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Hands-on: Clipless

No pockets? No problem. Clipless uses the magic of magnets to cling anywhere

Smartphone holsters and belt clips are a dime a dozen these days, but few are flexible enough to work on everything from t-shirts to car dashboards. Clipless does – with the magic of magnets. The Kickstarter-funded magnetic mounting system secures your phone without the usual (and unsightly) pouches, hooks and armbands. Instead, your phone looks like it’s frozen onto a surface, or your clothes, in suspended animation.

It’s all in the magnets. A magnetic disc goes on the inside of a shirt, pocket, purse or bag, and the Clipless – a rail slide with a magnet on the back – sticks onto the outside, sandwiching the fabric firmly between two magnets. Another piece sticks onto the back of your phone with a semi-permanent adhesive, then locks onto the Clipless by sliding over the rails.

How Clipless works

No pockets, no problem

They Innovate CEO and co-founder, Danilo Malanczyj, says he came up with the idea for Clipless after his girlfriend constantly made him hold her smartphone for lack of pockets. During a consulting stint, he noted that female co-workers, particularly those using larger handsets, were drawn to his prototype, which he continued to refine.

The magnet’s strength is such that the Clipless and disc can attach to each other through various types of fabrics.

Both magnets are so strong, the Clipless piece has two rotating hooks that help pry them apart. The adhesive that sticks to your phone is equally tenacious, and can only be applied once. Clipless recommends adhering it to a case rather than the phone itself, which means you would have to get extra connectors for different cases or devices.

We tried it with a pair of jeans, a blazer, dress pants, dress shirt — and other garments made of polyester, linen, Lycra and cotton. It stuck to all of them, though heavier sweaters, wool jackets and leather were a no-go. Neither were belts. The thicker the fabric, the less potent the connection.

The Clipless and disc aren’t exactly what we would call feathery, but the weight of your device adds up, and the type of fabric makes a difference. A regular cotton t-shirt will be weighed down by a larger device on a run or at the gym, for example, but attaching it to a tight Under Armour shirt provides a more secure feel. We never had a mishap where the phone fell off, yet we never felt 100 percent comfortable running on a treadmill with it dangling off a shirt or shorts. Doing a more stationary workout, on the other hand, was much easier.

Keeping it close

The connector on the back of the phone is sturdy, and we did keep it in place for a good 36 hours just to be safe before we started moving around liberally with the Clipless attached. The way it slides in is easy enough, though it did take a few tries to slide it on and off without looking. We found it pretty useful for hands-free situations around the home, like attaching it to a shirt and talking to someone on speakerphone, or placing the Clipless magnet onto the fridge with a tablet attached to see a recipe.

Interestingly, the magnet is safe to use around credit cards. If you have a wallet in really close proximity, especially in a pocket or purse, the magnets won’t erase the cards through incidental contact. That’s not to say they couldn’t; repeatedly waving them over the cards would eventually do it, according to Malanczyj.

Other mounts

Clipless also makes NFC-enabled mounts for flat surfaces that can trigger your phone to open an app or perform a function when you attach it, using an Android app like Trigger. For example, you could set it up to display the weather when you slide it into the mount on your bathroom mirror, and check the forecast while you brush your teeth. The mount has the same rails vertically and horizontally to accommodate portrait and landscape modes. There’s also a rather standard car mount with a section cup for the windshield, ball joint, and NFC.

The Clipless comes in two packages: A clothing package with the Clipless, disc, connector and one NFC mount, or a surface package with two connectors and six NFC mounts. Both packages sell for $35. The car mount is $15, and extra connectors and NFC mounts are $6 apiece.

The NFC mounts are really only useful for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices, since Apple continues to lock down the feature on its iOS devices. But there is nothing stopping users from using them as regular mounts without NFC kicking in.

Ultimately, the utility of the Clipless may break down along gender lines, just as Malanczyj originally noticed. Men tend to have more pockets to work with, and hanging a phone off a belt isn’t quite as fashionable as it used to be. Women’s clothes have fewer and smaller pockets to work with, which might make it the perfect wardrobe accessory when pockets aren’t part of the equation.

Highs

  • Little setup required
  • Ultra-strong magnets
  • Magnet mount can be used on metallic surfaces, like a fridge
  • Can handle both smartphones and tablets
  • NFC mounts can trigger events when you use them

Lows

  • Weight of phone matters with thinner fabrics
  • Thicker fabrics nullify strength of magnets
  • Connector needs to be on a case rather than device itself
  • NFC mounts don’t have magnets on the back