This Clever Gadget Turns Your iPhone Into a "BlackBerry", but is That Something you Want in 2024?

Clicks is an iPhone case that gives your device a real keyboard — and it's a sell out idea so far

The Clicks iPhone case
(Image credit: Clicks)

Do you miss the click-click-click of replying to emails on your BlackBerry? 

Statistically, probably not. If enough people did, then the two attempted revivals of the BlackBerry smartphone would have been a runaway success rather than fizzling out.

There are a good few iPhone tricks that make using your touch screen easier, but for iPhone owners fed up of tapping emails out on impersonal glass, there’s soon to be an alternative from a new company called Clicks Technology. 

Created by YouTubers MrMobile and Crackberry Kevin, Clicks is a $139 iPhone case with a built-in keyboard — and even as a keyboard skeptic, I have to concede it has a lot going for it.

Back to the future

For one thing, because the iPhone treats it like a Bluetooth keyboard, you no longer have the virtual keys popping up on screen, giving you the full iPhone display to play with. That’s a dream for multitaskers, as it means you won’t have to keep awkwardly flipping between the keyboard and whatever app you’re typing in to move things around. 

With a bit of practice, you’ll probably type faster too — and while you may worry about writing in the dark, it’s actually backlit, drawing a little power from the iPhone itself (it connects via Lightning or USB-C). 

Finally, the iPhone weirdly supports keyboard shortcuts, and they’re included here: press CMD + H, and you’ll be taken to the homscreen, while CMD + space will quickly open up search. So it could make you more productive, if you take the time to learn everything (Clicks Technology says it’s looking add more functionality via a dedicated app).

However, there are a few fairly obvious drawbacks to tinkering with Apple’s tried-and-tested iPhone design, perfected in Cupertino over the last 16 years…

Key weaknesses

The most obvious one is what adding 36 buttons to your iPhone does to its shape. In short, if you take a phone call with this thing, it’ll look like you’re talking into your TV remote. 

That makes it top-heavy too, with the weight no longer equally balanced throughout the phone, which may make it a bit more vulnerable to expensive screen-breaking drops.

There’s also the problem of MagSafe. The case doesn’t have magnets built in, and while it’s thin enough for chargers to work with it, it won’t be securely held in place on a mount.

Finally, there’s the issue of compatibility. There are 40 different iPhone models, and Clicks Technology only makes cases for three of them at the moment: the iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. If you don’t have one of these, your Clicks case simply won’t fit.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

The Founders Edition pre-order for Clicks has already sold out which is very encouraging for the company. But I can’t help but think this will never be anything more than a very niche product — one that’s currently creating a fair bit of buzz thanks to the intoxicating scent of nostalgia.

For one thing, typing on iPhones is actually pretty good. While waiting for a train the other day, I typed out 300 words of a news story on Google Docs which I then picked up later on my desktop — swiping away was actually a smooth experience without any typos (and in some ways it was better than typing on my computer, because I wasn’t distracted by the pull of other browser tabs!)

In other words, BlackBerry keyboards were significantly better than typing on number pads in the age of dumbphones, but I’m not convinced they’re much better than touchscreens — especially when you get good at swipe-typing.

There doesn’t seem to be any huge clamor for a return to physical phone keyboards either. Not only have a couple of BlackBerry revivals failed, but for years Samsung sold a keyboard case accessory for its Galaxy S series. It hasn’t done so since the Galaxy S8 back in 2017, and the reason seems obvious: nobody was buying them.

Perhaps that won’t be an issue for a small company like Clicks with a huge userbase of iPhone users to sell to. After all, with 1.5 billion iPhones in the world, if 0.1% of users would be interested in a physical keyboard, that’s already 1.5 million potential customers. All the same, I wouldn’t bet on this kicking off the big keyboard renaissance. 

Alternative Bluetooth keyboards for iPhone

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. He often writes for T3 and Tom's Guide. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.