The accessories you do and don't need for your smartphone

Jaime Vazquez

There are plenty of smartphone accessories you can stock up on. In addition to the ones we recommend, you might also want to grab special smartphone gloves if you live somewhere cold.

Getting a new smartphone is a pretty magical feeling - you've got brand-new technology in your hands that can connect you with people, information, and apps from all over the world! But as most smartphone owners know, it's important to buy the right accessories to make sure your smartphone lasts as long as possible and supports every part of your lifestyle.

There are mountains of smartphone accessories available, ranging from the essential to the pointless, and it's easy to waste a lot of money on extras that don't add a lot of value. If you need help differentiating between the essential gear and the gimmicky extras you can live without, we've got you covered.

Essential accessories

No matter what kind of phone you choose or how often you plan on using it, there are three key accessories to never skip.

A case. Accidental drops can happen to anyone - and all it takes is one to permanently trash an unprotected phone. Whether you get a basic silicone case or a case built to withstand abuse, it's important to put some type of covering on it. (If you're just looking for a basic case that will protect your smartphone from anything, an Otterbox case is a solid choice.)

A screen protector. Your phone's screen is the most sensitive part, and a cracked screen can make text hard to read - or worse, cut your fingers with sharp glass. Don't delay putting on a screen protector, and if you've never put one on before, consider going to your wireless provider's store and asking a staff member for help.

A power bank. Power banks are basically just big batteries that you can keep with you to provide a quick recharge when you're away from a power outlet. Power banks measure how much power they contain in milliamp Hours, or mAh, and can hold anywhere from 2,000 mAh to 30,000 mAh. The average smartphone battery holds a maximum of 3,000 mAh of power, but that can vary with different models. Check the battery capacity of your smartphone, and make sure to buy a power bank that holds enough power to charge it at least twice.

Tech you probably won't need

Avoid these products when you're shopping for smartphone accessories - your money is better spent elsewhere.

External camera lenses. Many camera manufacturers offer sophisticated lenses that attach to your smartphone's camera to achieve specific effects. For example, a wide-angle smartphone lens allows your phone to take shots that aren't possible with the stock camera; other kits will include multiple lenses that promise to deliver SLR-quality images. In reality, while some external lenses are useful, they won't add much value unless you're a professional photographer who's comfortable with making manual adjustments.

A smartphone gimbal. A gimbal is a camera stabilizer that's used for keeping your phone steady while you shoot video - and while you might need one if you're filming a cinematic masterpiece, you probably don't need one for everyday home movies. If you only take casual videos with your phone, don't bother with a gimbal.

A Smartphone sanitizer. Everyone's phone gets dirty - whether it's fingerprints, smudges or just plain dirt, even the shiniest phones will eventually see their fair share of filth. And while it's tempting to buy a phone sanitizer - a little box that's basically a car wash for your phone - there's no need to risk your investment with an expensive solution that exposes your phone to a potentially unsafe amount of liquid. Grab a cleaning kit with a microfiber cloth and a light cleaning spray, and keep your phone clean without the risk.

Jaime is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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