A Brief Review of the Clicks Keyboard for iPhone

Posted on Tue, May 14, 2024 🍎 Apple 🎮 Gadgets

I’m a fan of Michael Fisher, aka Mr Mobile. So when he announced his new product Clicks - I knew I just had to get one. Who isn’t nostalgic of old-school physical QWERTY keyboards? I was pretty convinced that a physical keyboard will improve my typing experience on mobile, and perhaps even increase my productivity on the go (which mostly means being able to respond to Slack and emails faster).

After a week of using Clicks, my typing experience didn’t actually improve. In fact, it got so bad that I was typing so much slower now and I hated having to type on the keyboard.

I wanted to give Clicks the benefit of the doubt, so I soldiered on for a few more days, but it was just bad.

Here’s why I think we should just let this product die:

  1. On-screen keyboards have gotten so good after generations of optimization that moving to a miniature physical keyboard is disorienting, especially when you lose the predictive abilities of touch keyboards. Because touch keyboards have a tolerance for inaccuracy and lack of precision, they usually can predict which letter you are likely to tap on next based on what you’re spelling out - and as a result you can often type clumsily and still write pretty well. A physical keyboard has no such tolerances. I have to be precise all the time. And with the size of the keys on the Clicks (relative to the size of the keys on the touch keyboard), I have to be very precise - and my chubby fingers just lack that kind of dexterity.
  2. The new center of mass means I have to “cradle” your phone so that it doesn’t fall off while you’re using it. They even have this Getting Started guide on how you should hold the thing, because the ergonomics are extremely different and one-handed typing is no longer a thing. I find that my fingers get tired very quickly and often cramp, so I can’t use my phone long enough to actually get anything productive done.
  3. The keyboard layout is bizarre. The return key is right where I expect delete/backspace to be on the touch keyboard, so I often accidentally send messages while I’m in the middle of typing.
  4. Sure, I now have more screen real estate, but it also means that I have to travel across the Atlantic just to be able to swipe down and access the control center or my notifications.
  5. Magsafe is gone. So goodbye to my convenient Magsafe car mount and chargers.
  6. None of my USB-C accessories work anymore. The passthrough USB-C port on the Clicks seems to be implemented as a terminal device instead of a USB hub, so my portable audio dongles, drone controllers, and microphones no longer work.
  7. I can’t really type emojis on this thing, which have become a big part of my vernacular.
  8. Not a lot of apps actually support CMD + shortcuts, so web browsing by spamming the space bar is only workable if you’re on Safari.

On the upside: the build quality is pretty good, the usual iOS keyboard shortcuts work really well, and all the keys (including volume switches, action button, and power) are, well, clicky.

Definitely not worth the $139 asking price though. For $30, maybe.