A new company called Clicks Technology has announced an iPhone case with a built-in keyboard on the bottom. The case is called Clicks, too; it’s available for $139 and the iPhone 14 Pro version starts shipping on February 1st, with 15 Pro going out in mid-March. The company is also taking reservations for a $159 iPhone 15 Pro Max model, which is coming in “early spring,” according to the website. (Whether any of them is a reasonable purchase is between you and your conscience.) Clicks, which was started by Michael Fisher and Kevin Michaluk (aka MrMobile and CrackBerry Kevin), will show the case off at CES next week.
There have been other physical keyboard cases for the iPhone, of course. But the one this calls to mind is Typo, a bad (according to a younger version of The Verge’s David Pierce) keyboard case funded by Ryan Seacrest that blatantly copied the BlackBerry keyboard and was sued out of existence by BlackBerry. Twice.
But where that case was a dull imitation of an obsolete phone, this one is modern, cheerful, and appears to have been designed much more intentionally.
It connects to your phone like a Backbone controller. Slide the phone in, carefully line up the phone’s power port with the USB-C or Lightning connector jutting out from the inside edge, and snap the case around the top. Clicks doesn’t use Bluetooth, nor does it contain a battery, instead drawing power directly from the phone. According to Clicks’ site, the case supports pass-through fast charging on the iPhone 15 Pro.
Fisher mentioned some drawbacks in his video about the new case. The obvious one is the size. Clicks will give the iPhone TV remote-like proportions, and that will probably feel pretty awkward at first. The case also doesn’t have a built-in magnet, he said, so MagSafe accessories like chargers and wallets won’t stick to it very well. But wireless charging should still work.
Clicks says a companion app coming soon to the Apple App Store will “continue to bring new functionality to the keyboard over time.” The case will be available in two colors at first — bumblebee (yellow) and London sky (a grayish-blue) — and Fisher said in his video that the first buyers will get “Founders Editions” of the case, which gets them “VIP support” and early access to new colors.
The team that created Clicks includes former employees from Apple, BlackBerry, and Google, according to the company’s announcement. Clicks says it built the keyboard for creators, with Fisher calling the abandonment of hardware keys in smartphones “kind of odd” given creators use keyboards on their laptops and other devices.
“Clicks brings the tactility and precision of a physical keyboard to iPhone,” Fisher said, “so people don’t have to wait until they get back to their desks to create or communicate with the satisfying feedback only real buttons can provide.”
And it’s got other features of computer keyboards, including a backlight. And because it’s for iPhones, a CMD key. Why does it have a CMD key? To use the iOS keyboard shortcuts, of course. Did you know you can type CMD + H to go to the homescreen on an iPhone or CMD + the space key to open search? I didn’t before today.
The Clicks case exists, according to the company’s press release, because smartphone keyboards tend to take up a lot of screen real estate, so using physical keys instead gives that content back, letting users “immerse themselves in apps and content.”
There’s immersion, and then there’s the annoyance of jabbing at the imaginary keys of a phone that desperately wants to correct your words, even when you hit your mark on every letter. If you’ve pined for the return of a stubby input chin on the bottom of your smartphone, it seems the physical keyboard has finally come back home (presumably using CMD + H).
Update January 4th, 2024, 1:44PM ET: Added MrMobile’s video about the Clicks case.
Update January 4th, 2024, 2:03PM ET: Added more details about the case specs and availability.