket and snags on things in my backpack. At least it's optional — maybe I'll swap it for something smaller just to be able to hang it because I'll never need to wrap this thing around my wrist.
Spending $35 on a case for the case of your $180 wireless earbuds is the definition of opulence. But y'know what, you shouldn't feel bad about that one bit. Honestly, it's no different from putting an excellent leather-wrapped case on your phone, which we all do on a regular basis. These headphones are going to be carried with you all the time, and if having the case wrapped in nice leather is something you want for your everyday carry aesthetic, you should go for it!
Nomad Rugged Case for Pixel Buds
If finely-crafted leather is your thing, this is the perfect addition to your Pixel Buds. Protect your expensive earbuds with a beautiful case that will protect it and look great at the same time.
Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.