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The History of PopSockets®: How the Phone Accessories Were Invented

Kyrsten Ledger

Updated: July 23rd, 2020

You've probably seen the circular plastic accessories called PopSockets® that have taken the mobile technology world by storm. Have you ever wondered how they got their start? PopSockets® quickly became popular just a few years after they were invented because everyone wanted one!

Grab your cell phone, pop a squat, and get ready to learn about the history of PopSockets®!

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With the explosion of the size of the mobile phone, PopSockets® make it easier to carry and to use as a stand. The back of the phone is what many people see. This makes the value of the mobile real estate grand, especially since everyone is constantly on their phone.

– Jarred Syputa, Account Manager, iClick

Hour Glass

History of PopSockets® Timeline

Today, 30 million people across the world own PopSockets®, but how did it all start? Take a look at the brief history of PopSockets® in this timeline.

  • 1973

    70s cell phone Source:

    The first cell phone was invented in April of 1973 by Martin Cooper. Without the invention of the first mobile phone, there would be no PopSockets®!

  • 1990's

    Cell phone belt Source:

    In true 90's fashion, cell phone belt clips were a huge hit! This allowed quicker access to your phone without having to dig through your pockets with your keys and wallet. These accessories paved the road of success for the future of cell phone fashion like PopSockets®.

  • 2009

    Otterbox Defenders Source:

    OtterBox® created their Defender series. The Defender series came with a clip-on accessory that allowed you to clip it to your belt, attach it to your purse, or convert it to a kickstand. Just like PopSockets® you could use the kickstand to watch videos without having to hold your phone.

  • 2009

    Bobino Source:

    A company called Bobino started manufacturing Cord Wraps for headphones. This sparked a trend of similar gadgets that store headphones safely without the risk of tangling. These devices were similar to the first concept of PopSockets®.

  • 2010

    David Barnett Source:

    Former Philosophy professor David Barnett wanted a way to store his headphones to prevent them from tangling. His solution was to glue two buttons to the back of his phone to wrap his headphones around. After listening to some family-friendly mocking about his hasty solution, he decided to come up with a more appealing design. This eventually evolved into the idea behind PopSockets®.

  • 2012

    Barnett Speck Design Source:

    Barnett teamed up with Speck Design for his iPhone case design and turned to Kickstarter to share his idea in hopes of receiving funds. This idea was eventually scrapped and PopSockets® were designed without the case.

  • 2014

    Barnett Accordion Design

    Barnett took the accordion design, removed the case, added a sticky gel pad, and voila! PopSockets® were born. You could now wrap your headphones around its pocketed design or position it to act as a kickstand on your phone.

  • 2015

    Barnett T-Mobile Source:

    Barnett signed his first major retail deal with T-Mobile! This put his brand right in the middle of the action and allowed T-Mobile to sell PopSockets® as part of buying a new smartphone.

  • Summer 2016

    Barnett Jenna Marbles Design Source:

    Barnett made custom PopSockets® for YouTube personality Jenna Marbles. He printed images of her dog's faces on them, and she promoted the brand on one of her YouTube videos that had over 1.9 million views. This helped PopSockets® stand out in the public eye.

  • Fall 2016

    Red Carpet Source:

    PopSockets® made their way to the red carpet. You could see one making its debut as a helpful lever while Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic took a selfie.

  • February 2018

    PopSocket Car Source:

    PopSockets® LLC invented car vent mounts that allow you to slide your PopSockets® right in. This gives your phone a spot in your car free from sliding around and makes driving safer for those that use their phones as a GPS.

  • Spring 2018

    multi-surface Source:

    Shortly after the car vent mounts came out, PopSockets® LLC released a multi-surface mount. Now you could have your phone in your kitchen for a hands-free cookbook, or your bathroom for that makeup tutorial you're trying to perfect.

  • October 2018

    OtterBox® Source:

    PopMinis were created to provide a grip for each of your fingers! These mini PopSockets® are sold in packs of three, so you can place them however you want on the back of your phone. They are handy for wrapping up your headphone cords and watching videos.

  • 2019

    multi-surface Source:

    PopSockets® teamed up with OtterBox® and released the Otter + Pop Symmetry Series for only iPhone 7. The case is sleek and slim, and it comes equipped with a built-in PopSocket and swappable PopTop. The PopTop is the design portion of the PopSocket!

  • 2020

    OtterBox® Source:

    PopSockets® announced the latest addition to their product line, PopPower Home. This device is a wireless charging pad designed to charge your phone without having to remove your PopSocket.

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Today a person can go just about anywhere in the United States and not only speak to another person via cell phone, but also use the device to send a text, check e-mail, browse the Internet or even play a game. And many people do just that … all around the world.

– Andrea Nakaya, How Do Cell Phones Affect Society?

What Are PopSockets?

What Are PopSockets®?

A PopSocket is a circular plastic grip you can stick on the back of your smartphone or case. It has an accordion with a button you can pull upwards to expand and adjust. While they might look odd at first glance, they are incredibly useful accessories!

Who Invented PopSockets

Who Invented the PopSocket?

David Barnett is the Founder and CEO at PopSockets® LLC. Barnett taught himself 3D CAD to create a prototype and then launched a Kickstarter campaign. He then began selling his PopSockets® out of his garage.

