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For many iPhone X owners, two of the most hotly anticipated upcoming Apple products are accessories. Both previewed during last fall’s keynote address at Steve Jobs Theater, the AirPower wireless charging mat and AirPods wireless charging case arrive on the heels of another high-profile Apple accessory – the HomePod.
While Apple’s accessory strategy is more ambitious and important to their success than ever before, the company’s assent for accent has a storied past. Just like the products they complement, accessories come and go with the seasons, and after touring desk drawers and closet shelves for a few years often find themselves abandoned by time.
Browsing the halls of obscure and forgotten Apple accessories reveals a winding and surprising assortment of products. From cases, to cables, to chargers, how many do you know?Lightning to Micro USB Adapter
The iPhone 5 was the first iOS device to drop the familiar 30-pin connector for charging and syncing in favor of the Lightning port. Alongside the phone’s introduction in September 2012, Apple quietly released the Lightning to Micro USB adapter for the European market.
The dongle appeased an odd EU legislation that made it necessary for all smartphones to offer a micro USB connection. In November 2012, Apple made the adapter available to customers in the United States. You can still pick one up on Apple’s website today for $19.Apple Remote
The original Apple Remote debuted alongside the iMac G5 in October 2005, and was designed to work with Apple’s Front Row home theater application for Mac OS X and universal iPod docks. The first-generation remote looked a lot like the original iPod shuffle, and was made entirely out of plastic. Power came from a small, button cell battery that popped out of the bottom of the device. The Apple TV adopted the Apple Remote as its controller when it went on sale in 2007.
Apple released a longer, aluminum redesign of the remote in 2009, complementing the maturing aesthetic of newer Macs and iOS devices. While you can still buy the remote on Apple’s website for $19, Front Row no longer exists, and iPods are mostly a thing of the past.
Today, Apple ships the more modern Siri Remote with new Apple TVs, which includes a touch surface instead of a directional pad.Apple USB SuperDrive
One of the biggest concerns for early adopters of the MacBook Air was how to use existing CDs and DVDs with a computer that had no optical disk drive. Apple’s solution was to offer the MacBook Air SuperDrive, which debuted alongside the original Air in January 2008.
As other computers in Apple’s lineup stopped offering internal optical drives, the product was rebranded as the Apple USB SuperDrive, compatible with all Macs manufactured after 2008. Today, most people have completely moved on from physical media, but you can still buy a USB SuperDrive from Apple for $79 if you’re looking for an expensive dose of nostalgia.iPhone TTY Adapter
First introduced for the original iPhone in 2007, Apple’s TTY Adapter is probably one of the most niche accessories the company has ever made. The 3.5mm adapter is designed to let an iPhone interface with standard TTY accessibility devices. Despite the fact that the iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus, 7 and 7 Plus have no headphone jack, Apple still sells the adapter for $19. Since iOS 10, you can make TTY calls from your iPhone without using additional hardware.Discontinued Accessories Pride Edition and International Collection Woven Nylon Apple Watch bands
In June 2023, Apple distributed special pride-themed Watch bands to employees participating in San Francisco’s annual LGBT Pride Parade. A year later, the same bands were made available to the general public for $49 on Apple’s website. By September, the bands were no longer for sale, making them one of the shortest lived Apple Watch collections to date.
Even more limited was Apple’s International Collection of nylon bands created for the 2023 Olympic Games. A series of 14 bands themed after the flags of competing countries debuted in time for the start of the games in August 2023. While the bands sold for the same $49 as other nylon designs, they were available exclusively at Apple VillageMall in Rio de Janeiro.
This past January, Apple created a special Activity ring-themed band for employees participating in an internal wellness challenge. The band has not yet been made available to the general public.iPod touch loop
The fifth-generation iPod touch was the first and only iOS device to include a mounting button for a color-matched loop accessory. The iPod touch has long been a favorite choice for children, and the loop was designed to save iPods from costly falls.
After its introduction in September 2012, the loop was sold until the sixth-generation iPod touch dropped the connector entirely. Today, Apple sells a similar Siri Remote Loop for the Apple TV.OS X Lion USB Thumb Drive
OS X Lion was the first version of Apple’s desktop operating system to ship after the release of the Mac App Store, and the first version of OS X not distributed on DVD. To accommodate users unable to upgrade by digital download, Apple offered the OS X Lion USB Thumb Drive in 2011 and 2012.
