Mobile phones are quickly becoming the center of our lives, but the devices themselves only tell part of the story. What really makes a smartphone work for you are the accessories that further enhance the experience. Whether you’re driving, walking, or kicking back at home, the right accessories can level up your smartphone experience. To that end, we have compiled a list of our picks for best mobile accessories that make our smartphones even smarter.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung’s Gear VR headset gives you access to over 600 games as well as loads of 360-degree video content via YouTube and similar services. It works with quite a few Samsung phones, but unfortunately isn’t compatible with devices from other brands. It includes a controller in the box, which is handy for VR games.
The VR headset from Samsung is an inexpensive way to immerse yourself in the word of VR — you can get it from Amazon via the link below for around $125. Before you buy it, make sure you own a compatible Samsung device.
Google Daydream View
Google’s VR headset works with a lot more phones than Samsung’s — see the list of compatible phones here. It has a fabric design and is a lot more comfortable than its predecessor, partly due to the new removable over-the-top head strap. The headset comes with a controller and a dedicated slot for storing it.
The VR headset is a breeze to use: just place a smartphone into the device and the Daydream app will automatically open, giving you access to a variety of apps and games. The device also lets you visit famous landmarks with the help of Street View and watch 360-degree videos on YouTube. It retails for $100.
Travel USB charger: Vogek 6-port USB charging station
When you’re traveling, charging your devices can be a challenge — there’s no such thing as a hotel room with enough outlets. So a nice, compact travel USB hub is just what the doctor ordered. The Vogek USB charging station is just such a device, letting you charge six devices at the same time. It also has a nice design and a compact shape, which means it’s easy to throw it in a bag before hitting the road. You can get it for $22 on Amazon.
Qi charging stand: Azpen wireless charging dock
Qi charging is one of the more futuristic things you can do with your phone. Setting it down to power up is a pretty great feeling. The Azpen wireless charging dock brings you that and also adds a Bluetooth speaker and extra charging ports to the mix. This is one of the best ways to juice up your phone and stay entertained at the same time. Stream your favorite podcast or turn your phone horizontal and watch a movie while it charges. However, all these features run a high price: you’ll have to dish out $100 to get the Azpen wireless charging dock.
Car charger: RAVPower dual-port car charger
If you rely on your phone a lot while driving, you’ll want to keep it charged to stream music or podcasts and use GPS to avoid getting lost. The RAVPower is an excellent choice, allowing you to charge two devices at the same time. It has a nice minimalist design and it’s quite compact, so you’ll hardly notice it when its plugged in.
The charger is smart too. It automatically adjusts the voltage coming from your vehicle to deliver a consistent charge. It also has a few safety features on board to keep you and your devices safe. The device costs around $8 and comes in four colors to match the interior of your car.
Bluetooth FM transmitter: Nulaxy KM18
This device adds Bluetooth connectivity to your car. It lets you take calls and stream music, among other things. All the details such as the name of the song or the number calling you are displayed on a 1.3-inch display, which you can move around to get the best viewing angle. The device also has a USB port for charging your phone and a voltmeter to show the condition of your car battery. It comes in multiple colors and starts at $17.
Bluetooth headphones: Jaybird Tarah
Headphones are an important accessory to today’s smartphones, and with so many OEMs ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth is more important than ever. The Jaybird Tarah headphones are a great solution to this problem. They offer terrific sound and are IPX7 rated, making them a great option for the gym. The battery lasts for around six hours, which isn’t the best you can get, but it’s not bad either. The Tarah features music control buttons and a built-in mic for making calls. They also look nice and are not too bulky. You can get them for $75 on Amazon.
Wired headphones: 1MORE triple driver in-ear monitors
If you are a cord disciple, then 1MORE has a great solution for you with its triple-driver in-ear monitors. They’re under $100 and provide great sound and value. The inline remote allows you to intelligently control your music, or even your phone’s assistant. The headphones are solid across the sound spectrum from the deepest bass to the highest treble. These headphones deliver quality, which is why our sister site Soundguys ranked them as the best all-around workout earbuds. They go for $80.
If you’re on a trip — or commuting — and just want to kick back and drown out the noise, you need a great set of noise-canceling cans. The folks over at our sister site SoundGuys have evaluated a number of different headphones and the CB3 Hush headphones are the best bang for your buck. These headphones give you great sound and great isolation. Plus they are wired, or can work via Bluetooth depending on your preference. This is a great overall solution for those eight-hour plane rides with a screaming toddler. You can get them for $80.
Lightweight for on the go: Anker PowerCore 5000
This power bank from Anker has a compact tubular design, making it easy to slip into a pocket. The capacity comes in at 5,000mAh, which gets you one full charge for your phone at most. The power bank sports a few LED lights to show how much power is left and has safety features like surge protection and short circuit prevention. It comes in black, blue, red, or white and will set you back $22 or $26, depending on the color.
Heavy for going off the grid: RAVPower 32,000 mAh battery pack
If you are heading out of town for the weekend, or even just a long trip, you’re going to want more juice. For that, RAVPower’s power brick will keep you going for days. 32,000mAh will go a long way toward keeping your phone and tablet charged. There are three USB charging ports, so you can even top off a friend while you’re at it. With 6A output, you’ll be keeping your devices rearing to go for days and days. The power bank retails for $80 on Amazon.
Somewhere in the middle: Aukey 20,000mAh battery pack
Aukey’s power bank has a capacity of 20,000mAh and will charge your phone fully three or four times, depending on the battery size. It can charge four phones at the same time and sports an LED indicator that shows you how much juice it has left. The power bank is quite small, so you won’t have any major problems carrying it with you in a bag or pocket. It won’t break the bank either, coming in at just $40.
Best compact speaker: JBL Flip 4
The speaker on your phone probably sucks. When you’re trying to listen to your music, it comes out tinny, and just not very good, but that’s ok. Phones are small, and their speakers are smaller. A Bluetooth speaker can take your sound and kick it up to 11. The JBL Flip 4 not only has great sound, but is IPX7 waterproof meaning you can submerge the speaker and it’ll keep on pumping out the tunes. Plus, if you have more than one, JBL Connect allows you to link up to 100 JBL connect enabled speakers together to fill the party with sound. That’s what we call booming sound! It’s also super compact, making it easy to take with you when you hit the road.
The folks over at SoundGuys also called the UE Boom 3 the best all-around waterproof speaker. It has a gorgeous cylindrical design, an IP67 rating, and it actually floats on water. It offers 360-degree sound and its battery should last around 15 hours before running out of juice. The speaker has large buttons for controlling the volume and can pair with over 100 other UE speakers. It retails for around $150.
Best cheap speaker: Anker SoundCore 2
If you’re looking for a cheap Bluetooth speaker, you can’t go wrong with the Anker SoundCore 2. It has an IPX5 rating, so it can withstand strong jets of water but not full submersion. The speaker is very compact, so you can easily throw it in a backpack. Despite its size, it’s quite loud and offers decent sound quality. It’s also easy on the eyes and sports playback control buttons on top. You can get it for $40, which is a steal if you ask me.
That’s our look at our picks for the best mobile accessories. Let us know what you think of them in the comments!