Meet Cliq, the smartphone case with 3 buttons that do what you want them to do

Hardware buttons on phones can have a big effect on users. Take, for example, handsets with dedicated camera buttons: Fans of mobile photography swear by them because they let you quickly do what you want to do. What if you could add three hardware buttons to your smartphone simply by using a specific case? To take things even further, what if you could dictate what those three buttons do? Now we’re talking!

Enter Cliq, a smartphone case that has a trio of programmable buttons.

cliq case lineup

I love the idea behind this product, which is a Kickstarter currently in progress. Instead of handset makers deciding which buttons to add — or not include, as the case may be — Cliq puts you in control. The three buttons can be programmed for various one-touch tasks of your choice and you can change those tasks whenever you like.

The secret sauce lies in NFC, or near-field communications. When you press a button on the Cliq case, a wireless signal is sent to your phone to kick off a task you’ve previously set. By using NFC, there’s no need to charge the Cliq, nor does it use power from your phone. After hitting a button, software does the rest — snapping a picture, sending a text, controlling music playback, calling an emergency contact or whatever it is you’ve configured Cliq to do.

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The early bird deals for Cliq are already gone, so if you’re interested in this intelligent, programmable case, you’ll need to pledge $30. Cliq is planned to support the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3; Moto X; Nexus 5 and LG G2 handsets. If you want the functionality of Cliq but don’t care for phone cases, it will also be offered in a thin skin for the same Android(s goog) handsets.