So What Exactly is a Thiphone? According to the marketing lingo, the Thiphone will “make your iPhone into a digital kneeboard.” To put it simply, the Thiphone is a thigh mounted smartphone holster built with pilots in mind. No, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be text messaging and tweeting in flight, but thanks to apps like ForeFlight, LogTen Pro, and ForeFlight Checklist, the smartphone is becoming an increasingly valuable tool in the cockpit.
What’s most striking about the Thiphone is it’s simplicity. There are no phone-specific molds or fancy latching systems to break. Instead, the Thiphone uses a large (and surprisingly strong) suction cup to secure just about any hand held device. Although it sounds like it would be prone to phone droppage, the suction cup is surprisingly robust – even in light to moderate turbulence (or poor airmanship, I never can tell).
The mount is angled up at about twenty to thirty degrees so that the phone directly faces the user’s eyes. As an added benefit, the slight angle also keeps the phone from being confused by it’s internal accelerometers and flipping the screen the wrong way.
Compared to similar products at the Apple Store, the Thiphone is a very cost effective solution. Priced at $24.95, the Thiphone is five to twenty dollars cheaper than Apple armband solutions.
If you’re worried that the suction cup won’t be strong enough to hold your mobile device: don’t. In fact, it borders on being too strong. It is hard to remove your device from the Thiphone’s grip. I find the best way to detach the phone is to wedge a thin key into the mount so as to break the seal. Otherwise, it’s a game of tug-of-war to get your phone back. It would be a lot easier if only the suction cup included a pull tab.
A word of warning to Cessna pilots: I found that the control yoke on the Cessna 152 came alarmingly close to hitting the screen of my iPhone in the holster. I can imagine the problem being much worse with the iPad. You can avoid the problem by mounting it higher up your leg, but some readability is lost in high-glare lighting.
The Thiphone is a good cost-effective answer to the digital kneeboard question, but it’s lack of support for paper and pencil means that pilots may still need to carry a second kneeboard to jot down clearances. You simply can’t beat the price, but there are more robust solutions out there.
You can purchase the Thiphone for $24.95 and read more about it at Thiphone.com
Disclaimer: The Thiphone was provided to AviationChatter.com for review purposes.