Modern cellular phones are miraculous devices that have a mind-boggling array of accessories. Some accessories are gimmicks, but some are entirely necessary. What I’d like to do in this article is take a look at five accessories in particular which you’ll find invaluable. Some are specific to certain phones, but for those ones, I’ve chosen phones which are immensely popular and so the accessories would be used by the great majority of people. In all cases, these accessories are not necessary but they do make the life of the owner much easier and they help to extend the life of the phone – which, after all, is an expensive investment. All of these products are pulled from the same online shopping website, but don’t read too much into that – I’ve had great experiences ordering from this site in the past, but beyond that, I don’t have any affiliation with the site and I’m certainly not “getting anything out” of the fact that I’m recommending them as a source. Feel free to find your own source for these products! Without any further ado, let’s get started.
#5 on the list: A universal (3.5 mm) in-ear headphone, complete with an on/off microphone. I just use one of the earbuds, as it allows me to hear other sounds nearby. I can’t say that I recommend using these when driving an automobile, as I prefer to have all of my senses completely focused on driving, but for the workplace / walking around downtown, this accessory seems to work quite well. Please, please don’t get me started on the “Bluetooth” line of headset products. First of all, they look absolutely ridiculous. A discrete ear bud is so much better. Also, I’ve seen some scattered evidence that Bluetooth is not entirely secure, and the last thing I need is for people listening in to discover that I order my coffee with skim milk. Attractively priced at $8, and it fits most phones.
#4 on the list: A universal two port AC adapter. You plug this into a standard wall socket, and then plug in your USB charger cable. It works to power both iPhones and iPods (at the same time, even). Not everyone has access to a laptop or desktop on the road to serve as a charging station for their electronic devices, and so something like this is a lifesaver. It’s quite a remarkable device actually, as there is a lot of “step-down” involved in transforming wall current to the current necessary for the USB devices. No owner of an iPhone or iPod should be without one of these. You still need the white USB charger cable that came with your iPhone, of course, but other than that it’s a foolproof operation. Only $9, which again, is a great deal.
#3 on the list: A clear white rubber case for the Apple iPhone 4. This solves the embarrassing “signal loss” problem that results from the exposed metallic antenna on this brand of phones. It also protects your valuable phone from scratches and dings, and gives you a better grip on your phone which is especially important if your hands are sweaty or wet. The skin slips over your phone and fits perfectly, and is completely shatterproof (although, your phone is not, of course – use caution!). This item is slightly more expensive than other items on the list so far (retailing at $11), but scratches are forever, and too many screen scratches can practically ruin the phone. So, invest in this product and protect your cell phone investment. You won’t be disappointed.
Next on the list, at #2: FM transmitter complete with cigarette lighter attachment. I love this device. One end plugs into your cars cigarette lighter (which it uses as a source of power) and the other side plugs into the headphone jack of your cell phone. You then use the digital control on the device to dial into an otherwise empty FM radio band (which will vary, depending on how crowded the airspace is in your particular area). Then, all of the output from your phone – conversations, music, whatever – is broadcast on that FM band and is picked up by your car radio, which is then played over your car stereo system. For those of us with mp3 files stored on our cell phones, or those of us who follow audio GPS directions from our cell phones (and always strain to hear those crucial “turn here” warnings), this device is a godsend. The only caveat is that if you do drive into an area which has an FM station at that frequency, you’ll start to run into interference, and eventually the radio station will completely drown out this device (which is, after all, a very low powered FM transmitter). There doesn’t seem to be a tremendous problem with neighboring vehicles picking up on the transmission (most of it is blocked by the metal shell of your car) and so it’s a wonderful device for amplifying the audio output of your cell phone. This device is a little pricey at $30, but well worth it.
At the top of the list at #1: a universal car charger for cell phones, with a large selection of wire “plugs” which fit the majority of cell phone brands. Nothing upsets me more than each individual cell phone producer making their power inlets require some type of proprietary plug, so that you end up buying a new phone charger everytime you upgrade your phone. Don’t play their game! Buy this car charger, plug one end into the cigarette lighter, and then use one of the six included plugs to become compatible with dozens of different types of cell phones. It’s probably the last car charger you’ll ever buy, which is welcome news indeed, especially at its low cost of only $10.
This completes my list of top cell phone accessories. I hold to hope that, one day, cell phone producers will include these functionalities into their base devices. Until they do, don’t be afraid to turn to the secondary market to address your needs.