By Adam Doud | September 13, 2013 7:00 AM
Accessories. We use them every day. Or we don’t. They complete out mobile lifestyle, or they go ignored. They allow us to more effectively use out mobile tech, or they’re too cumbersome to contemplate. As it turns out, with our team it’s a pretty wide spectrum that we fall into when it comes to accessories. This is probably the most divergent set of opinions our team has shared. And whether we use them or not, believe in them or not, we sure do like to talk about them. And talk about them a lot.
Whether it’s bluetooth, audio, game play, or cases, chances are someone uses something.
So, Pocketnow team, what accessories do you use with your mobile tech?
I really don’t use all that much in the way of accessories. But, I like to think what I do use is pretty sweet. Starting off the list is an item I use daily and has completely changed the way I use my phone. It’s the Blackberry VM-605 visor mounted bluetooth receiver/FM transmitter. This sweet little item connects to my phone via bluetooth and broadcasts all sound through a built in speaker, or through my car’s speakers via the FM radio. Twelve years of playing heavy metal music in my parents’ basement left me with not the best ears in the world, but with this thing, I can make and take calls on the expressway again – for better or for worse.
And speaking of automotive accessories, I also usethe Mountek n Groove Universal CD Slot Mount for cell phones and GPS devices. This is a unique cell phone holder that mounts in the CD slot of my car stereo. In this day and age where much music is streamed and/or played from a phone/MP3 player while the CD player in your car gathers dust, this is an innovative product. Plus, CDs can play even with this in place.
Also, this sounds weird, but my favorite ear buds to use while playing music, especially bike riding are the Palm earbuds that came with every webOS device. The sound is great, the range is great (although, considering my comment about my parents basement, I might not be the best judge) and the button to enable track skipping/voice commands and built in microphone both work great when I out on the bike. I wish I could acquire more of those phones just for the earbuds.
Finally, I use a 1,400 mAh battery backup I found off a website called nomorerack.com. This little puppy has gotten me through some hard times when out and about with no place to plug in. The manufacturer and model #’s escape me, but I highly recommend anyone carry around a battery backup just in case.
The first must-have accessory for the Nokia Lumia 925 that I use as my daily driver is a wireless charging shell. Actually, I bought three of them; red, yellow, and black. The shell adds some thickness and grip to the slippery metal edges of the phone and also adds the excellent wireless charging capability which I don’t see how anyone can live without anymore. In the bedroom I have a JBL PowerUp Wireless charging speaker with NFC so I can simply tap the phone to the top of the speaker, start playing music and then set the phone on top to let it charge. I’ve got a black wireless charging plate in the living room and a red one in the office on my desk. So basically my battery only goes down when I’m at parties or on the road.
In the car, I use a GOgroove FlexSMART X2 adapter connected to the stereo with an AUX cable. That gives me stereo Bluetooth streaming in the car along with access to Windows Phone 8’s speech UI, phone calling, and speech text/Facebook/Messenger chats. Of course, with the speech UI I can also control certain 3rd party apps like MetroTalk for Google Voice, Urbanspoon for restaurant searches, and NBC News to listen to the news. It also has easy to feel hardware buttons for skipping music tracks in Xbox Music or Nokia Music. If I’m using GPS navigation, the audio also get’s routed through the stereo, but I may also want to see the screen so I use an EXOGear Exomount to hold the phone on the dash. This holder is excellent because it’s mainly just a large clip that will fit just about anything I want. Nokia’s glance mode is pretty nice in this holder too.
When I’m on the motorcycle I have a Blueant Interphone helmet accessory (which we reviewed in 2007 though the content of the review didn’t handle the site upgrades too well). This is basically a Bluetooth headset with voice answering so that I can answer incoming calls simply by saying “answer”. I can also press the button on the side in order to access the Windows Phone speech interface. Incoming Text, Facebook, and Messenger chats are also read to me aloud inside the motorcycle helmet and I can reply with voice recognition without pressing any buttons or taking my eyes off the road.
I am not a huge accessories guy and I’m definitely a person who hates cases. That being said, there are a few accessories I use, some on a daily basis, others occasionally, depending on my location (home or abroad, commuting, driving, etc.).
I’m an audiophile and needless to say none of the bundled headphones satisfy me. Whenever I want to kick it to some tunes, I rely on my Shure SE535, which I believe sound perfect for my ears. While different, but still in this category, whenever driving, I’m using the Plantronics Voyager HD bluetooth headset.
When I run out of power, I charge my devices with the Xtorm PowerBank 14,000 by A-Solar, whenever a wall outlet is out of reach. When I need emergency power, I rely on the Xtorm Memory Power Plus for 800mAh more.
I use very few accessories. I don’t believe in cases so seldom do I use one. I also don’t believe in Bluetooth headsets because they remind me of those people at the store that wear theirs 24 hours per day even if they don’t get any calls.
In the car, I have a dual-port Griffin Powerjolt Dual Universal USB plug. It’s super cheap ($7 on Amazon) and is super handy for charging a couple of devices on a long trip.
Also when traveling I bring my Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker. What an amazing little device! The battery life is fantastic, and the sound quality is outstanding.
My main daily driver today is an iPhone 5, and one of the big reasons why that is, is because it’s the phone with the most support when it comes to accessories. For audio I stick to the Platronics BackBeat 903+ headset. I know it’s not new, but it’s one of the few options left that’s not either huge, or that forces you to use in-ear buds since I’m not a fan of them. When it comes to working out, I use the Bose SEI2i headphones because of their waterproof features, and again, because they are not tight in their in-ear design. To avoid getting my phone wet while working out, I use the LifeProof frē, and some generic armbands to fit the phone in the case.
