Best Mobile Office Accessories for the iPhone | Page 2

The Case for Cases
The iPhone is relatively tough. It can handle some, but not a lot, of abuse. You may drop it dozens of times without damage. However, all it takes is for your iPhone to fall the wrong way once for it to break.

This happened to us once. Our iPhone, which fell many times before, hit the ground on its back only one time and, of all things, the screen broke. Then we were off to our local Apple Genius, only to find out we would have to pay up to get it fixed or replaced.

Thankfully, we consistently synced up our iPhone with iTunes to make sure it was backed up. We highly recommend you do the same, as you never know when your data may become corrupted.

Dropping and breaking your iPhone would be a particularly bad thing to do when away on business. You don't want to find yourself at a conference only to find you can't (or don't have time to) get your iPhone fixed or replaced quickly.

So why not hedge your bets and invest a few bucks in a case?

While we prefer the models that combine a battery, if you simply want protection without added power, there are many cases available for the iPhone, too many to go over in detail here. Still, there are some that stand out from the pack.

For the ultimate in protection, check out Otterbox Defender Series. The reasonably priced ($49.95) Otterbox comes in black, white, pink or yellow. It offers three layers of protection: a thin, clear membrane covers the touchscreen; a hard, strong Polycarbonate skeleton; and a silicone skin that absorbs bump and shock.

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Keep in mind that while the Otterbox is sturdy, it isn't exactly the smallest or sleekest looking case in the world. It won't fit comfortably in your pocket.

There are plenty of smaller hard cases available, though. Few, if any, will offer the same degree of protection as the Otterbox, however.

And, while we are not the biggest fans of soft cases, they are generally smaller and cheaper than hard cases, unless you go with a leather one. If you can't stand the idea of carrying around a hard case, a soft case is better than nothing.

Keeping Your iPhone Display Dazzling
Speaking of protection, few cases bundle a screen protector the way the Otterbox does. And while the iPhone's screen can take a lot of abuse, it is worth investing in a screen protector to keep it looking like new.

Pretty much every accessory vendor that makes an iPhone case also offers an iPhone screen protector. With the best of them, you barely know it's there. They only cost a few bucks and are worth the investment. Here you'll find a list of iPhone screen protectors available from Amazon.

Say you break your iPhone's display, but are unable or unwilling to part with your iPhone for the length of time it would take Apple to fix it. There is a cheaper and, often, quicker alternative.

There are companies out there that offer screen replacement kits to enable you to replace a screen yourself. One such company, DirectFix.com, sells these kits for $39.99.

Videos on YouTube walk you through the process of replacing your iPhone's screen, which is quite easy. There's one caveat about these solutions, however: they will void your warranty with Apple.

Nonetheless, if your are truly serious about keeping your iPhone running, you may want to consider investing in one of these ahead of a business trip, say to a place where you know you won't be able to get your iPhone replaced or fixed easily should your screen crack.

iPhone Headphones, Hands Free Options
All iPhones come with a pair of Apple's standard white headphones. They are decent enough, but the audio quality could be better. Thankfully, there's an accessory, called Yurbuds, that greatly improves the sound of these headsets without cost you a lot of money.

Available from a startup called YurTopia, Yurbuds are customized ear buds that you attach to the iPhone's standard ear buds. They fit comfortably in the ear and can stay put even while you are running.

Most important of all, the difference in sound quality with and without Yurbuds is dramatic. I wouldn't have believed what an improvement Yurbuds ($19.99, $29.99 for two pairs) make had I not tried them out myself (see our review of Yurbuds for the iPhone).

According to Yurtopia, Yurbuds concentrate sound so well, users can reduce volume by as much as 50 percent, saving both their hearing and reducing power consumption. That's a double-bonus we fully support.

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Yurbuds come in six sizes. To get fitted simply upload or send Yurtopia a picture of your ear with a standard reference object.

The only problem with YurBuds is they don't block ambient noise, which is great for when you need to know what's going on around you, such as during a run or walking on the street, but not so good when you are taking part in a business meeting or teleconference.

In those instances, I'd go with an in-ear headset, such as the great-sounding pair Apple offers for $79.99.

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That headset, like similar models from Bose, comes with three interchangeable tips. Just pick the one that's the most comfortable and you'll be listening to the person on the other end without interruption from ambient noise.

Apple's in-ear canal headset uses silicon tips, which are far more comfortable than in-ear canal headsets from some other manufacturers that use rubber tips. Stick with silicon.

Say you've got a pair of headphones that you love, but they don't include a microphone. There is a way around that as well.

Griffin offers an iPhone/iPod accessory called SmartTalk ($19.99), which can turn any headphone into a full-fledged headset.

Just plug your headphone into the SmartTalk and your ready to go. Griffin updated the product last year with an improved in-line, noise-canceling microphone that you can easily clip to your shirt.

A ControlMic button allows users to play, pause and skip music. Press the button once to pause, twice to skip forward a track and three times to skip back a track. You can also use this button to answer calls or send them to voicemail.

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