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Genuine Carrara Marble PopGrip | $30 | PopSocket
Photo: Victor Jeffreys

Long ago, I decided that as long as Apple could keep convincing me to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars on new iPhones every few years, I would keep said iPhones in pristine, untarnished condition. So far, so good. I’ve never shattered a screen, or even gotten a scratch on any of my precious mobile devices. I’ve even taken off my Otterbox case for the express purpose of cleaning it (it being both the phone and the case), because I am neurotic. If I ever do manage to lose my unreasonably tight, claw-like grip on my iPhone, I stare in horror at the thing plummeting to the cold, unforgiving ground, as I’m filled with a sense of dread and begin silently praying to the ghost of Steve Jobs for a miracle.

It is because I’m so insane about keeping my prized possession looking perfect that I do not like PopSockets. I know it sounds bougie, and I know iPhones are as ubiquitous and essential as housekeys these days, but I’ve always felt like the addition of a PopSocket cheapens the iPhone, and sort of detracts from the design that we all know and love. Like, I just bought something that costs over a grand, and now I’m going to slap on a $10 plastic doo-dad to the back to make holding it slightly easier? It feels wrong to even type it.

Photo: Victor Jeffreys

But! Then I found out that PopSocket had started making PopGrips out of marble. Specifically, the Genuine Carrara Marble PopGrip is a perfectly round piece of genuine Italian white marble, set a in a rose gold frame. “Finally!” I thought. “A rare and expensive accessory worthy of my beloved, 2-year-old iPhone 7!” I wondered if maybe I’d misjudged PopSockets. After all, I’d never actually used one — only despised them from afar. Plus, if marble is good enough for the “David” or the “Venus de Milo,” it’s certainly good enough for the Chelsea.

The PopSocket people graciously sent a marble PopGrip to me so I could find out where I stand on the PopSocket issue once and for all. It’s surprisingly easy to install — just peel off the film and press the adhesive to the back of your phone or phone case — and it can be easily removed with a quick tug. I was mildly stressed by where exactly on the phone I should place the PopSocket, but eventually opted for the middle, since that’s where it’s positioned in the product images.

Photo: Chelsea Stone

As for whether the PopSocket is worth sacrificing my phone’s smooth back, I’m not totally convinced. iPhones have always been slightly challenging for me to use. I have freakishly small hands (for context, I never have been, and never will be able to palm a football), so my thumb struggles to reach my top row of apps. When wedged between my third and fourth fingers, the PopSocket did give my thumb more wiggle room to stretch upward, but I’ve found myself also moving it in between my second and third fingers in order to access the Home button with my thumb. I suppose this wouldn’t be much of an issue with newer iPhone models or longer thumbs, though. For the time being, it’s still a bit awkward to maneuver. The phone isn’t falling out of my hand, but I don’t feel like it’s super secure with the addition of the grip, either. However, I imagine that, like most new things, it would become second-nature to use over time, and it is useful to be able to balance the phone on its side via the grip.

Gif: Shep McAllister

Make no mistake, this PopSocket looks sleek. The marble center is a bit cool to the touch, which I enjoy. The base and the accordion parts of the grip are still plastic, however, so don’t think you’re getting a truly sculpture-worthy piece of hardware here. The other designs PopSocket sent to me — a Genuine Nero Gold Marble grip and a Genuine Carbon Fiber grip — are both black, and both pretty cool to look at. All of these PopGrips are swappable, so those looking for some creative freedom will feel seen.

So when all is said and done, am I a PopSocket convert? Not even close, on principle. But I don’t hate having one on my phone as much as I thought I would, and I outright like the look of the marble. I’m even planning to leave it on for at least the next few days, just to see where things go, which is perhaps marble’s biggest win since the Renaissance.

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