Eager to cash in on Apple's latest smartphone, hundreds of accessories already exist, many of which support the iPhone 5's taller body, slimmer design or much-maligned new dock connector.
Even if the accessory isn't new, many of them use wireless technologies — such as Bluetooth or AirPlay over a Wi-Fi connection — so they'll still work with iPhone 5 even though not created specifically for it.
The following is a look at what's available, interesting and covering a range of needs, tastes and prices.
Cases and skins
Whether you work in the field or are just a serious klutz, OtterBox, one of the leading providers of smartphone protection, has a few different durable iPhone 5 cases to choose. In fact, there are four different OtterBox lines already available, with the most impressive being the Defender Series ($49.95) for ultra-rugged protection. These cases safeguard your new smartphone in three ways: a clear membrane that covers the 4-inch screen, a hard polycarbonate skeleton that surrounds the smartphone and a wrap-around silicone skin that absorbs bumps and shocks (with plugs that keep dust and dirt out of the ports when not in use). Also included is a swivel belt clip that doubles as a viewing.
If a Swiss Army Knife-inspired case is more your thing, the folks behind the ReadyCase ($40 to pledge) are readying a 7-in-one solution packed into a mere 3mm-thick frame. Due out in February, the crowdfunding initiative includes a USB thumbdrive (8GB to start) that doubles as a kickstand for landscape or portrait viewing; a headphone clip to keep earbuds tangle-free; support for snap-on lens photography rings (wide-angle, macro and fish-eye; from $60); and integrated multi-tool including a regular and serrated blade, flathead screwdriver and bottle opener.
If the ReadyCase is like a Swiss Army Knife, UBling! cases ($39.99) for iPhone 5 might be influenced by the classic Lite Brite children's toy. What you get is a do-it-yourself kit to create a customizable case for your smartphone as they come with faceplates housing 269 holes on the backside to snap in colorful bead-like inserts. Whether you want to get creative on your own — for those days you're really bored at work — or want to download the free UBling! app to get some ideas from other users, this case is definitely one of the more unique offerings out there.
If you prefer skins over cases, Gelaskins ($14.95) — profiled in Yahoo! Shopping's Father's Day-themed gadget round-up — are high-quality skins that stick to your iPhone 5's aluminum backside, as well as front-facing borders, to display cool artwork from hundreds of artists (check out Gelaskins.com). Plus, you can download free matching wallpaper to display on your iPhone's home screen or lock screen, or both. A percentage each sale go to the artist, too. Alternatively, upload your own design to create a custom, one-of-a-kind skin -- such as a family portrait, pet, company logo or favorite sports team.
Headphones and speakers
Because Apple still uses the standard 3.5mm headphone jack -- insert joke here, such as "proprietary connector is coming soon" -- all existing headphones still work with iPhone 5, along with the wireless Bluetooth variety. (In case you missed Yahoo! Shopping's summer round-up, The best and worst of new headphones, there are many dozens of great picks depending on your needs and budget.)
Creative has just launched its WP-Series of Bluetooth headphones that offers clear, well-balanced and powerful wireless audio but also with an "invisible mic" that enables high-quality voice calls for when the smartphone rings (yes, some people still make calls). The Creative WP-450 headphones ($149.99) offers excellent audio-video synchronization (with something Creative calls apt-X technology), easy access playback, volume and call controls; up to 9 hours of talk time between charges (and up to 8 hours for music); and a folding design to collapse and store them in the bundled pouch.
If you've got deeper pockets and are looking for active noise-cancellation solution, Audio-Technica's top-of-the-line ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint noise-cancelling headphones ($349.95) block out up to 95 percent of ambient noise. Actually, this pair features three different noise-reduction modes: one ideal for planes, trains and automobiles (with low frequencies like rumbling aircraft engine roar); the second for use in crowded places like malls, airports and school campuses (targeting midrange frequencies); and a third mode for already-quiet locations, such as libraries. The QuietPoint cans also include an inline microphone and controller for answering calls and controlling music (including support for iPhone 5) and the headphones work whether the noise-cancelling feature is on or not.
If you want a pair of noise-cancellation headphones, but can't afford to spend triple digits on them, consider the iHome iB50 ($59.99). Along with padded ear cushions and an adjustable headband, these on-ear headphones contain active noise-cancelling technology that eliminates background noise for uninterrupted listening.
If you're looking for something unique, Boomphones ($149.99) look like any other over-the-ear headphones, but they contain a secret feature: they turn into speakers. That is, when connected to a portable device, like your iPhone 5, you can enjoy private listening as you would with any headphone product, but when you want to take them off yet still hear your music, podcasts or audiobooks, simply press the "bomb" icon on the earcup to turn them into speakers. Full disclosure: I haven't had a chance to hear these headphones yet, but I used to like using the now-defunct iHome iHMP5 headphones with its similar feature.
