Your smartphone is almost certainly your most useful possession, whether you’re navigating, catching up with the news, tracking your fitness, waking up at the right time, translating a sign in French, or doing any of a million other things.
It’s a powerful object, but to unlock its true power you need to delve into the wonderful world of accessories.
There are innumerable kinds at every conceivable price point, but the selection below represents the accessories that we think you absolutely need in order to affordably turn your phone into something you’d normally expect to see in a Marvel movie.
Best Power Bank: Anker PowerCore Slim 10000
As we’ve already established, you use your smartphone for practically everything in your life. No wonder the little guy gets so tired.
If you’re going to be away from an electrical socket for any length of time – on a plane, say – you need backup, and that means you need an Anker PowerCore Slim 10000.
There are power banks with more capacity, but if you’re on the move – which you generally are whenever you need a power bank – you’ll appreciate the PowerCore Slim’s super-compact design.
At 14.9cm long and 1.4cm thick, it’s about the same size as a Galaxy S10 – and it can charge one 2.4 times over.
Best Wireless Charger: Choetech Wireless Charging Pad
Plugging a USB micro or USB-C cable into your phone is pretty easy, as long as you have one to hand. But you know what’s easier? Resting your phone on a surface.
And if that surface happens to be a Choetech wireless charging pad, it’ll transmit some lovely power into your handset without you having to lift a finger.
Available in 7.5w and 10w models, Choetech’s wireless charging pad is our favorite thanks to its simple, low-key, anti-slip design and minimal form factor. It comes in a range of colors, and charges a phone through a 5mm case.
Oh, and it charges AirPods, too, along with a decent range of handsets.
Best Controller: Razer Junglecat
There are loads of game controllers for Android, but we’ve plumped for one of the most expensive, extravagant models on the market: The Razr Junglecat.
Why? Because it’s simply that much better than all the others. Developed by the high-end PC gaming specialists at Razr – whose line-up also includes powerful desktop PCs, gaming laptops, and more – the Junglecat is the closest you can get to turning your handset into a console.
While most Android controllers turn into ungodly hybrids when in console mode, with the phone jutting like a weird antenna from a holder on the top, the Junglecat smartly extends horizontally to create a Switch Lite affair – though you can also use it as a normal controller in its unextended form.
You’ll need to check that your phone is supported before investing, but – all being well – invest you should.
Best Portable Speaker: Denon Envaya
As anyone who has ever walked past a group of truant teenagers knows, the speaker on a phone is not powerful enough to play music through without making the listener look like a hopeless prat.
To play music in a non-pratlike way, you’ll need a Bluetooth speaker. There are numerous options available at all price points, from the amount you paid for your last takeaway sandwich to the amount you paid for your first car.
For our money, your best bet is the Denon Envaya. While it’s not the cheapest model out there, it’s durable, waterproof, and compact – all crucial qualities in a portable speaker. It sounds fantastic, too.
There are two smaller models in the same range – the Mini and the Pocket – but the full fat one is only 21cm long, so you might as well spoil yourself.
Best Bluetooth Headphones: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
Your headphones are very probably the smartphone peripheral you’ll get the most use out of, so you want to make the right choice. Let’s go through the possibilities together.
You want something in-ear. While on-ear and over-ear headphones have their advantages, they can be unwieldy too. You need your headphones to be as low-profile as possible while you’re out and about.
That means they need to be Bluetooth. Wired headphones have the advantage of never running out of power, but the cost is a fiddly cable getting in the way of your coat zip and tugging the earbuds out of your ears every time you move the wrong way. No thanks.
They need to be comfortable and secure, too, and it goes without saying that they should have first-rate sound.
Pop all that into the headphone-choose-a-matic-5000 and you get the Optoma NuForce BE Sport4s.
Best VR Headset: Samsung Gear VR
VR is a mesmerizing addition to the consumer electronics marketplace, transporting you to any number of magical worlds where you can drive a car, shoot stuff, work in a shop, or just hang about.
And the best part is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to avail yourself of VR’s charms. While an HTC Vive or full-fat Oculus Rift plus a PC to run it will set you back a small fortune, you can pick up dozens of different Google Cardboard-powered models for $10-$20.
We’re not advocating that you spend that little, however. For the perfect balance of luxury and affordability, you should go for Samsung Gear VR.
Yes, you’ll need one of a pitifully small range of Samsung handsets to use it, but the Gear VR – powered by Oculus – is simply the best way to enjoy VR via your phone in terms of comfort and features. It also comes with a handy controller.
If you don’t have a Samsung phone, try the Google Daydream View.
Best Bluetooth Car Transmitter: Nulaxy Bluetooth FM transmitter
Forget lane assist, adaptive cruise control, and reversing cameras. The best thing by far about modern cars is that they tend to have Bluetooth, meaning you can listen to your own Spotify playlists and conduct phone conversations through your car’s speakers.
Sadly, drivers of old bangers are stuck in a darker age. Or are they?
In fact, there are tons of affordable devices that effectively turn your humble car stereo into a Bluetooth system by transmitting your phone’s audio signal via FM to the radio. The Nulaxy Bluetooth FM transmitter is about the best.
Powered by the lighter socket, this ingenious device connects to your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth and features prominent, easy-to-use controls for making calls and listening to music.