30 Nov 2009

iPhone hack: reading strap

I use my iPhone quite heavily as an ebook reader. I read in various situations, but one of the most frequent is when I’m in bed. When you’re lying down, either on your back or on your side, it can be quite a strain on your hand muscles to grip the phone and also use your thumb to scroll the pages. So a while back, I came up with a super-cheap way to improve the situation by adding a strap that holds the phone to your hand (actually, it holds it to just your index finger). Whenever I show this trick to other folks, including seasoned, cynical tech folks, they seem impressed. So I thought I would post it for search engines to find. All you need are

  • an iPhone or iPod touch, any model
  • a case that covers just the back of your phone
  • a thick rubber band (you might need to try a few sizes to get one that’s comfy)

I tried other kinds of straps besides a rubber band, but the elasticity and rubber material both make it very comfortable and easy to grip your hand. You might need to try a few different sizes of rubber band, to get the tightness and thickness that are most comfortable for you. Lay all these items out like so:

ingredients

Notice my Incipio case is looking cracked and old, after just a year! I do not recommend that brand. I think the dust inside is from all the rubber bands I’ve used :). Anyway, next you wrap the rubber band around the case. I find that if you do it at an angle, it is more comfortable for your hand and provides more alternatives for finger positions:

rubber band around case

Then, put the iphone in the case, on top of the rubber band. You may have to work some slack into the rubber band, so that the phone can nestle into the case without straining against the rubber band. The phone won’t fit all the way into the case since the rubber band has some thickness, but I don’t really notice it.

iPhone, rubber band, and case

Here it is from the back:

rear view

Now, whenever you want to hold the phone for extended periods, just slip your index finger through the rubber band.

finger in rubber band

Your hand muscles can relax, and you can much more easily use your thumb to scroll the pages of an ebook:

scrolling ebook

I’m sure a case manufacturer could do much better with a built-in strap, but so far I have yet to see a case like that. In the meantime, enjoy this trick and enjoy reading ebooks!