The Best New Accessories for Your Smart Phone
I’m addicted to my iPhone. There, I said it. I feel better. Now that that’s out of the way, I should also admit another addiction: I can’t get enough of cell phone accessories. It doesn’t matter if it’s something like a cool new case, or an addictive—and in many cases, mind-numbing—game that I’ve downloaded to waste time while busing back and forth between NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia, as I’m known to do. (Yes, I do consider an app a cell phone accessory, of sorts.) I just love anything that makes my already cool phone even cooler.
That being said, I want to share my latest favorite cell phone accessories:
I just picked up the XSories Mini Deluxe Tripod ($29.99; xsories.com), and am in love. It works with just about any smart phone by gripping it via a spring-operated clasp and is perfect if you, like me, use your phone as your primary camera while out and about. It’s small enough that it can fit in your bag, or even a back pocket. It's super lightweight, and you can even bend the legs for even more flexibility with positioning it. Couple it with the Photo Timer app (free; iOS) and you can make sure the whole gang gets in the shot.
Another way to take your cell phone photos to the next level is to strap on the Photojojo Macro Cell Lens Band ($15; photojojo.com). It’s basically an elastic band with a lens attached to it; it fits just about any cell phone, and will improve the crispness of your close-up shots.
If you don’t fancy bus travel, but instead drive your own car and use your phone as a GPS device, consider picking up the Quad Lock (from $25; quadlockcase.com). Designed specifically for the iPhone 4, this will allow you to mount your phone to your car’s dashboard for easy viewing. (This would have made the last time I drove—from southern New Hampshire to Maine—a much easier process.)
As I said before, I get giddy over a cool new cell phone case, especially when it has more than one function. I recently swapped my clear plastic case for a white and lime green bikn case ($119.99; bikn.com). What's cool about this case is that it comes with a key fob that you can attach to your keychain, so if you're in a rush in the morning and can't find your phone, just press the button on your key fob, and your phone will start beeping. It also works in reverse, via a free app, so you can find your keys using your phone. Additionally, you can turn on a virtual tether, so if your phone and keys separate by more than, say 50 feet, they will both start to beep.
Another case that I fancy is less about the bonus features, and more about changing the look of your phone to give it more of an edgy, industrial feel. The Gasket Brushed Aluminum Case ($30; id-case.com; iPhone 4/4s) from id America comes in a variety of colors (I think the silver is best option, especially if you have a white iPhone), doesn’t add much bulk or weight to your phone, and gives the illusion of gears on the backside.
During my bus ride back to NYC from Boston, I ended up on a bus without WiFi, so I made the decision to pack my laptop in my suitcase and store under the bus. Once the bus took off, I realized that my iPod was dead. (I broke my own cardinal rule of making sure all electronics are fully charged before starting a trip.) I ended up spending the bulk of my trip playing Words With Friends—I rock at the game, by the way—until about an hour outside the city, when my phone died. Why am I telling you this? A: To remind you (and myself) to always charge your devices fully before traveling. B: That you should also keep with you a portable charging device, like the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation ($79.95; mophie.com). It’s light, compact, and can charge just about any handheld device up to three times.
And finally, I want to share a short list of the aforementioned awesomely addictive apps I recently downloaded to pass the time:
Words With Friends (free; Android; iOS): It’s basically a version of Scrabble, but you can sync it to your Facebook account and easily find friends to play against. (Or you can opt to play against a random stranger.)
DrawSomething (free; Android; iOS): A variation of Pictionary, you draw (normally ridiculously horrible) drawings and your friend guesses what it is. Again, you can sync it to your Facebook account to find friends easily.
Temple Run (free; Android; iOS): A surprisingly addictive game where you are trying to escape from a temple while collecting coins and dodging dangerous obstacles along the way. Totally pointless. Totally fun.
Joshua Pramis is the social media editor and proud cell phone addict at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis