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I tried a PopSocket for the first time and once I popped, I couldn't stop
I don’t like sticking permanent things to the back of my Android phone. Dealing with a thicker phone, an obstacle that creates friction each time I want to put it in my pocket or take it out, and an uneven and wobbly device every time I place it on a flat surface is just not worth the sacrifice for me. Or at least that’s what I thought until I got to test a couple of PopSockets.
On paper, these little round pucks are everything I hate attaching to my phone. But there’s a MagSafe version that promises to provide the same ergonomics while still being easily removable. A win-win solution, right? To my surprise, I’ve found myself getting used to the regular, sticky PopSocket more than the MagSafe one. Maybe it was the very fact that I couldn’t remove it that got me sold on it, or maybe I was too busy hopping around Czechia for 10 days of adventures that I didn’t give it a second thought. Suffice it to say, I kind of get why PopSockets are so popular now. And I may be a convert — or at least on the way to becoming one.
The benefits of a PopSocket
Let me back up a bit and start by answering the most important question: Why a PopSocket?
For me, it’s a matter of ergonomics first and foremost. I have suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome for over a decade with frequent flares of shooting and excruciating pain from my wrist all the way up to my shoulder. Several strategies helped me reduce the flares’ occurrence in the last years, but they’re not completely gone.
As you can imagine, my job doesn’t make things any easier. Working on the computer all day and, most importantly, having a job that requires me to use, test, and try phones quite frequently isn’t ideal for wrist pain management. It doesn’t help that the best phones are getting larger, taller, and heavier. I immediately felt discomfort when moving from the Pixel 5 to the Pixel 6 Pro as my daily driver and, although the Pixel 7 Pro is better balanced, it’s still a hefty and chunky device. I’ve tried a couple of phone holders like the Anker 610 MagSafe ring pictured below to alleviate the pain, but nothing really stuck.
Enter PopSockets. I know, they’re not even remotely new or maybe even interesting, but if you’re wondering about their efficiency, let me tell you they do the job. I didn’t notice how big of a difference the PopSocket made until I removed it after 10 days of continuous use. My phone immediately felt heavier and I was instantly aware of how most of the weight shifted to my pinky, which seems to cause more pressure on my wrist. With the PopSocket on, my index and middle finger play a more important role, and the weight is better distributed between all my fingers.
I didn't notice how much more comfortable my phone was to hold until I removed the PopSocket after 10 days of continuous use.
After a couple of hours, I was again acclimated to using my phone without a PopSocket, but now that I knew what a difference it made, I couldn’t justify not using it. Needless to say, the PopSocket went back on.
Ergonomics aside, the PopSocket ended up providing a couple of extra benefits. It’s a fantastic fidget and each time I had my phone in my pocket or on a desk next to me, I ended up popping it up, spinning the top, then closing it down, just because it’s kind of addictive and fun. Like any good fidget toy.
Adding a personalization touch is another perk, with hundreds if not thousands of designs available — unlike the dull black or clear phone cases that the best brands keep putting out. My editor was awesome enough to get me a smiley face design and a Disney PopSocket with Mickey on it for review, so I have something to match my funky personality on the back of my phone.
Then there’s the option to use the PopSocket as a landscape mode stand. It’s always there, so it’s easy to pop it out and prop the phone. And it’s come in handy on my short flights and at a couple of restaurants when I wanted to watch or share something with my husband.
I also found that using the grip gave me a better sense of control when snapping photos in less-than-ideal situations, like on a suspended pedestrian bridge between two mountains or at a viewpoint on a cliff. Don’t take this for granted, though, and keep a firm grip on your phone regardless of what this fool says.
But are there any cons to using a PopSocket?
The most obvious downside to attaching a PopSocket to the back of your phone is the added thickness and intrusion I mentioned at the beginning. Putting your phone in a pocket or a backpack won’t be as smooth as before, and if you lay your phone flat on a table, it will wobble. Granted, you protect the camera bump, but it’s still not ideal.
The PopSocket stops most phones from wirelessly charging, but there's a solution to that problem.
The biggest question, though, is: Can you wirelessly charge a phone with a PopSocket? And the straightforward answer is no, you technically can’t because it’s too thick, but there’s a workaround in every case.
- If you have a regular stick-on PopSocket, you can’t wirelessly charge your phone with the full PopGrip attached. You can, however:
- Remove the case to charge your phone if the PopGrip is on a case.
