The phone is the center of most people's digital universe, so finding the best accessories for your phone is almost as important as finding the best phone.
This search can feel instantly overwhelming as once you've decided that you need or want a new phone accessory, whether that's a battery pack, a fast charger, a gaming controller or whatever else has caught your attention, there's a sea of options to get lost in. Going with the cheapest can be a mistake, but the most expensive isn't always the best.
While this isn't an exhaustive list of all of the best smartphone accessories on the market, here's a look at some of our favorites that you may find helpful too.
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Anker Nano II 65W
The Anker Nano II 65W is a charger with a single USB-C port. Despite its diminutive size, it is able to charge laptops like the MacBook Air M1, HP Spectre Folio or Dell XPS 13 just as easily as phones, tablets, wireless headphones or a Nintendo Switch. The charger delivers the maximum power the device can accept, up to 3x the speeds of the base iPhone charger and 30% faster than the iPad Pro charger.
That flexibility makes this is a fantastic charger to have in your bag as it adds no bulk and will allow you to charge virtually any device you own.
While the $39 MagSafe charger is a useful accessory, it’s the entire MagSafe ecosystem that is worth spotlighting. The addition of magnets on the back of the iPhone 12 enabled a wide variety of new accessories beyond simple charging options.
Apple itself has a number of options including its somewhat questionable MagSafe Wallet, but I’m more interested to see what third-party manufacturers are going to do with it. Peak Design, for example, has a range of mounts and cases that leverage MagSafe and they look incredible.
OnePlus WarpCharger 65W
While wireless charging is great (I have populated my home with a number of Qi charging pads to make sure I can keep my phone topped up at all times), OnePlus and its WarpCharger 65W are making sure that I won’t let go of wired charging just yet.
To take advantage of the full speed of this charger, you do need the OnePlus 8T or the newly announced OnePlus 9 or 9 Pro. However, this amazing charger comes in the box, which is ironic when Apple and Samsung don't include so much as a standard charger with their flagships. OnePlus is using a unique dual-battery system to allow it to handle the incredible charging speeds. So, that’s it! It’s just mind-bendingly fast charging. In our testing it will take some of these phones to a 99% charge in just 30 minutes and as an added bonus you can use them with your USB Type-C charging laptop as well.
Mophie Powerstation AC
There is an endless sea of battery packs to choose from and plenty of them can be found for cheaper than the Mophie Powerstation AC, but there are a few notable features that sold me on it. It’s also worth mentioning that the full $199 retail price is too steep for me, you should be able to find it for under $130 on sale. This isn’t a tiny battery pack, but it’s also capable of so much more than the standard portable battery.
The Mophie Powerstation AC can provide up to 100W of power via its standard AC adapter, plenty to charge a laptop or any other device you might have on hand. That’s in addition to the USB-C port on the side that can deliver up to 30W and the USB-A port which also supports 2.4a quick-charge. The 22,000 mAh battery should be enough to charge your smartphone 4 to 7 times over and keep your laptop going for a full day. This thing can be a lifesaver and, while it’s not tiny, it fits easily in a bag, which isn’t typically the case for portable batteries with built-in AC adapters.
Anker PowerCore Slim 1000 PD
If you are strictly worried about charging smaller devices like your smartphone or tablet, then a more portable battery is certainly a good fit and quite a bit cheaper. The Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 PD can be found for under $30 and will charge even a massive flagship smartphone like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra up twice. With its 10,000 mAh battery, it offers both USB-C and USB-A output to charge a couple of devices at once at up to 18W.
The handy LED lights on the front will let you know how much battery life you have left, and it’s not much larger than a smartphone, so it won’t take up much space in your bag.
iOttie Wireless Car Charger Phone Mount
Dash mounts are a great solution for helping to keep your phone accessible while keeping it out of your hands in the car. The iOttie Wireless Car Charger Dashboard Phone Mount solves a couple of problems for under $50. The twisting and telescoping mount will allow you to get the phone in exactly the right spot to ensure you can see directions or notifications clearly without obscuring your view of the road. Not only that but the built-in Qi wireless charger will keep your compatible phone topped up without having to worry about plugging it in.
If you like the look of the mount, but don't have or care about Qi wireless charging, you can opt for the basic model for under $25.
