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2015: Must-have iPhone accessories

The iPhone is a fantastic bit of kit, but with the right accessories you can make it even better.

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 14 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Charging while on the go

I use to suffer from battery life anxiety whenever I needed to use my iPhone heavily, but I've overcome that by carrying a small external battery pack with me when I'm out and about. Yes, I know that I could go through all my settings disabling everything, but why carry an iPhone around with me in the first place if it can't do anything?

If you want a small battery pack that you can pop into your pocket, then the Anker PowerCore+ mini is a great choice at only $16.

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In-car charging

I also keep a charger in the car. And since I'm sometimes looked upon to offer others riding with me a charge-up, I've upgraded to the Anker 48W4-port USB car charger. It's only $15, but it has no problem simultaneously charging multiple smartphones and tablets.

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Sleep better

How did we manage to sleep before smartphones?

The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System helps to improve your sleep and wake-up experience by using a unique combination of sleep-cycle analysis and environmental sensing, along with an easy-to-use mobile app.

Thermal imaging
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Thermal imaging

OK, not a "must-have" but once you get your hands on a thermal camera you'll begin to wonder now you ever managed without one.

FLIR ONE works by detecting heat energy, giving you the ability to see minute temperature variances. Now you can easily detect energy leaks at home, see what's going on outside your house at night, and much more.

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Better speakers

If you're in a quiet room then the speakers built into the iPhone are just fine, but if you like to enjoy your music when outdoors or in a noisy environment such as a workshop, you need beefier speakers.

A speaker that's been by my side when I'm out and about is the Divoom Voombox-outdoors. This is a splash-proof, dust-proof Bluetooth speaker with a built-in rechargeable battery that's good for up to 12 hours. The 15 watts of output is ideal for playing tunes around a BBQ or when doing some gardening.

Vehicle diagnostics and customization
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Vehicle diagnostics and customization

Yes, you can use your iPhone to help you diagnose car problems.

Carista is extremely simple to use, with no configuration necessary. Just click “CHECK FAULTS” and Carista will automatically find your OBD adapter and connect to it. No settings, no device configuration, and no menus.

Plus, with version 2.0, they’ve added support for non-OBD2 (manufacturer-specific) diagnostics, including things like ABS, airbag, navigation, HVAC, etc. This means that beside the “CHECK ENGINE” light, you can also diagnose and reset your airbag light, ABS light, etc. if your vehicle is one of the supported models from BMW, Mini, Toyota, Lexus, Scion, VW, Audi, Seat, or Skoda.

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Better (and cheaper) Lightning cable

There's no way I'm paying Apple $20 for a replacement for the flimsy Lightning cable that's shipped with the iPhone when I can get three high-quality cables from Monoprice for the same money.

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Add more storage

No Micro SD card slot? No worries! I just use the SanDisk iXpand flash drive which offers me an extra 128GB for photos and media. As an added bonus I can use this as a regular high-speed flash drive.

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An iPhone 'Swiss Army Knife'

Take a look at is the IOGEAR MediaShair WirelessMedia hub. This device brings a whole raft of features to the table. Not only can you plug an SD card (SD up to 2GB, SDHC up to 32GB, and SDXC up to 2TB), USB flash drive, or even a portable USB hard drive into the MediaShair hub and the built-in Wi-Fi can share the content with up to seven iOS or Android devices, it has a built-in battery that can be used to recharge your devices.

The device also supports pass-through, so you connect the hub to the internet-facing Wi-Fi connection, and then connect the devices to the hub to allow them to have web access. This way you have access to both the internet and your data.

Access to the data on the device from iOS and Android device is handled through a free app.

On top of that, if you're in a hotel that only has Ethernet connection, you can connect the MediaShair hub to the wired connection and share the connection wirelessly.

This doesn't just add extra storage, this is like having a Swiss Army Knife for your iPhone.

Better photography
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Better photography

The Photography Kit for iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus is a superb accessory for anyone wanting to take their iPhone photography to the next level.

The kit includes:

olloclip Active Lens

Transform your photography and social media with these ultra-wide and telephoto lenses. They give your iPhone an “action camera” point of view, so you can instantly capture and share all you experience.

Manfrotto PIXI Tripod

Lightweight and portable with distinctive Italian styling, Pixi solidly supports your iPhone to achieve beautifully steady images—especially for long exposures and special effects. It also frees you to join your friends in front of the camera.

MeFOTO Sidekick 360 Plus Tripod Mounting Adapter

Easily attach your iPhone to the tripod for precise control of your photography. The 360° rotating ball joint lets you quickly reposition from vertical to horizontal and anywhere in between.

HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote

Take control and seize every moment in its entirety. Connect HISY to your iPhone via Bluetooth and start shooting from a distance in seconds. Place your iPhone on the tripod, step away, and snap.

Incase Photography Kit

This tough, compact shell with 1680D nylon molded cover keeps everything safe and securely in place in custom laser-cut foam. There’s even an internal mesh pocket for smaller items.

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Toughened case

In all my years of owning an iPhone I've never had the misfortune – or expense – of breaking one as a result of dropping it or through water damage. But this isn't good luck, it's down to putting Apple's frankly fragile creation inside a robust case.

My battle-tested case of choice is the Anker Ultra. It's chunky but this has protected my iPhone from bumps, scratches, scrapes, and even rain for many months, and as an added bonus it still looks like new. I've even dropped my iPhone on its face onto concrete several times and even scuffed the front protective layer a bit, but the iPhone is unscathed.

And not only does it add much-needed protection, it makes my iPhone much easier to handle because the rubber is nowhere near as slippery as the metal and glass of the iPhone.

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Add more SIM cards

If you need to switch between multiple SIM cards, then you can, a) Keep fiddling with that tiny SIM tray until one day it springs out and is lost down an air vent in your car, b) carry multiple handsets, or c) fit a SIMore adapter.

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Repair toolkit

Repairing things seems to be a dying art, but I like to keep my gear going for as long as possible, and having the right tools makes the job infinitely easier. This is why I use high-quality tool from the repair experts at iFixit.

A toolkit like this isn't for everyone, but these tools, combined with a little know-how, can quickly pay for themselves.

Video review of this new toolkit can be found here.

Droids
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Droids

I wasn't going to add the Star Wars BB-8 droid by Sphero to the list, but I just can't say "no" to that face.

Yeah, it's expensive, and yeah, it's all part of the marketing hype for "that film" coming out soon, but as smartphone-connected toys go, this is pretty cool.

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