Best Mobile Office Accessories for the iPhone

In spite of the continued misgivings on the part of some mobile IT managers, the iPhone and its inventory of mobile apps continue to make their presence known throughout the business world. In other words, the iPhone is here to stay -- so why not make your job easier by expanding your iPhone support knowledge-base?

While much attention is paid to the 140,000 mobile downloads in the App Store, in this article we shift the focus to hardware. We provide guidance for mobile IT managers who need to recommend accessories that will help mobile workers get the most out of their iPhones.

Below, we survey some hardware options as they relate to power, protection and performance. We'll help you choose the best cases, learn how to defend iPhone displays from damage -- and repair them if need be -- as well as how to select battery packs and headsets that will keep your mobile workers productive while on-the-go.

Power to the iPhone
The iPhone, like many smartphones, eats up power at an alarming rate. Sure, battery performance has improved over the years, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. And, unlike with a BlackBerry, for example, you can't pop out the battery and replace it when your iPhone is running low on juice.

That's why the very first thing we recommend you do after buying an iPhone is pick a peripheral to make sure you can get through the day without running out of power.

There are two directions you can go to achieve this: Buy a case that doubles as a spare lithium-ion battery or go with a stand-alone battery pack that you can plug into the iPhone to give it a power boost when necessary.

While we prefer the former, the latter can do in pinch. There are a number of standalone options available from vendors, including Kensington ($45.95 and $31.44), 3GJUICE ($55.95), Miccus ($39.99) and others.

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As a rule, the larger the mAH the more extra power you'll get from these devices. Just carry your spare charge around in your pocket and plug it in when needed. It is that simple.

As for cases that integrate a battery, personal favorites include the Tekkeon myPower Battery/Leather Sleeve (see right image), which includes a 1500 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery. Not only does the Tekkeon (about $56) look good and protect your iPhone should it take a tumble, it does a stellar job of keeping it powered up so you can use an iPhone for over a full day between charges. As a bonus, the Tekkeon smartly depletes the cases battery first, before moving to the iPhone's.

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Another good battery/case combo is the Mophie Juice Pack Air (around $60), which we currently use. It is a sleek hard case that also increases the iPhone's battery life. Unlike the Tekkeon, the Mophie includes an on/off switch that allows you to choose between the iPhone or the case's battery. LEDs tell you how fully the Mophie is charged.

The Mophie/iPhone combination is larger than the Tekkeon/iPhone together, but not nearly as large as another battery/case model, the FASTMAC iV, the most powerful (and most expensive, at nearly $100) of these accessories.

The FASTMAC iV (see image below), unlike the Tekkeon and its 1500 mAH lithium battery and the Mophie with its 1200 mAH lithium, sports an extremely powerful 3100 mAh lithium battery, hence its added width (a downside) and extra juice (a definite benefit).

There's even a flash LED embedded in the back of the device, which comes in handy when you need a little extra light for taking pictures and video, or simply to look for something in a darkened room. Unfortunately, for all its benefits, the FASTMAC is not designed to protect the iPhone in the way the Tekkeon and Mophie do.

TAGS:

iPhone, smartphone, iPhone accessories, mobile office, mobile computing
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