CES typically isn’t a big show for mobile, but CES 2024 has been a strange exception to that rule. From the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro to futuristic foldable concepts from Samsung, there’s been a lot of exciting mobile tech to look at.
That also includes Clicks — a new accessory that essentially transforms your iPhone into a BlackBerry.
The Clicks Creator Keyboard was announced on January 4, and at CES 2024, I had an opportunity to go hands-on with the keyboard case to see what it’s really like. And now that I’ve used it, I think it’s one of the coolest mobile gadgets at the entire show.
The pitch for a keyboard case is a pretty easy one to grasp. Instead of typing on a virtual keyboard, you now have a physical one to type on. But this isn’t just about having a physical typing experience. While that’s the main draw, what really interested me was the trickle effect this has on how you use your iPhone.
Take shortcuts, for example. Clicks works with a wide variety of iOS keyboard shortcuts, giving you fast access to a number of actions. If you’re in Safari, pressing Cmd + T opens a new tab, while Cmd + F opens the finder so you can look for a specific word or words on a webpage. You can also press the space bar to easily scroll through long websites.
In an app and want to go back to your home screen? Pressing Cmd + H takes you there. And if you’re on the home screen, pressing Cmd + Space opens Spotlight Search.
I knew all of these things about Clicks going into my hands-on session, but after actually using them, it clicked with me how useful they can be. Especially as someone who’s at CES right now and working a lot from my phone, the idea of having these shortcuts readily available to me is really compelling.
The other aspect of Clicks that I love is not having to see a virtual keyboard. One of Clicks’ big pitches for the keyboard case is that it adds “up to 50%” more display space since the virtual keyboard is hidden when it would normally occupy your screen. It sounds a little silly, but the difference it makes really is significant.
Whether you’re adding text to an Instagram Story, replying to someone on Threads, or completing some other task, seeing everything on your screen without the virtual keyboard taking up the bottom half really is fantastic.
Clicks has me sold on the benefits of using a physical keyboard with an iPhone. But here’s the $139 question: How does it feel to type on Clicks?
In some ways, I think Clicks gets a lot right here. There’s a good amount of clickiness, especially considering the keyboard’s size. It doesn’t feel like complete mush, which is a big plus. I also love that there’s a backlight for when you’re typing at night or in a dim room. I genuinely didn’t expect to see that in such a compact body.
However, there’s a big learning curve when going back to typing on a small, physical smartphone keyboard.
After typing on a virtual keyboard for so many years, I typed a lot slower and a lot more inaccurately with Clicks compared to just using iOS’ virtual keyboard. I had to look where certain keys were, delete letters I didn’t mean to type, and so on.
That all sounds quite bad, but here’s the thing you need to account for. I can’t tell you the last time I typed on a smartphone-sized keyboard, and I’m sure that’s the case for most folks out there. This isn’t one of those things you pick up immediately and are a pro at. It’s going to time and practice to refamiliarize yourself with this sort of typing experience.
How long will that take? It’s impossible to say after only spending about an hour with Clicks so far. That may turn some people off, but that’s just the reality of a product like this.
Do I think Clicks is a perfect gadget? No. Does it make your iPhone big and bulky when it’s inside of the accessory? It sure does. Is $139 (or $159 for the iPhone 15 Pro Max model) a lot of money to spend on something like this? Yep.
However, I came away from my time with Clicks counting down the days to when I’ll be able to use it again. Not necessarily because I hate typing on a virtual keyboard, but because of all of the other things it does. You don’t need to charge it or pair it at all. The keyboard shortcuts could genuinely make working from my phone easier. Seeing more of my screen while typing was great to experience. It’s not an accessory I’d rock 24/7, but I could see this being an incredibly helpful tool when I’m out and about and working from my iPhone — like when I’m covering CES.
Clicks is a very targeted and specific type of iPhone accessory, and although I’m not the physical keyboard mega fan it’s targeted at, I still think there’s a lot to like here. In terms of the mobile gadgets I’ve seen at CES 2024, it’s certainly one of the most memorable.
The Clicks Creator Keyboard is available for preorder now and will start shipping in February.
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