12 Must-Have Accessories for Your Smartphone

From the stylish to the practical, we’ve found the best smartphone accessories to protect your device, recharge it, and otherwise enhance your mobile lifestyle.

Phonedevil Magic Screen

If you’re the type to carelessly throw your phone into your bag, a screen protector is an essential investment. Relatively inexpensive, a screen protector’s clear film fits your phone’s screen to a T, guarding it from scratch-inducing elements. Trust me, it’s heartbreaking to find a giant scratch across your brand new iPhone 3GS. I found plenty of different of screen protectors on the market, but Phonedevil’s Magic Screens are my favorite. They’re easy to apply, require no cutting, and come with a cleaning cloth and a smoothing card to prevent air bubbles.

You can pick from three different editions: Clear, Mirror, and Privacy. Mirror Edition gives your screen a mirror effect when the phone is off, and it looks quite stylish. The Privacy edition uses special 3M material to prevent unwanted onlookers from viewing your screen; the screen appears turned off if you’re not looking at it head-on—a clever concept that works very well.

Phonedevil Magic Screens are currentlly available only for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but the company’s site indicates that Phonedevil will soon add BlackBerry-compatible models.

Available for: iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS

Price: Clear ($8.15), Magic ($11.50), Privacy ($16.50)

BodyGuardz by NLU Products

If you’re looking for all-over scratch protection, but don’t want the extra bulk of a case, check out BodyGuardz from NLU Products. The transparent scratch-resistive skins protect not only your smartphone’s screen, but also the spines and back cover. BodyGuardz are available for a wide-array of smartphone models including the Nokia N97, the BlackBerry Tour, the Palm Pre, and many others.

BodyGuardz require a little more work (and patience) to apply than Phonedevil’s Magic Screens, but the instructions are still very straightforward. I recommend working in a clean, quiet environment, as the film is quite sensitive to dust and installing it requires your complete attention. If you do screw up your first time around, you get another try: BodyGuardz includes a second skin in the package. But the hard work is worth it: When correctly applied, your phone is not only completely protected, but the film makes it look newer and cleaner, too.

Available for: iPhone 3G, Nokia N97, Palm Pre, HTC Touch Pro, and a variety of BlackBerry models

Price: $20

OtterBox Defender Series

Outdoorsy types (or klutzes) may desire something more rugged than simply a skin, which can’t protect your phone from harsh weather or accidental drops. Check out the OtterBox Defender Series: A brawny combination of an outer rubberized silicon skin and an inner hard shell. I dropped, threw, and even kicked my smartphone, and the Defender kept it totally protected. There wasn’t a single mark or dent. The Defender also comes with a scratch-resistant screen protector.

Putting the case together requires some concentration, but it isn’t difficult. My one gripe about the iPhone 3G case is that it lacks a slot for the ring/silent switch—a function I use pretty frequently. The double-layered case is also quite bulky, so if you carry your phone around in your pocket, the Defender might not suit you.

Available for: iPhone 3G/3GS, Samsung Omnia, Palm Centro, and many BlackBerry models

Price: $50

Octo Leather Snap Case

For those who desire a more fashion-conscious case, look for the stylish series of Octo Leather Snap Cases. These gorgeous cases, made from Italian leather, come in a rainbow of colors. They might not offer the heavy-duty protection that other cases have, but they’ll at least guard your phone from getting scratched up in your bag. The Octo cases look quite nice, with seamless stitching and sophisticated metal clasps.

Available for: iPhone 3G/3Gs (Octo also makes cases for MacBooks, Amazon Kindles and Flip Video recorders)

Price: $50-$55

Belkin TuneBase FM With Hands-Free

If you spend a lot of time commuting in your car, the Belkin TuneBase FM with Hands-Free is an excellent companion to make those miles fly by. The TuneBase FM plugs into the DC outlet in your car and uses Belkin’s ClearScan technology to detect the station with the clearest signal (from 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz) to play your music. If that station’s reception changes as you travel, you simply hit the ClearScan button and the TuneBase will find a better station.

The hands-free feature allows you to answer calls while you drive without having to physically pick up the phone. Not only is this a convenient feature, but a safe one as well. The calls come in over your car’s speakers while the iPhone’s microphone picks up your voice.

Available for: iPhone 3G/3GS (also works with almost every iPod model)

Price: $100

BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset

BlackBerrys have a reputation for being business-only, but with great multimedia applications like Slacker Radio and FlyCast available, you’ll want to invest in some high-quality headphones. Made especially for BlackBerry phones, RIM’s Premium Multimedia Headset boasts a comfortable fit, noise-cancellation technology, and convenient built-in playback and volume controls. These controls, however, will work only with BlackBerry devices running OS v4.6 or higher. Music piped through the headphones sounds crisp and clear with no crackling or tinniness. Unfortunately, I had some issues with call quality while using the headset. While I could hear my contacts just fine, they reported that my voice sounded distant and difficult to hear.

