PopSockets and phone grips: why they matter and why you should use one

Get a grip, save your fingers
Get a grip, save your fingers (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

There's no better place for people-watching than a theme park, because lines are long, the weather's not always great, and most folks are bone-tired before sunset. You can see how people from all around the country and the world interact with each other, and because I'm an absolute freak, I watch how people interact with their phones.

And what I see every day at Walt Disney World is giving me phantom pains in my hands and neck.

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

People hunch over their phones as they stand in line, as they sit at restaurants, and walk through a crowd of thousands. Their kids loom over phones and tablets in their laps or stroller trays, shoulders hunched, with little fingers tightly gripping the sometimes comically oversized devices distracting them from the heat and the crowd. I'm struggling with my own poor posture, but one simple accessory has gone a long way towards helping me stand straighter and look at my phone properly, and no, it's not that weird necklace that vibrates to tell you you're slouching.

It's $15 Swappable PopSocket, and it's the only way I can get through the day without my pinky and thumb yelling at me.

So many grips, so little time

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I've used a lot of phone grips over the last three years. I've had to: I swap phones and cases for work far more often than I'd like, and whenever I have a new case that I'm reviewing, I go to bed with my left hand dully roaring at me for the way I prop my phone in my hand. I'm a pinky-propper, and while this wasn't a problem six years ago when phones were smaller and lighter, it has become a major issue. These days phones have 6-inch screens, glass backs, and weigh more. The fact that I rely heavily on my phone for both work and personal communication means I'm spending more time propping it up with my fingers. That propping has worn down the tendons in my pinky, and my thumb also suffers from reaching up towards the top corners for menu icons.

PopSockets have helped me get in the habit of keeping my phone and my head up.

I can feel a definite difference in my fingers on days that I use a case with a phone grip and days I don't, not just in my fingers, but in my wrist and shoulders, too. It's easier to keep my phone steady and higher. I still find myself sliding into hunching slouches more often than I'd like, but PopSockets have helped me get in the habit of keeping my phone and my head up.

The stability it offers me in-hand also makes for fewer typing mistakes and fewer accidental swipes, especially now that both edges of the screen function as the back button. My pictures are more stable — I'm not much of a selfie girl, but it's great when taking quick pics around the parks — and it's easier to keep control of my phone while sliding it in and out of my holster or pockets.

Grab a Tab

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I'm not the only one who's succumbed to the siren song of the PopSocket; I spot more and more of them every time I get in line for Flights of Passage or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. They're still mostly on women's phones or teenagers phones — which is great news since they're even more useful for clumsy kids — but I'm starting to see sports (opens in new tab) and Star Wars PopSockets (opens in new tab) on the back of guy's cases, too. These aren't the only grips out there, but they are the most popular, albeit a bit less multi-functional.

My first grips were ring grips like the Spigen Style Ring 2 (opens in new tab), which I adored because they possess far superior kickstand abilities compared to PopSockets. While PopSockets can work okay as a horizontal kickstand for watching videos, ring kickstands can also work as vertical kickstands, propping up your phone like a notepad next to your computer or holding up the article you're reading while you eat lunch in the break room.

Let's kick it with a kickstand

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Being able to prop up your phone at a desk or table is an important feature for a phone grip, as it can make a world of difference in trying to fix the bad posture issues I mentioned before. Vertical kickstands are better for most content because that's the way most apps are designed to be seen and used, but even using the horizontal kickstand to keep it angled on the dining room table can help you avoid hunching over your phone and putting undue strain on your spine.

A $15 phone grip versus a lifetime of nerve pain is the easiest tech decision I ever made.

We're already starting to see the impact that all out hunching over our phones is causing, including neck pains, tweaked wrists, and strained fingers. The repeated strain on our joints can lead to RSIs — Repetitive Stress Injuries — and you can make all the jokes about texting neck and Nintendonitis you want. Still, I've had my thumb and palm go numb on exceptionally long days before, and it is nothing short of terrifying. Especially once you discover that while you can mitigate some symptoms and ease the pain, most RSIs like these will never fully heal.

