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Clicks hands-on: this BlackBerry-like iPhone case could be a winner

Clicks hands-on: this BlackBerry-like iPhone case could be a winner


Just remember, though: hardware is hard

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A picture illustrating that much more of the screen is available when the keyboard is attached.
One of Clicks’ own marketing images of its yellow keyboard case for iPhone.
Image: Clicks

Clicks came out of nowhere last week with a blast from the past — a BlackBerry-like physical keyboard for your iPhone, built into a snazzy protective case with colors that pop. Not only that, the first iPhone 14 Pro version is shipping in just a few weeks for $139. It’s from a team that knows a thing or two about keyboards, including CrackBerry Kevin, MrMobile, and the guys behind the F(x)tec phone.

As a known lapsed QWERTY devotee, I had to try it, and at CES 2024 I got my chance.

It feels great in the hand, with a nice subtly squishy silicone bumper feel, and seems well thought out in general. The phone fits so securely, and I particularly love the square of leatherette around back that goes beneath your fingertips. Not only does it provide extra grip when you’re typing, it makes the iPhone look and feel a bit more like a classic camera when you hold it horizontally.

You can tap a button to activate a backlight, and there’s a dedicated Command key for shortcuts — for instance, hit Command + Spacebar and then you can just start typing in the iPhone’s Spotlight universal search without touching the screen at all. iOS lets you build additional keyboard shortcuts, too. Tapping spacebar lets you scroll websites a page at a time, and iOS autocorrect works as you’d expect.

But I do have one concern.

As you may see in the video above, Clicks brought at least four different prototypes to CES 2024, each with a different click, and I only really liked the two of them that weren’t functional yet. The functional ones were a bit stiff or sticky.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked those last clicks a lot — the final engineering sample of Clicks’ mechanical structure is delightfully tactile. Combine that with the bigger, wider keys you get on the Clicks for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and I think it could be a winner.

But Clicks says it’s shipping the iPhone 14 Pro cases just three weeks from today, and it wasn’t able to bring final samples to CES. Here’s hoping manufacturing goes smoothly, but I might wait for the reviews.