Hands-on: Pluggy Lock adds an anchor hook to any smartphone
Break out your lanyards! This Kickstarter project leverages your phone's headphone jack to add a secure but easily removable hook.
A lot of early mobile phones had little eye-hooks so you could attach them to a lanyard, belt hook, stylus, or even one of those cute little charms the ladies like.
Alas, that feature really doesn't exist on modern-day smartphones. So what happens if, say, you want to wear your phone around your neck? Typically that would mean shoehorning it into a special case.
Nope. Because science! When you insert the Pluggy into the jack, the rubberized stem expands ever-so-slightly as you twist the hook. (Think: balloon catheter.) The result is a surprisingly secure bond between the stem and the jack.
This makes total sense once you see developer Erasnep's demo animation:
Assuming Erasnep is able to hit its funding goal ($40,000, with about $14,000 raised so far), the Pluggy Lock should hit the market around September.
However, the developers were kind enough to send me a prototype, which helped answer several of my burning questions. First and foremost: could it really hold, say, an iPhone securely enough to be worn on a lanyard?
Answer: yes. Although I'm not sure I agree with Erasnep's claim that the Pluggy Lock can hold up to seven pounds, nothing short of a very firm tug was able to pull mine loose. I walked around for quite a while with my iPhone 5S on a lanyard, and the hook never budged.
Next question: Isn't it too easy to lose the plug when you remove it? Thankfully, no, because an included keychain holster gives it a magnetically secure home. But won't it disable your phone's ringer, just like a pair of headphones?
My biggest concern is whether the Pluggy Lock could somehow damage the headphone jack, though it seems unlikely that a rubber gasket could physically alter a metal tube. And according to the developers, using the gizmo won't void your warranty.
The plan is to offer the Pluggy Lock in a variety of styles, with the "fashion color" versions selling for around $22 and the metallic Ambassador Editions priced at $28. Early backers can still get in at $15, $19, and $20 levels, with these last two including a Selfie Dock that's essentially a stand for Pluggy Lock-enhanced phones.
I must admit I'm impressed with this product. Although my prototype failed to expand at times (until I fiddled with it), when it worked, it worked like a charm. Clever bit of engineering, this. Your thoughts?