Razer Kishi controller
A smartphone gaming controller isn’t anything new. Companies have been trying to make this happen for years now since long before there was anything worth playing on a smartphone outside of emulators. However, they are usually terrible, too small to be useful or too huge to ever bring with you, but this year we got a solution in the Razer Kishi (Android model / iOS model).
The Kishi folds down to a relatively reasonable size and unfolds to attach to a USB-C / Lightning smartphone, creating something that looks a lot like a Nintendo Switch. It features two analog control sticks, a D-pad, a standard four-button array on the right and dual left and right triggers. While the controllers aren’t quite up to console standards, they are far superior than most mobile gaming controllers and certainly preferable to touch controls. One of the biggest motivating factors here is the proliferation of cloud gaming services like Microsoft xCloud, Google Stadia and GeForce Now that bring true console or PC class gaming to your smartphone, and these services scream for a true controller.
Backbone One iPhone gaming controller
I won’t reiterate everything I said above, but my general statements about smartphone gaming for the Razer Kishi apply to the Backbone One as well. Unfortunately, the Backbone One is strictly for the iPhone at the moment. That does knock out some of the game streaming services as we continue to see them try to find viable methods to operate inside Apple’s App Store, but with that said, there are considerably more high-quality native games available on iOS than Android, so that might balance things out.
The Backbone One has a few things going for it over the Razer Kishi and a couple of points against it. In the plus column is that the controls feel better than the Kishi; the goal is so that you can use this as a standalone controller without your smartphone in it if you want, and it feels more solid than the Kishi. It also offers a solid app that makes it easy for you to find new games to play and also to capture and share content from your smartphone gaming sessions. The downsides are that it’s iOS only and it doesn’t fold down completely like the Kishi, making it a slightly bulkier addition to your bag.
Elecjet Apollo Ultra power bank
Another battery pack? Trust me, this one has some unique tricks up its sleeve that make it worthy of attention in this crowded category. The Elecjet Apollo Ultra uses graphene, which ardent tech fans will know is a substance that has seemed poised to revolutionize battery tech for years now. While a true graphene battery pack is still out of the question due to cost, the Apollo Ultra leverages it to wildly outpace the charging time for a standard battery pack.
The 10,000mAh Apollo Ultra can reach a full charge in 27 minutes, compared to 5-6 hours for the same capacity in the Anker PowerCore 10000. Elecjet also claims considerably greater longevity, 2,500 life cycles compared to 500 for most lithium-ion battery packs. The Apollo Ultra features two USB ports, a USB-A port capable of 18W output and a USB-C PD 3.0 port that enables up to 100W input for charging the battery pack and 65W output, sufficient to charge most USB-C laptops. So what's the catch? There are a couple.
For the top-end charging speeds, you need a 100W GaN charger, it's useful for much more than this battery pack if you have a laptop, phone, or tablet that charges by USB-C, but it's an added $50-$70 expense if you don't have one already. The second is that the Elecjet Apollo Ultra is a crowdfunding project, you can get the Apollo Ultra for as low as $69 on IndieGogo currently. While I rarely cover crowdfunding campaigns, Elecjet already has a smaller version of this product in the market, has shipped working prototypes to multiple reliable outlets for early reviews that have been universally positive, and in the latest update, the company confirmed the first production run is ready to ship. If you're in the market for a portable battery pack, it's one of the more intriguing options I've seen in recent years.
Mobile by Peak Design
Mobile by Peak Design isn't a single accessory, but a whole ecosystem from the renowned company behind our favorite laptop bag and a whole host of photography accessories that have a permanent place in my bag. At the heart of Mobile is the Everyday Case with its "SlimLink" attachment system. The case is available for iPhone 11 and up or Samsung's Galaxy S21 series, if you don't have one of those phones a universal adapter is available.
The case itself is minimal, but it opens you up to the rest of the ecosystem. This includes a multitude of mounts allowing you to attach your phone securely to your car, bike, motorcycle, desk, tripod or GoPro mounts. A wireless charging stand, mobile tripod and mobile wallet fill out the rest of the lineup. If you are an avid mobile photographer or videographer then Mobile by Peak Design is worth a look as it has something for just about every scenario.