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CNN Underscored is on the ground at CES 2024 in Las Vegas to pick out the tech products that are actually worth your attention. Be sure to follow our CES 2024 coverage hub for the latest hands-on previews straight from the world’s biggest electronics show.

The days of the BlackBerry being the hottest smartphone are long gone, but that doesn’t mean some of its features don’t continue to live on in new products. A new case for the iPhone gives you one of the most beloved features of a classic BlackBerry smartphone: a physical keyboard.

It’s called Clicks, and it’s from a company founded by two well-known members of the creator community: Michael Fisher (known as MrMobile) and Kevin Michaluk (known as CrackBerry Kevin). Together with a team of folks who previously worked at major tech brands like Apple, BlackBerry and Google, they developed a new case that aims to give you a physical keyboard for your iPhone when you need one.

We had a chance to get up close and personal with Clicks at CES 2024, and yes, it’s everything physical keyboard lovers have been looking for.

Pricing and availability

This unique phone case gives your iPhone a BlackBerry-esque keyboard, ideal for folks who miss physical keys and want to see their entire phone screen when they type.

Clicks is available to order now for $139 for standard iPhones and will cost $159 for larger ones. The iPhone 14 Pro model will start shipping on Feb. 1, while the versions for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will arrive in mid-March.

If you’re one of the first to order, you’ll receive a Clicks Founders Edition case, which gets you VIP support and early access to future colors. Clicks says it’s working on a bunch of new finishes now, and it plans to roll them out over time.

A bold yet simplistic design that’s easy to use

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The Clicks keyboard has been making a splash partially thanks to its bold design. The flagship color, BumbleBee, is a vibrant yellow that contrasts nicely with the black keyboard. (Those who want a more toned-down look may opt for London Sky, which is the one that made it onto my iPhone 15 Pro during my demo.) The case is made of silicon to make it easy to slip your iPhone in, and it also makes it easy to grip.

To get your iPhone inside, you pull down the top portion of the case and slide your iPhone down toward the USB-C/Lightning port (depending on which model you buy). This connects the keyboard to your iPhone, which means it doesn’t need Bluetooth or a battery to operate — it relies solely on your iPhone’s power.

There’s no getting around the fact that this iPhone case makes your device super tall. In the hand, it feels much more like a TV remote than anything. But the founders are aware of this and think it’ll be worth dealing with to have a physical keyboard. I’ll leave that decision to the buyers.

Around the case, you’ve got protectors for the volume and side buttons, a cutout for the Action button and mute switch, and a passthrough charging port so you don’t have to take the case off to recharge your iPhone. I asked if the charging speed remains the same with the passthrough port, and I was told that it does. However, data transfer isn’t available through the USB-C version of the case, all thanks to Apple’s shifty lock-in tactics with the USB-C port on the iPhone.

Clicky keys with lots of functionality

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The keyboard on Clicks is obviously the most important part, and the company spent a lot of time making sure the keys felt nice to type on. There’s a lot of layering and implementation processes under the hood, and the end result is a keyboard with very clicky keys that are large enough to remain easy to strike.

In my brief hands-on, it felt like it would take some getting used to. The keys were comfortable and everything, but I’m used to typing on a virtual keyboard. The founders reminded me that many folks presumed they’d need a lot of time to get used to it, only to find them typing away with ease after a couple days. We’ll see how that holds up in my review.

The position of the keyboard is also a little awkward. You have to shift your hands down quite a bit to reach it when you want to type, but over time, I can see muscle memory kicking in.

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Of course, this isn’t just a set of physical keys for typing out words. Clicks Technology also built in a couple of other features to make navigating your iPhone a bit easier. There’s a CMD key that lets you perform CMD + commands in iOS, such CMD + H to go home, CMD + Space to pull up Search or even CMD + T to open a new tab in Safari. You can also scroll through webpages by tapping the space bar, and the keyboard will work with many different keyboard shortcuts in third-party apps.

There’s also an official Clicks app on the way to add even more features to the keyboard, but it’s in early stages and wasn’t available to demo during my briefing.

The takeaway

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Using the keyboard, you’ll get a lot more screen real estate than you would with the virtual one. That’s because when it’s plugged in, iOS knows not to display the virtual keyboard when you tap on a typable area. This frees up half of your screen so you can see more of what you’re typing and reference other content with ease.

The keyboard is also good for creators who are used to typing on physical keyboards all day. After typing on your laptop, desktop or your iPad’s keyboard, transitioning to a physical keyboard on your iPhone could help simplify your workflow and make producing content easier. I fall in the camp of typing all day for a living, so I’ll be paying attention to how it affects my workflow in my full review.

Obviously, this case will be good for anyone who’s simply a straight-up fan of physical keyboards and wants one on their iPhone. If you miss the days of firing off text messages with your BlackBerry’s keyboard, or you’re not a fan of virtual keyboards altogether, this case might be for you.