For the usual relaxing time at home, I use both an Apple TV or even a Chromecast to stream videos from iOS or Android. This is definitely one of my favorite accessories hands-down. I also stream music to my stereo system with an Apple AirPort Express that I also use as an extender for my home network.
I try my best to avoid the use of cases with my phones, but in the case of the iPhone 5, I had to learn the hard way to use a case, and the Amazon Basics cases for it are both elegant, and quite affordable at around $7. I do carry each and every phone in a sleeve, with or without a case. There is just no way you’ll protect a phone from scratches in your bare pant pocket. Yes, I do have more accessories to mention, but I don’t want to bore you.
Accessories often make or break a device. We all have chargers that are necessary to keep our batteries full so our phones and tablets aren’t paperweights. I’ve standardized on Qi-wireless chargers at home and at work, but have to use a physical plug while I’m in the car, since no one makes a good Qi-enabled car dock.A good pair of headphones is also a necessity if you’re going to be doing any music listening or movie watching. I opt for the kind that physically plugs in rather than goes over Bluetooth. “Pairing” a wired headset is so much faster and easier than trying to get a headset connected, not to mention the battery savings!
When I’m in my car, however, a little Bluetoothery is a good thing. I’ve got my Nexus 4 paired to my Prius for hands-free calling, just in case I get a call while on the road.
When it comes to cases, I prefer a “naked” phone — well, with a d-brand skin on the back of it to add some style and some much-needed texture. I do, however, have an EasyAcc flip case for my phone, just in case it needs to take a trip in my pocket.
And of course, we can’t forget my Pebble smartwatch.
My most-favorite accessory: I used to use the JBL PowerUp dock, an accessory Nokia and JBL were pushing pretty hard with the introduction of the Lumia 920. I bought the PowerUp along with my 920 at the tail end of 2012 (even unboxing it for Pocketnow along the way) and I initially found the thing pretty grossly overpriced – until I turned it on for the first time and it nearly blew my face off with its acoustic intensity.
The combination of loud, bass-heavy sound, NFC, Bluetooth, and wireless charging led to one of the best desktop smartphone accessories I’d ever invested in – until Nokia made the awesome decision to eliminate built-in wireless charging from its flagship smartphones. So when I switched from the Lumia 920 to the 1020, I was forced to use a wireless charging case if I wanted to continue making full use of the PowerUp dock. And hey, it just so happens that leads us to our next category.
My least-favorite accessory: The Nokia wireless charging case for the Lumia 1020.
I’d be able to forgive its thickness. I’d be able to forgive its impairment of NFC due to that thickness. I’d even be able to look past the fact that it makes the 1020 even uglier than it was in the first place. I’d have no trouble getting over all of these things if the damn case worked properly.
But it doesn’t. It snaps on snugly, but the pins don’t connect reliably to those on the phone. The result is a connection that’s inconsistent at best, and absolutely absent at worst – completely nullifying one of my favorite differentiators about the Lumia line. I’ve tried multiple cases and I’ve checked many forums; the problem exists, and it’s crippling if you’re a Qi-charging dork like I am.
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I am very much not a big accessory guy. I use the chargers that come with my devices, but don’t have any car chargers, docks, power packs, or anything along those lines. Really, the only accessory I’ve ever purchased for any phone or tablet was the official bumper for the Nexus 4, and then only because of the perceived fragility of the rear glass panel.
But by and large, I like my devices to travel free and unrestrained – no bulky cases, and certainly none that cover the screen – I just can’t get on board with flip covers in the slightest.
As far as Bluetooth goes, I only ever use it once in a blue moon, and then only to transfer files to or from my PC, or maybe for tethering. I keep my audio wired, but even then we’re talking an incredibly rare situation. That means the reliable Grado Labs SR60 headphones I’ve been using for years, if those even count as a phone accessory. 99% of the time, though, I just use a phone or tablet’s internal speaker.
Mobile accessories. What can I say? I’ve been an accessory junkie since I worked at Best Buy. (Oh, how I miss that employee discount.) Anyway, here goes.
I’m a sucker for Bluetooth and audio devices. As most of you already know I have a Pebble that rarely ever leaves my wrist. In addition, I have several different audio devices that stay is my day bag. First I have the Ultimate Ears Boom Bluetooth speaker, which is absolutely fantastic. When I can’t blast my music at full volume, I resort to a couple different pairs of headphones. For over-the-ears, I use Audio-Technica ATH-M50s. The best over-the-ear headphones for the price … period. If I need to go wireless, I use my Jaybird BlueBuds X Bluetooth earbuds. Also fantastic, but not cheap. And if wired earbuds are a better choice, I stick with my Ultimate Ears 600s.
On top of that, I also carry around a Moga Pro gamepad for those moments I have do dive into some hardcore mobile game.
I don’t use cases often, unless they add some sort of functionality. For instance, I use the camera grip case for the Lumia 1020, and I used a battery charging case for the iPhone 5. But I mostly carry my phones naked. Finally, I carry around a slew of battery packs – two myCharge Peak 6000s and other odds and ends – in my book bag, just in case. The bag itself is technically an accessory, since it comes with an integrated battery for charging mobile devices. It’s a Samsung Powerbag press bag from CES 2013.
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And now, on to you, dear readers. What accessories spin you right ’round baby right ’round like a record, baby? Sound off below in the comments and let us know what makes your phone tick and tock.