If anyone remembers the HTC Evo line of smartphones, you’ll probably recall that one of their most defining features was the inclusion of a kickstand. With smartphones becoming a lot more multi-media orientated, it’s easy to see how such a feature would prove useful. But if you don’t own one of these phones and perhaps don’t want to add too much bulk by installing a case that includes its own kickstand, Spigen have you covered with their U100 universal kickstand.
The U100 comes with pretty simple packaging that’s easy to open and has enough info to get you started.
In addition to the U100 itself, Spigen include an additional strip of 3M adhesive in case the first strip loses adhesion or becomes damaged in some way.
Of note, a blue protective film is applied to the kickstand, there is no blue model, it is only offered in silver.
Design & Usage –
Whilst not the first product of its kind, the U100 is undoubtedly the sleekest and best looking universal kickstand. It’s not perfect and Spigen could definitely make some improvements with an updated model, but for what it is, the U100 functions pretty nicely.
The U100 feels more rigid than plastic models with an aluminium build that doesn’t look obnoxious when installed on thin modern smartphones (comes in a nice satin silver). A lot of reviewers and users installed the kickstand on the bottom or middle of their devices, but it’s a better idea to install the kickstand closer to the top of your phone.
With such an installation, the stand never contacts the hand, maintaining the ergonomics of the phone and the screen doesn’t slant away from you when you place the phone down on a table. For my curved HTC 10, it also stops the phone from rocking when typing on a table, a common complaint. One of the main gripes I had about my former HTC M8 was how prone the brushed back was to scratching, with the U100 installed, this is much less of an issue since only the stand and bottom of the phone contact the table (as pictured above). In the same sense, the stand also provides some protection for phones with protruding camera lenses.
The stand opens with a satisfying mechanism that feels far more refined than other offerings. The stand is semi-automated with a spring loaded arm that is held in place by magnets when not in use. With a simple flick of the finger, the stand swings out, granting users what Spigen defines as an optimal viewing angle, around 60 degrees. In daily use, the stand has been pretty pragmatic and combined with the comprehensive speaker arrays on the HTC 10 and M8, works wonders for media. Though the magnets that hold the arm down are a little strong for my liking, the stand never opened or closed accidentally. The adhesive is also strong, being of the quality 3M variety, adhering reliably even to the curved back of my HTC 10.
Due to it’s more rounded features, the stand did’t actually catch on my pocket like a few of my cheaper universal kickstands did. It also didn’t pick up dust and lint from my pockets which should aid the longevity of the adhesive. The viewing angle is pretty spot on as claimed by Spigen and for Youtube and videos, the stand is perfect. The arm also has a slight cross-sectional curve which enhances rigidity; the HTC 10 isn’t the largest phone on the market but it is one of the heaviest (for its size) and the stand still felt stable at all times. The hinge is pretty sturdy with minimal lateral deviation when wiggled.
The stand is also really well proportioned, just fitting on my smaller iPod Touch 6G whilst maintaining the correct viewing angle on my larger HTC 10. It could have been slightly thinner, the bottom panel is quite thick, but perhaps the stand would have been prone to bending and further damage.
Whilst the U100 lacks the level of finish showcased by the HTC 10, the silver kickstand still manages to blend relatively well with the anodized rear. For darker smartphones, Spigen now offer a black (more like gunmetal) kickstand that looked much more integrated on my space grey iPod Touch 6. Taking a look at a few Amazon reviews reveals that the U100 is also quite prone to scratching. This is because Spigen use a painted finish instead of raw aluminium or anodization which is, of course, a lot softer and easier to mark.
With such a finish it would be great if Spigen could offer different colours to suit different devices; the usual silver, gunmetal and rose gold would work perfectly but only silver is offered at present. I also didn’t like how the little inlet to open the stand is only on one side. When installed on my iPod touch whose volume buttons are on the opposite side to my HTC, the inlet was facing upwards which clearly isn’t ideal, requiring two hands to open.
So the U100 does its job and does it well; it doesn’t look attractive on your device but looks far less unattractive than other models such as the rings style stands and plastic versions. Where the U100 falters slightly is the price; at $15 AUD the U100 costs as much as a full brand name case. Whether the sleek build and looks of the stand offset the premium price is ultimately up to the buyer, but in my testing, the premium finish and semi-automated opening mechanism make the U100 a pleasure to use.
I’ve actually used quite a number of similar adhesive stands, but I removed most of them after a few days. They were just too unrefined, either clunky to use or unsightly, most caught on my pocket and were too unstable to reliably hold the phone. What that extra money gets you is consistency, something you can only achieve through custom manufacturing which of course comes at a cost. Again, the U100 still isn’t perfect, the painted finish won’t age as well as an anodized finish and the one-touch mechanism isn’t quite as flawless as adverts will have you believe, the silver model also won’t be for everyone. But if you use your phone for a lot of audio/video playback, the Spigen U100 will be a serious augment to your media experience and mostly omits the need for a phone stand or dock.