At $69, it was significantly more expensive than the $29.99 App Store version of the operating system. While a similar thumb drive was not offered for subsequent releases of OS X, Apple did bundle the drive with MacBook Airs for a time prior to Lion’s release.Apple Universal Dock
As the iPod line diversified, the need arose for a dock that could support any device with a 30-pin connector. In 2005, Apple released the first of three versions of its Universal Dock. A revision in 2007 brought a tweaked design and bundled the Apple Remote, and a final version in 2010 added new dock adapters and the refreshed Apple Remote.
The Universal Dock wasn’t refreshed to support the iPhone 5 in 2012, and it wasn’t until September 2013 that Apple re-entered the market with dedicated iPhone 5s and 5c docks. A standard Lightning dock debuted in 2023, months after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Today, aluminum versions are available in 4 color-matched finishes.Apple Battery Charger
The Magic Trackpad was the third member in Apple’s desktop accessory line to rely on AA batteries for power. Alongside its introduction came the Apple Battery Charger, an environmentally friendly initiative.
Bundled with 6 AA batteries, the charger was priced at $29. In 2023, when versions of the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and rebranded Magic Keyboard were released with built-in rechargeable batteries, the need for an external battery charger was diminished. Apple now provides information on how to maximize your battery performance.iPad Camera Connection Kit
iPhone photography was significantly less popular in 2010 when the original iPad was released. At the time, Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit was the best way to get photos from your digital camera onto your iPad for viewing and editing. Like the iPod Camera Connector before it, the dongle used the 30-pin connector for data transfer from a USB device or SD card. Early adopters quickly discovered that other USB devices could be unofficially used with the kit, too.iPad Keyboard Dock
Long before the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, there was the iPad Keyboard Dock. Launched in 2010 and discontinued with the release of the iPad 2 in 2011, the $69 accessory was essentially Apple’s wireless keyboard with a 30-pin dock connector instead of AA batteries.
With a set of iOS-specific function keys and the exact same key travel as a standard keyboard, the dock brought a true desktop feel to the iPad. However, the reliance on the 30-pin connector for power and connectivity meant that the iPad had to be in portrait orientation while in use. This constraint led some to prefer third-party solutions or Bluetooth keyboards.First-generation iPad Case
Another forgotten iPad accessory is Apple’s first-generation multifunction case. While customers were still figuring how best to integrate the iPad into their workflows, Apple predicted that watching video and typing would be popular activities. The case’s cover was designed to flip around and fold to create a stand for the iPad in both upright and typing positions.
Apple scrapped the design altogether in 2011 and introduced the much more popular line of Smart Covers for the iPad 2. The spirit of the original case returned in 2012 with the iPad Smart Case.iPod shuffle in polished stainless steel
In September 2009, Apple refreshed the storage capacity and colors of the third-generation iPod shuffle, adding an Apple store exclusive version with a polished stainless steel finish. The device was functionally identical to every other model in the lineup except in price, retailing with 4GB of storage for $99 instead of the standard $79. A year later, Apple replaced the entire line with a completely redesigned iPod shuffle.iPhone Dual Dock Nike + iPod Sport Kit
2006 brought the start of a long-term collaboration between Nike and Apple, and its first fruit was the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, a $29 shoe sensor and iPod adapter that intelligently tracked your runs.
Later, Apple would bundle a Nike + iPod app with iOS until it was removed in iOS 9. Apple’s partnership with Nike continues to this day with the Apple Watch Nike+.Leather Case for iPod and iPod nano
When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod Hi-Fi in early 2006, he also announced a line of leather cases for the first-generation iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod. Made of Italian leather with a microfiber interior, both cases sold for a pricey $99.
Unlike Apple’s leather iPhone cases, the iPod models came only in black and were designed to protect your iPod during travel, not during use. A small ribbon at the top of case let you easily pull the iPod out completely or just enough to view the screen. The cases were never refreshed for the final iPod classic or second-generation iPod nano.iPod Radio Remote
In today’s era of streaming music, the idea of listening to FM radio on an iPod sounds quaint, but in January 2006, it was a big enough deal to warrant its own press release out of the Macworld Expo.
