OPINION: CES isn’t typically a conference devoted to mobile tech, but there are still some truly innovative products on the show floor. One of my favourites from CES 2024 is Clicks, an iPhone accessory that turns an iPhone into something more akin to a classic BlackBerry.
Announced shortly before CES started, I got the chance to take Clicks for a spin in Las Vegas and came away from the demo surprised. This is more than just a gimmicky product designed to rustle up nostalgia from BlackBerry fans, in fact it’s an iPhone addition I could see myself actually using.
For those who missed the initial announcement, Clicks is a keyboard case for the iPhone. The keyboard sits below the display of the iPhone 14 Pro, 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max and the case adds some welcome protection for the device. The keys are well-sized, backlit and instantly bring back memories of typing on BlackBerry devices.
Your iPhone slips in comfortably and connects via USB-C or Lightning and the case doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection nor does it need to be independently charged – it just takes juice from the phone it’s connected to.
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When I first saw images of the device I was skeptical. But after having it in my own hands and spending a good amount of time typing on it, I am a convert. For the first product from a new brand, and even at its current stage of protection, it’s very well-built. The silicone material the case is made from feels as good as one of Apple’s official cases, while there’s a small rectangle of faux leather on the back that becomes the perfect place for your fingers to rest.
Importantly, the keyboard itself is a pleasure to tap away on. I tried both the version for the 14 Pro/15 Pro and the larger Max version and it’s the latter that offers the best overall typing experience. Here, the keys are slightly larger and more spaced out. I was still happy typing on the smaller version though, and Clicks has clearly been designed by people who value tactile keyboards.
What makes Clicks truly useful is the way it unlocks several very handy keyboard shortcuts that are already present inside iOS. You can tap the space bar to move down a page, jump to the home screen and search all without reaching up to the display. If you were a whizz with BlackBerry shortcuts a decade ago or utilise them regularly on an iPad, you’ll instantly feel at home.
Having a physical keyboard also removes the on-screen version from popping up, giving you more screen to play with. I noticed this especially on Instagram, where I could see the whole of my Story even when I was adding text.
Now, this is a first-gen product and there are, of course, some drawbacks. While I enjoyed the typing experience on the Pro Max version, it simply makes an already massive phone just too big to comfortably keep in a pocket or even hold for extended periods. It didn’t surprise me that most of the demos were being conducted with the smaller (but still very large) Pro version.
There are also some strange omissions, like the lack of MagSafe support. As someone who uses a MagSafe charging dock both at home and the office, having to slip Clicks off to make proper use of it would be a pain. There is wireless charging though, and a Clicks rep told me that there’s only a negligible effect on battery life – even with the backlight being used.
The iPhone 14 Pro model is available to order now for $139.99 with shipping starting in February. The iPhone 15 Pro version, also $139.99, ships in March and the $159.99 iPhone 15 Pro Max version comes later in the year. There are currently no Android models available.
Clicks won’t be for everyone and I am sure many will ridicule its slightly odd overall look. But, for those who appreciate the feel of a physical keyboard then it should be a wise investment. I certainly can’t wait to use it again.