Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

The best iPhone accessories deliver meaningful quality-of-life improvements, rather than gimmicks or fashion statements. Here are the best iPhone add-ons you can buy.

Compact Fast Chargers With Enough Ports

I recently bit the bullet and spent a decent chunk of change on a GaN charger with two USB-C outputs and a backup USB-A port. Now I can charge my Apple Watch and iPhone 13 Pro from a single charger, and throw the whole thing in a bag when traveling. Since Apple no longer provides wall chargers in the box for either device, my charging situation had gotten dire.

Such a seemingly small upgrade might be a bigger deal than it first seems. If you still haven’t dipped your toes into the world of fast charging, you’re in for a treat. Modern iPhone models can now charge from 0–50% in 30 minutes, significantly faster than they once did.

Buying a charger with enough ports for all of your devices is another worthwhile endeavor. Hunting down chargers or piggybacking other devices at bedtime gets old fast. Something like the Amazon Basics 100w Four-Port GaN charger will do the trick. You can even use some simple cable management tips to keep things tidy.

Amazon Basics 100W Four-Port GaN Wall Charger

The Amazon Basics four-port wall charger can power a tremendous number of devices with up to 100W output on its most powerful USB-C port.

You only need a 20w adapter or higher to fast charge an iPhone, though higher-capacity chargers can also be used to fast charge MacBooks or similar. Just remember that the total load of a charger will be shared between all devices that are drawing power. Take a look at our best phone chargers to get some ideas.

Lifestyle Cases That Match Your Tempo

The first thing you should buy after getting a new iPhone is a case. The one thing worse than covering up Apple’s sleek design is ruining that design because you dropped it. And you are going to drop it, eventually.

There’s no perfect iPhone case for everyone, but there’s a subjectively great case for you out there. This has a lot to do with your lifestyle and how you use your iPhone. I’m personally a huge fan of the mountable Quad Lock cases, since they allow me to mount my iPhone on a bike, on a running strap, in the car, or on anything else I want using a universal mount.

Quad Lock stem mount for iPhone.
Quad Lock

Quad Lock cases are perfect for my lifestyle, and they’re built in a way that has saved my iPhone countless times from drops onto concrete, stone, and metal surfaces. But not everyone rides a bike, and not everyone needs a mounting system. For some, the best iPhone case is a Smartish Wallet Slayer with space for transit, credit, or debit cards.

Some hobbies require more careful thought. If you spend a lot of time out on the water, a floating Pelican Marine pouch can help save your iPhone if it falls in the water. If you work in an environment where you depend on rugged laptops and steel toe caps, perhaps an Urban Armor Kevlar case is a better choice.

Wireless Earbuds or Headphones

With the arrival of the iPhone 7 in 2016, Apple moved away from the 3.5mm iPhone stereo jack for good. You can still connect wired headphones directly to your iPhone by way of a small adapter, but this is far from perfect. The adapter is easy to lose and flimsy, and you can’t charge your iPhone while in use.

The only real solution is to admit defeat and pick up a pair of wireless earbuds or headphones. These don’t have to be of the AirPods variety, there are plenty of quality wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank. Take a look at the Skullcandy Sesh Evo or Jabra Elite 4 for some budget-friendly options.

skullcandy sesh evo

Skullcandy Sesh Evo

$35 $50 Save $15

The Skullcandy Sesh Evo are affordable true wireless earbuds that still offer enough bass to make sure games don’t sound tinny, plus they make finding a comfortable fit easy and they can handle being caught out in the rain.

Alternatively, you could convert your existing wired headphones into wireless Bluetooth headphones with something like the 1Mii Bluetooth 5.0 Music Receiver. You’ll still have to deal with cables, but at least you can walk away from your iPhone without losing the music.

There’s a real argument to be made for the convenience of wireless headphones. The iPhone cannot currently stream lossless audio to wireless headphones, but most users won’t have an issue with sound quality. When it comes to taking calls, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and whatever other media you consume on a pocket-sized device, wireless headphones are fine.

The Right Accessories for Driving

Messing with your phone while you’re driving is dangerous. Not being able to easily charge your iPhone, getting tangled in wires, or not having a reliable means of using navigation apps are yesterday’s problems. You can solve all of them right now with the right accessories.

It’s a good idea to plug your iPhone in when you’re driving, whether you’re using CarPlay or simply want to charge on the go. Frustrated by getting constantly tangled up in an ordinary charging cable, I switched to a short Lightning-to-USB cable (like this braided cable) and I’ve not looked back since.

Apple CarPlay on Volkswagen.

If you’re lucky enough to have wireless CarPlay, you might still want to charge while you’re driving. One easy way to add this functionality is with a non-slip wireless charging pad (like this charging pad) that even your passengers can borrow. Alternatively, a wireless-charging clamp mount (like this wireless charging clamp) lets you navigate and charge wirelessly at the same time.

