Getting ready to accessorize the new Android OS smartphone you hope Santa will bring you? Do you have a hopeless gadget-monger on your holiday list? Whatever your reasons for looking at phone accessories, finding interesting and useful add-ons for Android phones can be a tad more challenging than shopping for iPhones, since Android phones appear in so many different form factors.
Here are some good ideas for add-on gadgets — ranging from the simple to the super-powered — that will work across a wide range of smartphones, either due to either “universalization” or customization.
And that’s just the start of it. For the many multi-device owners out there, some of the gadgets listed below will also work with Android tablets, the Apple iPhone and iPad, and sometimes even with Macs and PCs.
Read on for all the details about accesories that can meet the mobile user’s needs for mobility, power, storage, convenience, simplicity, and a whole lot more.
Mobility: FlexSMART SP, by Go Groove Audio
Some car mounts are specific to particular smartphone models, such as the Motorola Droid RAZR or some flavor of the Samsung Galaxy S II, for example. If you can’t find a car mount for your own phone, or if you’re less than thrilled with what’s available for it, you can turn to car mounts in the “universal” category.
FlexSMART is a car mount that features a little of everything, starting with an innovative gooseneck connection to the car’s cigarette lighter port, which doubles as its mounting point. Added to that are a powered USB port for charging any device (even those that don’t take a universal micro-USB plug); a built-in FM transmitter with full range of adjustment; a 3.5mm plug, and a backlit digital display. This gizmo even pulls double duty as a hands-free speakerphone for your vehicle.
At $30, it’s less pricey than all of its parts put together. And that’s what makes it a good value.
Storage: 32 GB MicroSD card with USB reader, by SanDisk
To give an age-old saying a new spin, you can never be too thin, too rich, or have too much flash memory. Whether you own a high-end smartphone that already comes with gaggles of gigs, or an entry level model with just enough room to get you started, a 32 GB MicroSD card offers an easy way to add a huge amount of space for a price that’s almost ridiculously cheap.
SanDisk‘s 32 GB MicroSD card gives you enough memory to store 500 hours of CD quality audio or a dozen HD movies. It also comes with a convenient fingertip-size USB MicroSD card reader, to make loading up your card easier, or to let you use the card just like a thumb drive.
Input: Universal Slimline Capacitive Stylus, by Boxwave
For the most part, the capacitive touchscreens of today’s Android phones are leaving styluses behind in the dust. Yet there are still those times when a pen grip comes in handy, for jotting down a quick note or a sketch, or just for those days during the depths of winter when you don’t want to take off your gloves in order to use your phone.
That’s where a capacitive stylus comes in. Boxwave’s stylus offers a long, slim pencil-like design for maximum writing comfort, plus an easy-glide tip that will work with all your capacitive devices, from smartphone to tablet.
Productivity: Tablet Keyboard for Android, by Logitech
For putting in more input, though, you might want a hard keyboard. Although Logitech’s offering is aimed at Android tablets, it’s equally compatible with smartphones and even with desktop PCs,
While its durable single-piece design might not be terribly compact, Logitech’s Tablet Keyboard for Android is also one of the few Bluetooth keyboards around guaranteed to work with Android devices.
Convenience: S305 Bluetooth Stereo Headset, by Motorola
Just about everyone has used — or at least, seen — a Bluetooth headset. But a pair of Bluetooth headphones constitute another story, wirelessly delivering not just music but phone calls, too.
Rated for 6.5 hours of either music or talk, and rechargeable from a standard micro-USB cable, this headset works with any device that supports Bluetooth headphones, including not just smartphones but also tablets, laptops, and even desktop PCs. There’s nothing to plug in — and there are no cables to tangle, break, or get chewed on by your dog or cat.
Simplicity: miniBuds retractable headphones, by Boxwave
Then again, maybe you’re not looking for yet another gadget that needs to be charged in order to make sure its battery won’t run out at some inconvenient moment. If that description fits you to a tee, check out Boxwave’s retractable earbuds.
Boxwave’s earbuds extend up to 41 inches, and then automatically retract to be neatly protected inside into their spool, safe and free from snarls. You can even unroll them part way, if you only need a fraction of the full length. Just make sure to roll them back up once you’re done using them. They’ll never once give you a low battery warning.
Protection: Defender rugged cases, by Otterbox
The last thing you want is to get a shiny new smartphone, and then see that phone accidentally hit the ground, leaving you with nothing but broken dreams and the wish that you’d bought a replacement plan.
Its Defender line, with fitted models for almost every major smartphone, provides a triple dose of protection. A hard polycarbonate shell shields the device, while a layer of silicone absorbs impacts such as drops. Lastly, a built-in screen protector keeps scratches, scuffs, and grime at bay, even protecting against dust and moisture.
Style: Custom leather cases, by Fortte
$30 and up
If you’re interested in something a little more fashionable, although less likely to survive the apocalypse, you might want to consider a leather case for your smartphone.
Fortte makes leather cases for a wide range of devices, For many phones, multiple styles are available, such as pouch, open face, thin pocket, book, flip, and more.
Each case is made from full-grain leather. Fortte also offers up to 45 color choices and multiple belt clip options. You can even get a custom design embossed on to the case if you’re feeling particularly showy. The leather smartphone case can display your company logo, you initials, or even just some pattern that you happen to like.
Power: ZAGGsparq 2.0, by Zagg.com
If you who don’t mind paying a bit for power on the go, consider the ZAGGsparq 2.0 charger. At $99, the ZAGGsparq is more expensive than the average lithium ion battery pack. but there’s nothing average about this product.
The Zaggsparq 2.0 packs a whopping 6,000 mAh of battery capacity into it’s 3.5-inch-square, 1-inch-thick casing. That’s enough to recharge an average smartphone three to four times over. It also serves as a wall adapter capable of charging two devices at a time. You can even recharge USB devices such as an HP Touchpad or an Apple iPad. What’s more, while recharging the two devices, this charger can recharge its own internal battery pack. If you travel a lot, the Zaggsparc 2.0 can become your best friend.
Range: “Sleek” Signal Booster, by Wilson Electronics
So now with a tough case, lots of power, and all your other new gear, you’re ready to brave just about any place in the world with your smartphone. Still, how are you going to get a signal on that weekend visit to Grandma’s beach house, or that business trip to a mountain resort? The Wilson “Sleek” universal signal booster is designed to make sure you’ll get the best signal possible anywhere.
When you drop your phone into the cradle and plug the cradle in, the Wilson booster will act as a repeater for your cell phone’s radio. No wires are required for connecting to your smartphone, and there are no custom modifications to make. Wilson’s signal booster is compatible with anything on the 850 or 1900 MHz band. Unfortunately, this excludes most 4G services, but it does guarantee at least some service for any of the four major providers. You can make an emergency phone call at a minimum, and you can also pull in 3G signals from far beyond their normal coverage area.