By Jorge Figueiredo - January 22nd, 2015

Photo courtesy of Clipless.

When you are out and about, where do you keep your smartphone? I tend to keep mine in either my front pants pocket or the inner breast pocket of my coat – easy to reach locations that make it a simple matter to pull out my phone when I need it. Of course, there are disadvantages to these locations: sitting down, for instance, makes it a chore to pull the phone out of my pants pocket, and both of those locations are default storage spots for spare change and keys, which is not so friendly to the screen of my smartphone. The folks at Clipless (from Port Hope, Ontario) have come up with an alternate location with the use of their new product – and that location is: practically anywhere. Toronto Thumbs checked out the Clipless kit that was sent to us from their office, and it’s a really interesting and useful gadget.

It’s a deceptively simple system – but brilliant in its execution. The main part of Clipless is a special self-adhesive mount that attaches to the back of your phone (or other device). Using this mount, you can attach Clipless to a flat surface (using another self-adhesive mount on the surface) or to your clothing (using the special components within the Clipless Clothing package). That’s it. Thanks to the exceedingly solid bond created by the adhesion strip (made by 3M), your phone stays safe regardless of whether it is using the surface attachment or the clothing attachment.

What we got to play with

The Surface mount is nothing more than a durable plastic square with “tracks” on it (that fit perfectly into the phone mount). All you need to do is clean the flat surface where you intend to stick it (with the alcohol swab provided in the kit), peel the backing off of the mount, align and stick it, and then wait for an hour. Once the time has elapsed, you can safely slide your device onto the mount and it will clip in nicely. You can slide your phone from the top in a vertical orientation, or you can slide it in from either side to maintain a horizontal position. I, personally, have mounted mine on the underside of one of the shelves above my computer, so I can keep it within reach, but out of the way so it’s not a distraction.

The most obvious application for this would be at your desktop, so you could keep it close enough to your USB port to use a charging cable – and you won’t run the risk of knocking it off of your desk. You can also put this practically anywhere, thanks to the mighty adhesive within the sticky strip. For example, you could put this in the kitchen so you could mount a tablet to it, giving you easy access to cooking videos or recipes (according to the current compatibility list, it can hold an iPad 2 – the Wi-Fi version weighs around 601g) or allowing you to watch Netflix while performing menial tasks.

One of the cool things about these surface mounts is that they are NFC-enabled, which means you can have your phone perform tasks when clipped into them (provided that your phone supports NFC) – so you can assign a different task for each of your Clipless tags. Want to have a mobile profile for your car that activates when you slide the phone into your car-mounted Clipless? Done. Want to set your alarm to wake you up in the morning when you go to bed by slipping the phone into the surface mount by your bedside? Done, unless you’re the proud owner of an iOS device, in which case NFC usefulness -if any- is limited.

Stick it practically anywhere! (Photo courtesy of Clipless)

The Clothing mount is also very useful, as it can keep your phone within easy reach without the risk of change or keys scratching the surface of your touch-screen. The application of the solution is a little different than the Surface method, and it is less permanent (you won’t have to do anything to your clothes – the system is portable). The Clothing mount basically uses a two-part solution to provide a way to attach the phone to your person. Instead of a self-adhesive piece (like the Surface solution), the Clothing application uses a circular metal piece (housed in durable plastic with a small raised “lip” around the edge, and a piece (made out of plastic and metal) that contains a very strong magnet. Simply slide the disc into your pocket or behind the fabric of wherever you want to attach your device (with the metal side facing towards the outside), place the magnetic piece on the outside, opposite the disc (so that it pulls itself into place) and then you have a new mount right on your clothes.

It seems too good to be true, but Clipless has been designed well enough that it holds fast with normal use with fabrics of reasonable thickness. The magnet in the mounting unit is very strong – strong enough to lift a 12 lb sledgehammer, as demonstrated on their site1. If that’s not enough, the aforementioned lip on the magnetic disc serves to act as a stopper of sorts, so any incidental sliding of your phone is quickly halted by the design of the magnetic mount. The bond is strong enough to allow you to slide your phone onto the magnetic holster and back off again without having to hold the base. I personally used these on my t-shirt and jumped up and down with my LG G2 attached to the mount – but it didn’t drop at all (and I did have pillows all over the place just in case it didn’t work). The magnetic mount comes with two special handles that are pinched together to separate it from the disc, allowing you to easily pull it free.

Clever prying handles make it easy to detach.

Common sense should rule when deciding what fabrics to use Clipless with. Obviously you will be placing the clothing at the mercy of the combined weight of your phone, as well as the Clipless mount, so if you plan on hanging it on something loose and stretchy, plan on having some sag. I found that Clipless worked very well on outside of my jeans (the pocket), the inside of my coat pocket, my dress shirt pocket, as well as one of thinner sweaters. However, the thicker the material (and the more textured it is), the less likely it is to hold your phone. Not that I’d ever need to attach it to my bath robe, but it didn’t do as well as it did on my jeans – nor did it hold as fast to a thicker fleece sweatshirt, due to the fact that it lessened the magnetic hold and also reduced the effect of the lip on the disc. Of course, this doesn’t really limit Clipless’ usefulness to the average person. Most people have clothing that will work with Clipless, and there are also inner pockets in purses and backpacks that one can slip the magnetic disc into so that their phone is always in the same place in those containers.

The only real down side of Clipless (if you could call it a down side) is that the connectors can each only be used once on the surface that you choose. Clipless recommends that you stick the mount to a case rather than to your phone, because once it’s on – it’s on2. Also, it works far better on plastic, and synthetic leather – but it doesn’t do as well on elastic or naturally porous surfaces (like leather). One of the other valid concerns that is addressed on their site is whether there is any adverse effect of the magnet being so close in proximity to the phone. The answer, according to Clipless, is that phones and other devices are protected from incidental contact. The “outside” of the magnetic mount is non-magnetic and provides enough of a shield so as to prevent the magnet from being attracted to anything through the shield.

An alternative to other mounts for working out. (Photo courtesy of Clipless)

The Clipless system is pretty cool, and it works very well. You can use the Surface Package with its NFC-enabled mounts to hold your phone fast to a surface, and assign tasks to it depending on which mount you are using. You can use the Clothing Package to take your phone with you and keep it within easy reach – without limiting yourself to pockets. While there are limitations, they don’t really diminish the overall usefulness of the product. It’s moments like these where I am pretty proud to be a Canadian, as fellow canuckleheads from Port Hope have a pretty neat product on their hands – or rather, a pretty neat product that frees their hands. You can check out their product at their web site.

1 – I was a little bit skeptical of this – so I tried the same thing. It performed as advertised!
2 – It can be removed, but it leaves a little bit of sticky residue that becomes less sticky with time.

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