If you're getting someone an iPhone for the holidays--or if you got one for yourself--the next step is to accessorize. Accessories make great companion gifts that are not only thoughtful, but are super useful to boot. Here are a few handy accessories to make that new iPhone even more awesome. In fact, they're so handy that they'll fit perfectly inside that stocking hanging from your fireplace mantle.
Apple's designers surely didn't mean for the iPhone's sleek design to be covered up, but failing to give it a protective case leaves the device vulnerable to smudges and scratches--or, worse, shattered glass and bent metal. A case is an excellent companion gift to the iPhone.
Whichever type of case you choose, make sure it doesn't block the iPhone 5/5s and iPhone 5c's bottom-mounted speaker, headphone jack, microphone, and dock-connector port; top-mounted microphone; the camera lens and flash on the back; and the camera lens, light sensor, and proximity sensor on the front--unless, of course, the case is designed so that you remove your iPhone to use it.
Similarly, if you like to use dock-cradle accessories, make sure the case is easily removable, as many of the docking accessories, such as speaker systems, are not compatible with cases.A Also, if you have an iPhone 5s, make sure that the case doesn't interfere with the Home button, so Touch ID will work properly.
Cases come in a variety of styles, from basic shells that add a rigid layer of protection to the entire phone to extra-rugged cases that can be used underwater. Our list of favorite iPhone cases runs the gamut, but here are a few that stand out:
- LifeProof Nuud ($90; Rugged; iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c)
- SwitchEasy Nude ($20; Hard-shell; iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c)
- Pad and Quill Little Pocket Book ($70; Wallet; iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c)
Extra Lightning cable
If you're like me, you have close to a zillion of Apple's old 30-pin cables lying around, coupled with accessories made to fit the 30-pin connector port.
With the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c, you'll need products that fit its updated Lightning port. Though the iPhone ships with one cable, an extra Lightning to USB cable ($19) is a must-have, as is Apple's Lightning to 30-pin adapter ($39) for your accessories.
The iPhone comes with Apple's signature EarPods, but they're not the most comfortable (at least not to me). Plus, there are plenty of earbuds out there that provide better sound quality as well as a better fit. Use your ears--literally--to tell if a pair is good, instead of relying on reading specs: Opt to try out a pair at a brick-and-mortar store first, if you can. (For more tips, check out our headphone buying guide.)
Although earbuds don't generally produce outstanding sound, they're conveniently compact, and most are relatively inexpensive.A They're perfect for use on the go and for casual listening. Here are a few that stand out:
- Polk AudioA UltraFit 1000A (earbuds with earclips; three-button module; $50)
- Urbanears Medis PlusA (three-button module; $60)
- Sennheiser/Adidas Sports PMX 685iA (earbuds with neck band, designed for exercise; three-button module; $80)
The iPhone has a pretty solid camera and photo-editing tools--especially if you buy the iPhoto app--but additional lenses can make it even better. We like the Olloclip ($70), a 4-in-1 lens that clips on over the iPhone's camera. It has four lenses that help bring your photos to the next level: A wide-angle lens, a fish-eye lens, and two macro lenses that zoom in 10 and 15 times closer.
These four additional lenses bring new depth to your run-of-the-mill iPhone photos. The fish-eye lens is outright fun, adding distortion that no photography app can properly mimic. On the practical side, the wide-angle lens adds a helping hand when you're trying to photograph something large and you can't physically back up. And the macro lenses are great for getting a totally new perspective on the things you see every day. The Olloclip 4-in-1 is a solid package, and it goes a long way in making you think of your iPhone as a real camera instead of just a phone that takes pictures.
For hands-free calls and map viewing, an iPhone mount or stand for the car is essential, for both ease and safety. I like Kensington's Car Mount ($30), which can clip to your dashboard's air conditioning vent or stick to the windshield.
Just clip your iPhone into place before you start driving, and you're good to go. The clip provides a tight grip to keep your iPhone in place during bumpy roads, and the stand can pivot for both landscape and portrait viewing.
The iPhone's battery life is decent as far as smartphone batteries go, but there are times when you need an extra boost. A battery-boosting accessory is a lifesaver.
Battery cases, like the Mophie Juice Pack Plus ($120), are awesome. The Juice Pack Plus adds substantial power to the iPhone with its 2100 mAh charge. It consists of two pieces that easily snap around your iPhone, and the bottom piece connects to the iPhone's Lightning connector, which is how it provides juice.
To charge the Juice Pack Plus, plug it into a wall adapter or USB port; to charge the iPhone, toggle the case's power button. If your iPhone is inside the Juice Pack Plus and you plug in the case to recharge it, your iPhone recharges first, and only afterward does the case start charging. Overall, the Juice Pack adds minimal bulk and weight to the iPhone as far as battery cases go, and its press-through button overlays are comfortable and easy to use.
Instead of a case, you could also opt for a portable backup power supply. TYLT's PowerPlant ($90) is made with the iPhone in mind, with an embedded Lightning cable that charges your iPhone without needing your own cord. Additionally, it has charging sockets for USB and Micro-USB cables, in case you want to charge something else. It packs enough power to recharge your iPhone twice, and fits in the palm of your hand.