Cell Phone Accessories That Will Make Your Life Seriously Easier
Given our dependence on smartphones, the idea of making them even more useful is not just enticing—it’s exciting. See what these accessories can do for your digital best friend.
Automatic backup, no subscription required
When was the last time you backed up your phone? We thought so. (Here are six tricks for getting more out of your smartphone.) Check out MEEM, ($60) a charging cable that contains a back-up drive. Whenever you plug in your phone (iOs and Android) to charge, MEEM automatically backs up your phone. With the companion app, you can easily restore photos, videos, documents, and apps if your phone is lost or stolen—or you drop it in the lake (not again).
Spot the heat
With Flir One, ($199-$399), a thermal-imaging camera attachment for iOS and Android devices, you can find how the hot air is creeping into your house. Also good for DIY projects, camping, cooking, the Flir One is handy around the house, as well: Pinpoint water damage in floors, walls, ceilings, find sink clogs, and detect overloaded circuits. If you are trying to keep on top of home improvement, this can make life so much easier. (Here’s something fun: Cell phones have 40 years of pretty wild history!)
Big sound, small package
Most small speakers are tiny and don’t offer much advantage over your phone’s speakers. The Copper Mini Speaker ($104) is a different story: Rich bass and crystal-clear highs belie the size of this 1.5-inch cube. Housed in nautical blue silicone and topped with a copper-toned grill, this wireless speaker plays up to four hours before recharging. Tip: While you are enjoying your speakers, consider sticking to downloaded music instead of streaming your songs. You’ll save a bunch of battery power, and have less of those annoying “buffering’ pauses.
The OV Headphones ($400) are the only ones with Alexa capabilities built in, which makes them an ideal digital assistant. Think of it as an Amazon Echo in your ear at all times—whether you’re driving to work, taking the train or out for a run. The OVs give you all the features of Alexa on the go. If you’re a Nest thermostat user you can even change the temperature in your apartment. The headphones are particularly useful if you prefer to leave your phone in your pocket or your purse and still have access to various functions.
Charge while you listen
Draining less battery and data are two primary goals for smartphone users—and here are tips for cutting your data use. To extend your battery life, check out the Rowkin Bit Charge Stereo headphones ($130). It’s both an external battery pack and wireless headphones in one, which also helps declutter your bag. While you are enjoying this gadget, go easy on your phone’s location services—it’s a great feature, but that, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth are all battery zappers.
Never lose your phone (or keys) again
You can use Tile ($70 for four) to keep track of items like keys and wallets through the devices simple companion app. Thankfully, it also has the reverse capability if it’s your phone you’re looking for: Simply press a Tile to make your phone ring—and it will, even if you set it to Silent. Was it at the bottom of the pool? Here’s how to save a wet cell phone.
A solution for Facetime calls
Being able to call someone and see their face while you chat is one of those remarkable tech advances everyone can love. And it’s an excellent way to stay in touch and keep tabs on aging parents. However, holding up your phone—or tablet—can get tiring. The Pendulux Microphone Stand docking station ($65) solves this problem stylishly: It resembles a 1940s style microphone so it will look good on your desk even when you’re not using it. The stand supports a range of phones and tablets, and has a slot for charging cables.
A remote to control your smartphone?
You betcha: the NIU Smart Button ($37) can control your smartphone, apps, and any connected devices. Just click on the button to do a variety of tasks you can customize with the companion app: Take a selfie remotely, play your Spotify playlist, find your misplaced phone, launch a video, control volume, turn off your smart alarm—you can set it up with more than 250 actions to make life easier. (Want to know what your smartphone says about your personality?)