Your new phone has arrived. It is shiny, precious, and packed with possibilities. It is also rather expensive. It sits alone, accompanied by a common charger, but little else.
It’s fair to say that this isn’t fair on your new smartphone, or you. You need to get the most out of this device, and without a slick charger, snazzy, versatile case, a screen protector and perhaps even a desktop dock or car dashboard holder, this isn’t going to happen.
Let’s take a look at what is available.
First: Buy A Case
Your new phone needs a case, something to protect the exterior from scratches and dents. Most cases, quite frankly, are rubbish, falling well short of what should be expected. Cases should keep hold of your phone, not add too much bulk, and protect from any damage that might be caused by passing a phone across a table top or dropping it.
In this age of multimedia streaming to smartphones, a new case should also enable you to enjoy content on your phone without forcing you to resort to building DIY stands. Cases increasingly feature stands and systems to prop your phone safely, and cost little more than the less versatile alternatives. You shouldn’t need to pay more than $10 for a robust case that doubles as a stand.
Invariably, cases come with screen protectors. I personally find these dust-attracting pieces of plastic an absolute chore to apply, but there is a very good guide here on MakeUseOf that demonstrates how to perfectly apply a screen protector. If your case didn’t ship with a screen protector, you’ll find something suitable in your local mobile phone store or online at eBay or Amazon.
If you’re working in a particularly hostile environment, or your everyday use involves lots of dust and sudden impacts, you might want to invest in your phone’s lifespan by purchasing a tough iPhone case or ruggedized housing for your Android device. These cost considerably more than what you’ll find in the Sunday market, but they provide considerably more protection too.
A Fresh New Charger
With more and more methods to charge your phone, this comes down to personal preference. If your device is capable of wireless charging then this should be your first option. The convenience that placing your smartphone onto a flat surface to charge brings (rather than messing around with cables and connectors) is considerable, and should not be overlooked.
If wireless charging isn’t for you, or your phone isn’t compatible, various other methods of charging are available, including emergency chargers that you can use when you’re away from your desk, or further afield.
Desktop docks usually charge your phone as well as keep it in close proximity, angled so that you can easily touch app icons and interact with messages, and you’ll find that these are increasingly packed with features as the price goes up. They’re perhaps not a must-have accessory, but they can prove useful for anyone who relies on their phone for video conferencing, for example.
Chargers can set you pack anything from $5 to $150 (or even more!) depending on your phone recharging requirements.
Keep Your Phone Close Whatever You’re Doing
It’s one thing to keep your phone in your pocket, but have you ever worn it on your arm? Usually employed by fitness fanatics and couriers, arm straps are a great way to keep your phone protected and close by, particularly useful for enjoying music as you run. The position of the arm strap on the upper arm also makes it easier to keep your earphones in, unless you’ve opted for a Bluetooth headset and the total hands-free solution.
Again, you should be able to find decent examples of smartphone arm straps for under $10, altough you may need to pay a little more for newer models.
For hardcore runners, triathletes and other sports activities, the Spibelt is a no-bounce sports belt with space inside for an iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy. If wielding your phone on your arm isn’t confortable, this just might be.
Mounting Your New Smartphone On Your Bike or Car Dashboard
If you need hands-free calling or are simply addicted to music or audiobooks stored on your phone or streamed, then you’ll need a method of securely holding your phone while riding your bike or driving a car.
For the former, various smartphone holders are available that can be mounted to bicycle handlebars, ideal for using the device as a music player and as a sports/activity dashboard. Our previous look at phone mounts for bikes reveals some sturdy, reliable options. Naturally, you want reliable gripping and a tightening nut that won’t break the mount or damage your bike, so aim for the higher end of the price scale, around $20 and higher.
When it comes to cars, the cheaper the kit, the less reliable it is, both at holding your phone and staying stuck on the windscreen and dashboard. You should avoid anything under $10, and buy a device that is intended for your phone; at the same time, however, you’ll also need to select a mount or holder that suits your car. This might mean purchasing a mount with a long arm and suction cup if the windscreen is positioned beyond arm’s reach, for instance, or selecting one that can be attached to the car’s cooling fan outlets. You may even find favor with a phone holder that attaches itself to your phone’s CD player.
I’ve been using the device above for some months now, and Amazon are currently offering a 50% discount on its usual $24.99 price. The gel suction cup is particularly impressive, and allows you to attach the phone to even bumpy, textured dashboards, while the grip is compatible with the vast majority of smartphones.
Now, if you’re a driver, it’s worth reiterating the following: using your phone while driving is an offence. There is barely a civilized country in the world where this is not the case, so you will need to make sure that when you use a dashboard or windscreen mount for your phone that you don’t start prodding the display to change tracks while you’re driving.
To be safe, don’t use the phone while in transit, and pull over if you really need to do anything. It’s preferable to get your travelling partner to interact with your phone on your behalf, although if you need to make calls and your car has Bluetooth, this should be enough for you to call out or receive calls without taking your hands and eyes off the wheel. Incidentally, you can also use a dashboard or screenmount to secure your phone while you use it as a dashcam.
Other Accessory Options to Consider
If buying a new phone wasn’t enough of an outlay, you can max out your portable experience (and credit card) with accessories that will totally change the way you use the device. The most obvious example would be wearables, such as the Apple Watch for iOS users and Android Wear for Android phone owners.
These devices offer a new way of interacting with your phone, and being watches they’re permanently strapped to your wrist. For instance, you can make calls, send messages and even take photos with the Apple Watch, and if you’re splashing out on this you might want to consider buying a dedicated case.
Meanwhile the choice of Android Wear devices continues to grow and once you have one synced with your Android smartphones you can call on a number of Android Wear apps, from reskinned clocks and calculators to heart rate monitors. You can, incidentally, purchase standalone heart rate monitors that can be paired via Bluetooth to your iOS or Android smartphone, ideal for keeping costs down and avoiding conversations about the comparative irrelevance of smart watches.
And if the thought of all of that exercise hasn’t worn you out, there is one final kind of accessory you can buy that can be controlled using your new smartphone. Apple TV and Chromecast may be very similar (despite quite different price points) but the great thing is you can control them both from an iPhone or an Android device, making the choice of which one to purchase much easier. Complete your mobile media experience with a portable Bluetooth speaker, ideal for short-term use at a moment’s notice.
What accessories do you use with your smartphone? Have we missed something that you would have included? Tell us more in the comments.
Image Credits: Phone Accessories via Shutterstock