One of the great things about having a smartphone is being able to use what’s basically a computer on the go. One of the not-so-great things? Trying to juggle your phone while doing other stuff with your hands, and not having pockets to accommodate it.
Enter Clipless, a Port Hope, Ont.-based company that’s here to help you hang onto your smartphone, while still being able to use your hands for other things. Launched from a July 2013 Kickstarter project, the founders of Clipless have created a pretty nifty way of securing your phone to clothing or flat surfaces, thanks to a strong, magnetized holder. So when you need to keep your phone close to you, you can do it hands-free.
This isn’t just a smartphone holster with a magnet attached, however. Clipless has been enabled with near-field communication (NFC) technology, meaning that when you tap your phone to an NFC-enabled mount, you can launch an app with your phone or run certain tasks, based on whatever task you’ve assigned to that particular mount.
Let’s take a look.
What it’s made of
Clipless comes with a few basic pieces – the Clipless itself, which has a magnet attached, a connector with some 3M adhesive tape on the back, and the aforementioned NFC-enabled mount. To enable your phone to your clothing, there’s also a magnetic disc that firmly attaches to the magnet on the back of the Clipless.
These magnets are purported to be strong enough to lift a sledgehammer, as demonstrated in this video with Clipless founder Danilo Malanczyj. That ensures the connection between the two pieces of the Clipless is strong, so they won’t come apart and cause your phone to slip off. In fact, to pry the two magnets apart, Clipless has included two hooks for you to grasp at as you wrench the two pieces away from each other.
With a magnet that strong, it was inevitable there’d be some concerns about it affecting smartphones or payment cards. However, in an interview, Malanczyj told me the magnet has been “shielded” so it won’t have any negative effect on smartphones or payment cards with everyday usage. The only way it would is if you purposely tried to break the shielding by waving the Clipless magnets back and forth over a smartphone or credit card, he said.
Using the Clipless
To get started with the Clipless, the first thing I had to do was to clean off the back of my phone case with an alcohol swab, which is provided with the kit. Once that was done, I slowly peeled the paper off the adhesive on the connector and then firmly planted the connector onto my phone case.
While you could indeed stick the connector to your phone, I wouldn’t advise it, and neither would the Clipless founders. Once the connector’s lodged there, it can really only be used once, and it will leave a bit of residue if you take it off.
That being said, the connector does work on most surfaces, like plastic and fake leather. Where it might get a bit sketchier is with surfaces like silicone, which are too rubbery and gel-like to stick, as well as real leather, so cases made out of those materials are a no-go, according to Clipless’ website.
Plus, if you do plan on attaching the Clipless to your clothes using the mirrored, magnetic disc, you need to be aware the Clipless isn’t suited to every fabric out there. Since you’re hanging the combined weight of your phone and your Clipless device off of your clothing, it’s worth noting that lighter fabrics won’t bear their weight. My wool cardigans, cotton tees, jeans, dress pants, pencil skirts, and so on were all fine – but I made sure not to try to attach the Clipless to my blouses or tank tops.
I’ve also had to get used to having my phone in a case with an extra piece hanging off of the back. While I could definitely wrench it off – the adhesive doesn’t last forever, after all – it’s not really possible to take it off and then put it on again, unless I want to use a fresh connector, and the connector does add some extra bulk to my phone when it’s in its case.
Still, that’s a minor point, because it’s pretty satisfying to be able to slide your smartphone into place, and to not have to worry about it. Just for that alone, I’d recommend the Clipless – I can think of times when I didn’t want to carry a purse, but needed to solely because of my phone. However, if you do like carrying a purse or bag, you can also slip the Clipless into the liner or around a pocket – and voila, no need to go digging through your bag for your phone.
Tapping into NFC with the Clipless
Aside from attaching the Clipless to clothing, here’s where we get to the cool part. As I noted before, the Clipless mounts are NFC-enabled, meaning they use a low-energy wireless tech to transfer small amounts of data between, say, a smartphone and an NFC-enabled mount.
The idea is to tap your smartphone against one of these mounts and then launch some kind of task. For example, when I downloaded the Trigger app for Android, I was able to start setting up tasks that would start once I tapped my phone to a mount. For example, I got my phone to automatically set my alarm for the next morning, without me having to do it manually. I’ve also been able to start my music, as well as send emails and texts.
Basically, you can get as creative as you want with these tasks. Malanczyj mentioned a customer who had trouble getting up in the morning. He set things up so his phone alarm would go off, waking him up – and it would only shut off once he tapped his phone to the NFC mount in the bathroom, forcing him to get out of bed and hop into the shower.
Of course, this feature will only work if your smartphone has NFC capabilities. For example, many Android, BlackBerry, and Windows phones are NFC-enabled, but most iPhones are not, with the exception of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. However, Apple has limited those phones’ NFC functionality to work solely with Apple Pay.
What’s also worth noting is that I did have some trouble with the NFC Tag Launcher app (which is the app that Clipless recommends) and writing NFC tags. Sometimes the app wouldn’t allow me to write a tag, and I would have to tap my phone to the NFC-enabled mount a couple of times before it would actually write properly.
That being said, that’s not the fault of Clipless – and users can use a different tag writer app if they so choose.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about Clipless, and with pricing at around $30 to $35 for a standard package, depending on the number of connectors and NFC mounts it comes with, it’s a great replacement for that smartphone-holster-at-the-belt-loops look.
Head on over here to get more on shipping and pricing details.