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Hands-on with the Clicks Creator Keyboard: Is the Blackberry back-berry?
Are we showing our age if we remember the good old days when phones had physical keyboards on them? Maybe, maybe not. There was just something special about feeling your way across rows of keys and typing in the dark without even looking at your phone. Well, what’s old has suddenly become new again. A few tech journalism regulars put their heads together and came up with a new iPhone accessory that brings back Blackberry’s defining feature, and they’re calling it the Clicks Creator Keyboard.
What is the Clicks Creator Keyboard?
Now, for those who don’t remember the heyday of the Blackberry or the Palm Pixi, the Clicks Creator Keyboard might need more of an introduction. Essentially, Clicks has developed a physical keyboard for your iPhone that connects via the charging port — no Bluetooth connection required. It pairs comfortably sized rows of backlit keys with a slim silicone case that gives the latest from Apple (the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max) a little bit of retro flair.
As explained to us, the main benefit of the Creator Keyboard — outside of the satisfyingly clicky typing experience — is to give you back the screen real estate that’s otherwise lost to the iPhone’s digital keyboard. By shifting the keys off your display, you can see more messages in your chat history or respond to commenters in a livestream without pushing those comments on top of your content.
On top of its base strength as a typing alternative, the Creator Keyboard also supports the full list of keyboard shortcuts baked into iPadOS. The team told us it’s easiest to think of the Creator Keyboard as an iPad keyboard that’s been left in the sun too long, complete with the same functionality. On the one hand, this means that the team didn’t have to spend extra time coding the individual shortcuts, while on the other hand, it means that they’re still discovering new shortcuts themselves.
The Clicks Creator Keyboard supports the full list of keyboard shortcuts baked into iPadOS.
Right now, the Clicks Creator Keyboard is only available in two colors: Bumblebee, which is yellow and black, and London Sky, which is gray and black to match the city’s cheerful skies. The Clicks team plans to expand its offerings with new colors and compatibility in the future, though we weren’t given an indication of whether or not it would expand to support Android phones.
Clicks Creator Keyboard impressions: Does it just click?
I’ll be quite honest — I never had a Blackberry or a Palm Pixi. In fact, I haven’t used a phone with a physical keyboard since before I picked up my first smartphone. As such, I went into my time with the Clicks Creator Keyboard with more curiosity than nostalgia.
After listening to Michael Fisher (better known as Mr. Mobile) give the briefing, I eagerly picked up the Creator Keyboard sample unit with an iPhone 15 Pro already inserted and plenty of questions in mind. I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy the typing experience or how easily the Creator Keyboard would fit into my pocket. Well, the jury is still out on the first point — it turns out that it’s not easy to adjust to typing on an iPhone with a lower center of gravity and slightly modified button position after just a few minutes.
The button presses themselves felt good, and the backlighting was consistent across the entire keyboard (a feature that you can turn on and off with the press of a button). That said, it’s challenging to adjust from flat, digital buttons to raised, physical ones after just a few minutes. I found myself littering messages with errors just because the buttons weren’t where my thumbs automatically expected them to be. I don’t use many keyboard shortcuts, either, so I would probably have to change my iPhone usage before diving into the Creator Keyboard headfirst.
There's just something satisfying about the tactile feedback that comes with each press on the Creator Keyboard.
As for the second point — sizing — the Clicks Creator Keyboard slid into my pants pocket with surprising ease. Granted, I was using the smaller iPhone 15 Pro version, but it didn’t feel like it was pressing into my leg when I stood up or sat down. The more considerable shift when using the Creator Keyboard is getting used to the higher center of gravity. It’s not as top-heavy as some phones like Google’s Pixel 6 Pro, but the plastic keyboard doesn’t offer much counterbalance to the phone itself.
The Clicks Creator Keyboard seems pretty well-equipped as an iPhone case, too, though it’s not built for the same audience as an Otterbox. It provides light protection via a silicone frame and a raised lip around the camera bump. I had no problems getting the Creator Keyboard on and off the iPhones that the Clicks team had on hand, but I’ll be curious to see how well the Lightning or USB-C connectors hold up over time.
You’ll be able to pick up a Clicks Creator Keyboard of your own in the coming weeks for $139, but keep in mind that the initial launch only covers Apple’s recent iPhone Pro models. Other models and colors are coming, but you’ll have to wait a little longer to get your hands on them.