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.

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
2 min read

Pluggy Lock offers an ingenious way to add a hook to your phone. Erasnep LLC

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.

Not any more. Pluggy Lock is an ingenious little hook, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, that plugs into any 3.5mm headphone jack. What good does that do? Won't it just pop right out again?

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:

Erasnep LLC

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.

Erasnep LLC

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?