As soon as the iPhone was released, dozens of manufacturers rushed to produce accessories designed for the iPhone (and iPod touch), and the success of the iPhone has prompted many others to follow suite. As a result, you now have hundreds of accessories to choose from to protect your device and enhance its capabilities. As always, the trick is to find the best ones. This accessory guide looks at some of the highly rated options currently available, including power adaptors, car chargers, protective cases, and speakers
Adaptors and cables
Apple iPhone Dock
Apple's Dock mounts the iPhone in an upright position on your desk for easy use and lets you sync and charge your device. It comes with a USB sync cable and a USB power adaptor, which lets you power and charge your iPhone directly from a wall socket. The back of the dock has a connector port for the USB/power adapter cable and an audio-out port that lets you connect the iPhone to stereo speakers. Also available is the iPhone Dual Dock, which is nearly identical to the iPhone Dock but has a second small dock for charging the iPhone Bluetooth Headset. Apple also offers a Universal Dock that will work with either the iPhone or iPod touch.
Boxwave VersaCharger PRO
$26.00(Web discount), boxwave.com/products/versachargerpro
This combo charger powers your iPhone or iPod touch from either your vehicle's cigarette lighter port or a standard AC power receptacle. To power your iPhone or iPod touch, plug its USB sync/charge cable into VersaCharger's USB port.
Use PowerBlock to charge your iPhone or iPod from a standard AC wall socket. The adapter connects to the device via a detachable USB sync/charge cable, which is included with the charger. PowerBlock has an indicator light that tells you when it's charging and when the battery is fully charged. White or black versions are available, and Griffin also offers the PowerBlock Dual ($25, no USB cable included), which has two USB ports so that two devices can be charged at once.
Belkin Stereo Cables
The Stereo Link Cable connects the iPod touch and other mobile devices with a 3.5mm stereo jack to the RCA plugs on your home stereo system. The Stereo Cable for iPhone does the same thing, but its 3.5mm plug is designed to fit the iPhone's recessed jack.
Griffin SmartShare Headphone Splitter
ifrogz Fitz Headphone Adapter
This adapter slips into the iPhone's recessed stereo headphone port and allows you to connect almost any third-party headset—with a 3.5mm jack—to your iPhone. This inexpensive adapter comes in both black and white. (First generation iPhone only)
The TuneBase FM plugs into your cigarette lighter adapter and serves as a charging mount for your iPhone or iPod touch. In addition, it allows you to play iPhone and iPod touch music through your vehicle's FM stereo tuner.
Bluetrek Surface Sound Compact
This visor-mounted Bluetooth microphone/speaker combo can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled phone, including the iPhone. Clip it to your visor and fold down its microphone extension, and the Surface Sound will turn on and automatically pair with your iPhone (if the iPhone's Bluetooth is turned on).
ProClip Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel
$35-65 (multiple parts), proclipusa.com
Secure your device to the dashboard for convenient access. The holder has velvet-like padding to protect the polished back of your iPhone or iPod touch from scratches. It features a ball-and-socket "Tilt Swivel" that makes it easy to position the device for viewing in your car.
Marware Sport Grip
Protect the top, bottom, sides, and back of your iPhone or iPod touch with this slip-free silicon rubber skin. The ribbed, slip-resistant skin has openings for the headphone jack, camera, speakers, and docking port. It ships with a separate clear film screen protector for the touch screen. The skin comes in clear, black, blue, and pink. The iPod touch version is available in clear and black only.
PDO TopSkin for iPhone
TopSkin covers everything except the speakers, microphone, ringer switch, and camera. The Home and side buttons can be easily pressed through their coverings, and the dock connecter and headphone jack are covered by rubber flaps that can be easily opened. Included with the TopSkin is a protective film for the screen and a belt clip that can be attached to the back of the case. The case is available in frosted white, black (pictured), blue, and pink. Also available for the iPod touch.
Contour Design Showcase
Showcase provides solid and visually appealing protection for your iPhone. The edges and portions of the back of the case are made of hard black rubber; the rest of the back and portions of the front are clear plastic. The touch screen is left exposed. The case provides all the necessary openings for the iPhone's ports and buttons, and also comes with a holster-style belt clip. Also available for the iPod touch.
Sena's LeatherSkin line provides high-quality protection for your iPhone. The case fully covers the back, sides, and top and bottom edges of the device, with holes for the volume and ringer switch and the camera aperture. The top features a snap-close tab that secures the phone in the case, and the bottom is left mostly open for the docking port. LeatherSkin cases come in 14 different colors and can be purchased with an optional nub on the back of the case for attachment to a belt clip. Also available for the iPod touch.
Vaja i-volution series is available in a variety of styles and over 1,000 possible color combinations. Its flip-style cases feature a flip-down cover to protect the screen; its Grip case covers the sides and back of the iPhone; the standard and "Silver" cases cover the backs, sides, and top and bottom front, but leave the touch screen exposed. At your request, any case can be equipped with a plastic or metal belt clip. These are relatively expensive hand-made cases and it can take up to a month to fulfill an order. Also available for the iPod touch.
FullBodyFilms Protection Pack
Want to protect your iPhone from scratches but don't want to add the bulk of a case? Protection Pack includes static cling film for the touch screen and front of the device (both glossy clear and anti-glare options) as well as body-protecting film for the back. The front film covers the entire front face of the iPhone except for the Home button and phone speaker, while the back film covers everything except for the camera, ports, buttons, and small areas around the corners.
