After several hours of research, I've finally made my selection of the best smartphone armbands among more than twenty models available at the moment. My favorite is the Quad Lock: an original system that I think deserves to be rewarded, despite a few inevitable restrictions. You'll understand: it's a mechanism associated with a shell on which a fastener allows you to attach it to the armband. Goodbye to the pouch, which must be perfectly adapted to your phone to be effective, you clip your phone directly onto your arm! At the end of this article, you'll also find a buying guide to help you make the right choice not only for your smartphone, but also for your use.
When looking for a cheap smartphone armband, I assume that expectations are not very high. The Gear i2 armband takes first place in this selection because it doesn't just provide the minimum, it also offers a few useful features at an unbeatable price. This 15 x 8 centimetre armband is suitable for Samsung Galaxy S7 to 9 smartphones, as well as Google Pixel 2 (or other phones of this size). Attention, it is designed to accommodate them without a protective shell. If you have one, the phone may have trouble getting in, especially for the larger ones!
The cuff itself has a maximum circumference of 38 centimetres. For thicker arms, an extension is sold separately. This cuff is not the most elastic in the selection, so make sure before you buy that it fits your body shape. But the material, a mix of lycra and neoprene, is soft and comfortable to wear, anti-perspirant, with a construction that feels durable and of high quality. So far, so good, but pretty basic. The tactile plastic works well, even though buttons that require direct skin contact, as on the latest iPhone, cannot be activated through the plastic.
It's on the cover side that I appreciate a few additions. First of all, it's anti-perspirant, like most models of course, but has an anti-humidity closing system to avoid infiltration or fogging. I'm also pleased to note the presence of a storage pocket that can hold a few papers, some money or its keys. Very practical if you go out running for example! The variety of connectors has not been forgotten, since there are accesses for your cables in the center, left and right, unlike the armbands which are limited to a single configuration. Finally, a reflective strip goes around the screen's protection, to add to your visibility when you go out at night. A very complete armband for this price!
Gear Beast Sports
This second armband can accommodate smartphones from 15.3 to 8.8 centimetres, still without a protective shell. As its dimensions indicate, it is designed for the Galaxy S8 and other LG G6s, and can of course accommodate most iPhones. For larger models, such as the Galaxy S Plus range, the manufacturer offers other products. I was immediately struck by the large size of the pouch. This is an advantage since it fits most phones. But there's a downside to every medal: on some models, the pouch will be just too big, and the side buttons won't be usable, at least not easily. In addition, the touch screen cover, which is quite thick, protects the phone well, but is sometimes a bit randomly reactive. And this protection doesn't provide access to the iPhone button either. Fortunately, the headphone accesses are obviously present.
The neoprene in the cuff is sweat resistant but not waterproof, so sweat can cause condensation in the pouch. So be careful! However, I appreciate the "anti-pinch" buckle of the cuff, which is designed for an arm circumference of 20 to 50 centimetres. Tightly fastened, it fits perfectly medium sized arms, but thicker arms can be a little uncomfortable around corners. In short, this is an entry-level cuff that does what it's asked to do: be affordable, fit most smartphone models, but not much more. So I recommend you check your smartphone's compatibility. Once that's done, there's no reason for it to disappoint you!
This Kalenji armband is intended, this time, for smartphones with their protective shell, of the following models or equivalent : Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S9. The dimensions of the sleeve are 15.9 x 9 centimetres. Important note: if the manufacturer announces compatibility with the latest iPhone models (iPhone X, iPhone 8, etc.), the accesses provided for the earphones do not match: they are located only on the sides, the central access being too narrow for Apple's Lightning connector. A major drawback! Even though it's not waterproof, the pouch benefits from a zip closure system (like a freezer bag) to prevent humidity from entering and forming condensation, a somewhat "D-system" solution that works, but without being extraordinary either...
The arm circumference of the cuff is 18 to 44 centimetres. You can also wear it at wrist level, with a system to manage the excess strap caused by this minimum setting. Once again, it is tight and snug, the cuff does not move, but this also means that thicker arms will have a little trouble supporting the cuff. Similarly, if you want to wear the cuff over a piece of clothing, it can be difficult. The Touch Screen Protector is relatively effective, although it is not the most responsive of the selection . So we're dealing with a smartphone sports armband that does the job properly for its price, especially since it allows you to tuck in your phone with its shell. If you're looking for something more upscale, you'll probably have to adjust your budget accordingly.