The $49 iPod Radio remote was an intermediary device that attached to an iPod or iPod nano via the dock connector, and offered a headphone jack on the other end for connecting a bundled pair of shorter Apple earbuds. The iPod’s software was updated to display radio controls, but the remote itself provided eyes-free control.
In September 2009, when the fifth-generation iPod Nano gained built-in support for FM radio, Apple discontinued the iPod Radio Remote.iPod nano Lanyard Headphones
Unlike the iPod mini before it, the iPod nano was thin and light, and built using flash storage instead of a spinning hard drive. The device was so light that Apple released a set of headphones in 2005 that doubled as a lanyard, turning the iPod nano into a wearable of sorts. The headphones were updated for the second-generation iPod nano in 2006, but were abandoned during the transition to the “fat Nano” in 2007.iPod nano Tubes
The original iPod nano gained a reputation for being easy to scratch, even leading to a class action lawsuit and settlement agreement with Apple.
One of the more affordable protection options for those worried about damaging their iPods was a set of iPod nano Tubes. The $29 set of 5 tubes came in clear, blue, purple, green, and pink, depending on your mood. The cases were made of silicon and were compatible with the iPod nano Lanyard Headphones.
The second generation iPod nano moved to an anodized aluminum design with plastic top and bottom caps that proved to be more durable and resistant to scratching.iPod mini Lanyard
Similar to the iPod nano Lanyard Headphones and iPod shuffle lanyard, Apple offered an optional lanyard for the iPod mini as well. The accessory was priced at $19 and was discontinued with the introduction of the iPod nano. iLounge reviewed the lanyard in 2005.First-generation iPod shuffle accessories
Macworld reviewed the Sport Case back in 2005, offering a in-depth look at the obscure accessory. Interestingly enough, the case shipped with a headphone jack dongle to preserve its water protection abilities.iPod Socks
A fan favorite for many years, iPod Socks enjoyed a considerably long life in Apple’s online store, first introduced in October 2004, and not removed from sale until 2012. Apple claimed that the socks were compatible with every single iPod and iPhone model from the original 5GB iPod in 2001 all the way through the iPhone 4s.
iPod Socks shipped in a pack of six vibrant shades of green, purple, grey, blue, orange, and pink for $29. Like other early Apple cases, the socks were designed only to protect iPods during travel rather than in use.AirPort Express Stereo Connection Kit with Monster Cables
When the AirPort Express shipped in 2004, it was the first Apple router to support AirTunes (later AirPlay), an easy way to stream music wirelessly in your home. To make the set up process easier, Apple offered an optional $39 AirPort Express Stereo Connection Kit.
The kit included a Monster mini-to-RCA left/right audio cable, a Monster mini-to-optical digital Toslink audio cable and an AirPort Express power extension cord. By connecting your stereo to an AirPort Express, it would instantly become available for music streaming.
In 2012, Apple redesigned the AirPort Express but did not release a similar stereo kit for the new model.iPod mini and nano Armband
From January 2004 until September 2010, Apple sold first-party armbands for the iPod mini and later the iPod nano. The band’s design was updated for every single generation of iPod from the original iPod mini through the fourth and fifth-generation iPod nano. Each band was priced at $29, and let users exercise while keeping their device safe and easy to access.
When the tiny sixth-generation iPod nano debuted in 2010, wearing the device as a watch became popular, although Apple didn’t offer an official first-party band. Today, the Apple Watch fills the void left by the iPod nano.iPod In-Ear Headphones
For those seeking a more premium listening experience than offered by standard earbuds, Apple introduced the iPod In-Ear Headphones in January 2004. The original set was priced at $39 and complemented the styling of Apple’s cheaper earbuds that were bundled with every iPod. Three different sized caps were included that could be swapped out for a better fit.