The headphones come in a handy BlackBerry-branded leather-like carrying case, extra earbud sizes, and color plates for customization.

Available for: BlackBerry devices OS v4.6 or higher

Price: $90

Aliph Jawbone Prime Bluetooth Headset

The Aliph Jawbone Prime holds the number one spot on PC World’s Top 10 Bluetooth Headsets chart for good reason: It has stellar audio quality and a customizable fit for maximum comfort. Call quality is impressive thanks to built-in background noise cancellation. The headset can also detect and diminish wind during calls--a boon for those of us who make a lot of calls while on the move.

The headset comes with a large variety of earwear: Six earbuds as well as an optional ear hook. Many people dislike ear hooks and find them uncomfortable, but the Jawbone Prime gives you the option of using a stabilizing ring to fit the headset in your ear.

Available for: All phones with Bluetooth support

Price: $120

Skullcandy Holua Headphones

So many premium headphones to pick from. The Skullcandy line stands out for its combination of sound quality, comfort, and style, all at a reasonable price. The Holua headphones in particular have great sound quality due to their unique wooden casing that houses the 8mm speakers. The headphones are available in an array of attractive color combinations.

If you’re looking for something less expensive, check out the company’s Full Metal Jacket headphones. These sharp-looking units also serve as a headset with a convenient button that can be pressed to pick up phone calls. Both the Holua and Full Metal Jacket come with a slick carrying case and three silicone gel tips to fit any ear size.

Available for: All smartphones with a 3.5-mm headphone jack; phones with proprietary jacks must use an adapter

Price: Holua, $100; Full Metal Jacket, $70

Energizer Energi To Go

Do you fear being caught flat-footed, on the road with your phone battery near-dead and no outlet to be found? Smartphone owners can take comfort in the fact that there is a solution: Energizer Energi To Go emergency charger. This handy, portable accessory lets you charge your phone from anywhere, no outlet required. It gets its power from a AA battery (make sure to carry spares). Models are available for Palm, LG, Samsung, Nokia and BlackBerry phones.

Also available is an HTC-branded emergency charger that will work with most HTC-manufactured phones like the T-Mobile G1, the HTC Touch Pro, and the T-Mobile myTouch 3G.

Available for: Most cell phones

Price: $25

Phonesuit MiLi Power Pack

A common complaint about the iPhone 3G/3GS is its mediocre battery life. If you’re using your iPhone to listen to music, surf the Web, and have GPS turned on, battery life will drain pretty rapidly. Therefore, a power pack is essential to get full use out of your iPhone. Phonesuit's MiLi is one of the slickest power packs out there and provides a boost to last you all day.

If you have a case on your iPhone, you’ll have to remove it before plugging your phone into the suit. Fortunately, the MiLi is slim enough to use as an everyday power pack/case without adding extra bulk. One odd design choice, however, is that the MiLi uses a miniUSB connector--not the standard iPhone/iPod connector--so that means one more cord to carry around.

Available for: iPhone 3G/3GS

Price: $80

Palm Pre Touchstone

Palm makes charging sexy with its Touchstone Charging Kit. This $70 accessory provides a special back plate, as well as a slanted dock whose surface uses inductive charging technology. Inductive coils inside the Touchstone generate an electromagnetic field that transmits charge through the special back cover for the Palm Pre. Palm has done a good job customizing the Pre for use with the Touchstone, too; for example, if you place the phone on the dock while you're on a call, it will automatically reroute the call to the speakerphone.

Available for: Palm Pre

Price: $70

Celio Redfly C8N

The Celio Redfly C8N is technically more of a mobile companion than an accessory for Windows Mobile phones. This portable terminal, which resembles a netbook, lets you take advantage of Windows Mobile’s powerful applications to their full ability. Theoretically, you can edit Microsoft Office docs on Windows Mobile devices, but how many of us have the patience to make the effort on the tiny keyboard of a smartphone? The Celio Redfly C8N's much larger keyboard and display is a solution to this problem.

The C8N’s display does a great job of optimizing the low-resolution, portrait-mode display of a smartphone for the landscape mode of a netbook. Apps look great on the full display, but our reviewer ran into some issues when launching Internet Explorer and Opera Mobile. Even so, the C8N has better battery life than a netbook and will charge your handset when it is connected.

Available for: Windows Mobile smartphones

Price: $300

Looking for a smartphone to go with these accessories? Check out PC World's Top 10 Cell Phones .

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