My Precious, My Precious: The Best Accessories for iPhone and iPad
iPhones and iPads were truly made for accessories since they’re really accessories themselves. And as accessories, they define our status like no other gadget in recent memory. Here’s the list of some of our favorite — and functional — accessories for iPhone and iPad that will enhance the experience of using these fantastic devices and make the iPhone/iPad user on your holiday wish list, like, totally geek out.
Buy This for Someone Obsessed with Looks
The Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad from Belkin is a super light (17 oz.) and super thin (6.4 mm) aluminum keyboard case that fits right at home with the Apple aesthetic. Molded from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, this case has won plaudits for its responsive keyboard and, perhaps even more importantly, it’s comfortable handheld mode where the keyboard lies flat. It’s made for the iPad 2, 3 and 4, and there’s a new, even lighter/thinner QODE model for the iPad Air (pictured below).
MSRP: $99 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Laptop-like keyboard. Handheld mode is best among keyboard cases. Very light, very thin. Suitably Apple, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- Cons: Expensive, although you can find good deals online for the older generation model. Keyboard cases may not be for everyone—a tablet is still a tablet, and not a laptop.
Buy This for Someone Who Can Read Good
Twelve South makes unique accessories exclusively for Apple products, and they’re best known for their BookBook cases which resemble old leatherbound hardcover books. In fact, the BookBook is made from genuine leather but is very light (just 11 ounces for the full-size iPad model). The BookBook is available for the iPad, iPad mini and iPhone 4/4s and 5/5s.
MSRP: $60 to $80 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Stylish conversation starter. Features reasonably good impact and crush protection.
- Cons: Expensive. Not a particularly svelte case or super practical.
Buy This For Someone Who Has Better Musical Taste Than You
The Bluetooth speaker is all the rage these days, and for good reason. You don’t need to worry about whether your latest iPhone/iPad fits into a special dock (Lightning vs 30-pin), and it’s not subject to odd dropouts like the oft-criticized, though higher-fidelity, AirPlay speakers. The Logitech UE Mini Boombox (pictured below) and its big brother the UE Boombox have received praise for their quality sound and relatively better price compared to the market leader Jambox.
MSRP: $99 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $60
- Pros: Comparatively inexpensive. Low distortion sound. Can fill a room. Bluetooth works with all models of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
- Cons: Not as aesthetically pleasing as some other Bluetooth speakers, like the Jambox.
Buy This for the Shutterbug
The cameras on the iPhone and iPads keep getting better with each iteration, but their prime lenses (fixed lenses) can be constrictive for the avid photographer. Enter the olloclip 3-in-1 Lens System for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 as well as the new version, the olloclip 4-in-1 (pictured below). The olloclip gives you a macro lens with 10X multiplier, fisheye lens and wide-angle lens. (The new olloclip adds a 15X macro lens.)
MSRP: $70 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: High-quality optics. Adds a completely new dimension to iPhone photography.
- Cons: Covers up the flash. Will not work with cases.
Buy This for the Power Hog
iPhones do a lot of work during the day, and if you find your iPhone battery is pooping out in the late afternoon, you’ll probably start thinking about a rechargeable battery case. The TYLT Energi Sliding Power Case for iPhone 5 has a unique conceit: it’s essentially two cases in one, with an inner case sliding out of the exterior charging case. So on the weekends, you can go sans battery if you want.
MSRP: $59 to $99 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Powerful 2500mAh rechargeable battery. Versatile sliding design that allows the user to carry the case without the battery. Includes headphone port extender.
- Cons: Takes up to 5 hours to recharge completely. Does not offer maximum impact protection. Only available for iPhone 5/5s.
Buy This for the World Traveler
The Bose Quiet Comfort 3 Noise Canceling Headphones are like dinosaurs in the world of tech, debuting more than 7 years ago. Yet, somehow Bose keeps selling them and people keep buying them. The secret: the noise canceling really works. Put them on during a cross-country flight and you’ll find out why these haven’t gone out of style.
MSRP: $349 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $259
- Pros: Noise-canceling that actually works. Good for music or for quiet time. Includes detachable inline mic/remote for iPhone/iPod controls.
- Cons: Super pricey, but you knew that. (It’s Bose.) Design hasn’t changed in years.
Buy This for the Coffee Shop Denizen
The ZeroChroma Vario Case is what happens when an iPhone/iPad case and iPhone/iPad stand marry and have kids. In this case, the ZeroChroma gets the best attributes of each parent. The case retains the slimness of a standard TPU case but includes a 360° 11-angle theater stand with landscape and portrait modes. Perfect for skimming Facebook or Pinterest while holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a scone in the other. Available as the VarioProtect for the iPhone 5 / 5s and iPhone 4 / 4S and the Vario-SC for iPad 2, 3 & 4 and iPad Mini (1st Gen).
MSRP: $40 to $55 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Gets the best parts of a case and a stand right. Well-built. Available for most iPhones and iPads.
- Cons: Not the most protective option available for a case. There are cheaper, simpler cases, but that’s not what this is.
Get This for the Cool Kid Who Won’t Wear Bose Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS QuietPoint Active Noise-Canceling In-Ear Headphones are an example of the old adage, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The 2013 follow-up to the beloved 2011 ATH-ANC23 headphones has been praised for its sound quality, reasonable price point and noise suppression without changing too much of a good thing. If you’re fine with the older model, you can also get a much better deal.
MSRP: $80 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Relatively good price for these type of headphones. Good noise-canceling system. Works well with noise-canceling off. Uses a single standard AAA battery.
- Cons: You have to replace that battery. The noise canceling box is slightly heavy / bulky.
Buy This for the Cat
The Satechi X-Pointer Mobile Presenter Remote with Red Laser Pointer is one of those gifts you buy when the person has everything else on this list. Or you just buy it for their cat. Because laser pointer.
MSRP: $49 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $15
- Pros: Can control computer mouse with Mouse Mode. Works with PowerPoint and Keynote. Red laser pointer. Includes stylus touch pen which doubles as compartment for X-pointer. Your cat likes it.
- Cons: What’s not to like about lasers?