Hands-on with the BlackBerry-style Clicks keyboard for iPhone

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I regret to inform you that i can’t tyoe on thjdi thing yet.

The Clicks keyboard case has arrived, and it’s delightful, if not entirely practical for everyday use — at least, not without weeks of practice. 

The new device, which adds a keyboard with physical buttons to the bottom of your iPhone, evokes a sense of nostalgia for the BlackBerry era, but in its current form, it’s awkward to use, particularly with heavier, taller devices like the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The main issue with Clicks is that iPhones aren’t shaped like BlackBerry devices, which were short, squat and wide. Instead, the weight of the iPhone pulls the case downward, so you’re always fighting against the force of gravity as you try to type. This leads the case to wobble slightly in your hands, making it harder to hit the right key. 

To be fair, Clicks admits the case may be difficult to use at first.

On its help pages, the company suggests a proper holding technique to make Clicks more stable. It advises that users cradle the phone, with the bottom edge of the device resting on your pinky fingers while the back is supported by your middle and ring fingers. Your index fingers, meanwhile, can rest on the back or the sides of the case. 

If you grip the phone with both hands at the very bottom of the keyboard, you may find it feeling top-heavy, the website warns. 

Image Credits: Clicks

However, your phone will feel top-heavy either way, though to what extent you’re able to properly balance the keyboard will depend on a number of factors, including your iPhone model and weight as well as the length and strength of your fingers. People with shorter, stubbier fingers may have more difficulty cradling the device than others with longer fingers, for example. 

Clicks says it has added ballast to the bottom of the case to help it achieve the right balance, but early adopters say they’re considering upgrading to a smaller iPhone model to make Clicks easier to use — and that’s telling.

An iPhone 13 mini would probably be great to use with Clicks, but alas, it’s not supported.

Instead, the Clicks keyboard works with iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 models, the former only in the Pro and Pro Max models, while supporting the full range of models for the iPhone 15. For comparison, the weight of the iPhone can vary between devices, ranging from 6.02 ounces for the iPhone 15 to 7.09 ounces for the 15 Plus and 6.60 ounces for the 15 Pro model. The 15 Pro Max is the heaviest at 7.81 ounces. Though these are slight differences when using an iPhone with a traditional case, even the smallest bit of extra weight matters when it comes to using Clicks. The heavier the iPhone, the harder to hold, it seems.

Image Credits: Clicks

Clicks tries to account for the difficulty in balancing the phone in several ways. In addition to instructing users on the proper holding technique, the case also features a vegan leather grip pad on the lower back, making it less likely for your fingers to slip and reminding you of where to place them.

In addition, the case has a slightly textured surface, which aids in holding your iPhone upright. 

Despite these accommodations, there’s another issue with using Clicks, and it’s a surprising one. 

If Clicks appeals to you, then you may be of the age to remember what it felt like to be dashing off quick emails and texts on a BlackBerry, its physical keyboard’s buttons being a significant upgrade from T9 texting. But in the years since, you’ve likely adjusted to typing on a touchscreen. Returning to buttons, as it turns out, is not like riding a bike. There’s a bit of a learning curve here, especially with your now extra-long smartphone. 

You may not immediately find Clicks as easy to use as you remember your old BlackBerry being, in other words. You will have to relearn how to type like this, and it may take some time to adjust. According to Clicks’ website, it will take you 20 minutes to learn Clicks, two hours to be comfortable with it, two days to master it, and two weeks to build up the muscle memory needed to really be comfortable with Clicks. (I suspect some people may end up needing longer. I have not spent weeks with Clicks yet so cannot weigh in there.)

The Clicks keyboard makes a satisfying “clickety” sound when you press the keys, hence the device’s name. But there is a reason many of us ultimately turn off the iPhone’s keyboard sounds: The tick tick tick of the keyboard’s clicks can get annoying after a while, and it could bother other people, too. The Clicks keyboard has a more muted, natural clicking sound, but it’s always going to make an audible noise that attracts attention.

Image Credits: Clicks

Of course, those buying the Clicks keyboard may like the attention — especially if you’re whipping out the bright banana yellow case or the new “Miami Heat” hot-pink case with the blue keys. These cases could make for a great icebreaker. I guarantee you that if you pull out the Clicks at a bar, someone will talk to you. (That alone could make it worth the price, for some!) 

That said, the company says the more corporate-looking “London Sky” gray color has been the more popular option at launch, and it sold out of its first “Founders Edition” devices in under two weeks. At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, the company said if one out of every 1,000 iPhone customers were interested in Clicks, it could build a successful business. Based on the demand Clicks has seen so far, the company says the interest is “far stronger than that.”

Clicks, started by MrMobile (Michael Fisher) and CrackBerry Kevin (Kevin Michaluk), won’t disclose the number of sales to date, but it has already added the hot pink and “Royal Ink” blue cases to its lineup. The company is now in the process of raising a seed round to further expand the Clicks product portfolio.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

For those who plan to switch back and forth between Clicks and a traditional case (or no case), be warned: Be delicate with the Clicks’ USB-C or lightning port. The case includes a sticker that advises you to be careful when inserting or removing your phone. This is easier advice to follow upon insertion. But if you’re used to yanking off your iPhone case at any angle without much thought, be very careful; your $159 will go up in smoke just like that. Clicks’ warning says do not bend the phone upward from the port until it’s fully disconnected and they’re not kidding. Even at a slight angle, you could easily damage the port. (Clicks says it hasn’t seen an issue with breakage yet. I say give it more time.)

For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend that, say, a company’s IT department buy Clicks for their older end users still lamenting the loss of their BlackBerrys. More than likely, a small portion of them will break the device or bend the port the first time they take the case off. Make it a holiday gift, not a corporate handout, if you must. 

As for the keyboard, the buttons are well-spaced and appropriately clicky, if slightly small. There are also few clever touches. There’s a built-in microphone, Shift, CMD and “123” key you can press once for numbers and symbols or twice to lock. The “%+-” button can also be pressed to show and hide the iOS keyboard, where you can also easily access emoji. (Alternatively, you can add the emoji keyboard as an option that appears when you press the globe key on Clicks.) 

Once you’ve mastered typing on the keyboard, there are several keyboard shortcuts you can learn to make it even easier to use. CMD + H will take you back to your Home Screen, for example, while CMD + spacebar will launch Search. When in the Safari or Chrome web browser, you can also use the spacebar to scroll through web pages. Many other popular iOS keyboard shortcuts are also supported, Clicks notes. 

Image Credits: TechCrunch

But the size of the Clicks case cannot be overlooked as a deciding factor on whether to purchase. 

Its odd, extra-long shape makes it more difficult to carry around in a pocket, where it will inevitably stick out of the top, stretching the fabric. The Clicks case won’t fit into small handbags where your iPhone previously fit comfortably. The Clicks was also too big for the top pocket on my SwissGear backpack used for travel, which is where I’ll often stash my phone in a hurry, like when readying my bags for a TSA screening. Your phone will also be heavier with the case, either by 62 or 65 grams, depending on your phone model. 

The case also doesn’t support MagSafe accessories, so there’s no hope of using some sort of PopSocket to steady it. (It would also be placed too high to really help.)

Despite the challenges that come with Clicks, it’s hard to knock its sense of whimsy and cheerfulness. You certainly don’t need Clicks, but at $139 to $159, you can convince yourself you need to try it. It’s like the Chumby or the Rabbit: quirky, fun and designed for a niche market of enthusiasts. It’s not a product you buy for its functionality; it’s the type of art you support because you’re into technology.

I think I’ll get another in pink. 

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