San Diego: What used to be a cheap and trinkety category of black bags, funky colored cables and jeweled cases is now filled with creative offerings I have had a blast trying out. As an industrial designer, I never get bored looking at the Apple iPhone and iPad accessory designs these vendors come up with.
Did you know the accessory market for smartphones, tablets and notebook computers is over $40 billion? I believe it. They’re in stores off and online everywhere. I tried a zillion of these so you don’t have to. Here are the top Apple iPhone and Apple iPad accessories I can’t live without. Some of them — like the mobile scanner I’ll mention first — will work with any other mobile device, too.
Fujitsu’s ScanSnap S1100 Mobile Scanner is my No. 1 choice for a mobile accessory right now.
It’s one of those products you never thought you needed but then you can’t live without it once you have it. This tiny device, smaller than a folding umbrella, plugs into your computer’s USB port and is ready to use. No AC adapter needed. It’s wonderful for creating super-sharp color or black and white scans of receipts, photos, newspaper and articles. And it converts each into a searchable PDF file. This costs about $199.
And yes, every Apple iPhone needs a case and there are literally thousands to pick from.
I’ve tried so many. Of them all, my favorites are the Sena Ultraslim Leather Pouch for iPhone 4 & 4S. It’s an elegant and thin pouch with zero bulk ($30). I also like the more expensive Sena Hampton Flip, a leather case with a flip-up cover that protects the front and back of your Apple iPhone ($60). Pictured below is the Sena Ultraslim.
ZAGG Keyboard Folio for iPad 2 is one of the nicest of all add-on iPad 2 keyboards I’ve seen.
It has real notebook-like keys and fits into a case along with your iPad, so it protects both the front and back. It’ll work with the Apple iPad in landscape and portrait mode — and it is easy to remove the it when you don’t want the added weight. $95.
My friends with young kids rave about the iGuy, a squishy foam case that looks like some kind of Gumby mutant.
It works with the iPad 1 and 2. The iGuy stands up on his own to hold the iPad vertically while surrounding it with foam for protection. The best part is — you can relax a little more while some kid is playing with your iPad. It costs about $40 from Speck.
And finally there’s the iPhone Wallet.
This case lets you carry your Apple iPhone, cash, credit cards and bills in one slim package. Your Apple iPhone fits in the iPhone wallet — the see-through window lets you check or make calls, text message and so on. It comes in dark brown or black leather with an ultrasuede lining. ($39)