This is the first and best reason you should use a phone grip

I am a 27-year-old writer and newscast director, and since the tender age of 14, I've spent most of my waking non-school, non-sleep hours on a computer. I use a lot of Photoshop, custom hotkeys on my station computers with ENPS and Edius, and there's an almost constant stream of Ctrl + T/R/N/W/E/S/C/V/A/etc that I use while writing, formatting, creating, or just browsing the web in free time I don't really have. I'm also not a huge CAPS LOCK fan, so I use Shift for capitalizing names, acronyms, and adding important #HashtagOverload to my posts online.

In short, my pinkies hate me, and they're the first and only reason I need for using a phone grip like a PopSocket (opens in new tab) or Spigen Style Ring (opens in new tab).

Pinky propping is a problem

Pinky propping is a problem, and a bad habit many of us have had for years.

Since my Samsung Blackjack days, I've propped up my phone up in my hand with my pinky under it for stability, and I'm not alone. Even though the Samsung Galaxy S9+ I'm using these days is far larger and heavier than that Windows Mobile throwback, my pinky still gravitates to the bottom of the phone. And then painfully informs me of its displeasure.

As someone who uses computers a lot, I'd heard of carpal tunnel. BlackBerry Thumb and Nintendinitus are just two of the many, many joking names devloped for De Quervain syndrome over the years, and so long as there has been a workforce with repetitive tasks, there have been repetitive stress injuries.

This is an increasing occurrence for my phone

And if you develop a repetitive stress injury, there's no real "fixing" it. You can ice the affected area and use medication to help you ignore the pain when it flares up, but there's only one way to completely eliminate it. If you have a repetitive stress injury, the biggest and sometimes only real advice most doctors will give you is to rest and give your muscles a break from the repetitive task.

Whenever there's a computer around, I generally use the computer over the phone, especially for typing-intensive tasks like writing, email, and social media. When I get to work, my phone largely reverts to a music player, sitting in my shoulder holster and streaming music to my Bluetooth headphones while I prepare for shows and work on special projects. It that helps a little, sometimes, but I still often end a day with my pinky stiff and the joint popping when I try to stretch it out.

Sweet relief

Rest helps a little. Using a phone grip helps a lot.

When I started using a smartphone grip last year, I immedatiately felt a difference. Instead of my pinky straining, and my nerves screaming, at the bottom of my phone, it sits straight and unused flat against the back of my device while my middle finger sits inside the grip's ring and uses the pointer and ring finger to help keep the grip steady. My thumbs are also happier with the grips, as more of the phone's screen can be reached without straining — though I've also tried to cut down on one-handed phone use when I can, too.

I can go days without my pinky getting intensely angry with me, and on days heavy with data entry and lots of Ctrl commands, my hands will last longer before cramping up. I've worn out a number of phone grips in the 15 months since then, but I'm perfectly fine with that.

My pinky is free

Phone grips are replaceable; my fingers are not.

Am I weak for needing a phone grip? Well, I certainly don't think so. A phone grip that alleviates the strain on my hands is just like an ergonomic office chair or vertical mouse that helps office workers avoid carpal tunnel. A good phone grip is less expensive than an ergonomic keyboard, and certainly less expensive than physical therapy and pain management. Even Google has seen the value in phone grips during major events like Google I/O.

Google Popsocket at I/O

Even Google uses PopSockets phone grips.

Phone grips can double as kickstands, and they offer a little more drop protection, but really, the only reason anyone needs to use one is that they can help save your hands from often permanent and painful damage.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Which phone grip is right for you?

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.