Power Support Crystal Film Set
Power Support's Crystal Film protectors use a static cling method that is both cleaner and more effective at staying in place. The films cover everything on the front face of the iPhone except for the Home button and phone speaker slot above the display, and each set comes with two screen overlays. Also available for the iPod touch.
Plantronics Voyager 520
Noise canceling features built into the Voyager 520's microphone give it excellent call quality. In addition, its slightly larger-than-average ear mount size provides more support and makes the 520 comfortable to wear. The headset comes with both a wall charger and a desktop dock and provides around eight hours of talk time on a full charge.
Aliph New Jawbone
This sleek and stylish Bluetooth headset comes in black, silver, and gold. Jawbone has built-in noise cancellation technology, which enhances call quality but uses more battery power, which contributes to about four hours of talk time on a single charge. Fortunately, noise cancellation can be turned off when not needed, via a switch on the inside of the headset. The package includes a wall charger and separate USB cable and three rubber ear tips of varying sizes as well as a leather coating that fits over the tips.
v-moda Vibe Duo
Vibe Duo combines a stylish look with excellent sound quality, particularly in the low-end (bass) detail. Its microphone has buttons to accept or end calls and play/pause/skip songs. Vibe Duo has fabric-coated cables and a plastic clip for keeping the microphone and cables in the proper position. The package also includes six sets of ear tips of varying sizes and a leather carrying case. The earphones are available in three different color combinations, including black/silver, gunmetal/red (pictured), and chrome.
Etymotic Research hf2
These earphones provide low-distortion sound quality that evenly distributes treble, midrange, and bass, and bring out high-frequency and mid-range details in the sound. The microphone, with embedded noise reduction technology, dangles close to your mouth for excellent-quality voice pickup. The hf2 comes with two different sizes of earpieces, foam tips, replacement filters (with a changing tool), and a zippered carrying case.
Monster iSoniTalk Microphone Headphone Adapter
Use any pair of 3.5mm headphones with the iPhone to make calls and listen to music. The adapter features a microphone, a call answer/end button, and a headphone jack. The key convenience of the iSoniTalk's design is that the headphone adapter plug-in port is attached as a splitter with the microphone port at the base of the jack. This means that your existing headphone wires won't be elongated when using the adapter. Also, the microphone has its own wire and comes with a shirt clip, giving you the freedom to attach it in whatever position you please.
JBL On Stage 200ID
This iPhone/iPod-compatible speaker dock features a unique oval style that fits nicely on a nightstand or on a computer desk. The speaker provides quality sound for a variety of different music types, which helps make up for the fact that there are no treble or bass controls. The unit itself features the docking part, volume controls, and a power button on the back. The package includes a power adapter, an audio in cable, a remote control, and dock adapters for different-sized iPods.
Altec Lansing T612
This stereo speaker dock system is compatible with both your iPhone and iPod. The speaker has five buttons along the top that include the power button, volume controls, and bass and treble controls. Unlike the other speaker docks in this article, the T612 will also charge your Apple device while it is docked. In addition, when a call comes in on your iPhone, the speaker fades out and pauses the music and then plays a ring tone. Included in the package are a power adapter, remote control, and audio-in cable.
DLO Portable Speakers
Slip your iPhone or iPod into the rotating stand/power base and play music through stereo speakers. You can move each speaker up to 30 inches away from the base for excellent stereo separation. The base can be powered by an AC adapter that ships with the product or by four AAA batteries. The system connects to your iPhone or iPod via the devices' 3.5mm headphone jack. When not in use, the speakers and base unit can be fitted together to form a ball for convenient storage or transportation.
BoxWave Screen Puff
These finger-sized wipes made of non-abrasive, lint-free material will help you keep your iPhone or iPod touch screen clean. The Screen Puffs feature a finger loop and come in your choice of seven different colors. BoxWave also offers a package of all seven Screen Puffs for $16.00.
RadTech LenSavrz Optex Cloth
This specialized cleaning cloth is made from soft micro fiber that is designed to clean any screen, from computers to camera lenses. It is available in three different sizes.
Belkin Sport Armband
Need a convenient way to use your iPhone or iPod touch while jogging? The Sport Armband features an adjustable Velcro strap that fits any arm and holds your device in a plastic cradle with a clear screen that prevents scratches but allows you to access the touch screen. The top of the compartment is open, allowing you to slip in the device and access the headphone jack. The armband also features a reflective ring around the screen for nighttime running and a small compartment for storing keys.
Just Mobile Xtand
Xtand is an attractive and stable aluminum stand that holds the iPhone firmly in horizontal or vertical position, allowing you to access the iPhone's features easily. Xtand matches the look of the Apple product line, with the curved base modeled after the new Apple monitor stands. (Comments by Mike Riley)
More great accessories
If you want to find more options, a great place to start is iLounge's online accessory review section (ilounge.com/index.php/accessories). It rates hundreds of accessories organized into dozens of categories, and it allows you to narrow down your options by sorting on ratings. In addition to iLounge, there are a number of iPhone and iPod-specific accessory stores online, including the Apple Store (store.apple.com), Cool IGear (cooligear.com), iPhoniacs (store.iphoniacs.com), and everythingiCafe (store.everythingicafe.com). Other iPhone/iPod accessory vendors include eXpansys (expansys-usa.com) and JAVOedge (javoedge.com)