In September 2008, Apple moved their premium earbuds upmarket, announcing the Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic for $79. Aside from a higher price tag, the new headphones featured more impressive sound isolation and were designed with the iPhone in mind. The second-generation earbuds are still available for the same price, but use the now-obsolete 3.5mm headphone jack to connect.iSight camera and Accessory Kit
Before the term was used to reference the cameras on older iOS devices, iSight was the name of Apple’s external video conferencing camera, announced alongside iChat AV at WWDC 2003. The camera mounted on any Mac’s display or on your desk, since none of Apple’s computers had built-in cameras at the time.
Even more uncommon than the camera itself was an optional $29 accessory kit that included four multipurpose mounts. Design blog Minimally Minimal offers an in-depth retrospective look at the camera’s design and mounts.
The iSight camera wasn’t Apple’s first attempt in the videoconferencing space. All the way back in 1995, the company released the forgotten QuickTime Video Conferencing Camera 100.iPod Carrying Case with Belt Clip
Early iPods were bundled with a lot of accessories. Starting in 2002 for the second and third-generation models, Apple included a Carrying Case with Belt Clip in the box, made out of a high-quality Schoeller woven nylon.
Later, when the Dock Connector replaced FireWire for charging and syncing iPods, Apple updated the case and started selling it for $39 as a standalone accessory. It would be replaced in 2006 by leather iPod cases.iPod Remote and Earphones
Just like the aforementioned Carrying Case with Belt Clip, Apple’s iPod Remote and Earphones were bundled with higher capacity second and third-generation iPods, and beginning in 2004, sold for $39 as a standalone accessory.
Unlike the current wired EarPods which include a remote and microphone, the iPod Remote and Earphones could be clipped on your shirt or disconnected at the remote.eMac Tilt and Swivel stand
Even while it was actively for sale, the eMac was a relatively obscure member of Apple’s Mac lineup. The computer was sold primarily to educational institutions, and eventually became the last member of the Mac family with a CRT display.
Apple sold an uncommon and optional Tilt and Swivel stand for the eMac, lifting the machine three inches off a desk and meeting European ergonomic certification standards.DVI to ADC Adapter
Apple has absorbed a considerable amount of criticism in recent years over the need to use dongles and adapters to connect legacy hardware to the company’s increasingly wireless products. Today’s inconveniences seem minor, however, when compared to the massive DVI to ADC Adapter that Apple introduced in 2002.
The adapter was designed to connect to a PowerBook G4 and drive the 23-inch Apple Cinema Display. Power Mac G4 users could use the adapter to drive a dual display setup. The adapter included active processing hardware inside that regenerated both the digital graphics and USB signals coming from the computer.
Weighing almost 2 pounds and measuring 5 inches wide and 1.58 inches deep, the adapter was significantly larger and heavier than an Apple TV. Apple sold the accessory online for $99 through at least 2010.DVD-R media kit
Apple introduced iDVD in January 2001 as a consumer-friendly tool for creating and authoring your own home movies. Of course, burning DVDs requires buying blank discs to write to. Apple’s solution was to sell their own DVD-R media kits online and at Apple retail stores.
A 5-pack of 4x speed discs originally sold for $49.95, later dropping to $19.95. As SuperDrives increased in speed, Apple began selling a similar 5-pack of 8x discs for the same price.
Apple continued to promote iDVD and the SuperDrive for several years, until customers began favoring streaming media over optical discs.Apple Pro Speakers
The Apple Pro Speakers began their story in 2000 with the Power Mac G4 Cube, the ill-fated desktop housed inside an 8-inch cube. Apple partnered with Harmon Kardon to create a set of custom speakers that were bundled with the computer and connected with a custom USB interface that only worked with the G4 cube.
In January 2001, Apple updated the Power Mac G4 with a new digital audio system and began offering a reconfigured version of the G4 Cube’s speakers as a $59 accessory. The new Apple Pro Speakers connected with a proprietary Apple speaker minijack that provided both power and audio.
Later, two models of the iMac G4 were bundled with Apple Pro Speakers. Low End Mac compiled a guide to make sense of the confusing compatibility between Apple’s different speaker options at the time.AirPort Card and Base Station
When the original spaceship-style AirPort base station was released in 1999, Macs didn’t ship with built-in WiFi connectivity. Instead, Apple offered the AirPort Card, and later the AirPort Extreme Card to let users add wireless capabilities to their Macs.
