The number of cell phones in this country (and around the world for that matter), is staggering. According the CTIA, there are now 321.7 million wireless subscriber connections in the United States and 35.8% of households in the U.S. are wireless-only.
That is a lot of cell phones running around the place, and we’ve all heard horror stories about dropping them here and there (rice! take your cell phone out of the toilet, pat it dry and dump it into a bag of uncooked rice to fix it… allegedly) and car accidents caused by them. Many states now have hands-free laws for cell use in cars, and there always seem to be new ones coming.
As for following these hands-free laws, some folks opt to go with a Bluetooth earbud, others choose the nearly ubiquitous white iPhone headphones, others can run the cell phone through their car stereo system, and still others (more?) opt to flout the laws. Offering another alternate route is the Clip-N-Clamp. This black snake-like device features a ball-and-socket flexible arm with a clamp on one end and a clip-on buckle at the other that can hold various attachments including a padded cell phone clip.
The idea is simple, attach the clamp to something non-moving in your car (drink holder, part of your center console, etc.) and then use the clip bit to hold your smartphone (the standard clip does only hold smartphones). Thusly, when someone calls, or you call someone, you just use the speakerphone thereby being more safe than holding the phone to your ear and driving one-handed.
The Clip-N-Clamp also comes with a camera clip for point-and-shoot cameras, and a Velcro clip (along with a couple of bits of Velcro) so that you can attach things (like a non-smartphone phone) to the Clip-N-Clamp. And, as you would expect, there’s absolutely nothing that states that it is only for use in cars (seriously, would you need a point-and-shoot camera attachment for in-car only use?). The clamp itself is padded at the ends so as not to mark whatever it is to which you attach the clamp, and is quite strong.
Does it work? Well, more often than not, it does. We particularly like the camera clip as we lack a tripod and being able to clip the foot-long arm to something in lieu of a tripod is certainly useful. Additionally, the Clip-N-Clamp can actually provide a nice home-base for your phone in the car, office, or elsewhere – a mostly out of the way location where you still have it accessible without fear of it falling by accident or getting knocked down.
There are things, however, which we don’t particularly like about the Clip-N-Clamp (we will not delve into safety concerns here as we are not conducting scientific tests regarding looking away from the car to the phone to dial or turn on the speakerphone, and will instead leave that up in the air). Firstly, the clamp is quite strong, and we have concerns that placing it into a soft wood could easily leave the wood with marks (we haven’t seen this occur, but the fear lingers and we remain vigilant about where we attach the Clip-N-Clamp due to said fear). Then, it isn’t always the easiest thing in the world to bend that ball-and-socket arm exactly how you want it and depending on how much you move the arm around, the clamp itself can shift and become unstable (yes, despite its apparent strength). Additionally, the arm is long enough that typing in numbers on an iPhone can result in the entire device wobbling, not wobbling enough to loosen the clamp, but wobbling enough to make your finger to try move to hit the right spot. We also wouldn’t recommend trying to walk the Clip-N-Clamp around with your phone attached (assuredly no one would recommend this, but having tried it we must speak of the foolishness of the idea).
Lastly, while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, our eyes do not like what they behold. The clamp is a heavy one, but it’s also thick and the black sleeve covering the ball-and-socket joint isn’t pretty. Combine that sleeve with the heavy black clamp and the black clip-on attachments, and looks kind of like something Darth Vader would stick on his Tie Advanced… if he was on a budget.
Generally speaking, the Clip-N-Clamp does the job, but it doesn’t get it done in style. At $19.99, however, style may be less important. We wish there were an obvious, inexpensive, answer that had great form and function, but if there is it has not yet crossed our path.