The best smartphone accessories can be vital to your mobile experience as they help to keep your smartphone charged up during long days or can even add new features. This year, we saw the introduction of a number of new smartphone accessories, both new concepts like MagSafe from Apple as well as excellent implementations of existing ideas like the Backbone One and Razer Kishi gaming controllers.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of chargers and battery packs available, but with manufacturers starting to drop chargers from smartphone boxes, it’s more important than ever to find a good fast charger rather than picking up the cheapest option.
Those are just a few areas we’ll be taking a look at, so whether you just got a new smartphone or are looking for some upgrades to your mobile kit, here are some of the best smartphone accessories of 2020.
While the $39 MagSafe charger is a useful accessory, it’s the entire MagSafe ecosystem that is worth spotlighting. The addition of magnets on the back of the iPhone 12 has enabled a wide variety of new accessories beyond simple charging options.
Apple itself has a number of options including its somewhat questionable MagSafe Wallet, but I’m more interested to see what third-party manufacturers are going to do with it. Peak Design, for example, has a range of mounts and cases that leverage MagSafe and they look incredible.
OnePlus WarpCharger 65W
While wireless charging is great ](I have populated my home with a number of Qi charging pads to make sure I can keep my phone topped up at all times), OnePlus and its WarpCharger 65W are making sure that I won’t let go of wired charging just yet.
To take advantage of the full speed of this charger, you do need the OnePlus 8T. However, this amazing charger comes in the box, which is ironic when Apple doesn’t include so much as a standard charger with the iPhone 12. OnePlus is using a unique dual-battery system in the OnePlus 8T to allow it to handle the incredible charging speeds. So, that’s it!It’s just mind-bendingly fast charging. It will take your phone to a 55% charge in 15 minutes or all the way up to 93% in 30 minutes.
Aukey Omnia 90W PD
Moving beyond the realm of accessories that are limited to specific devices, the Aukey Omnia 90W PD is a charger with dual USB-C ports and a USB-A port that (as the name suggests) can deliver up to 90W of power when using a single port, or 60W from the primary USB-C port and 12W from the other two ports when used simultaneously. It will automatically detect the kind of device that you’ve attached to it and won’t give it excessive current or overcharge it.
This is a great charger to always have in your bag as it’s relatively small but can provide enough power to charge a laptop all the way up to something like the 16-inch MacBook Pro while also charging your smartphone and a third device like a camera, tablet or wireless headphones.
Mophie Powerstation AC
There is an endless sea of battery packs to choose from and plenty of them can be found for cheaper than the Mophie Powerstation AC, but there are a few notable features that sold me on it. It’s also worth mentioning that the full $199 retail price is too steep for me, you should be able to find it for under $130 on sale. This isn’t a tiny battery pack, but it’s also capable of so much more than the standard portable battery.
The Mophie Powerstation AC can provide up to 100W of power via its standard AC adapter, plenty to charge a laptop or any other device you might have on hand. That’s in addition to the USB-C port on the side that can deliver up to 30W and the USB-A port which also supports 2.4a quick-charge. The 22,000 mAh battery should be enough to charge your smartphone 4 to 7 times over and keep your laptop going for a full day. This thing can be a lifesaver and, while it’s not tiny, it fits easily in a bag, which isn’t typically the case for portable batteries with built-in AC adapters.
Anker PowerCore Slim 1000 PD
If you are strictly worried about charging smaller devices like your smartphone or tablet, then a more portable battery is certainly a good fit and quite a bit cheaper. The Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 PD can be found for under $30 and will charge even a massive flagship smartphone like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra up twice. With its 10,000 mAh battery, it offers both USB-C and USB-A output to charge a couple of devices at once at up to 18W.
The handy LED lights on the front will let you know how much battery life you have left, and it’s not much larger than a smartphone, so it won’t take up much space in your bag.
This one won’t be for everyone, but the RAVPower FileHub has been an absolutely indispensable tool for me at times, so I can’t leave it off this list. There are a few crucial roles this device plays in my mobile lineup.
The first is as a way to easily offload images from my smartphone to any of my other devices or to an SD card or SSD. Simply connect to the FileHub over Wi-Fi and you can quickly upload your content to any connected storage card or device. Second, it can serve as a streaming media server either by allowing you to stream between your devices or by connecting a device to a TV and then streaming content from an SD card or SSD connected to the FileHub. Finally, it can function as a standard router, allowing you to plug in an Ethernet cable from a hotel room, for example, and then broadcasting your own Wi-Fi network without having to trust a public hotel Wi-Fi network. It’s not something I need every day, but for right around $50, it has earned its place in my bag countless times.
Razer Kishi controller
A smartphone gaming controller isn’t anything new. Companies have been trying to make this happen for years now since long before there was anything worth playing on a smartphone outside of emulators. However, they are usually terrible, too small to be useful or too huge to ever bring with you, but this year we got a solution in the Razer Kishi (Android model / iOS model).
The Kishi folds down to a relatively reasonable size and unfolds to attach to a USB-C / Lightning smartphone, creating something that looks a lot like a Nintendo Switch. It features two analog control sticks, a D-pad, a standard four-button array on the right and dual left and right triggers. While the controllers aren’t quite up to console standards, they are far superior than most mobile gaming controllers and certainly preferable to touch controls. One of the biggest motivating factors here is the proliferation of cloud gaming services like Microsoft xCloud, Google Stadia and GeForce Now that bring true console or PC class gaming to your smartphone, and these services scream for a true controller.
Backbone One iPhone gaming controller
I won’t reiterate everything I said above, but my general statements about smartphone gaming for the Razer Kishi apply to the Backbone One as well. Unfortunately, the Backbone One is strictly for the iPhone at the moment. That does knock out some of the game streaming services as we continue to see them try to find viable methods to operate inside Apple’s App Store, but with that said, there are considerably more high-quality native games available on iOS than Android, so that might balance things out.
The Backbone One has a few things going for it over the Razer Kishi and a couple of points against it. In the plus column is that the controls feel better than the Kishi; the goal is so that you can use this as a standalone controller without your smartphone in it if you want, and it feels more solid than the Kishi. It also offers a solid app that makes it easy for you to find new games to play and also to capture and share content from your smartphone gaming sessions. The downsides are that it’s iOS only and it doesn’t fold down completely like the Kishi, making it a slightly bulkier addition to your bag.