Owners of Apple smartphones suffer one great indignity: Our most indispensable possession is small, frail, and slippery.
Such qualities often result in a $200 trip to the Genius Bar to replace a spider-cracked screen, or a scramble to file the proper insurance claim forms when you leave your phone in the back seat of a cab. There are few remedies. Adding an ergonomically intrusive case protects against damage but still doesn’t mean you won’t lose the phone.
This is why the $35 Kenu Highline is compelling. It’s a coil leash that attaches to your iPhone. One end plugs into the charging port on the phone (Lightning or 30-pin), where it’s held in place by a thin, clear polycarbonate snap-on case. On the other end is a Kevlar loop that fastens to your belt loop, your jacket’s zipper, or just about anything.
In practice, the design makes sense — as long as a majority of your iPhone use happens within 2 feet (30 inches if you stretch it all the way) of your pocket, or wherever you attach the leash. For most folks, that means a little functionality is lost.
In exchange for the safety gained, you lose the immediate flexibility to do things like set the phone on a dashboard mount or plug it into a speaker and leave it there. You have to unclip it first, but releasing the Lightning attachment becomes easy with a little practice.
Most importantly, though, using Highline’s leash means being comfortable with being the type of person who needs to have your mittens clipped to your jacket sleeves. When testing safety devices, we must often determine whether a product’s function justifies the sacrifice in dignity that almost always follows. As someone who would rather be late for an appointment than awkwardly run after a bus or ever let another human see me on a kick-scooter, my vanity can accommodate the Highline. The thought of never again needing to deal with a shattered screen or the hassle of device replacement is worth the relinquished pride.
Of course, the other option is to be an adult and use the care required when handling a small glass rectangle, but I don’t know if that will ever happen for me.
The Highline is currently available for preorder for the iPhone 5 and 5s. It costs $35 and ships at the end of April. The 30-pin version for older iPhones ships immediately and costs $20.