Update (Wednesday): From Smarter Stand for iPhone maker Dotan Saguy: "Thanks to your feedback confirmed by my own experience with the version you tested, I decided to change the material to a stiffer version of the same PTU so it doesn't bend under the finger pressure when tapping. ... The final production version of the product should not have this problem when used as a stand. There's one more tweak I'm making to it: The jack holder cavity will be made slightly smaller/tighter so as to hold the jack more firmly."
Los Angeles app maker Dotan Saguy is a problem-solver. Last year, his successful Kickstarter campaign allowed him to roll out his Smarter Stand for iPad, which allowed users to hold their iPads at many different angles that Apple’s own Smart Cover couldn’t accomplish. In 2013, Saguy’s Kickstarter follow-up -- the Smarter Stand for iPhone -- aims to similarly help users stand up their iPhones but also keep the phone’s EarPod cords untangled.
Saguy was kind enough to send me a sample of the Smarter Stand for iPhone 5, and I’ve had a chance to use the accessory for about 10 days. The Smarter Stand for iPhone 5 is exactly as advertised, but, even with its one major shortcoming, the device is still worth its low $9 price (iPhone users can still preorder it via Kickstarter).
The Smarter Stand for iPhone has all the right physical features: It’s flexible, so you don’t have to worry about breaking, and it’s light, so you don’t have to worry about it weighing down your pockets. In just 10 days, I never once removed the Smarter Stand from my jeans pocket, and, most of the time, I completely forgot it was there.
The Smarter Stand is a simple and modest accessory, but how well does it perform its two major functions?
"I was initially designing two different products," Saguy told IBTimes for a previous story. "One to function as a stand and the other one as an earbud detangler."
As an earbud detangler, the Smarter Stand for iPhone solves problems by letting users easily wrap the cords around the dogbone-shaped stand enough times so the actual headphones can fit snugly inside the spool you create. Unwrapping the spool is even easier, as exemplified by this Vine.
Smarter stand for iPhone -- tangle-free, indeed vine.co/v/bTl7wKndlVl
â€” Dave Smith (@redletterdave) April 8, 2013
The Smarter Stand for iPhone is a great earbud detangler, but as an iPhone stand -- what it was originally designed for -- the accessory unfortunately falls short.
The Smarter Stand does prop up the iPhone 5 as advertised, but its standing position cannot support the weight of minimal finger pressure, which is required to navigate the phone. If you want to press the home button, or even just swipe around on the screen and type with your fingers, the Smarter Stand simply cannot hold the weight of both the iPhone and external stimuli.
Saguy said he “carefully selected” the materials for the Smarter Stand for iPhone, choosing to use a “special type of TPU [thermoplastic polyurethane] that provides both a rubbery feel and sufficient rigidity -- a combined set of properties that is rare in plastics.” Unfortunately, while the rubbery surface is important for flexibility and comfort while carrying the accessory in one’s pocket, the particular flimsiness of the Smarter Stand’s lip -- the part the iPhone 5 directly leans on -- is not substantial enough to hold any more weight beyond the phone’s 112 grams. So while iPhone users may use the Smarter Stand to watch videos, the accessory can’t do much more than that, playing games and freely browsing the iPhone 5 while it's standing is simply impossible to accomplish, as the accessory collapses under the pressure every time.
After giving up on using the Smarter Stand for iPhone as a viable stand for Internet browsing or gaming, I was also slightly frustrated that the phone could only be held at one singular angle, which isn’t even a great viewing angle. The Smarter Stand needed to be a bit larger to hold the iPhone 5 at a more obtuse angle, as the current setup is far too horizontal for easy viewing unless you’re standing up.
In all, the Smarter Stand for iPhone is a great accessory to own, mainly because it packs a good deal of function into an incredible bargain. The Smarter Stand wraps and unwraps Apple’s EarPods with ease and can keep your phone standing up; just don’t expect to touch your phone in this position. Saguy solves many problems with the Smarter Stand for iPhone, but I do wish its rectangular lip was smart enough to bolster direct human contact. It may not be the smartest stand, but its brilliant price tag definitely helps compensate for that.
Overall Grade: B-
Author's Note: With improvements to be made before the final design is released, this grade is likely to improve.