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
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Home Theater

Want to save your favorite movie? Here's how to fix a scratched DVD or CD

A scratched edition of your favorite DVD is no good, but our guide will show you how to fix a scratched DVD, whether you prefer to repair it using a smattering of peanut butter or Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.
Mobile

Here are our favorite wireless phone chargers for Android devices and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…
Mobile

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Mobile

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Product Review

Amazon’s child-friendly tablet is the complete package

Kids are tough on electronics and it’s difficult to police screen time and manage what they’re doing. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the affordable answer to your prayers, with a rugged case and worry-free warranty.