I now offer you a small, handy armband for small iPhones, i.e. those the size of an iPhone 5S. The pouch is designed to accommodate them with large protective covers, such as those of the Otterbox brand. The manufacturer also has other products for the larger models (you should take a look at them depending on your smartphone model). Here, the neoprene armband has an original "hook and loop" system that promises more security, flexibility and reliability over the long term. The only disadvantage of this cuff is that, at a minimum arm circumference of 22 centimetres, it can be too large for users with thinner arms. For the opposite case of a cuff that is too tight, the manufacturer offers, as is often the case, an extension to be purchased separately.
The pouch is not waterproof, but offers good protection in addition to its resistance to perspiration. The access to the touch keyboard is effective, even if the transparent plastic still does not allow access to the Touch ID button (a recurring defect for this kind of product). We'd like a nice little improvement on the side of the pouch: a velcro flap around which you can wrap the excess cable from your earphones, rather than letting them dangle in a vacuum. All in all, this cuff justifies the move up-market, with a more accomplished finish than in the lower categories. If you own one of the compatible models, don't hesitate, it does the job well, finding a rare balance between phone protection, access to settings, and of course moderate price, even if you're no longer in the entry-level category.
I can't resist the temptation to bookmark the Quad Lock model, to reward the originality and boldness of the brand (here the version for iPhone 6 and 6S). Quad Lock is a particular locking system, designed to be used only with the protective shells of the same brand. Here, there is no pocket in which to slip your phone: you only wear an armband, on which a mechanism allows you to accommodate your smartphone, thanks to the attachment on the back of its protective shell. A small movement to lock the two objects together, and you're done: your phone is securely fastened and remains fully accessible, whether it's the display, the side buttons or the cable ports. No transparent plastic that doesn't react to touch, no silent Touch ID, no unsuitable access to your cable... In short, well thought out!
On the phone side, I was afraid that the hull would make a big bump that would be difficult to bear outside of the sports sessions, but everything is fine, we just note a slight bulge, inevitable, at the level of the fixation. The nylon and lycra armband is 17 to 38 centimetres around the waist, so as usual, beware of thick arms or clothes. This cuff is compatible with all Quad Lock cases, and is very easy to adjust with one hand, which is quite rare and appreciable, if you need to adjust it during activity. I still have to mention the few obvious drawbacks: with such a system, your phone is not protected from bad weather, falls or shocks. But with the presence of the shell and a protective glass on the screen, you can easily remedy this. Just don't go out in the rain! The price will seem a bit high for a system with these restrictions, but its originality and practicality justify it in my eyes.
Belkin Sport Fit
The Belkin Sport-Fit Cuff is a high quality product designed specifically for the 6 Plus to 8 Plus iPhones with their shell. This compatibility is even more important than usual, as it finally includes a model that allows you to access the Touch ID button! Which, if you didn't follow, requires direct access to the skin, so impossible with screen protectors, even tactile ones. The plastic protection therefore has a round cut out at the level of the button. Of course, this also means that the pouch is not waterproof...
As is often the case with neoprene and lycra, the fabric strap is very stretchy, versatile and easily adjustable. It therefore allows easy adjustment to all types of arms. On the other hand, the pouch itself has a certain rigidity that will affect especially the thinnest arms. Tactile access is effective, and the connections for the earphones are well accessible. A detail that I always appreciate, a small additional slot at the back of the pouch allows, without being qualified as a real pocket, to store a few thin objects (papers, credit card, wrench). The essential in case of a sporting outing! All this comes at a little high price for a standard armband, 30 euros at the time I write these lines, but it's usually the ransom of quality. Ah, one last thing: many users have reported a very strong plastic smell for this product, probably linked to the materials used. Although it fades with time and washing, it's a warning that can be of value to the most olfactory-sensitive people!
How to choose your sports armband for smartphone?
