Review: Twelve South’s chic new leather Journal is the MacBook of MacBook cases

MacBook cases

Premium Apple accessory maker Twelve South yesterday launched a brand new family of luxury cases for Mac notebooks, including the latest MacBook Air, which build on the successful Journal for iPhone series. Much like Twelve South’s BookBook series, these new notebook sleeves are made from the same rich full-grain leather sourced from New Zealand.

As you can imagine, it looks just like a journal complete with spine and the zippers.

We briefly played with the new Journal for MacBook ahead of its launch and want to share our hands-on impressions with you guys, but first watch Twelve South’s video embedded below that’ll give you a good idea of their production process.

Yes, these are handmade cases.

Now, this new Journal case certainly looks sharp and polished without taking any of the functionality you’re used to from Twelve South. They were kind enough to send both 13 and 15-inch sizes and we had a chance to conduct a quick test of the new Journal sleeve.

Matches your elevated sense of style

It’s great that the 13-inch edition perfectly fits both Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Air model for 2018 with the Retina display. However, it was just a tad too skinny for the previous-generation MacBook Air that I still own.

Leather cases for notebooks

As someone who comes from their hardback BookBook leather cases, I instantly fell in love with the Journal. On the outside, it’s all a minimalist design. Contrast this to the BookBook series looks like a Harry Potter spell book, which may attract unwanted attention.

These new Journals look sharp and business. They’re totally unassuming, yet very stylish. This is actually great news because you don’t want people to know there’s a pricey laptop inside.

MacBook cases

The only hints are the word “Journal” printed on spine and Twelve South’s logo embossed on the back. The contemporary backstitching gives the product a professional look and feel. You also have your dual leather zipper pulls to avoid scratching the notebook’s enclosure.

Twelve South's MacBook cases are made from top quality leather

The micro-suede lining and reinforced corners on the inside keep the notebook safe and secure. Like with BookBooks, the Journal makes it easy to use your computer, type on it comfortably, access the USB-C ports and more while it remains safely wrapped in leather.

It being made of the impeccable full-grain leather (each unit undergoes a six-step semi vegetable tanning treatment) means your Journal will develop a unique patina adding to its character. The case is water and UV resistant thanks to oil and wax treatment.

notebook cases

Aside from good looks, you’re going to like a hidden compartment underneath your notebook. This is where you can store documents, contracts, proposals, a hard copy of your Keynote presentation or any other important paperwork.

Twelve South's leather cases for MacBooks feature a hidden pocket for paperwork

Twelve South’s representative has informed me they’re planning on creating an entire family of Journal products that are “not only beautiful but functional for your MacBook needs.” In the meantime, check out the entire Journal family on the Twelve South website.


If you already own a BookBook case, upgrading to the new Journal is a no-brainer. If you don’t have a case for your notebook, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to check these new Journal options even if you’re unfamiliar with Twelve South products.

Notebook cases like this are certainly not for everyone given their price, material and build quality, but neither are Apple’s notebooks. As someone who has paid through the nose for Apple’s own leather MacBook sleeve, that look boring, I see a lot of value in these new Journals.

Notebook cases made from leather

In fact, I’ve owned Twelve South’s BookBook cases for years and can attest to their sturdiness and longevity. The new Journal doesn’t look like it’ll fall apart after a few months of heavy field use—quite the contrary, build quality is top notch and seems to exceed even the BookBooks.

Summing up, you don’t have to be a fashionista, a technology influencer, a cool hipster or a busy digital nomad  to tote this case around like a pro—they’ve created the new Journal for people from all walks of life who see value in thoughtful design.

Pros and cons

Here’s what we liked and disliked about the new Journal.


  • Its built-in pocket conceals important documents
  • The finish matches Twelve South’s AirSnap in Cognac
  • Water and UV resistant


  • Price could be a bit lower (they’re pricing against Apple)
  • Like all leather, you will not want to carry it around when it’s raining because rain can cause stains on the case and if you try to clean them with soap you’ll only wash out the dye used to color the leather.

The Journal was designed for all MacBook models, the new MacBook Air (2018) and MacBook Pros that have USB-C ports (late 2016-current).

Pricing and availability

The Journal case is available in two variants: one is for the 2018 MacBook Air model or the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the other is designed for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

You can purchase the new Journal directly from the Twelve South webstore. The 13-inch version goes for $150 a pop while the 15-inch edition retails for $170. It’s only available in the stately Cognac color which matches their leather AirPods case in Cognac perfectly.