Do you miss BlackBerry phones? Do you wish your iPhone 15 had a real keyboard, with actual buttons you can press with your thumbs? Nobody misses having a phone keyboard like old (very old) school BlackBerry fans, and one of the biggest BlackBerry fans of all has started an iPhone accessory company to pass the torch of the phone keyboard to a new generation of fans.
In a bold move, two tech journalists, Kevin Michaluk of Crackberry.com and Michael Fisher of Mr. Mobile YouTube fame, have partnered to found a hardware company called Clicks. The two have also enlisted team members from companies including BlackBerry (of course), Apple, and Google, though to be fair I tell people I worked at Apple when I really worked at an Apple Store in the Chestnut Hill Mall near Boston.
I’ll admit I know both Kevin and Michael, and I’ve seen Michael recently, but I had no idea that he was working on an iPhone keyboard on the sly. Some of my TechRadar colleagues noted the similarity between this accessory and that one time Ryan Seacrest tried to take the iPhone world by storm with his own Typo keyboard for the iPhone. Also that other time Ryan Seacrest tried again with Typo2. Seacrest was sued out of existence by BlackBerry, which somehow had enough life left in 2015 to win a lawsuit.
Of course, the Seacrest Typo design was a direct knock-off of the slanted BlackBerry keyboard, while the Click keyboard looks more like an array of black pearls in straight lines, without a slant. You’d think that Michaluk would know enough to avoid the pitfalls of Seacrest’s failure, since he covered the Typo story for Crackberry.com back in the day.
Will they bring back the thumbwheel next?
Clicks is clearly hoping today’s users will skip the onscreen keyboard, which takes up space, and instead attach its new USB-C or Lightning keyboard. The Click keyboard works with an iPhone 14 (Lightning) or iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Max (USB-C). No word on why Clicks has chosen to skip the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro, but support for those devices is not mentioned.
Clicks isn’t just a simple keyboard, there are some fancy features on board. There is a pass-through USB-C port so you can charge your phone even when the keyboard is connected. The keys are also backlit, which is pretty snazzy, and should help with typing at night. There is an app to download to make sure the keyboard works, and then you get some keyboard shortcuts like CMD-H to return to the Home screen.
The Clicks keyboard is up for pre-order now at Clicks.tech, and the company expects to start shipping as early as February 1. The first batch will be available in two colors, a yellow called Bumblebee (paging Hasbro?) and a cloudy blue called London Sky. It will retail for $139, which is $50 less than the Ryan Seacrest Typo device cost.
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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.