It’s that time of the year again. You’re probably starting your holiday shopping and trying to figure out what to get the smartphone addict in your life. If they’re asking for the latest headphones, car-finding technology, or chargers, we’ve got you covered. I’m switching devices all the time, so I need accessories that work across all platforms easily.
There’s likely a ton of stuff on your shopping lists this year for the tech-centric people in your life, but I’m here to help narrow that down some with some of my top picks for the best smartphone accessories around. I’ll have items for all budgets and categories down below, so keep reading to see my top 5 picks this year.
When it comes to finding the right smartphone accessory, there’s a number of areas to consider. You’ll want to check out past reviews, company history, build quality, device compatibility, support, and more.
You might find a great deal on a pair of headphones, but if they’re using old versions of Bluetooth they might not be very compatible with newer devices. Same goes for chargers, as phones use more power, they need more power and getting that to the device safely and at a decent speed is key. Don’t cheap out and buy the lowest price cables on the market, or the cheapest charger, as quality here is a must.
ZUS Connected App Suite Car Charger | $45
There are many options when it comes to car chargers. There are more budget-friendly ones, ones with USB-C built in, or some that even have integrated Lightning cables. But, I backed nonda years ago on Indiegogo with the first item in its ZUS Connected App Suite system, the Connected Car Charger, and haven’t looked back. I have one of these in every car now.
ZUS not only provides vital information about your battery (and has saved me from coming out to a dead battery a few times), but it also is much more reliable at finding your car than the built-in “Car Finder” on most iPhone or Android devices today. When your phone disconnects from ZUS (via Bluetooth), there is a signal sent to the app to instantly grab the current GPS location. When you’re ready to navigate back to your car, the ZUS app guides you with how many feet until your car and a compass to show you the direction.
There are many more features of the ZUS suite, but the battery and location are my favorite. Costing $45, this 2-port Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 car charger is a little on the pricey side, but for the features you get well worth it in my opinion.
Anker 5-Port 60W USB PowerPort+ Charger w/ USB-C Power Delivery | $50
I have tons of devices on my desk. Headphones, mice, cameras, laptops, controllers, you name it. Finding wall outlets to charge it all can sometimes be a hassle, but that’s why I have multi-port chargers all over. I have to own at least 3 or 4 of these and I even take them on vacation. Anker is a well-known brand in the mobile power industry, making many of the cables, chargers, and even batteries people buy as aftermarket replacements.
Though there are many multi-port chargers, the reason I recommend this one is the feature set. It has 4 USB-A ports to charge normal devices; iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. But, there’s also a USB-C port that can charge any USB-C device (Note 8, Pixel 2/XL, etc.) and even a MacBook. It can output a total of 30W over USB-C Power Delivery, so don’t expect to charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but you can easily charge up your 12-inch MacBook or even your 13-inch MacBook Pro overnight without issue.
The USB-C port can also be used for fast-charging of regular devices with the proper USB-C cables. For Apple devices, make sure you have the USB-C to Lightning cable. Most Android devices that charge over USB-C come with cables, but if you need one Anker also has good quality ones available too.
Twelve South HiRise 2 Deluxe adjustable charging stand | $60
I personally own two of these stands and have considered picking up a few more. They’re amazing, fantastic build quality, and come with multiple cables so you can use it to charge your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Included in the box you’ll find a few different height risers, so the HiRise 2 Deluxe can even charge a device that’s in a case. The back support is also adjustable so if your case is thicker, you can just move the support back a bit and your phone will sit perfectly on it every time.
I have one at my desk and one by my bed so I can easily just throw my iPhone or iPad on it when I need a charge and have nothing to worry about. You’ll get both an MFi-certified lightning cable and a microUSB cable in the box, so you don’t need to worry about picking up spares or losing one you already use.
Going for $60, there are more affordable options out there, but the quality here is bar-none.
AirPods | $160
I know, these are Tic-Tacs that hang out of your ears. And the case looks like you’re carrying around dental floss. But seriously, AirPods are my most-used earphones I own. I keep my AirPods in my pocket at all times. They go on charge maybe once a week, and I’ve never had them die.
Pairing is painless with either iPhone or Android, and they just work great. Yes, I use my AirPods with Android. In fact, many people do, because they work wonderfully. Obviously, things like the W1 chip or some of the tap features won’t work, but those don’t work on any other headphones with Android either.
At $160, the AirPods are a little steep, but for the hours of playback you get (4 hours per earbud, 24 hours of extra charge via the case), and the dead simple usage, I can’t live without them. I can be walking through the store, and I’ll just grab an AirPod from the case, insert it in my ear, and begin talking on the phone. When I’m done, they go back into the case and charge up. I don’t have a Bluetooth headset on my ear 24/7 anymore and I don’t have to worry about tangled cords either.
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones | $350
When it comes to noise-canceling headphones, Bose leads the pack here. I was very hesitant at first to drop $350 on headphones. I mean, there are sub-$100 noise-canceling headphones, so why not get those? Well, just visit your local Apple Store or Best Buy to try the QC35’s and you’ll be sold. I still have the Series 1’s, but if you’re buying new, get the Series 2.
The QC35 Series 2 features built-in Google Assistant to help with anything you need. For a full review of the Series 2’s, check out 9to5Google. But, no matter what generation of the QC35’s you get, you’ll be super happy. The noise cancellation (which has variable levels) is insane. I put them on in an Apple Store and heard nothing. I had no music going at the time, just the noise canceling, and I couldn’t hear a thing. It was marvelous, and I was sold at that moment.
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