If you go for that Quad Lock case we mentioned earlier you can make use of the best car mount I’ve ever used, the Quad Lock Car Suction Mount. There’s also a Quad Lock Vent Car Mount, and plenty of other mounts of these types that don’t rely on the Quad Lock system.

Portable USB Battery Banks

Getting caught short without enough juice can be a real hassle. Having a backup power bank can be a real lifesaver. Buy a couple and keep them charged and thank yourself later. We’ve got a list of our favorite portable chargers, many of which support fast charging, laptops, and topping up via solar.

Something like the inexpensive Anker 10,000mAh USB-C Portable Charger is cheap and cheerful. It’s a relatively small power bank that doesn’t weigh too much, kicks out 20w for fast charging, and can charge most iPhone models twice over (with change). These devices are useful while out and about, or any time your wall chargers are tied up with other devices.

Call me lazy but I even use them while I’m sitting on the sofa and for charging wireless controllers.

Meaningful Smart Home Accessories

Some smart home devices barely justify the cost. Manufacturers are so caught up in adding functionality for the sake of it that it can be easy to write off most “smart” devices as gimmicks. But that’s not always the case.

Some smart home devices are genuinely useful, especially where Apple HomeKit is involved. Take smart plugs and sockets as an example. These devices let you turn standard “dumb” devices into smart ones, complete with automation. This lets you upgrade the things you already have (like lamps) so that you can control them with your voice, automate them, and more.

Amazon's Smart Plug.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

This is why upgrading your existing smart home devices makes so much sense. Try adding a smart air conditioner or fan controller that you can automate or trigger from anywhere. Upgrade your doors with smart locks and never lose your key again (don’t worry, these devices have several layers of redundancy).

After replacing most of the overhead lights in our house with efficient ceiling fans to combat the sub-tropical heat, I can no longer reach for the wall switch to light my way. The best solution I’ve come up with is “Siri, turn on the bedroom light” which is even more convenient than before because I can do it from anywhere.

AirPlay Receivers for Video and Audio

The HomePod mini might be $50 too expensive, but it’s still the easiest way of getting wireless audio from your iPhone to a smart speaker that you can place virtually anywhere. If you splash out a little more on a full-sized HomePod then you’ll be delighted with the audio quality (but perhaps not the price). Another way of doing this is to add AirPlay to your existing speaker setup with something like the Belkin SoundForm Connect.

The same is true of AirPlay video. The Apple TV 4K is the obvious choice here, and it’s a quality streaming box especially if you’re happy with Apple’s ecosystem and the cost. If you want to save some money a cheap Roku Express 4K+ will also do the job just fine.

Apple TV 4K

Apple’s most powerful streaming box yet, with an incredible Siri remote control.

Don’t forget that many devices now include AirPlay, like TVs from brands like LG, Samsung, and Vizio. Sonos smart speakers can also act as AirPlay receivers, as can some AV receivers from brands like Denon, Onkyo, and Yamaha.

Tempered Glass Screen Protectors

Not everyone uses a screen protector, and you could argue that not everyone needs a screen protector. That said, if you’ve ever gouged a big scratch into your iPhone’s screen by leaving it in the same pocket as your keys, you might be easily swayed to pick one up next time.

If you don’t use a screen protector, scratches are an inevitability. This might not be an issue for you if you’re not too worried about resale value. But if you want to give your device the best chance of staying in tip-top condition, make sure you get a decent tempered glass screen protector with a high hardness rating.

Rugged and Long Charging Cables

Charging cables are still a necessary evil. They’re even worse when they break all the time and don’t give you enough slack to get anything done. The Native Union Belt Cable XL USB-C to Lightning cable got first place for length in our best Lightning cable roundup. In addition to being 10ft (3 meters) long, it’s braided and reinforced, and it looks snappy too.

A cracked and frayed Lightning cable you definitely shouldn't use.
Tim Brookes / How-To Geek

Another solid choice is the Monoprice Kevlar-Reinforced USB-C to Lightning cable, which has a length of 6ft (1.8 meters). But if you want a next-level charging experience (with a cable that isn’t tied to the old Lightning standard) get yourself one of Apple’s MagSafe charging cables instead.

Apple MagSafe Charger

Apple MagSafe Charger

$29 $39 Save $10

Apple’s official MagSafe charger can charge the iPhone 12 or later at the fastest possible speeds, using magnets to ensure a secure connection.

Don’t Forget About iCloud+

iCloud+ isn’t an accessory, but it’s arguably just as important as any of the items listed above. You don’t need Fitness+ or News+, and you don’t even need Apple Arcade (though we’re big fans of Apple’s gaming service). But iCloud+ is essential if you want to keep backups and photos in the cloud while freeing up space on your local device.

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By John P.

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