Every once in a while a simple product comes along that makes you wonder how you ever managed to get by without it. Sliced bread, the automobile, and microwave popcorn spring to mind, and to this impressive lineage of helpers we can now add the FlyGrip. Not just an ergonomic gripper, but also a super-slim kickstand for both portrait and landscape viewing, FlyGrip frees your thumb to reach the entire surface of your touchscreen and keeps your phone securely in place while in use.
Appletell had the chance to catch up with the inventor of the FlyGrip, Michael Karmatz, at MacWorld | iWorld 2012, and he gave us an insight into the genesis of this handy little accessory. Born out of frustration at awkward hand contortions and accidental mistaps on touch screens, Karmatz sketched out an idea for a simple two-finger gripper that would free the thumb from holding the phone and allow its use purely for navigation. On the show floor the FlyGrip booth was swamped with buyers and models in very purple outfits, both creating quite a stir.
This one-handed design frees the user’s other hand to allow better multitasking during casual phone use—using your phone for walking directions does not require your full attention, so why should it require both of your hands? Best of all, the company is based in New York, and all manufacturing happens in the USA, which makes for a pretty sweet deal at only $29.95.
The FlyGrip is compatible with just about any smartphone or tablet, provided it has a flat, smooth back surface. Obviously, the glass and aluminum that make up most of Apple’s products meet those specs, but other devices may need to be in a case that provides an adequate area for the FlyGrip’s 3M adhesive. For iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S users, the FlyGrip is compatible out of the box; for other phone users, check FlyGrip’s website for a handy phone compatibility chart. At launch, FlyGrip is including a free snap-on case with purchases, so many users will never need to install the FlyGrip directly to their phone.
The FlyGrip comes in three sizes—small, medium and large—so check the FAQ before ordering to make sure your fingers will fit. Included in the box are foam pads for resizing if you find the grip too loose, and an extra adhesive sheet should you decide to remove your FlyGrip and stick it on another device. The bundled instructions suggest the use of a dull, flat object like a butter knife to pry the FlyGrip off when you move it. Though it seems incredible, the process is actually fairly simple and less traumatic than it might seem (check out the video below), but taking a butter knife to a $400 phone is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Boldly Going Where No Phone Has Gone
In the interview with Karmatz, a number of uses for the FlyGrip were discussed, ranging from the ingenious to the ludicrous. For smaller tablets and e-readers, the FlyGrip is especially useful because many are too small to hold comfortably for very long without touching any keys. Long term use with an iPad is possible, but the iPad’s weight can be uncomfortable. Potential situations where the FlyGrip might be useful include:
iPhone as a flashlight (either the LED or screen)
Reading while running on a treadmill
Pushing a shopping cart perusing an electronic shopping list (either cradling the phone or wearing it like a ring)
Eating while tweeting (catchy-sounding but dangerous)
Using HopStop for directions while holding on for dear life in the NYC subway
Hold a Kindle up while reading in bed
Use your imagination…
Not just an accessory, but a revelation in iPhone usefulness, the FlyGrip is easily one of the top ten iDevice accessories of all time. Whether in use as a kickstand, gripper cradled inside the hand, or as a ring on top of the hand, the FlyGrip ensures your smartphone adapts to your current activity, rather than you fumbling not to drop your shiny iPhone while shopping for rutabagas. Recommending the FlyGrip is easy, emphasizing just how useful it will become is the hard part.