52 Comments
  • No wireless charging with that thing.
  • Some people are able to use wireless charging with all plastic grips like Popsockets depending on where they place them.
  • If there are any that you can recommend, that would be cool. I have to constantly take my case off to wirelessly charge my phone. My case is actually sitting on my desk right now while my phone charges. If I need to get up quickly, it becomes a hassle to put the case back on, resulting in 2 drops on the hard floor. Luckily, no cracks to the screen but there are only so many drops my phone can take. If you have any that you can recommend, I would greatly appreciate it.
  • Forget wireless charging, what about NFC (& MST)? Sure, I'll just use my smartwatch...
  • No motomods, either.
  • I'd rather have a hurt finger than that monstrous knob on the back of my phone. And how do you put it in a car holder? Every time you put it into your pocket it gets stuck, I suppose. Unless I'm missing something that thing produces more problems than it solves.
  • The ring thing at least, I have seen come with a hook, that seems to work well as a holder in your car. My phone has 6 cards in a fabric holder on the back, and still fits into my phone holder in my car. One of the slide in styles. I'm not sure what you use for a holder though.
    My daughter had a popsocket on her phone for a while, skinny jeans and all, she didn't have an issue putting it in her back jean pocket. She just learned to use a finger to pull the pocket open a bit when the bulkier part went into the pocket.
  • I only see women use them. That telltale circular knob on the phone in the pocket. It interferes with wireless charging, so a no go.
  • Why are the strap types of phone grips always left out of these articles? I'm using a LoveHandle phone grip on my phones and it's much more comfortable and less conspicuous than pop sockets or the rings.
  • Never seen one. They look pretty cool, but it looks like I would need to remove my stick on wallet thing for this.
  • They're not quite as useful since the strap versions usually can do the kickstand bit as well, but they definitely have they place.
  • Fair point. I like the slimmer profile and my go to case is Spigen Slim Armor which come with a kickstand anyway. Only issue is that they start to lose their elasticity after a while. Not enough to be a real issue, but it is noticeable.
  • I have a strap too. I prefer it WAY more than the rings or popsockets
  • I think it might be time to admit that phones have become too large... Also, all this talk of monstrous knobs and love handles... Is it Friday already?
  • You don't KNOW how hard I laughed at that!
  • I agree. I have had all of the Notes, sans the 7, and I have grown tired of the size and even more so with the weight of these devices.
    I just bought a Huawei P20 Lite and I absolutely love it. It weighs 145g vs my Note 8 at 195g so I barely notice it in my pocket and the screen size difference is negligible. Now if the manufacturers would do away with glass backs I'd be a happy guy.
  • You are my hero
  • too bulky. can't wirelessly charge, would get stuck in my pocket which is where I always carry my phone. everyone else here has gotten it right--the writer of the article got it wrong.
  • It's right for her, and others that want a different grip on their phone. I don't pinky-prop and have no problem with my phone comfortably in my open hand, but I did try a case with a ring on it (ring was free), and it did make a nice kickstand, and it slipped in and out of my pocket just fine. I don't use it any more, but I had my trial run and it was ok.
  • Yes, it's bulky.
    Some people can wirelessly charge around Popsockets, but I don't wirelessly charge anyway so no loss for me.
    Most grips don't snag going in or out of my jeans pockets or my shoulder holster (the Spigen Ring hits the back of the magnetic clasp on my holster sometimes but it goes in and out fine). And again, I use it so my hands yell at me less, because I know people tend to yell at me for my article regardless the subject matter.
  • you can do wireless charging with this www.kickstand4u.com
  • That website looks pretty sketchy
  • To each their own. I have no need for one of these as I've never experienced any of the symptoms described. That's probably because I have fairly large hands and have no problem one handing large phones. I typically only see women using these things which makes sense given their smaller (on average) hands.
  • Interesting! I don't have this issue but it's good to know that this is a potential fix!
  • I read this article thinking I don't pinky prop but when I started to type with 2 hands I notices I do. I don't use a grip because it would cover my cute bugdroid on my cruzerlite case. My daughter uses a pop socket and as someone with small hands it helps her a lot. I've started to notice a lot of men around work using the ring or the popsocket.
  • Not gonna put those things in my phone but I also understand the problem with the way most people hold their phones and since I'm always been a phablet guy I was also guilty of this until I noticed that my right pinky have this slight inward curve that my left pinky doesn't have so after that I switched to holding my phone with my pinky on the side too and if a task demands to switch my pinky at the bottom I just switch to using both of my hands.
  • I've tried the ring style and the popsocket before. Neither one stayed on my phone for more than week. Dislike the bulk, makes it pretty difficult to use the phone when lying on its back on a desk or counter, can't use wireless charging, etc.
  • I wouldn't need a grip if phones would just stop making aluminum and glass devices.
  • Have you heard of Dbrand? They make textured skins for pretty much every modern phone. They might be able to help you increase your happines parameter.
  • Ill check em out, thanks