Granted, years of data entry and frantic copy-pasting of graphics code at the TV station exacerbated my condition, but I would have bought into phone grips years earlier if I'd know they could help me get through the day without my left hand revolting on me. And whether or not you already feel those pins and needles in your fingers yet, why wouldn't you try to prevent it when all you need is a $15 accessory that you can move from phone to phone as you upgrade over the years?

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

  • Don't these interfere with wireless charging?
  • Most of these types of phone grips don't allow for wireless charging because they are too thick to allow a connection. You would need to remove the case/grip each time you wanted to charge which defeats the purpose of a case. I would love to have something like one of these grips, but I won't because of the interference with wireless charging.
  • I think I saw a pop socket friendly wireless charger coming out. It has a cut out for the popsocket to last down flat.
  • Not anymore, at least not as much anymore. All new PopSockets sold today are Swappable PopSockets, do you can twist off the PopTop in order to have a slimmer profile while wirelessly charging. You get best results when using it with a thinner case, but I have an OtterBox Symmetry with my PopSocket right now and I can wireless charge when I keep the phone level.
  • I played with that for a while, and if you're gonna twist the top off you may as well plug a cable in instead and get superior charging. Maybe the pop socket people should partner with a company like Anker to make a wireless charger with a recess.
  • POP Sockets already make one. Looks like a donut, or bagel, if you prefer. The hole is where the socket goes. I imagine it limits the positioning of the socket. I've played with them and noted that toward the bottom of a large phone seems better for usage, but towards the top is better if you want to use the socket as an angled prop when laying the phone down. The socket would have to be placed specifically to support charging when the socket is in the hole. What this doesn't help is charging in my iOttie wireless car charger, or the charging pad built into my Hyundai. Ara Wagoner noted that the new ones detach easily, so that may bee an option. Have to give that a shot.
  • I bought this one for my S10+ but after several months of use, a piece of the case broke off on the bottom and the strap is tearing. However, it totally works with my wireless charger so when the strap does finally break, I'm going to buy another one. Grip2ü Samsung Galaxy S10+ Clear Phone Case GettaGrip [Slim] Snap On Enhanced Protection Grip CASE [Clear] Slim Galaxy Protection Cover with Grip Band for Samsung S10 Plus https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PN6Q8GQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_taa_O5AoEb62X0Z6M?ta...
  • The Speck Grabtab is thin enough that you can still use wireless charging so that's what I prefer.
  • Is this article satire? I mean seriously, if holding your phone hurts your hands enough to injure you, maybe you have a overall fitness problem and should start exercising.
  • What exercises can you recommend for overextended thumb and pinky tendons? Oh, and neck exercises from staring down at my phone and Chromebook when I'm working from the parks? Don't confuse my lack of swole with a lack of health; RSIs have been around for a long time and we find new ways to inflict them every generation. Last generation was carpal tunnel from typing at computers and neck problems from staring down at old CRT screens. This generation is De Quervain syndrome (texting thumb) from smartphones, game controllers, and tablets and even more neck problems from staring down at our phones..
  • Yup. My wife has several neck exercises she has to do to keep from getting migraines due to discs slipping in her neck. In her case, it's not just the phone, it's her pc usage at work that requires her to move/stand and hold or look down at her laptop. But her overall symptoms lessen when she isn't staring down at her phone in her off time.
  • LOL it is not about being "swole" it is about living a healthy lifestyle. I've been a software developer for over 15 years so I know all about potential issues from staring at CRT's/LCDS, sitting, looking down, typing, etc...... all day long. Its not my job to educate you on living healthy but now that you've made it clear your article is serious I see it as a paid advertisement for pop sockets.
  • Put down the phone for a change.
  • Very appropriate name, knob man! You should share your exercise routine, I'm sure the typists and office workers would appreciate it too.
  • I've been a software developer for over 15 years so I know all about potential issues from staring at CRT's/LCDS, sitting, looking down, typing, etc...... all day long. Its not my job to educate you on living healthy go research.
  • At lwast its not this article
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/06/20/horns-are-growing-young... which makes you wonder why we didnt see this lproblem ong ago
  • Doesn't fit in my pocket nicely, and I don't want to look like I have a can of chewing tobacco. .