For many people, their cell phone is a lifeline to the outside world. More than just a personal communication device, the phone is a newspaper, weather station, television, radio, camera, video and audio recorder, blood glucose monitor, EKG, and much more. With phones costing close to $1,000 and more, here’s a top ten list of items you should consider having or adding to your mobile accessories.
- Protective Case – When you get your new phone, don’t leave the store or the upgrade site until you’ve settled on a case that provides some drop and breakage protection. If you’ve had back luck with dropping your phone, consider an Otterbox, Lifeproof, Platinum, or Pelican Voyager. Cases can range in cost from less than $20 to more than $50. But it’s cheap insurance given that even with a provider warranty plan, a replacement phone will still set you back $75 to $200 or more. Cases come in all shapes and sizes and include wallet phones that can hold a driver’s license, credit, and ID cards.
- Screen Protector – Once you have your case, make sure it has a screen protector. Some are part of the case. Others can be a film that you apply or even a liquid applied to the screen and hardened. Body Guardz is one type of tempered glass screen protector that works with a standard case. Zagg offers film and glass screen protectors, along with anti-glare, privacy, and blue light filters and phone sanitizers. Regardless, a screen protector is an essential accessory for your phone.
- Back-up Battery – There’s nothing worse than a dead phone. A back-up battery can come in handy, especially during these days of back-to-back Zoom conference calls. They can be called power banks, powerstations, or just phone chargers. Some of the more well-known brands are Anker, Aukey, and Belkin, and the device can be as small as a big-barrel highlighter to larger than a TV remote control. Newer, high-output back-up batteries can charge the largest phone two or three times and even charge a laptop or Chromebook. The trick is to keep them charged, as many of the larger back-up batteries can take several hours to charge. Another solution is a phone case that has a built-in back-up battery. Some even offer wireless charging, so you just set the phone and case on the wireless charging unit, and both are charged, ready to go the next morning.
- Charging Cables – When you get your phone, a charger and charging cable are usually included. Still, there’s nothing more frustrating than having a phone with a “needs charging” indicator, and your charging cable is at home. Charging cables come in multiple lengths and types, from inexpensive one-to-one cables to retractable, octopus-style cables that can connect just about any mobile device to a battery or charger. Anker, Cable Creation, and the premium Fuse Chicken cables are all brands that offer substantial cables with a sturdy connector on both ends. Beware of cables that are just too inexpensive, as the cables can fray, short out, and result in poor charging results or even fire due to overheating. A retractable, spring-loaded cable saves space and typically comes with Lightning, USB-C, and USB-micro plugs along with a USB-A or USB-C end to connect to a charger.
- Car Charger – A car charger is essential when you’re on the go, and your cell phone is running on empty. A car charger can plug into the auxiliary 12V port in a car and use the car’s electrical system to charge your phone. There are two basic types of car chargers. One looks a little like a wine cork, and it just plugs into the outlet. You’ll need a separate cable to connect the charger to your phone. The second type of car charger is all-inclusive. A built-in cable connects the electrical port plug to your phone. Usually, this will charge just one type of phone or mobile device. Other wired chargers have a separate USB-A port to accommodate a second charging cord. Anker, Belkin, and Hussel offer quality chargers of both types.
- Mobile Phone Mount – Depending on how often you use the maps on your phone or the hands-free option when allowed, a car mount is a must. Vent clip, suction cup, visor mount, or cup holder versions are simple to use. Install the mount and clip your phone in place. Vent clips have a tendency not to hold as well as dashboard clip mounts or suction cup types. Depending on the phone’s weight and the intended use, vent-based mounts may be a better option. Make sure the mount can withstand your phone’s weight, as some mounts can’t hold heavier or larger mobile devices.
- Desktop Phone Stand – A desktop phone stand can be very beneficial when using your phone at work or a desk. Simple phone stands act as a prop to keep it upright or one that adjusts the phone-viewing angle and charges your phone simultaneously. Some phone cases even have a simple kickstand built-in. Make sure the stand is tall enough to include a charging cable at the bottom, or you may need a special cable with a 90-degree connector at the phone end.
- Headphones: There’s a lot of variety here with wired and Bluetooth, separate earbuds or a headset, and everything in-between. Wired headsets usually come with your phone, and they’re a good back-up for Zoom other conferences. When it comes to headphones, there are three basic types to choose from: Over the head headsets, wired earbuds, and Bluetooth earbuds. Apple AirPods are an industry standard and a little on the pricey side. Many other companies make good, reliable Bluetooth earbuds. In some cases, headphones offer better sound isolation than earbuds. The Logitech 800 is an excellent option for people who need to hear clearly and use a built-in mini-boom microphone. Other professional headphones and headsets are also available for mobile use.Wired earbuds offer a good on the go option due to the effectiveness and compactness. Plug the connector into the device and put the earbuds in your ears. Remember that some newer phones, iPhones in particular, don’t have a dedicated headphone jack. Sony offers a wide variety of earbuds with cushions to provide ample comfort while listening. Wired headphones usually – but not always – don’t need to be charged. While all three types of headphones work well, you can choose what you want based on intended use, price, comfort and design.
- Tripod – A tripod – even a small one – has become almost mandatory in these days of Zoom meetings, Skype interviews, and small screen videos. Small tabletop tripods will make an interview look better by bringing the camera on the phone to eye level. Even better is a combination tripod/selfie stick that allows the user to take a group picture or get the group picture’s best angle. If you need to record yourself at a location, a combination selfie stick/tripod provides the best way to take pictures. Many selfie stick/tripods also come with a remote control, which makes taking photos even easier. While larger, portable tripods are sturdier and more robust than the lighter models, they can be expensive and cumbersome to tote around with you.
- Ring/Interview Light – Lighting has become an even more critical factor in business life as more people are using phones to participate in videoconferences. Even a small battery-powered light can make the difference between being seen clearly and a dull, dark shadow. The Whellen Selfie Ring Light is one of the best-selling lights available due to the light’s ring shape. It’s easy to set up, and the affordable price makes it easy for anyone to turn it on, set the phone inside the ring, and make an excellent presentation. Most ring lights operate on LED’s that can be run from a power supply or a back-up battery. Some even come with their own battery and clip for convenience.
Most of these items are inexpensive and can add significantly to your presentations and videoconferences’ professional quality. Additionally, the things that protect and ensure that your phone is always ready to go can make the difference between an outstanding performance and having to make excuses for a dead or dying phone.