In just a few years his product was being sold at most major retailers and in over 40 countries! It took him a total of 15 months and 60 prototypes to make the PopSockets® we know and love today.

Who is the Target Market for PopSockets?

While Barnett invented PopSockets® without a target market in mind, there is still a certain demographic who are more likely to buy them. 96% of people within the 18-29 age range own a smartphone. Since the largest number of people within this age range own smartphones compared to others, people ages 18-29 are likely the target market for PopSockets®.

PopSockets made for

What Were PopSockets® Originally Made For?

The PopSocket was originally designed for headphones, which is why it has two grooves on the accordion that allow the device to pop open.

Inventor David Barnett wanted a solution for his constantly tangled headphone cord, so he ended up gluing fabric buttons to the back of his phone to wrap the cord around.

This was the original purpose of PopSockets®, but once a real prototype was created it became obvious there were a lot more uses! Now, people mostly use PopSockets® as a phone stand or a grip, with only a few who still use it for their headphones.

Graphic of popsocket.

What Are PopSockets® Made Of?

PopSockets® are made of polycarbonate, TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), and polyurethane. Basically, all three of these materials are fancy words for plastic.

The plastic material is molded to make 3 main pieces:

  • Button
  • Accordion
  • Platform

When polycarbonate and TPU are combined, you get elasticity and strength. This helps with the flexibility and stability of the accordion. Polyurethane helps your PopSocket stick to your phone and ensures that the image printed on it doesn't fade, disappear, or peel off over time.

Inside the accordion you'll find flexural hinges. These allow the buttons to extend straight, and curve to different angles depending on the use and location of the PopSockets®.

Do PopSockets® Work?

PopSockets® work great on your mobile device, especially if you want to watch a funny cat video completely hands-free. It's obvious PopSockets® make a great grip on your phone, but there are other ways the accessory can work in your favor.

PopSockets® have a variety of uses that include:



Whether it's social media, gaming, videos, or your personal photography, PopSockets® make your phone easier to hold onto. With a better grip on your device, you can take selfies, text, or make phone calls without the fear of dropping your phone.

Person jogging


It doesn't matter how long or often you exercise, PopSockets® can come in handy! When you're running, you can hold your device securely in your hand or you can get a mount and safely secure your mobile device on your bicycle or treadmill.

Person meditating

Stress Relief

If you like to fidget, PopSockets® are the perfect addition to your phone. Popping and un-popping them helps relieve stress and anxiety. The polyurethane coating means that even if you spin your phone a hundred times, like a fidget spinner, the design will look as good as the day you bought it!

Phone protector

Phone Protection

PopSockets® teamed up with OtterBox® to create a case with a built-in PopSocket. The best part? It has a swappable PopTop™ that allows you to change the design. The cases are available for select Apple and Samsung phones.

You might have never thought about the ways a PopSocket can make your life easier, but now that you do, it's time to get your very own! Who knows, you may discover more ways that a PopSocket works for you!

Who Is Using Custom PopSockets®?

As PopSockets® continue to gain popularity and take the world by storm, it's no surprise that many industries are adding their brand to this cell phone accessory. A company by the name of iClick has been distributing promotional PopSockets® for big companies such as AT&T, McDonalds, and Starbucks since 2015.

3 popsockets Jarred Syputa, Account Manager, iClick

The most common industries that use promotional PopSockets® are universities, telecommunications, and healthcare. Take for instance the students at Aurora University in Illinois. They specially requested PopSockets® in their bookstore, and the manager, added them to the store in 2018. Many other companies and organizations can also benefit from this gizmo because it is completely customizable!

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These days, everyone has a phone and if I can get our logo on a large percentage of them on our campus that's free advertising for the university.

– Brian Campus, Bookstore Manager, Aurora University

What is the Future of PopSockets®?

The future of PopSockets® is bright. Customers have made requests for different graphics, materials, and technologies for their PopSockets®. CEO and Founder David Barnett wants to work on these requests and continue to improve on his mobile accessories.

Group taking a selfie

When asked about his future goals for the company in an interview with Forbes Magazine, Barnett responded, "We aim to make hundreds of millions of Little Life Changers. This year alone we'll make 65 million DoDads—magical gizmos that make people a little happier—and 5 million DoGoods—things including collaborations with non-profits that make people a little happier."

Stats for Success

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3 million PopSockets® were sold all over the world in 2017.

Stats 2 icon

PopSockets® LLC revenue grew 2000% in its first year.

Stats 3 icon

People from 40 different countries have purchased PopSockets®.

Stats 4 icon

There are 6.8 billion cell-phone subscriptions worldwide. Imagine if all of those cell phones had PopSockets®!

The Bottom Line

As long as mobile devices are in then so are PopSockets®! Everyone has a cell phone and uses it at least once a day. Throw on a PopSocket and now that person's phone is a walking billboard for your brand! PopSockets® are unique, customizable, and good for your health! These make excellent gifts for anybody with a mobile device.

Quality Logo Products are experts on all things printed and promotional. Let our team of awesome, incredibly good looking, and fun promo nerds help you select awesome promotional swag today!

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Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten's vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several hit articles. She has also published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.


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