ThinOptics Glasses + Phone Case
Anything you can leave behind when you travel is a good thing—especially something like reading glasses, which you need desperately to read the receipt or your phone screen, but the rest of the time, it’s just something else you have to carry.
ThinOptics’ ingenious design ($38.95 for the Glasses + Phone Case) is a modern take on the pince-nez: lightweight, but impressively sturdy reading lenses. A flexible bridge lets the glasses fold into a sleeve on the back of a phone case, and also bend out as much as needed to fit over the bridge of your nose. Even if, like me, you don’t have much of a bridge, the ThinOptics lenses hold on fairly well.
ThinOptics are clearly designed for reading while sitting. If you move around too much, the lenses could pop off—ditto if you happen to be a little sweaty from running for your train. The grips on either side of the nose are slightly abrasive, but not painful.
The iPhone case is handy, of course, but after several weeks of regular use, I found the ThinOptics lenses seemed to slip out of their sleeve a bit too easily. ThinOptics said the company's fixed this issue in more recent batches of the case. —Melissa Riofrio
Anker Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case
Anker’s $100 Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case for the iPhone 6/6s hits the sweet spot of functionality and affordability (Tip: Despite the list price, it typically sells for $40 on Anker’s Amazon page). Its 2850mAh capacity battery promises to provide up to 120 percent of battery life. We didn’t get quite that much with our iPhone 6, but we fully charged a dead iPhone with a bit to spare. You can power the case off and on at will, and its LEDs indicate how much juice the case has left. To charge the case, just connect it to a power source via the included Micro-USB cable.
It’s easy to slide off the top portion of the case, fit your iPhone into the main portion, then replace the top cap. It has cutouts for the iPhone’s ports, buttons, and rear-facing camera. Its texture is grippy, yet it slides easily into and out of your pocket. Most importantly, the case lives up to its name: It’s super-lightweight and maintains an impressively slim profile compared to other battery cases on the market.
Some downsides: The Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case requires a headphone jack extender, as the battery portion adds about a half-inch to the bottom. (Remember when the headphone jack was on top and we didn’t have this problem?) The included jack extender is nice but also one more thing you’ll have to keep track of. You can’t use your iPhone with any dock-cradle accessories while the case is on—but that’s true of any battery case. Also, the case itself cracked during testing, along the flimsy edge of the volume-button cutout. If you’re planning on using your battery case as your only case, something more rugged may be the better choice—like the OtterBox Resurgence Power Case. —Leah Yamshon
Melissa Riofrio and Leah Yamshon contributed to this article.