Smartphones are indispensable to most people, and one of the best parts of having one is that they work with accessories. Pair a phone with the right gadget and it can simplify a feature or add something more to the phone’s overall usability.
Whether you need a new way to play, or something you can put to good use, there are great options to choose from. Here are some under $100.
Fitbit Inspire 2
Fitbit has already made a name of itself as one of the premier fitness tracking brand around, and the Inspire 2 is a good entry point if you’re new to the product lineup. Smaller, nimbler, yet still capable, it makes a great gift.
This activity tracker replaced the Inspire and Inspire HR, though retains many of the features from those two. The gist is that you have a heart rate monitor and other sensors to track movement and calorie burn, with a legible touchscreen to tell you where you’re at. It’s not quite as advanced as the Charge 4, but it still does a great job as a tracker.
Its slimmer profile may make it more ideal for female wrists, but Fitbit made it as a unisex product. You can also easily replace the band to make it fit in as an accessory wherever you go. Fitbit makes a number of bands, but you’ll also find others from third-parties that are compatible.
The Inspire 2 can track up to 20 exercises, some of which it will do automatically. The waterproofing is good enough to take it to a pool for a swim, letting you also track swimming, too. If you’re going out for a run or walk, you will need your phone to track distance via GPS—and listen to music. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to control music through it, but you will see phone notifications.
Tile Bluetooth trackers
This is one of those functional gifts that could come in really handy. Tile Bluetooth trackers come in a number of different models, and are passive, so there’s not much of a learning curve involved.
Most of the current models launched in 2019, but there are now more colours or designs available, including limited edition Canadian ones. The basics remain the same, regardless, which is that these Bluetooth-enabled units help keep track of your most important items.
Attach one to your key ring, so that you never leave your keys behind. Do the same with your wallet, bicycle, laptop, or any other valuable. Reverse the search by pressing the button on the tracker to locate your phone (iOS or Android). The Tile community is always active, using Bluetooth from their phones to help triangulate where a lost or stolen item might be.
The Tile Pro and Mate use replaceable batteries, making them viable for years to come, whereas the Slim and Sticker use longer-lasting non-replaceable batteries. If you like, you can also add a Tile Premium subscription to the gift for extra perks to your loved one.
Joby GripTight ONE
Video calls became the rule, rather than the exception, in 2020. If you ever had to deal with a sore hand or arm from holding your phone up, a good tripod may be a perfect way to solve that issue. If you don’t know Joby, you should know that it’s been making flexible mini-tripods for years now. The flexible legs let you articulate them in any way to angle or position your phone however necessary.
With the GripTight ONE, they’re also magnetic, so you can set up the tripod on any metal surface and have it say in place. Admittedly, this feature is more relevant to mobile photography, but that doesn’t stop you from using it for both. The tripod comes with a phone mount and Bluetooth remote control for hands-free photography. It’s easy to set up and works with both iOS and Android.
The phone mount isn’t stuck to the tripod, so you could always get another one, should your phone or case be too big for this one. The tripod also uses a standard screw mount, which fits any camera or LED light that can mount on it. It has its limits on weight, but if you stretch the legs out and lower the centre of gravity, you can still make it work.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional in design, you could start with the Joby HandyPod Mobile Lock Tripod. Joby’s GorillaPod lineup also has a variety of choices.
Xbox or PlayStation Game Controller
Mobile gaming really started to turn a corner in 2020, and one of the clearest signs of that was good Bluetooth controllers. To be fair, it isn’t a new idea to pair a controller with your phone or tablet. It’s just that the gaming options are far better now. That includes the Xbox Wireless Controller and the Sony PlayStation DualShock 4 Controller.
While both of these primarily work with their respective consoles, they also work with mobile devices. You can pair either one with a phone or tablet, especially on Android, and play games that way. For example, if you sign up for Xbox Game Pass, you can play streaming games directly on the phone or tablet. The same is true of PlayStation Now. You can get a clip for the phone, attach it to the controller, pair with your device, and start playing.
The controllers can work with other games, too. If you like playing Fortnite or Minecraft, both can make that happen. There is some cross-compatibility, too. For instance, the PlayStation controller works with Xbox Game Pass via Bluetooth, but may be finicky via USB. You may find similar success with the Xbox controller on PlayStation Now. But for games on Android, you should be fine, either way. They will also work with Google Stadia through the Chrome browser on a computer or Android device.
You don’t need an Xbox or PlayStation console for this. Either of these controllers are compatible in a number of ways, as noted above. If you are looking for something more phone or PC-focused, you could try the Moga XP5-A Orion Bluetooth Controller. Just bear in mind that it won’t work with everything. Google Play, PlayStation Now, Steam, or even your PC and TV are fine. But no Xbox Game Pass or Stadia.
Over-ear Bluetooth headphones don’t always comes this cheap, but the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT are great value. The two biggest reasons why come down to the sound quality and battery life. These headphones will sound better than their price indicates, but when you’re also looking at not charging them very often, it only gets better.
These headphones can play for up to 70 hours per charge. It takes about four hours to fully recharge them from empty, but even so, using them for a few hours a day means you won’t be plugging them in for days or even weeks.
Naturally, they also have microphones for phone calls, so using them while working from home is super easy. They don’t have active noise cancellation, so you won’t be able to fully block out the background, but you will be able to get some passive isolation from the ear cushions.
They do fold flat for easier storage when you’re not using them or hanging them up. When you are listening to them, you’ll like how they sound, no matter what genre of music you prefer.
These are just some of the mobile accessory gifts under $100 that we’d love to give and receive.