When upgrading to a phone with a bigger screen, buyers often overlook one important consideration: A bigger screen is harder to navigate one-handed.
Indeed, back in the days of small screens, your thumb could probably reach all corners without much trouble. But today’s 5- and 6-inch models just don’t allow for thumb-powered operation — not without a little help.
Fortunately, help is at hand, so to speak. There are numerous products designed to give you a better grip on your phone, to hook your fingers so your thumb is free to roam farther. This improved grip also makes it less likely your phone is going to fly out of your hand and have an unfortunate encounter with the pavement. I’ve also found it helps with selfie positioning and stability: no more uncomfortable “claw-hook” gripping.
There’s a trade-off or two, often in the form of reduced pocket-friendliness and increased dork-factor. But if you spend a big chunk of your day holding your phone, doesn’t it make sense to hold it smarter and safer?
The Lazy-Hands is a finger-loop gripper thingie you stick to the back of your phone. (It’s available for ereaders and tablets as well.) I’ll be blunt: It’s the dorkiest of the options here, in part because it requires sticking some Velcro to the back of your phone.
(Personally, I’d never do that, but I would stick it to the back of an inexpensive case.)
If you leave the loops on full time, you’ll sacrifice a little pocketability. If you remove them, now you’ve got an ugly black square of Velcro back there — and loose loops that could easily get lost.
All that being said, this makes for the single most comfortable finger-powered phone grip I’ve ever tried. And if you squish the loops together a little bit, they can double as a kickstand. Lazy-Hands comes in a variety of styles, with the 2-loop versions priced at $9.99 (converted to £7.50, AU$12.50) plus shipping.
In between the Lazy-Hands and Ninja Loop (below) lies the LoveHandle, a small, self-adhesive plastic strip with a stretchy band attached. It’s available in a huge variety of colors and patterns and is priced at $9.95 (around £8, AU$12). That’s for the regular size, which can accommodate one or two fingers; there’s also a longer “XL” version that costs $13.95.
You can also create your own, complete with custom text and/or images along the band, for $14.95.
I like the LoveHandle because it’s less obtrusive than Lazy-Hands and doesn’t span nearly the full length of your phone like the Ninja Loop. The stretchy band gives you a secure grip, but I found it a little constricting after longer periods; my fingers got a little uncomfortable when I was reading a book, for example.
I suspect more users would be happier with the Ninja Loop, but if you don’t mind a slight bump on the back of your phone and do want a ton of color/style options, this is worth a look.
I’ve been a fan of the Ninja Loop for a long time, mostly because it solves my grip problems without adding any weight or bulk. Oh, yeah, and because it’s all of five bucks (£8, AU$14 with shipping).
Which makes sense, because the Loop is little more than a strong strip of fabric. It works like this: You stick one end of the strap to the inside of your case, then feed it out the camera hole, down the back side and back in through any available opening in the bottom. The other end affixes to the inside of the case, same as the first.
These two ends rely on strong adhesive to provide the necessary tension, yet I had no trouble peeling up one end to adjust the fit — and it left behind no residue. Then you just slip a couple fingers in between the strap and case and presto: a solid one-handed grip.
A very popular “write-in” candidate from the earlier version of this roundup (see the comments section), the PopSocket is a flat, self-adhesive plastic disc that “pops” out to give you a two-fingered grip and a stand, the latter always a welcome perk.
Like the LoveHandle, it’s available in a wide assortment of colors and styles, and you can customize your own. (The photo at right shows one I had made up for my business.) Prices range from $10 to $15 (around £8-£12, AU$12-AU$19).
The PopSocket feels very flimsy, though, made of the cheapest, thinnest plastic I can imagine for something like this. I also have a feeling that constantly “popping” the gripper will eventually make the adhesive let go of your phone — though I haven’t done enough long-term testing to know for sure. But user ratings on Amazon average to around 4.2 stars, so it’s definitely a well-liked product. It’s just not my preferred choice.
Spigen Style Ring
The Loop requires a case. The Lazy-Hands sort of does as well, unless you’re OK with Velcro stuck to the back of your phone. No go? Prefer to keep your phone “naked”?
Try a Spigen Style Ring. This is one of those picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words products, so I’m not going to bother with a lengthy description. Just see the photo to instantly understand how it works. The bottom line is the Spigen gives you an easier, safer one-handed grip for your phone.
But, wait, there’s more. Unlike the Ninja Loop, the ring doubles as a kickstand — nice for those who like to read or watch videos hands-free. It also comes with a hook-mount so you can hang your phone on, say, your dashboard. (It comes with an adhesive hook-mount for that very purpose.)
The downside, of course, is that your phone won’t lie completely flat when you set it down.
The only real problem with the Ring is the price: $25 (converted to around £19, AU$32) when purchased directly from Spigen. But Amazon currently sells them for $15, a little more reasonable.
Kind of a cross between the Spigen ring and the LoveHandle, the Ungrip consists of a small plastic plate that attaches to the back of your phone and a fabric loop attached to that plate. It’s not rigid like the ring and not as tight as the LoveHandle — and therefore a bit more comfortable than either of them.
The downside is that you finger doesn’t quite so easily work its way into the loop: It’s harder to “catch” by touch alone. What’s more, Ungrip adds a bigger bump to the back of your phone, but doesn’t afford the ring’s kickstand capabilities.
Ungrip comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and the loop is actually removable from the base, so you can change it out if you want a different look. Unfortunately, you can’t buy just replacement loops; it’s the whole kit or nothing.
As of this writing, the solid-color Ungrips sell for $10 each (around £8, AU$12). Patterns cost $12, and “specials” run $16.
The car question
One thing to keep in mind as you shop for a grip is how it will affect your car-mount situation. For example, I currently use a magnetic mount that requires a metal plate stuck to the back of my phone case. This precludes the use of just about every product here except the Ninja Loop, which is flat enough and thin enough that it doesn’t interfere with the magnet.
However, LoveHandle offers an optional mounting clip (though, annoyingly, provides absolutely no information about where or how it can be used), while PopSockets sells the similar PopClip, which would allow your phone to mount to a dashboard. And the Spigen ring, as noted, comes with something similar, so it’s car-friendly right out of the box.
You could probably rig up something — perhaps one of the various 3M Command hooks? — for the other products as well. Just keep in mind the design and depth of the grip and how it might affect any car mount you already own. A change might be necessary.
Have you found a one-handed grip option you like better than these? Name it in the comments!
Editors’ note: This article was originally published on December 26, 2016, and has since been updated.