by Tom Kaneshige

12 iPhone (and iPad) Accessories That Define You

Dec 06, 2010
iPhoneMobileSmall and Medium Business

What do you get the geek in your life who already has an iPad or iPhone? An accessory, of course. Critics say Apple's one-size-fits-all approach to products leaves little room for individual expression, but an iPad or iPhone accessory can say something about the owner. Here are 12 identity-defining accessories (and related apps).

The Naturalist

When work has got you down, head to the great outdoors. Everyone from SCUBA divers to rock climbers to cross-country skiers can find solace in nature. Now they can bring their iPhones, too. The Magellan ToughCase is a shock-proof, water-proof iPhone case that also doubles the battery life and boosts the GPS signal — critical features when wandering in the wilderness.

A few words of warning: To call the Magellan Toughcase bulky is an understatement. Magellan also stopped the first production run because of a poorly designed O-ring for keeping out water. And the ToughCase ain’t cheap.

Cost: $180

Apps that go well: Ski & Snow Report (free), FishHead ($7), AccuTerra ($5), RiverGuide for Kayakers ($5), iBird Explorer Plus ($20), MyNature Animal Tracks ($7), iNavX Marine Navigation ($50)

The Golfer


Turning the outside of your iPhone into a golf ball for everyone to see means only one thing: You’re a single-handicap golfer. Every year, golfers spend hundreds of dollars on golf apparel, equipment, books, videos, tee times and lessons. With GelaSkins Golfer protective stickers, you’ll be reminded of your joy of golf every time you whip out your iPhone.

Cost: $15

Apps that go well: Golfshot GPS ($30), iGolf Finder ($2), Golf Rules ($10), PGA Tour (free), iSwing Golf ($3)

The Photographer


Even among professional photographers, the iPhone camera has proven a powerful tool. Just check out these war story photos taken by New York Times photographer Damon Winter and his trusty iPhone. There are some awesome iPhone photo-editing apps, too.

The weak link has been the iPhone’s simple lens, but USBFever has solved this problem with a package of attachable lens (wide angle, fish eye, 8x telephoto) and tripod.

Cost: $70

Apps that go well: Color Splash ($1), Hipstamatic ($2), CameraBag ($2), Photogene ($2), Camera Fun Pro ($1)

The Chef


The art of cooking has seen a resurgence of sorts in kitchens across the country, and the iPad can be an excellent cookbook. Apps show more than just the right ingredients; there are pictures and video of cooking methods, as well as built-in timers.

But cooking can be messy business. You wouldn’t want flour or liquids to get into your iPad. The iPad Bracket by ClayWare games is a wall mount that keeps your iPad above the mess.

Cost: $20

Apps that go well: Cook’s Illustrated (free), Epicurious (free), Dinner Spinner Pro ($3), Whole Foods Market Recipes (free), Weber’s On the Grill ($5)

The Gamer


If you identify with the hard-core gamer, then Angry Birds probably doesn’t cut it. Truth is, iPhone gaming apps are light fare. But now there’s an iPhone and iPad game that measures up to the best consumer electronic games on the planet. It’s called AR.Drone.

With AR.Drone, you fly a model quadricopter in the physical world using an iPad or iPhone to control it in the virtual one. You can even dogfight with friends who have an AR.Drone. Cameras on the AR.Drone are connected to the iPad via Wi-Fi, essentially putting you in the cockpit on the iPad screen.

Cost: $300

Apps that go well: Drone Control ($4)

The Traveler


Ah, the adventurous life of the part-time globe trotter. Among the most important items for every trip — passport, credit card, medication — is the iPhone. Communication is a necessity, as well as map apps and language-translation apps. You never really know where you’re going to be.

This means you better bring enough battery power to keep your iPhone running, at least until you can find an outlet and recharge. The Dexim Super-Juice Power Case doubles as a battery pack giving you up to six hours more talk time. There’s even a built-in kickstand to prop up your iPhone on the nightstand of your hotel room.

Cost: $70

Apps that go well: Kayak Pro ($1), eCurrency ($1), FlightTrack Pro ($10), NileGuide What’s Next (free), Jibbigo Spanish ($25), Jibbigo Chinese ($25), Jibbigo Japanese ($28)

The Gym Rat


One of the original killer iOS accessories is the Nike+iPod sport kit: a wireless sensor inside a special Nike+ shoe that talks to your iPhone or a receiver plugged into the dock connector of your iPod. The sensor monitors your running time, distance traveled, speed and calories burned. You can also set goals and track your performance over time.

Cost: $35

Apps that go well: Nike+ GPS ($2), iFitness ($2), RunKeeper Pro ($10), Lose It! (free), Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock ($1)

The Writer


“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” —Ernest Hemingway

The iPad is one of the greatest journals and reading devices to emerge this decade. If you keep a journal or consider yourself an avid reader, you probably already have an iPad. On the writing side, the iPad screen size delivers a relatively large soft keyboard for journal entries. You can also get a physical keyboard accessory.

But the essence of the iPad as a literary tool can be seen in the Dodo case: a handcrafted, classically binded case that turns your iPad into an old-fashioned journal. It looks a lot like the Moleskine notebooks that literary heavyweights like Hemingway used to carry.

Cost: $55 (red version, $50)

Apps that go well: iBooks (free), InstaPaper ($5), WriteRoom ($5), WordBook English Dictionary & Thesaurus ($2)

The Music Lover


There are people who like to listen to music, and there are those who love it. For music junkies, the iPod and iTunes must have been an epiphany. Apple has been serving up cool music services ever since, most recently with Ping, a social network for music lovers, and the Beatles on iTunes.

But we’re talking accessories, and what’s better than sharing your love of music with friends? The Logitech S715i portable speakers for the iPod and iPhone delivers sound that will, um, rock you. Other features include an eight-hour rechargeable battery and a carrying case. The boom box is back.

Cost: $150

Apps that go well: Pandora (free), Shazam (free), TunelnRadio ($2), MusicID with Lyrics ($1)

The Movie Critic


Did you watch Siskel and Ebert and The Movies religiously? Do you rack up iTunes movie rental fees? Is your iTunes library stocked with movies you’ve bought? If so, it’s probably time to get Apple TV for streaming movies and shows to your television. Apple recently overhauled its “hobby” offering by reducing both the size — it looks like a square hockey puck — and cost of the device.

Even better, Apple’s Airplay lets you stream movies (as well as photos and video) to Apple TV from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. You can also use these devices as a remote control for your TV.

Cost: $100

Apps that go well: Remote (free), Netflix (free)

The Fashionista


Carrying the iPad while shopping in Union Square, San Francisco, is fashionable enough. When the iPad is inside a colorful case that goes with your new outfit, you look maaaarvelous.

Targus has some of the most stylish iPad cases around, including the Zierra line, a leather case with pockets similar to a billfold. Some of the cases, such as the Truss line, come in a variety of colors (sky blue, bright orange, light green). Both cases prop up the iPad for hands-free viewing.

Cost: $60 (Zierra), $50 (Truss)

Apps that go well: Gilt on the Go (free), Satorialist (free), Gap 1969 Jeans (free)

The Bar Hopper


The biggest Apple scandal happened earlier this year when an engineer lost a prototype of the iPhone 4 at a Silicon Valley bar and the finder sold it to Gizmodo. The sad truth is that iPhones tend to get lost or stolen at bars and nightclubs. If nightclubs are your thing, get the iPhone Leash available at It’s a retractable cable that keeps your iPhone close to you at all times.

Cost: $25

Apps that go well: Take Me To My Car (free), SplashID ($10), TapTrace Pro ($2)