- Snap the PopGrip’s top off to reduce the thickness and distance between the phone and your wireless charger, and see if that helps. Obviously, this will work better with flat Qi mats. I was able to get my Pixel 7 Pro to charge that way.
- Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, un-stick the entire PopGrip from your phone, charge it, then stick it back. But that’s far from convenient.
- If you have a PopGrip with MagSafe, things are a lot easier. Just take it away and use the wireless charger, then snap it back on when you’re done. The joys of magnets!
And finally, I wouldn’t put the stick-on PopGrip on a case I really liked, because you might find a cleaner round spot when you remove it, just like the whiter circle in the image above. Either the sticky material of the PopGrip dislodged accumulated dirt from the case when I unstuck it, or the grip protected that patch from extra grime while I was using it.
How easy is it to attach and remove a PopSocket?
If you have a PopGrip for MagSafe, attaching it to your iPhone or Android phone with a MagSafe adapter is as easy as snapping it in place.
For regular stick-on PopGrips, though, there’s a sticky pad at the bottom that attaches to your phone or phone case. Silicone cases are fine in my experience, but leather or fabric cases may be damaged when you try to remove the PopSocket.
Don't perfectly center your PopSocket on large phones. I recommend putting it a little lower for a better grip.
Positioning the PopGrip is important, but luckily, the sticky pad isn’t permanent and can be removed with a fair bit of strength, cleaned with water, and reattached. On my Pixel 7 Pro, I started by centering the PopSocket right over the G logo, but I quickly realized this was too high. I lowered it a bit, which created a more natural grip for the phone. You can read more about how to install a PopSocket and how to safely remove it.
For the purposes of this review and photos, I’ve removed mine more than 20 times to see how often you can reuse a PopSocket. The stickiness hasn’t changed — a quick run under some water brought it back — but you can see how the sticky pad has started bubbling a bit in the image at the top of this section.
I’ve also mentioned how PopGrips have removable tops. Basically, the sticky or MagSafe base can stay on, but you can twist and remove the top. PopSocket shares diagrams of how to do this, but it took me over a dozen tries to master it. With time, there’s a certain click you start feeling when you push down and rotate the top, and that’s what makes swapping off designs easy in the long term.
I had fun putting my smiley face (which originally came on the MagSafe model) on the sticky pad, and Mickey on the MagSafe PopGrip. If you plan on buying several of these, I recommend picking bases and tops that mix and match well.
Is a MagSafe PopSocket worth it?
If you’re wondering whether to go for the MagSafe PopSocket instead of the basic one, I’m afraid I can’t answer that for you.
Yes, easily removing and re-snapping the PopGrip with some magnet magic is a big benefit, but I found myself using the grip less and leaving it behind when it wasn’t glued to my phone. The regular sticky PopGrip is unavoidable because it’s less easy to remove. So even though I thought I’d love the convenience of magnets, I ended up using the regular, sticky PopGrip more.
This easy removability also means I felt less confident about the MagSafe PopSocket’s attachment. It requires some strength to pull or slide away, but it’s still not as secure as the regular PopGrip. I didn’t use it during any of my off-the-beaten-path adventures in Czechia, for instance.
The MagSafe PopSocket is also a little thicker than the regular one, if that’s something you care about.
On the upside, you can easily remove the MagSafe PopSocket from your phone or case if you want a cleaner look or if you need to wirelessly charge. If those pros outweigh the cons, then go for them magnets!
PopSocket frequently asked questions
The MagSafe PopSocket, or PopGrip for MagSafe as it’s officially called, is a PopSocket that uses magnets — and more specifically Apple’s MagSafe magnet array — to attach to your phone or case. It’s compatible with recent iPhones (iPhone 12 and above) as well as MagSafe cases. You can also use it with Android phones if you have a MagSafe adapter ring or case.
No, the regular PopSocket PopGrip isn’t magnetic. It uses a sticky pad to attach to your phone or case. The PopGrip for MagSafe is the magnetic model.
Yes. Silicone and TPU cases are some of the best cases to use a PopSocket on. Avoid leather and fabric cases, though, as you risk damaging them when you unstick the PopSocket.
Yes. The regular PopGrip can be removed and reinstalled several times without losing its stickiness. If it gets less sticky, just run it under water. The MagSafe model can be removed and reinstalled as many times as you want.