Whip It: Kenu Highline iPhone Security Leash Review

The Kenu Highline keeps the iPhone tethered for active weekend warriors or forgetful folks. Image © Kenu

Seeing toddlers tethered to their parents at the mall always makes me chuckle. There’s just something about little kids ambling along with mini bungee cords that is both adorable and hilarious, especially when they try to get away from their parents with limited success.

All the hilarity aside, there’s no doubt that the aforementioned tethers get the job done. There’s nothing worse, after all, than losing something precious to you. It’s a concept that accessory maker Kenu is applying to iPhones with its Highline Security Leash. Available for different variants of Apple’s iPhone, the simple gadget is designed to keep you connected to your iPhone so it doesn’t fall into some ravine or get left behind.

The main design for the Highline is based on the use of a coiled bungee cord that connects to a thin looping cable via a plastic bead. Both the coil and loop use a continuous line of Kevlar for added strength, allowing the Highline to withstand up to 15 kilograms or a little over 30 pounds of force. The coil can stretch from 5 inches to 30 inches so you can pull your phone up to your face from your waist. The loop, meanwhile, is thin enough to be tied around not just carabiners and belt loops but even zippers as well. To connect to your phone, the Highline uses an anchor that clips into the iPhone’s bottom port.

When I first tested the product, Kenu offered two versions of the Highline. There was a $19.95 cord that came with a 30-pin connector for older devices such as the iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3. Since then, pricing for it has dropped to $9.95. During my testing, the 30-pin connector proved to be quite secure. It’s so secure in fact that some folks may have a hard time taking it off if they fail to apply adequate force on the release buttons on its side. Also, although the 30-pin connector certainly can connect to older iPads, Kenu does not recommend doing so as the coils are designed with the iPhone’s weight in mind. There was also a $34.95 Highline variant for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, which now costs $14.95. This version of the Highline replaces the 30-pin connector with one that fits with Apple’s newer Lightning port. Unlike its 30-pin version, the Lightning-based Highline also comes with a clear plastic case to cover the iPhone 5. For owners of Apple's newer smartphones, the iPhone 6 and 6s Highline costs $29.95 and comes with a black case.

The iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus version meanwhile, also comes with a similar-looking case but retails for $34.95.

The difference in the designs of both Highline cords come with their unique pros and cons. For the 30-pin Highline, the lack of a case means less protection but also comes with the added flexibility of being able to use your preferred case instead. Any case that can dock or connect with an iPhone charger even when it’s left on — such as the Loop Attachment Mummy, for example — will pretty much be compatible with the 30-pin Highline. For the Lightning-based Highlines, one downside is that you’re pretty much required to use the cases they come with because they need to connect to the covers' lower back. This means you can’t use another case like the Grovemade bamboo cover if you don’t happen to like the one that the Highline comes with.

Overall, though, the Highline cords work pretty for active folks who do activities such as mountain biking or ATV riding. It’s especially useful for people who do activities involving lots of height like rock climbing or bungee jumping where inadvertent drops could be catastrophic for your phone. It may not be quite as conducive for everyday use unless you use it with a purse or your jeans’ belt loop. I use it with a jacket since my pockets usually contain stuff like change or pens for example and I’m left with a dangling cord when it’s not connected to a phone because it just pops out of my jacket pocket. If you’re an active person or are simply the forgetful type, however, the Highline is a good way to stay connected to your phone.

Final rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. For more articles on portable accessories, check out our Other Devices and Accessories hub.