Mobile / Buying Guide

5 Powerful Accessories for Your Smartphone

Autumn at B&H means one thing: Smartphone manufacturers are emerging, blinking from many months of R&D hibernation and are facing the world with their shiniest and newest creations ahead of the holiday season. And while a spate of new flagship handsets is exciting, we all know that the best part of getting a new phone is tricking it out with the hottest apps and accessories. To help you choose some new hardware to complement your own device, new or old, take a look at the following.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera

Thanks to thermoreceptive cells in their heads, certain snakes can “see” the heat radiating from their prey. While you hopefully don’t need to hunt your own food under cover of darkness, the thermal imaging capabilities of the FLIR ONE camera are handy nonetheless: it plugs directly into your smartphone and uses a pair of cameras to give you the ability to see in infrared along with the visible light spectrum. It senses temperatures from -4 to 248°F in increments as small as 0.18°F in 640 x 480 resolution, then overlays the temperature information with the visible light camera to produce a composite image.

Far more than a just a way to produce trippy images, infrared photography has real-world, everyday uses. Around the house, an infrared camera helps diagnose energy inefficiencies, overloaded circuits, or faulty appliances, and home mechanics can use infrared technology to figure out what’s wrong with the family car. And whether you’re out hunting in the woods or protecting your home, you can use the FLIR ONE to detect animals and people alike without giving away your position.

The FLIR ONE is available in two versions, one for Lightning-enabled Apple iOS mobile devices and another for micro-USB-enabled Android devices. iPhone 5/5s users can also use the first-generation FLIR ONE, which comes as a protective case for the device.

Spigen Tough Armor and Slim Armor

Smartphones have grown dramatically in size over the past couple of years, making them even easier to drop. If you’ve ever suffered the indignity of a shattered screen, you know just how crucial it is to have a good case for your device. I personally use the Nexus 6, one of the largest phones on the market, and it already sticks out of the back pocket of my jeans. So when it came time to pick out a case, I wanted something as protective as possible without adding tons of bulk.

I did some research, and now my smartphone is ensconced in Spigen Slim Armor, with a blend of hard polycarbonate and soft TPU to provide both rigidity and shock absorption in a single package. In fact, many models of the Slim Armor line pass the U.S. military’s MIL-STD 810G-516.6 military drop tests. My phone isn’t much thicker now than it was in its birthday suit, but on the rare occasions that I take it out of its case I see that its finish is still pristine. A slightly raised lip around the screen helps keep your display clean and protected, and oversized port openings let me use thick third-party charging cables, as well as pro-style headphones with large jacks. And while it’s not available on all models, my favorite part of the Slim Armor is its kickstand, which does the heavy lifting to keep the phone angled comfortably while I’m watching videos.

For those who want more security (or who have more buttery fingers), the Spigen Tough Armor is similar to the Slim Armor, but adds some extra material to vulnerable areas. And just like the Slim Armor, many models feature drop-test certification, as well as that handy kickstand for your viewing pleasure.

olloclip 4-in-1

The cameras in our phones have evolved massively over the years, and photos taken with the 0.3MP pinholes of the flip phone era look like grainy security camera footage when compared with the shots we snap with the 10-20MP, 1/3" behemoths in today’s flagship handsets. But despite all those tasty megapixels, smartphone cameras still lack the interchangeable lenses and moving elements that enable DSLRs to change their focal length at will.

Lens attachments like olloclip’s 4-in-1 for the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus change all that, with user-swappable lenses that let you get up close and personal with your subjects, or as far as possible. Simply slip it over the top of your phone to use its wide-angle lens for group photos and landscapes, or its fisheye lens to deliver dramatic, immersive pictures. Each element can be turned around to reveal macro elements (10x and 15x) for detailed shots from a much closer distance than your iPhone’s stock camera will allow.

The 4-in-1 comes with lens caps, a carrying bag, three colored pendants, and a lanyard for safekeeping. It’s available in several color combinations and is compatible with both front and rear cameras. For those with the iPhone 5/5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 4/4s, iPad mini, iPad Air, or Galaxy S4, don’t fret. olloclip has lens attachments for you, too.

DiCAPac Waterproof Floating Action Case

Water is the smartphone’s mortal enemy. They go together like cats and dogs, like fire and ice, like oil and, uh, water. Disappointingly, the best you’ll get out of today’s flagships is enough water resistance to protect against rain, but even that is rare. To cut a long rant short, apart from a select few handsets like Sony’s Xperia M4 Aqua, immersion in water fries circuitry and invalidates warranties.

Thankfully, DiCAPac squashes these limitations with the Waterproof Floating Action Case. No mere sandwich bag, it’s not only dustproof but can be submerged more than thirty feet below the waves for up to a half hour at a time. Its pouch design and three sizes (for phones up to 4.7, 5.1, or 5.7") ensure near-universal compatibility. And true to its name, an airbag on the back side ensures that you won’t lose your precious device to Davy Jones’s Locker.

If you’re taking your smartphone underwater, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be taking some pictures or video. The Action Case has you covered with a clear, rigid polycarbonate camera window that lets you snap shots with minimal distortion. It also has reinforced corners for strength, a neck strap, and a belt clip. Take that, sandwich bag.

PowerAll Deluxe Portable Power Bank

In today’s age, to be without a juiced-up smartphone is to be powerless and disconnected. The same holds true for our vehicles: if your car was manufactured past, say, the First World War, it likely uses an electric starter instead of a hand crank, and if you leave your lights on all night you’ll be going nowhere fast. To paraphrase Gay Talese, a smartphone (or car) with a dead battery is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel—only worse.

Thankfully, PowerAll’s Deluxe Portable Power Pack covers you in both situations. It produces a jump-start current of 400A and comes with its own mini jumper cables so you won’t be left in the lurch. It’s also got a pair of 5V, 2.1A USB ports for charging phones, tablets, and accessories along with a USB cable and adapters for a wide variety of devices. An integrated 86-lumen flashlight with continuous and SOS strobes helps you signal rescuers in the event of an emergency.

Available in 12,000, 16,000, and 32,000mAh flavors, the pack is able to recharge even the power-hungriest of phones many times over. There’s even a water-resistant, shockproof model for complete peace of mind.

Now that you’ve got a waterproof, shock-resistant phone that can be recharged on the go, take macro, wide-angle, and fisheye photos, and even see heat, what will you use it for?

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The Olloclip problem is there is no telephoto lense.

Hi John,

You're in luck! olloclip does make a telephoto lens in the form of the Active Lens for iPhone 6/6s/6 Plus/6s Plus, which pairs a 2x telephoto lens with an ultra-wide-angle lens. Hope this works for you.


I bought a cse from China for my Nexus 6P just because it had a belt clip. AND, the silicone cover fits way to tight to get out easily and the right side wing covers the volume buttons.

The nice cases have no belt clip just a tiny stand.

Time to understand customer's desires.