  • Used a ring on my iPhone 8 plus since that's a behemoth with a small screen. Was very useful, specially since I read a lot of ebooks on my phone, and watch videos. The only problem was that the glue wasn't strong enough and would come out quite often. And when I finally took it off, it left glue on the case making it ugly!!! Planning to buy a popsocket for my Mate 10 pro as my little finger has started hurting again. Maybe it's time to buy a light, small phone instead of these huge screen glass monsters
  • So phone firms battle to make the slimest phone in the world, and buyers of these slimest phone of the world add this horrors to make them bigger ! Logic !
  • Recent phones (especially flagships) are too big and heavy for human hands. Ergonomics are unfortunately a secondary priority. We should demand smaller, more ergonomic devices but I think everyone is too infatuated with their big, pretty phones to do that. Perhaps usage moderation would also help. Using anything excessively (even with a phone grip ring thingy) will eventually have consequences.
  • Well. Like the author said, he realizes he has bad form when holding a phone. And just like ergo mice and keyboards and chairs - it all comes down to user error. Of course, sometimes its a medical issue but its always user-error outside of this. I have small hands but hold my phones near the middle for leverage.
  • There are enough knobs in the world already, I don't need another one on my phone.
  • Maybe you should shorten your daily affair with your phone and see what the real world has to offer you!
  • Its funny my wife started using these Popsockets and everyone gave her a hard time about them. Now they all have one. I'm not on my phone that much and don't like the bulk so I would never use one but its funny how everyone is giving these out now at events for free swag gear.
  • I never realized I prop my phone on my pinky different than most others it seems. I google searched and almost everyone does set it on the same place. I hold my point at about a 60 degree angle and set only the bottom right half in the pocket of my right hand with bottom right corner in the meaty flesh of the palm and mid phone on middle knuckle. I'm weird I guess.
  • I would highly recommend remapping your capslock to be a second control key before relegating yourself to a life of popsockets. Especially if you don't use capslock much anyways. This puts the control key right at the home row and makes hotkeys so much more comfortable to use. Granted, you do have to retrain your muscle memory a bit, but I can assure you, once you get it you'll never go back.
  • Had surgery for DeQuervain's 10 years ago next month... Don't risk it.
  • I hope your recovery is going well! And yeah, that is the nightmare scenario I would love to avoid.
  • I want a Pop Socket. But I don't want a Pop Socket.
  • This is nothing. Years ago, when I was at home with nothing to do, I would play mobile games on my phone for hours, holding the phone horizontally. It was my first smart phone so my hands weren't used to it. The nerves and skin on the back of my hands would stretch and so it would be uncomfortable continually holding the phone for hours like that just to play my games. That issue is a legit one.
  • Oh, yeah, hours and hours on my GameBoy color back in the 90s... and thumb cramping from hours and hours on Kingdom Hearts. It's not a new issue, it's just one we're encountering earlier in life than previous generations- Well, actually, I shouldn't say that. Kids in previous generations had RSIs from holding pencils or pens for hours a day (anyone remember those ergonomic grips you'd slide up your pencil every time you sharpened it?), and when kids were a more regular part of the workforce they were just as prove to RSIs as older employees.
  • I used a PopSocket for a few months, but it made my arthritic fingers hurt & cramp when used for reading more than 10 minutes at a time. Now I'm using a Spigen Ring and am very happy, as it is more useful and comfortable. It hardly adds any bulk to your pocket, however you do have to be a little more conscious of how you put your phone in and take it out. It comes with a hook to mount in your car, which is really handy, and hardly takes up any room at all. I highly recommend it!
  • I hardly ever have the ring snag my pockets when I slide it in, but I also tend to palm phones when I slide them into my pocket, covering any protrusions on the back that could potentially snag.
  • I've never pinky propped my phone ever. I guess it's probably because I'm using a Sony XZ1 Compact which fits perfectly in my hand and a wrist strap to guard against accidental buttery fingers. More phone manufacturers should embrace powerful compact phones.
  • I miss my palmable Moto X 2013... turquoise back, white front, red accents... So pretty... and the custom hot words for Moto Voce/OK Google were so nice...
  • Never
  • I'm not really sure you can say that it offers drop protection. It seems like it would increase the risk or dropping, or damaging if dropped, more than negate it.
  • A ring is easier to keep your grip on than a wide phone. Lowering your drop risk by lowering the chance of losing your grip on it sounds like drop protection, or at least drop prevention, to me. If you drop a phone with the Popsocket extended, the Popsocket will absorb a small bit of the force when it collapses. If you drop your phone with a ring grip on, if it lands on the ring, the hinge will likely absorb part of the shock as it bends flat, but depending on the angle, the ring would increase the odds of a bounced drop resulting in a corner/edge hit, but the worst of the force should be negated by then and even a lighter TPU case should give it enough protection to survive. But yes, drop prevention is probably a better term for the benefits here going forward.
  • I just have a question, what mechanical keyboard are you using? Do anyone recommend one?