the beautiful red button: POPA

Even though I love taking photos – I somehow got out of the habit recently. And while digital photography should make taking snapshots easy – it still is not quite the same as a camera. I’d been trying find a way back for while when Brendan Dawes introduced the POPA, an attachment for the iPhone which brought a big red button with a grip and an app. “Perfect”, I thought, “this will give me back the camera feel, get me back into the flow with taking photos.”

Sadly, at the time, POPA was not compatible with my old iPhone. I preferred (still do) the first iPhone with its rounded metal back and so I had to wait until I had to upgrade which I did a few weeks ago. By then, I almost forgot. Luckily a friend of mine, David Hughes who also wrote a review about POPA, published a post about a sale at Beep Industries which reminded me that I could finally get POPA & now it feels like I have my camera back – via this beautiful big red button :)

the POPA project

If you have a not heard of POPA, or Brendan Dawes yet – just a little bit of background.

I’ve been a big fan of Brendan’s for ages, going back to my flash days years ago. His love for design, evident in all his work, and his enthusiasm, shining through in his talks, is inspiring & infectious :)
If you ever have the opportunity to see him speak – do! Don’t miss the chance to be entertained & inspired. I was lucky to see Brendan speak a few times, most recently at the #naconf and he was amazing ;)

POPA was originally called Red Pop and was one of the successful projects on KickStarter. In this promotional video, Brendan introduces the prototype, telling the story behind the concept. If I wasn’t taken with the idea of this wonderful red button already – the fact that it is dedicated in such loving memory to Brendan’s father would have surely won me over.

the POPA site

While the POPA itself is a wonderful little gadget – beautiful in concept and execution – the website is also designed with the same care and love for detail. A rhythm of squares, displaying photos, video and text, presents a site which is playful, engaging and fun ~ showing off the best features of POPA.

When preparing slides for my webdesign sessions – I find myself returning to it time and time again as a perfect example of how it should be done. Excellent branding, beautiful design, well written copy ~ all coming together in a wonderful website.

unpacking POPA

Ordering the POPA was a breeze, easy and quick without the demand for too much info.
It arrived in a cute little cube box, with a lovely pouch and a handy strap which can be screwed into the tripod hole on the POPA.

Once the outer package was unwrapped – the quality of this product became immediately clear: the box, the strap, the pouch and the POPA itself. The POPA feels like a very sturdy and finely crafted product: beautiful to the touch and reminiscent of old cameras with the leather grip and silver casing. I love the fact that I can mount my iPhone camera to a tripod via POPA now, brilliant! The strap and the pouch are of the same quality as the POPA itself- simply gorgeous :)

using POPA

The POPA is only compatible with the newer iPhones and needs its custom app to work. The app is free and can be used without the POPA as well.

Using the POPA is sweet: simply pop it onto your phone, the app starts automatically and you’re ready to go :)

The very first time I tried it out – I was a little too careful, too gentle with it. The connection between the POPA and my iPhone did not quite work. But I soon realised that the design of the POPA is not as fragile as I thought – and it was merely a matter of ensuring a solid connection – and all worked as intended.

The amazing thing is that this immediately changed the way I take photos – the phone’s camera now feels much more like a ‘proper’ camera and I never miss a shot. I always liked the iPhone’s camera – very intuitive and easy to use. But due to the focus taking a bit of time, or my wobbly holding, I do occasionally miss the moment I wanted to capture, or I miss the touch-button entirely.
The solid grip and the lovely red button of the POPA means I know when I take the shot – it responds quickly. I love the way I can now get a proper grip on the camera, hold it steady, hold it straight or at any angle – it feels safe in my hand and the red button makes taking the shot so easy, it just feels great :) Though I do end up with the odd blurred shot – I like the overall interaction and quality of photos.

the POPA app

The POPA app is a thing of beauty in itself designed with a retro feel, it is a treat to use. When you first open it – you see a simple and clean interface, offering a flash, a timer, a camera button and the camera roll.
I love this kind of simplicity ~ easy and intuitive, no need to learn the functions: open – use, done.

And there are more gems to find in this app:
the camera roll shows the taken photos like old negative strip with running as well as total number clearly shown, a pencil to select images, the app info itself is beautifully presented…

all in all – simply a pleasure to use.

To share the photos – you get a little wheel which even makes little clickety noises as you turn it – so nice. I love design and when you see/use something that has been treated with such love and care – it is just wonderful.

customer service love

And finally, I just have to share this little story about my pouch and BeepHQ’s wonderful customer service – which is the reason for this post and which makes me love my POPA even more ;)

As you can tell by now – I am quite taken with my new little gadget :) I was so happy with it that I took it with me everywhere, still do, of course. It’s the kind of thing you want to show everyone, to share the joy of using it. So much so that I managed to lose my little pouch last week :-\

Now, I’m not the kind of person who loses things. I tend to look after what I have quite carefully, taking care of keeping my gadgets, tools and toys in pristine condition. You can imagine that I was quite upset with myself for losing the pouch. I considered stitching up a little bag myself to keep my POPA safe – but I was keen to have the original so I went to the site, hoping to find a way to buy a replacement.

As I couldn’t find anything – I emailed BeepHQ instead, no harm in asking, I thought. This when things got even better :)

I received the usual confirmation email but this one was much friendlier than expected. It confirmed my email would be answered but also stated that a ticket had been opened for me and that I would get a personal response soon. I liked this friendly message so much that I went to have a look at my ticket anyway, always curious to see customer support in action. And what a perfect way to deal with an enquiry – my email and name were already submitted. All I needed to do is to set my password & done :)
This was so pleasant and hassle-free, why is this not the norm? – This is how it should be.

I received an email reply the very next day, telling me, to my surprise, that a pouch was in the post for me. And there it is – a lovely red package with a replacement pouch ~ wow :) I would have happily paid for it – feeling very spoilt now, I am simply impressed & amazed by this response from the lovely team from BeepHQ :)

To Bren & his team

Thank you so much. Not only for such a lovely product which brings me joy every time I use it, and for such a beautiful app — but also for my replacement and the most wonderful customer service, ever! You are amazing!


  1. Gravatar Nicole

    Great article!
    Wish I had an iphone just to use Popa!
    Nice to recognize some faces of the photos! :)

  2. Gravatar Iciar

    wow, nice article. I would run for one right now… just it’s left the iphone : /