Pro: Functional and stylish
Pro: Functional and stylish
Con: Requires a little research
Best for: The uber-connected
Retail price: $55 for the Sena Magia Wallet; $49.95 for Otterbox
Smartphone cases are practically an industry unto themselves, but that makes a certain amount of sense given how important smartphones are to people’s lives now. Of course, getting a smartphone case for someone means you’ll have to do a little footwork and figure out what model of phone they have. You also have to figure out what their priorities are — should you choose something that preserves a phone’s clean lines or something that will withstand a drop from shoulder height?
One stylish option comes from Sena Cases, which makes leather cases for smartphones of all stripes. Many of these cases, such as the Magia Wallet, also have space for SmarTrip or credit cards to keep all your essentials in one place. Its slim form should let phones keep sliding easily into pockets. Plus, it has a camera opening to keep users snapping pictures.
For people who want something a little sturdier, Otterbox also offers a protection for a wide swath of the market. Its Defender series, which sports a screen protector and two layers of protection, should be able to withstand whatever life throws at your smartphone. It comes in a variety of bright colors, too, so you can deviate from basic black.
Pro: You can never have too much battery power
Con: Needs to be charged on its own
Best for: Motor-mouthed mobile Web surfers
Retail price: $49.99
Just about everyone has run out of juice at a critical time because of a longer-than-expected conversation, Web-surfing session or airplane delay. Most solutions involve parking in front of an outlet somewhere. In most cases, that’s not convenient.
Portable battery packs, however, give those with a little forethought an edge. There are plenty of options out there, but the most useful battery packs have multiple extensions that fit in more than one type of power-draining gadget — smartphones, MP3 players, e-readers and more.
Models like the Duracell Powermat portable battery have two cords: one for Apple devices such as the iPod, iPad or iPhone 4S and earlier, and another with a micro-USB that should fit most other portable electronics. Accessories for the iPhone 5 are coming soon.
These external batteries are a fixture at airport kiosks around the country but aren’t often charged at time of purchase, making them useless in the moment. They’re a great option for frequent travelers — or the frequently forgetful — to charge and slip into their carry-on in case of an emergency.
Pro: Lets you add to the fun
Con: May add to coffee-table clutter
Best for: Socially inclined gamers
Retail price: $35 to $50
Contribute to a social night of gaming by upping the number of people who can play at once. Video-game consoles are a serious investment, and gamers may not be able to afford all the extras they need to make gaming a group activity.
Extra controllers for the three major consoles — PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii U — range from $40 to $55. Supplementing a friend’s bank of controllers is also a gift to yourself, since you’ll be able to join in on the fun more often.