I like big phones, but I can’t lie. They come with compensations. That is to say, despite having big hands and piano fingers, my iPhone 14 Pro Max doesn’t always feel secure when gripping it. That’s fine when I’m in bed, surrounded by soft blankets and pillows. It’s not so good when I’m trying to text with one hand on public transportation or running errands.
The first time I encountered this problem was with my first big phone, the iPhone XS Max. Get a PopSocket, everyone said. So I did. I had to grudgingly admit that it worked, even if they were ugly as sin. I even upgraded to PopWallet Plus. But like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun. I thought that since my original PopSocket had never been dropped, the PopWallet Plus was safe.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day the wallet part disappeared. I looked everywhere. Under the bed, in drawers, closets, under my desk, in pockets, in my dog’s bed, in my cat’s bread ties and even in the refrigerator. (I once left my phone there for two hours; it was a valid place to look.) Unfortunately, he (and my driver’s license, three credit cards and MetroCard) were missing. To this day I don’t know where he is.
The experience soured me on PopSockets as a brand and began what is now a three-year search for an alternative. I thought it would be easy. Instead, everything I bought eventually fell off because the adhesive was weak sauce, and my poor phone slid on floors, cement, asphalt and other surfaces. (I now deeply appreciate tempered glass screen protectors.)
This stopped being a problem when Covid-19 arrived and we were all stuck at home. It became a problem again once restrictions eased and I had to go out again. By then, I upgraded to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and it had MagSafe. Surely, I thought, some intrepid accessory maker had come up with a convenient, attractive, and aesthetically pleasing option that didn’t impede wireless charging or MagSafe and would allow me to leave my phone horizontally. But these were the early days of MagSafe’s return: options were slim, and PopSockets’ MagSafe options No inspires confidence.
The first thing I bought was this. Sinjimoru Strap. It cost $10, was discreet and easily removable. All he had to do was slide the strap through its case and hook the looped end into a small clasp. What I liked the most was how comfortable it was. You hold your phone naturally and the strap provides passive support, so you don’t have to grip it as tightly. People asked me about this all the time and for a whole year I thought I had found the answer to my problems. The only problem was that, as thin as it was, it still prevented wireless charging. There was a solution: I could release the strap and place the phone on the charger.
Except doing that so often caused the strap to come off the clasp at inopportune times. At the same time, I got tired of holding my phone every time I wanted to watch a video while cooking or doing other chores around the house.
It was at that moment that I started seeing an ad on Instagram for the Ohsnap Snap 3 Pro. I objected to the $29.99 price, but to be fair, this was intended to do a lot. It had a similar grip to the PopSocket but was rotatable and could function as a stand. It was much thinner, at 2.5mm, about the thickness of a nickel. It also had magnets on the outer ring, so you could place it on your refrigerator or any other metal. The best part was that I didn’t have to remove it to use my MagSafe chargers.
For about three weeks it worked fine. The thinness was nice and all, but the plastic wasn’t all that comfortable on my fingers. It felt flimsy, yet was strangely durable. And then one day a small piece of plastic broke while I was switching it to stand mode. Then the super thin plastic went bad. It became harder to put the gripping part back into place and soon it wouldn’t close at all. It just… hung slightly extended like an accordion. So I went back to the drawing board.
What I have now is a shine $20 Magnetic Phone Ring I found it on Amazon. Unlike the Snap 3 Pro or PopSockets, the grip is a metal ring that rotates outward. It’s swivel so you can adjust the grip as needed and it doubles as a stand. This particular grip has a secondary ring that sticks out from the original, giving you so Many options for support angles. I love that. I like how sturdy it feels and the magnets on this thing don’t move. But I don’t like how uncomfortable the metal grip is. I’ve tried holding it in all directions and none of them feel particularly natural. Plus, I have to take it off to use MagSafe chargers. That means I’ve already misplaced it several times because my cats like to knock things off of nightstands.
I’m tired. All I want is to hold my big, dumb phone more comfortably, have a kickstand, and be able to use MagSafe chargers without having to remove anything. Is that In fact Order so much in a single product? Would it be pure, pure greed to ask for one that is also thin, not too expensive or hideous?
I never thought this would be such a Herculean task, especially since Amazon is littered with third-party options. But what I have found is that very few options manage to obtain all good. Some, like the Snap 3 Pro, tick all the boxes but then fail to execute on long-term durability. Others, like the Sinjimoru strap, only do one or two things well. Maybe there are more utilitarian options that I just haven’t found yet, but I have a feeling those options can also be ugly as sin. It may seem like a superficial complaint, but it’s also not a crime to want your phone (and its accessories) to express your own style.
With a little luck, this The $20 grip I just bought will be the answer. It’s thin, it has a ring that you can use as a stand, a loop for your finger, and allows you to use it with a MagSafe charger. My colleague Dan Seifert demonstrated it on a video call and I have high hopes. Otherwise, you may have to admit that The edgeResident phone reviewer Allison Johnson was right and 6.1 inches may be the perfect phone size. And I’m not ready to do that yet.