It’s that time of the year again, and if you’re anything like us, you’re still buying presents for loved ones. Almost everyone has a smartphone, so if you’re looking for small accessories as stocking stuffers, we’ve compiled a list to help. Almost all of our picks are under $30, so they work as solid options for Secret Santa or White Elephant gifts for co-workers and friends.
We all know one person who continues to charge their device with the same battered old cable. It makes you wince every time it comes out, with exposed wires and a completely worn away plastic collar. It’s hideous to behold — and even worse, it’s dangerous. Don’t just wince though — get them one of these tough cables. These durable braided Lightning and USB-C cables come with special strengthening in the areas that traditionally see the most wear, including the plastic collar near the connector. They’re not too expensive, easy to slip into a stocking, and both come in multipacks for value.
There’s a lot to love about smartphone cameras these days, and if you know someone who loves taking snaps with their phone, then you might consider this clip-on camera lens from Aukey. It’s a wide-angle lens that allows for super-wide 140-degree shots, as well as close-ups. It works with a variety of smartphones and is made from high-quality materials like aluminum alloy and multi-element glass, which ensure long-lasting use and some fantastic camera shots. We took them for a spin in this camera shootout if you want to see sample photos taken with the lens from an iPhone X.
What about music lovers? Well, we have our list of the best Bluetooth speakers around, but if you’re looking for something more in the “stocking budget,” then check out this pint-sized speaker from JBL. The JBL Go streams music from a smartphone via its Bluetooth connection, but also has an audio jack port for physical connections. It’s small, and it comes with a built-in carry strap, so it’s super-portable. A rechargeable battery offers up to 5 hours of playback, according to JBL, and it sounds good too.
This one’s for the more inquisitive of your loved ones. The Discovery Channel Smartphone Microscope clips onto your phone’s camera in a similar way to a clip-on lens. However, a clip-on lens will struggle to match the awesome 30x zoom of this particular gadget. It’s definitely more of a niche product, but give this to the right person and they’ll be amused for hours. It’s super-cheap too, but we won’t tell them that.
Here’s another one for the music lovers among your friends and family. The Mpow Flame wireless headphones connect via Bluetooth, making them perfect for any activity where you don’t want a wire bouncing around. They’re also waterproof and sweatproof, doubling down on the exercise utility. The Mpow boasts a significant battery life, with 7- to 9 hours of playback. It also recharges quickly, going to full in just 90 minutes. They look good, fit securely on the ear, and would be a great gift for a fitness lover.
Got a friend or family member who’s always losing their keys, or their wallet — or absolutely anything else? Consider the Tile Mate the antidote to their absent-mindedness. It’s a tile-shaped gadget that’s small enough to clip onto a key ring, a bag, or most valuables, and it pairs to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Whenever there’s a lost item, simply pull out the paired phone, open the Tile Mate app, and voilà — it displays exactly where the Tile Mate can be found. It can even be remotely triggered to ring at full volume. Best of all, it works both ways, so you can use the Tile Mate to find the paired phone by setting the device’s alarm off at full volume. This is a neat little gadget for a neat little price.
If your friend has a phone with wireless charging capabilities, but no wireless charger, then you’ve got an easy gift choice right here. Wireless charging may not be as fast as most wired chargers these days, but they’re convenient, allowing a phone to be topped up throughout the day by simply having it on the charger. This stand-type charger from Anker is perfect for a desk or bedside table, and it can be unlocked with facial recognition (if your phone supports it). There’s an indicator light to signal when a device is charging, and it’s one of the faster wireless chargers we’ve tested.
A simple choice for the clumsy people on your list, the PopSocket is a great gift for anyone who might have trouble keeping a smartphone in their hands. While a good protective case can stop damage from a fall, a PopSocket can prevent the fall entirely by lending extra grip. Easily attached with a reusable adhesive, the PopSocket pops out to create a convenient grip that can be held between fingers. It can also serve as a makeshift stand, and it’s available in a wide variety of colors and styles. It’s not the flashiest of accessories by any means — but it could save a phone from being damaged.
Oh wow, is it 2016 again already? The craze for selfie sticks may have passed, but that doesn’t mean they’re past their usefulness. This selfie stick comes from Mpow and manages to stay relevant by ditching the old 3.5mm connection for a Bluetooth connection. Other than that, it works exactly the way you’d expect a selfie stick to work. Pair it with a phone, secure it in the cradle, and start snapping with the built-in camera button. It stretches to an impressive 31.9 inches when fully extended and folds down to just 7.1 inches.
“Oh no,” we hear you cry. “It’s another set of headphones!” Pipe down cupcake, this isn’t just “another” set of headphones. These Pixel headphones are made by Google, and they’re designed to complement everything in Google’s ecosphere. Tap the black button and you can talk to the Google Assistant, who can help you send messages, check up on the news, or even translate languages in real time. Hold the up button and the Google Assistant will read out your latest notifications. They’re exceptionally handy — but since they connect by USB-C, they can’t be used with iPhones, or with phones without a USB-C port. Still, they’re a cool and flashy buy. Check out Google Pixel USB-C Earbuds review for more details.
Anker Powercore 5000 ($22)
Cell phone batteries are getting better, but many modern phones will usually only last the day — and if it’s been a particularly busy day, maybe not even that. The Anker Powercore 5000 can provide that special someone with a little extra power whenever they need it most. With a 5,000mAh battery capacity, it’s got the juice to recharge most smartphones at least once — and many iPhones twice — and it’s small enough to be slipped into a pocket and carried around. Being an Anker product, you know it’s made from high-quality materials. If you know someone who could use that little bit of extra charge, this could be their perfect stocking stuffer.
Google Daydream View ($37)
Alright, so it’s a little large to fit into a stocking, and it’s slightly above the limit we allowed ourselves for this article — but this is too good a bargain to pass up. Virtual reality is one of the coolest new avenues for technology as a whole, and Google’s Daydream View headset is a great way to try out VR. At this bargain price, it’s a cool gift to get someone. Just be sure their Android phone (no iOS support sadly) can handle VR — check out Google’s list for a decent idea of which phones can handle it, and then dive into our favorite Daydream VR apps.