Whether or not you got a new smartphone or want to do more with your current one, the right accessories can make a difference. Your phone is probably one of, if not the most personal device you own and use on a regular basis.
Mobile devices continue to evolve in what they can do, but they’re also pretty delicate, so you need to protect yours. Beyond that, you can also browse among a range of accessories to expand on what your phone can truly do.
It’s not so much about specific products themselves, it’s more about the types of products you should look for. Here are some of the most impactful.
Thinner and lighter with extra elegance thrown in is always nice on any phone, but it also sets up potential danger. Put a case on it, and you can mitigate some of that with a first line of defence, with plenty of choice in build quality and purpose. Slip on a thin and flexible silicone case and it’s not going to feel or look the same as a rugged polycarbonate case. One is practical whereas the other is highly functional.
Others are so functional, they’re waterproof. Water-resistance is now a staple on many flagship phones, but it’s not the same as being waterproof. Saltwater can damage a device, but with the right waterproof case, you get extra protection to submerge it for some underwater photos or video.
You will find cases in a variety of different materials, including fabric, leather, soft plastic and hard plastic. Some are fashionable, while others come from established brands, like Otterbox, LifeProof, Incipio, Speck and Caseology, among others. You may find some show off a colour or design, while others are neutral or see-through to let the phone’s own colour shine through.
Dozens of manufacturers make thousands of different cases to choose from, so the odds are good you will find a way to protect your phone for any need or occasion.
How to shop for the right type of case
It’s always best to assess what you want the case to do for your phone. Protecting it is an obvious one, but is there more to it than that for you? For instance, would you want a case that not only protects, but also offers enough durability to take photos in water or rougher terrain? Maybe one with a built-in pop socket, like the OtterBox Pop + Symmetry cases. Or something clear to let the phone’s own colour pop through, like the ones Speck and Spigen make.
Cases cover most of the phone, except for one very important component: the screen. A screen protector may be the last line of defence for this fragile part, where a fall could spell doom and crack the beautiful display. Handsets with Gorilla Glass are built tough, but they’re neither universal nor a guarantee. Plus, daily wear and tear from pockets, fingernails and oils can take their toll.
The old thin plastic covers are mostly gone now. Real glass is the better way to go, and tempered glass screen protectors continue to improve in many ways. They’re easy to find, and for more phones than before, ensuring the device you have isn’t left out naked and exposed.
It doesn’t matter if you’re holding an iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy or something else, you’re likely to find a protector to keep the original display nice and spotless. Bear in mind these things aren’t bulletproof, so your phone may still crack if it falls hard enough on the wrong side, but it does at least mitigate the chance of that happening. With the right tough case and glass screen protector, you can try covering both sides for extra protection.
A phone’s battery is its lifeblood. Running out of power is never fun, and that’s why a handy charger negates that from getting in the way. It’s not uncommon to find newer handsets with quick charging cables and chargers out of the box.
But there’s more. Wireless charging isn’t just more widely available now, it’s also faster than it used to be. Flagship devices almost always support it, and mid-range phones are getting there too. Wireless charging pads lie flat or upright, and sometimes include room for more than one device. The Qi wireless charging standard is now the one common standard, so you can get one pad and charge any Qi-enabled device with it. If you have an iPhone 12 model of any kind, you know that you can also take advantage of Apple’s MagSafe wireless charger.
When on the move, a portable power bank can come through in the clutch. If you’re rocking a phone that won’t make it a full day on one charge, plug into one of these and it should take away any battery range anxiety you might have every day. Finding a wall outlet isn’t always easy, especially in a rush, so might as well charge with a power bank wherever you go.
Cords and cables are quickly disappearing from all headphones, and that means you may need to go wireless. Often times, you don’t get any headphones or adapters with the phone you buy, either. You do have the option of getting an adapter to stick with the wired headphones you like, or you could cut the cord and go with wireless headphones.
Whatever you go with will be using Bluetooth, so this really comes down to what kind of style you’re looking for. Want to fully cover your ears with over-ear cans? Runs and workouts might feel better with sporty wireless in-ear headphones designed to feel light on your ears? Or you could cut all cords and go with truly wireless headphones?
They’re all available, and they come from a variety of headphone brands, including Beats, Bose, Sennheiser, Sony, Jabra, Jaybird, Skullcandy and Apple, among many others.
You probably already take almost every photo you have with your phone. Might as well try to improve upon that with proper tools. Selfie sticks are pretty standard, but other accessories can make taking photos fun and experimental at the same time.
Tripods are good for repositioning a phone for shots from different angles and perspectives. It’s also the sort of thing you would need to shoot in really low-light, like the Google Pixel 5 and its astrophotography mode. Your phone’s camera app will have a timer. Set up the phone and use it to capture an image when dealing with tough angles or positions that don’t make it easy to tap onscreen. The results may surprise you. Tripods do come in different shapes and sizes, including flexible designs that wrap around objects. Bring the legs together and any tripod can double as a selfie stick.
For video, you can smooth out footage with a mechanical gimbal. Hands have a tendency to shake and move too much to stay steady, whereas a gimbal can feel smooth and effortless.
Phone lenses could sometimes use an optical boost, which is why lens attachments are available. Some of these come in kits with multiple lenses included, while others are single purpose. No matter what you go with, you’re bettering the odds that you’ll improve your mobile photography game. Good pictures are priceless, especially when you want to preserve great memories.
This is a whole other way of using a phone to capture images, especially video. Mechanical gimbals can deliver smoother footage when you place your phone in one, and the reason why is because you can pan in any direction with smooth precision. Using your hands leaves things more open to shaky footage, and that’s where a stabilizer comes in real handy.
You can see this in action with a model like the DJI OM 4, which works well with both iPhone and Android. though it’s not the only stabilizer you can take for a recording session out in the field. They keep getting better, and that can only mean good things for the content you produce.
With hygiene and cleanliness more in focus than ever before, sanitizing your phone is easier now than ever. New devices have come to market addressing that very need, and they vary in form and function. For instance, some do double-duty as both sanitizers and wireless chargers. Get your phone cleaned of microbes and bacteria, while also filling up your battery.
They’re neither too big nor too cumbersome, and could be good fixtures in your home or workplace. They use UV light to eliminate germs and bacteria, and do so passively, meaning you just place your phone in, start up the sequence and wait for it to finish.
Check out all the different accessories made for cell phones, where there is more to browse through.