Choosing your smartphone sports armband may be more important than it first appears. No one likes to waste time adjusting the armband, feeling their phone walking around in an ill-fitting pouch, or having trouble accessing settings (sound, changing music...). So to avoid all that, let's see how to choose the cuff that suits you best!
As you can see, the pouch that holds your phone is a crucial part of the armband. That's why I'm going to spend a little more time on it.
- The size
The first criterion is the size of the pouch that will hold your phone. They are all designed with a varying range of compatibility. Some are designed exclusively for one model, others are more versatile, and finally, some are universal. Of course, the more compatible a pouch is with a large number of smartphones, the less its dimensions, accessories and features will fit your phone, specifically. This means, for example, that the pouch may be a little too large, making some buttons difficult to use. On the other hand, a universal armband should not pose any problems in terms of access to the phone's connection ports. So to be on the safe side, if your smartphone isn't on the list of compatible phones, don't... or take out your double decimeter!
- Tactile plastic
This transparent side is most often made of plastic compatible with tactile keypads, so that you can play the piano on your phone without having to take it out. If not, don't even think about buying the armband! But not all models are equal in this respect. The thinnest plastics are generally the best in this area, but their effectiveness also depends on the compatibility of the phone, since a perfectly fitted phone will be more responsive. An important detail is that buttons that require direct skin contact, such as the "home" button on the latest generations of iPhone, do not work through plastic, even if they are tactile. In order to use them, you will need to use specially designed armbands with an opening at the button.
I've talked a lot about the "phone" part, and now I'm going to talk about the "armband" part itself. That is the strap that wraps around your arm.
Armband manufacturers usually include in their product descriptions the minimum and maximum arm circumference for which they are suitable. These data are purely indicative and may be imprecise. Therefore, do not hesitate to consult tests and user reviews: the degree of elasticity, fit, adaptation to thin or thick arms are often among the first returns mentioned. For wider arms (or for wearing the armbands over layers of clothing), some brands offer strap extensions, usually sold separately.
The armbands are almost all made of neoprene, with lycra elements. This ensures elasticity and anti-perspirant properties. Indispensable for physical activities! All sports armbands usually provide this feature, but check it out anyway...
The design of the pouch can provide varying degrees of protection for your phone. Some armbands are reinforced at the corners, for example, to protect against shocks in case of a fall. Another very important protection criterion is water resistance. To be honest, hardly any sports armbands guarantee watertightness, as they have to provide openings for cables to pass through. However, with the democratization of bluetooth earphones, evolution is coming... But even on cuffs with openings, the degree of protection against moisture varies. The best cuffs can be closed with systems that prevent infiltration and condensation, which sometimes blur the transparent side of the pouch.
The compatibility of the cuff with your smartphone is the basis, of course. And it can sometimes be complicated! So don't hesitate to scour test sites and consumer reviews, which are often a real mine of information (make sure the comments are about the exact model you're interested in).
Access to connectivity
Not all smartphones have their ports (earphones, loading...) located in the same place. So make sure that the armband you choose provides the necessary access for your model. It would still be a shame to want to go out for a run with music, and realize that the armband prevents you from plugging in your earphones! This point is particularly crucial for the latest generations of iPhone, with the disappearance of the jack plug, replaced by the central Lightning plug, which does not have the same format (flattened) as the jack plug (round). This change in format can even pose a problem for sleeves that are supposed to be universal.
Some armbands are designed to accommodate smartphones with a protective shell, others without. Personally, I always protect my phones with a cover, so I find it important to choose a suitable armband. Otherwise I would always have to be in the process of removing and replacing the cover. Laborious and annoying! If this is not the case (or if you don't mind), obviously choose the version with the dimensions of the bare phone.
Finally, some cuffs come with additional features and accessories to enhance comfort or ease of use. It's up to you to judge their interest according to your uses. For example, I'm a fan of extra small pockets, as you may have noticed if you've read the selection. Indeed, to go out and play sports, it's quite practical to be able to bring your papers, a little money, the key to your house... Another handy accessory is a place to store or roll up excess cable from the earphones. There you go, I've given you all my tips on how to choose the best sports armband for your smartphone. So, on your marks... ready... it's up to you!