The four best phone stands money can't buy

Bring us your iPhones, your Droids, your Palm Pres, even your Zunes. These DIY stands will prop them up perfectly for movies and more.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

Be true to your MacGyver self: Turn an ordinary paper clip into a sturdy phone stand. Deanying.com

There's nothing worse than a smartphone that lays down on the job--especially when that job is showing a movie on an airplane, a photo slideshow at your desk, a recipe in your kitchen, or the time of day on your nightstand.

For those and other applications, your screen needs to stand up. Sure, you could drop a few bucks on something like the GoGoStand, a cool and convenient solution, but I think it's a little more fun to take the MacGyver approach.

You can cobble together a fantastic phone stand using everyday household objects. Here's a look at four of my favorites:

1. The gift-card stand

Stop! Don't throw away that used-up gift card. Or hotel room-key. Or even expired credit card. In about 10 seconds you can turn just about any such piece of stiff plastic into a killer stand. One strategic fold here, a second one there, and boom, you're done. Take a look:

When folded just so, a used gas card makes for a splendid phone stand. Rick Broida

If you need more instructions (and/or want to see the stand "in action"), check out the Instructables source page for this ingenious card-hack.

2. The paper-clip stand

Ah, the paper clip. Is there nothing it can't do? Get yourself a big one, straighten it out, then bend it as described in this video. (Need help? There's a template available at the inventor's site.)

3. The coffee-sleeve stand

Stop! Don't throw away the cardboard sleeve that stood between your hand and your piping-hot venti latte. As described over at Business Hacks (nepotism alert: I was the one who did the describing), you can easily turn a coffee-cup sleeve into a phone stand. Here's the (slightly overlong) video if you want to get right to the how-to:

4. The business-card stand

Can't find a paper clip? Don't drink coffee? Surely you can lay hands on a business card (the thicker the better). A few folds, a few cuts, and presto: instant stand. Here's the finished product, as devised over at Instructables:

It used to be a business card. Now it's a stand for your phone. delerium

This is one of the first DIY stands I learned to make, and the ancient, mangled, still-functional proof continues to ride around in my carry-on.

I should note that none of these stands will hold your device upright, in portrait orientation. That's not a big deal if you're mostly watching movies, but there are times when a taller (or more versatile) stand might be desirable.

For example, there's the MoviePeg, a clever little chunk of plastic that props up your iPhone (and probably most other phones as well) vertically or horizontally. It sells for £4.99 (about $7.45 in USD).

If you've got money to burn, the $24.99 Zphonestand rotates as necessary and uses foam-tipped arms to keep your device securely. I could see having one of these in the office; to me it says "executive."

Finally, can't leave without mentioning a deal: iPhone owners looking for a double-duty stand should check out Meritline's Standing Steel Snap-On Protector Case Faceplate (clever name, no?), which features a cute little pop-out kickstand. It sells for $9.99 shipped, but coupon code MLCK211STAND032260NL1 cuts the price to $4.99. (I'm not sure how long the code is good.)

Did I miss your favorite phone stand, DIY or otherwise? Hit the comments and tell me your preferred method for propping up the ol' screen.