News Column

Hands On: FlyGrip

April Issue

J. Nisen -- Contributor

The popularity of mobile devices, specifically smartphones and tablets, is continuing to soar. While we've covered some of the coolest apps to get the most out of your phones and tablets in these pages, we'd urge you, our audience of smart consumers, not to forget about another category with which to enhance your mobile-device experience—accessories. Today, we're spotlighting one neat accessory in particular that is about the opposite of most popular enhancements: innocuous rather than obvious, practical rather than flashy, and (score!) eminently affordable instead of expensive.

We're speaking of FlyGrip. FlyGrip, which came to market in the U.S. only this year, is basically a small plastic doodad that affixes to the back of your smartphone. If you use a hard-backed case, you can install it on the case instead. Its functions are severalfold. A plastic arm of sorts extends from the FlyGrip; this allows you to use the FlyGrip as a kickstand for both horizontal and vertical viewing. This is advantageous in several situations: video chats, for instance, or playing YouTube clips to entertain your wailing toddler (been there).

But the kickstand is only part of the functionality. The extended arm has grooves that create space in which two fingers fit snugly. This keeps your thumb free for full, one-handed use of the device. It does work for a tablet, but this is particularly useful for a smartphone as your thumb's range of motion can fulfill nearly all functions that can be done with a single touch—in other words, any button can be pressed, though you will still need another digit's help for, say, pinching motions on the iPhone.

You may be thinking, as I honestly was at first, "Who cares about using a smartphone one-handed? Do I need a device in each hand?"

Then I started thinking about my days as a bus and BART commuter up in the Bay Area. A hand to hold an overhead bar or pole for balance so I could flip through emails (or choose my music) would have been grand, versus the "hook my elbow around a pole" method I had to resort to when I wanted to manipulate my smartphone.

Another fine one-handed advantage: Peruse news on your phone while drinking your morning coffee. After all, comScore, the digital marketing intelligence firm, indicated last October that about 7 percent of worldwide Internet traffic was coming from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). For me, it worked great using the Kindle program on my Android device. Comfortable reading and one step closer to never buying a paper book again.

As the proud owner of unusually fat fingers, I didn't need to use the stick-on foam additions to ensure a snug fit. However, those come standard with the FlyGrip, and folks with small fingers may be thrilled to learn that FlyGrip comes in three sizes as well. And while the FlyGrip should stick to your phone as long as you need it to, it can in fact be removed, and extra adhesive is included for when you upgrade to the next mobile device. When folded, the FlyGrip doesn't increase the size of your phone much, and it should still fit in your holster-style case or soft case.

Perhaps the best part is the price: $30. Granted, $30 is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you're a smart shopper, used to getting a huge bang out of your buck. However, it's also the kind of money you can spend to take a chance on a multipurpose product, and not kick yourself if it doesn't work out (as opposed to trying out a $1,000 tablet and finding it stinks). But we'd bet it works for you if any of the above sounds appealing. At the very least, the kickstand function is a great convenience.

Source: (c) 2012. All rights reserved.

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