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 charge, or an extra layer of protection, there are great options to choose from. Here are some under $100.
PopSockets Universal Cell Phone Grip
By now, PopSockets are pretty much everywhere. The popular phone accessory is now a common sight on the back of many phones out in the wild. In case you’re not familiar with what it is, here’s a brief overview.
PopSockets are small grips that attach to the back of a phone (though it can also work with other mobile devices, like tablets), and it expands outward to enable a better grip for your hand. This way, you can talk, text and pose for selfies with less contortion in your hands or wrists.
The PopSockets themselves can stick to any case, so you don’t have to attach them to the phone’s back itself. They’re lightweight, and easy to attach, so you don’t need any expertise to do the job.
Since they’ve grown in popularity, different designs have popped up (no pun intended) and they can sometimes include cases. The Otterbox Symmetry + Pop is one example, where the PopSocket recesses into the case. Remove the PopTop and you can charge your phone on a wireless charging pad without removing the whole case.
Eggtronic Marble 10W Qi Wireless Charging Pad
Wireless charging is common these days, with many smartphones supporting the feature, along with some other gadgets, like Apple’s AirPods. Using a charging pad is a great way to fill up your devices without having to reach for a cable.
Belkin and Samsung have good ones, but Eggtronic’s lineup of marble charging pads have a nice, unique look to them. Lay your phone down and you can charge it on a slab that actually looks like a furniture accessory.
It is a cut of marble, rather than an imitation, so it should last a long time. There are 10W of power to charge with, which is good for a wireless charger, and compatible with any phone or gadget supporting the feature. That can be a Samsung, iPhone, Google Pixel or a variety of other models.
You can lay it flat on any surface, though does need to be placed near a wall outlet to draw power. For something with some design flair, this is a great option.
Roav Bolt Smart USB Car Charger with Google Assistant
If you want to boost your car’s charging power, while also bringing Google Assistant into the cabin, the Roav Bolt does just that. It plugs into the 12-volt socket in your car and gives you two Power-IQ ports for 24 watts of output power. The two USB-A ports are convenient for two people to charge their devices at the same time. VoltageBoost technology will also apply the right amount of power, depending on the device you plug into it.
With Bluetooth and Aux-In connections, the Bolt is designed for some versatility. The built-in microphone is a gateway to Google Assistant, which pairs with your phone and lets you issue commands or ask questions like you would at home. This way, you can get turn-by-turn directions for Google Maps or control your music playback through Google Play Music and Spotify.
You can take it further with other music streaming apps, like iHeartRadio, Deezer, YouTube Music, Apple Music and more. With the Roav Viva app itself, you can also bring Alexa into the car, using the popular voice assistant at your leisure. So, if you’re lamenting the lack of these services being built-in to your car, this is one way to get them.
JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
Bluetooth speakers don’t have to be expensive or out of reach. Especially these days, where there are great options to choose from. One of the standouts in this range is the JBL Flip 4, a nice rugged speaker that plays and holds up well.
Whether you place it upright or lay it flat, the Flip 4 is a capable speaker in smaller rooms, but is certainly loud enough to fill larger rooms with decent sound. It’s one of those speakers you can take with you anywhere at home, or while on vacation somewhere. It’s Bluetooth-enabled, so works with iOS and Android the same way. You can also pair it with a computer or Chromebook.
It also works with two paired devices at once. That means you and a friend or loved one can control playback and choose to play the music of your choice, from the apps of your choice.
The IPX7 rating adds some waterproofing to the speaker, which puts it right at home poolside or at the beach. It’s not necessarily going to stand up well to saltwater, but a pool or tub will be just fine.
JBL rates battery life at 12 hours, but that will really depend on how loud you go with the volume. The rechargeable battery is easy enough to manage when you need to recharge.
JLab JBuds Air
Getting a pair of true wireless earbuds doesn’t have to prohibitively expensive. That’s where the JLab JBuds Air come in—a pair of in-ear headphones that cut all cords and make it easy to listen to music without a fuss.
They have sweat resistance, making them ideal for the gym or out on a run. Easy to carry with the included charging case, they’ll go wherever you go. You won’t get a ton of battery life per charge (three or four hours), and the case offers an extra seven. JLab has an app (iOS and Android) you can use to customize an equalizer (EQ) to tailor sound to your liking, adding to the functionality you get out of the box.
Use them with an iPhone or Android phone, it doesn’t matter. The JBuds Air use Bluetooth, so are pretty universal that way. Plus, when you wear them, you can make and take phone calls too.
These are just some of the mobile accessory gifts under $100 that we’d love to give and receive.