Speaking of speakers, you can now pick up a small but powerful Bluetooth speaker for under $50. Despite its small size (2.8 x 2.8 x 2.5-inches), HMDX's Jam Wireless Portable Speaker ($49.99) delivers impressively loud but clear audio when wirelessly paired with a nearby smartphone or tablet. Available in multiple "flavors" (colors), this small speaker works up to 30 feet away from the Bluetooth-enabled source. Included in the jar-shaped packaging is a small cable to charge up the device via a computer's USB port; battery life tops 4 hours on a single charge. A mini (3.5mm) headphone jack is also on the unit for non-Bluetooth devices.
While pricier, Jawbone's stylish Jambox ($199.99) or Big Jambox ($299.99) offers more boom for your room, plus it has an integrated microphone to chat if a call comes in. Similar to the Jam Wireless Portable speaker, these rectangular Jam products also ship in multiple colors, include both a wired and wireless option and have an internal rechargeable battery.
Power, storage and stands
Remember when battery packs simply provided power to the device attached to it? Now we're seeing them become a lot more versatile, such as the i.Sound Portable Power Universal Charger ($69.99). Not only can this small 8000mAh power supply juice up the iPhone 5 about five times, but it also has five USB ports to charge up multiple smartphones, tablets, ebook readers, cameras and other gadgets. LED indicators let you know how much power is remaining, plus there's also a flashlight to see what you're connecting in dimly lit environments, a USB-to-mini and microUSB cable (in one) and an AC adaptor to power up the i.Sound charger before you leave your home.
What iPhone 5 accessories round-up would be complete without a way to use your older accessories? While many will grudgingly buy one, Apple is offering two different adaptors so your iPhone 5 and its 8-pin "Lightning" connector will work with accessories built for the older 30-pin wide-mouthed connector Apple has used for nine years. Specifically, the Lightning-to-30-pin adaptor ($29) is a small and white doohickey that snaps underneath the iPhone 5, and a female 30-pin connector at the base of the adaptor goes on the accessory, such as a speaker dock, vehicle power kit or whatever. There's also a Lightning-to-30-pin 0.2-meter adaptor ($39), which is essentially a cable that goes from a male 8-pin to female 30-pin connector. Apple says these two adaptors work for audio, synching and charging — but not video playback.
iPhone 5 is limited to just 64GB of flash memory, so what if you want to carry around a few hundred HD movies with you? Wireless hard drives are the answer, including Seagate's Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage (formerly GoFlex Satellite), a $199.99 solution we wrote about in a previous Digital Crave blog post. When turned on, this battery-powered portable drive creates its own hotspot for nearby Wi-Fi devices to access content. A similar but less expensive solution is Kingston's Wi-Drive ($149.99 for 64GB), a portable wireless storage solution for your iPhone 5 or other mobile device. You only get an extra 64GB of added storage (or 32GB for $99.99), but as with Seagate's solution you can share your media or data with 3 users simultaneously.
Since the iPhone 5 offers a better camera (er, disregarding the "purple haze" issue, of course), you might want to pick up a funky tripod for your smartphone. What to buy a photography lover? Joby's GorillaMobile cases and stands (from $34.99) are clever tripod-like accessories with bendable legs and many rotatable joints, allowing you to secure your phone to virtually any object — be it a tree, rock, fence, doorknob or lamppost. GorillaMobile and GorillaPod products (for point-and-shoots and dSLR cameras) use sturdy, injection-molded plastic for secure joints, while the rubberized ring and foot grips provide an extra hold to steady your shot.
Finally, a look at some fun ways to use your iPhone 5.
When used with a free app, the iPhone 5 can be used to control the Silverlit Porsche 911 Carrera ($79.99), a silver radio-controlled (R/C) car with Bluetooth wireless technology. Rather than pushing forward, back, left and right with a traditional R/C joystick, the app allows you to use gestures to control the action.
Simply tilt the tablet or smartphone in a given direction to adjust speed and steering. Specifically, you'd tilt your device forward to accelerate, lean left and right to turn or pull back to reverse or remain idle. Along with authentic sound effects (from the car itself), there are also vibrations that deliver the rumble and feel of real driving. The hobby-grade 1:16-size Porsche also has front and rear suspension, a working Porsche horn and a turn signal, hazard and head lights.
There's also MyDeskPets' CarBot ($24.99) and TankBot ($29.99) micro R/C toys controlled by your iPhone 5 or other wireless device; the Sphero by Orbotix ($129.95), dubbed the "world's first robotic ball and gaming device" you control by tilting, touching or swinging on your iPhone 5 (or iPod touch or iPad); and the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 ($299.95), a "quadroptor" you can hover and fly via an iPhone app, complete with a first-person HD camera mounted to the front of the drone, augmented reality (AR) games, and more.
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