gotenna mesh

Here’s How to Update Your Phone Without an Expensive Upgrade

iphone x

For a long time, there always seemed like there was some new gadget that all the tech junkies seemed to need.  But then the smartphone came along and that changed the landscape.  There are always new apps, and of course, new smartphones coming out, but it’s hard to find accessories.  Or is it?  In fact, accessories are now the way to upgrade your phone, without actually upgrading it.  What kinds of things exist?  Well, the obvious ones are things like cases, battery packs, and wireless charging pads.  However, the list doesn’t end there.  In fact, there are some pretty great ways to upgrade your phone that you probably didn’t know about.

clip on lens

Clip-on Lenses

No matter how good the camera is, or how good of a photographer you are a clip-on lens can actually make a real difference to the quality of your work.  You can buy fish-eye lenses, macro lenses, wide-angle lenses and many, many more.  Just make sure that you get the lens pack that’s right for your smartphone.  The lenses will work in every app that uses the camera.  It’s an incredibly easy and eye-catching way to upgrade those Instagram pics.

gotenna mesh

Phone Antennas

This might not scream high tech, but bear with me for a moment.  If something were to happen to all of the world’s technology systems we’d be screwed, right?  But a dedicated phone antenna can help keep you connected even when you don’t have a cellular signal.  These antennas create a mesh network, which enables private communications between connected devices.  If just one phone on the network catches a cell tower signal, then everyone can use it.  Meanwhile, every node on the network can send messages, GPS locations, and other useful data from phone to phone.  You won’t be able to stream Netflix, but you can at least keep in touch.

GoTenna Mesh is the most impressive of the products on the market at the moment, with a two-pack yours for $179, while Beartooth ($249 for two) focuses on keeping two phones in constant communication, and the interesting-looking Sonnet ($89 for two) is now available to preorder after a successful Indiegogo campaign.

usb flash drive for iphone

USB Storage

Buying a USB storage device that physically plugs into your phone saves you from having to hunt for wifi or pay for cloud storage every month.  For iPhone users, you’ve got some options such as SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive.  For $78.75 you will get 128 GB of data.  Or you can get the Kingston Data Traveler Bolt Duo for $119.99, which will also give you 128 GB of data.  Android, however, is friendlier towards USB storage.  If you’ve got a USB-C phone and a USB-C flash drive you can just plug one straight into the other to access files.

game controller

Game Controllers

If you’re going to game on your smartphone, you’re going to do need a dedicated gaming accessory like a controller.  I mean, how else will you do it?   You need a controller that works with your phone, of course. With an iPhone, look for the MFi (Made For iPhone) badge on the box: The Megadream Wireless Gamepad and the Gamevice Controller Gamepad both come highly recommended by reviewers and are both compatible with a number of iOS devices and many different games.

With Android devices, however, you’ve got more sizes of device to consider and a host of decent options to pick from. The SteelSeries Stratus XL works with both Windows and Android, though there’s no integrated phone holder, while the Moga Pro Power does have a phone holder, supports a wide variety of Android phones, and won’t cost you a lot.

osmo mobile 2

Gimbal

If you do a lot of filming on your smartphone, you’re going to want to add a handheld gimbal.  This addition can really make a difference to the smoothness and quality of your finished clips.  It’s a much better investment than a selfie stick.  You’re going to want that stabilization as we get better resolutions like 4K.  The new Osmo Mobile 2 from DJI looks like a good bet, works with just about any phone, and will set you back $129—it comes with some special tricks such as a hyperlapse mode as well. Other popular options include the Zhiyun Smooth-Q and the Hohem T2.

You’re going to want to look for gimbals with a long battery life.  You also want easy options for connecting and sharing your video.  If possible, get one with the option to charge your smartphone while you’re busy capturing all of that wonderful footage.