Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL are awesome smartphones made better by great accessories. You can spruce up the smartphones’ monotone casing with a custom-designed Live Case, transfer files to an old computer with a USB Type-A adapter, or hop into virtual reality worlds with Google’s Daydream View headset. That’s just scratching the surface.
Given the Pixels’ popularity, it’s no surprise that there’s a growing market for add-ons, cases, earbuds, and more. But the choices can be overwhelming. Not to worry, though — we’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s a list of the best Pixel and Pixel XL accessories we could find.
Daydream View, Google’s take on a high-end virtual reality headset, is essentially a glorified, head-mounted sleeve. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Once you’ve situated the headset on your face, placed your Pixel in the designated holster, and pulled tight the adjustable straps, you’ll be transported to Google’s digital Daydream world. You use the included motion remote to navigate through menus and embark on virtual reality experiences, which include 360-degree videos from apps like YouTube and Hulu, games, and there’s a lot more content on the Google Play Store. Even better? You’ll forget you’re wearing the Daydream View. Its breathable, soft fabric, hand-washable material is among the most comfortable we’ve tested.
Google’s Live Cases are some of the most customizable around. Using an online selector tool, you can adorn your phone’s cover with artwork from popular illustrators, landscapes from Google Earth, or one of your own photos. Every Live Case comes with a programmable shortcut button that triggers actions and apps, and an animated wallpaper that turns your screen into a personal slide show. Live Cases boast slim-profile, and are made of polycarbonate that lets NFC signals pass through unfettered. Don’t expect much protection from these cases.
The Pixel may be durable, but it’s no match for hard concrete, car keys, and hard knocks against tables and chairs. Luckily, there’s a solution: Zagg’s InvisibleShield Glass+, a screen protector made of shatter-resistant, shock-absorbent tempered glass. It’s thick enough to resist scrapes and scratches, but thin enough to avoid impeding the Pixel screen’s vibrancy and touch responsiveness. It comes with Zagg’s customer satisfaction guarantee: If your InvisibleShield Glass+ ever gets worn or damaged, the company will replace it for as long as you own your device.
If you’re looking for the end-all be-all in rugged Pixel protection, look no further than OtterBox’s Defender series. The ultra-thick phone case, which packs a built-in screen cover and foam-lined inner shell, is engineered to withstand harsh elements — and clumsy owners. It can hold up against abrasion, thermal extremes, drop tests, and more — Otterbox says that in its product testing, the Defender Series survived more than 24 rigorous assessments over 238 hours. No matter how you slice it, that’s pretty impressive.
The Pixel eschews a microUSB connector for a USB-C connector. That’s a good thing — USB-C’s claim to fame is bidirectional data transfer, or the ability to both send and receive power, files, and audiovisual media. But USB-C isn’t ubiquitous, which is probably why Google sells an adapter. The Pixel USB-C to USB-A cable sports a square-shaped USB-A connector on one end and a Pixel-compatible USB-C connector on the other, making it ideal for laptops, desktops, and phones that don’t have USB-C connectors. As an added bonus, it supports high-speed file transfer over USB 3.1 devices.
USB-C to DisplayPort/HDMI ($40)
Standards like Google Cast and Miracast make it easier than ever to beam your smartphone’s screen to a nearby TV, but not all setups are created equal. If you don’t have a Chromecast lying around, Google’s display adapters for the Pixel and Pixel XL are your best bet at getting content on the big screen. The USB-C to DisplayPort cable supports resolutions up to 4K/60Hz (a hair better than the USB-C HDMI’s 4K/30Hz), and works with monitors, TVs, and other compatible devices. A word of warning, though — Google notes that not all USB-C devices support video, so it’s a good idea to check with your manufacturer before picking one up.
The Pixel doesn’t ship with a charging dock, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a decent one. The Pixel Desktop Charging Dock by Encased is a USB-C cradle-style charger that props up the Pixel while it recharges. Its height-adjustable design reaches the Pixel through slim-profile cases, and it’s data compatible — you can plug it into a computer to sync your Pixel’s data. Still not convinced? The dock’s covered by Encased’s lifetime warranty.
If you spend a lot of time driving between work/school/the kids’ soccer practice and home, you’ll want a quality car charger to juice up your Pixel between stops. Nekteck makes one of the best we’ve tried. It’s fully compatible with the Pixel’s rapid charging tech, meaning it’ll supply up to seven hours of battery life after 15 minutes of charging. As an added bonus, it works with other USB-C devices, including Apple’s 12-inch MacBook and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus.
There’s perhaps no easier way to beam YouTube videos, movies, TV shows, photos, music, and even games from your Pixel to the big screen than Google’s Chromecast. The little dongle, which plugs into any HDMI-compatible projector, TV, or computer monitor that has the ports to accommodate it, connects to your Wi-Fi router, and there’s not much more to it than that. That’s sort of the point, though — casting is as easy as tapping the Chromecast icon in any of the thousands of apps, menus, and settings screens that support it.
Every great smartphone needs a great pair of headphones to go along with it — the external speakers just don’t do some genres justice. If you’re looking for a portable, compact pair that won’t break the bank, you can’t go wrong with Shure’s SE112m+. They pack dynamic drivers with impressive, responsive bass, and above-average sound isolation that helps masks sounds from the outside world. There’s a reason made our list of the best in-ear headphones: You’ll be hard pressed to find superior sound quality at this price range.
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