As WiFi became standard across Apple’s product line, new users could enjoy wireless capabilities right out of the box, and the cards were discontinued.Apple Studio Display (15-inch flat-panel)
While many long-term Mac users will remember Apple’s large CRT Studio Displays, the product line actually began with a relatively forgotten LCD display all the way back in 1998. The 15-inch flat panel Apple Studio Display was housed in a dark blue translucent case that didn’t match any of Apple’s other products at the time, but foreshadowed the iMac G3‘s design.
The display was replaced less than a year later in January 1999, when it was refreshed with a tweaked color scheme that matched the blue and white Power Mac G3 tower. The entire Studio Display line was redesigned and expanded in 2000.
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Written By Tony Ware
Updated Feb 17, 2023 1:07 PM
If you’ve ever woken up and, groggily lumbering toward the bathroom, started the day by tripping over an iPhone charging cable, you know you felt no shame audibly cheering the first time you used a MagSafe accessory. MagSafe, Apple’s magnetic connector for electronic devices, started as an improvement for MacBook power cords in 2006. But it was with the introduction of the iPhone 12 in 2023 that the MagSafe name became synonymous with the much wider world of wireless power transfer and magnetic attachment products. Having a phone and a MagSafe-compatible charger saves you the problem of having the right cord with the right connector that’s the right length to be lined up just right; when that green circle lights up the iPhone screen, one less worry fills your mind. Not every MagSafe accessory involves power but they do all involve that feeling of security. Here’s our selection of the best MagSafe accessories to make sure your iPhone is fully charged and fastened when and where you need it to be.How we chose the best MagSafe accessories
As gadget geeks and serial upgraders, many of us have a recent iPhone. And considering how many devices we regularly test, requiring us to keep track of yet another interconnect, being able to wrangle one less tangle is a godsend. This is why we are both fans and intimate friends with many MagSafe accessories. Combining this firsthand experience with peer recommendations, critical reviews, and user impressions, we put together a list of potential inclusions from top manufacturers—including Belkin, Mophie, OtterBox, and more—then narrowed down the dozens of options to these picks.The best MagSafe accessories: Reviews & Recommendations
MagSafe is a quality-of-life improvement you didn’t know you needed, but once you have it, you don’t understand why you didn’t this whole time. Here are our top picks for some of the best MagSafe accessories, focusing on accessories that offer charging.
Why it made the cut: This unassuming silicone-clad slab packs a sweet suite of Apple device chargers into a low-profile accessory.
Dimensions: 9.8 x 5 x 3.66 inches
Weight: 1.74 pounds
Power: Up to 15W MagSafe
Charges iPhone, Apple Watch, and wireless earbuds simultaneously
Full 15W MagSafe charging capability
Apple Watch Series 7 fast charge supported
Apple Watch can be charged flat or in Nightstand mode
Not the cheapest charging pad
Fans of maximized minimalism will love this Belkin 3-in-1 charging stand. It’s an Apple enthusiast’s simplest solution for charging all the essentials, with dedicated spots for a MagSafe-compatible iPhone, an Apple Watch, and wireless-compatible AirPods.
Despite being a three-device dream, it’s an unassuming silicone-clad slab—available in Black or White with a soft-matte finish and subtle chrome accents—and it’s a lay-flat design that can be easily packed for on-the-go use. The MagSafe iPhone platform offers full 15W charging, with or without an official MagSafe case on your device (an included 40W adapter ensures the full output). While the Watch puck is adjustable, allowing any size Watch to be oriented as an alarm clock in Nightstand mode—and enabling fast charge for compatible Apple Watch Series 8 models. And the AirPods panel includes an LED indicator, so you know the wireless charging is active.
Stable without being too hefty, the Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE PRO is the top third-party MagSafe charger and fills an important gap in Apple’s own offerings.Best charging dock: Nomad Base One Max charger
Why it made the cut: Nomad’s Base One Max is a sturdy 2-in-1 Made for iPhone-certified charger made of metal, glass, and soft-touch rubber.
Dimensions: 7.44 x 3.54 x 1.8 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Power: Up to 15W MagSafe, Requires 30W charging brick
Weight keeps it anchored
Apple Watch charges in Nightstand Mode
Doesn’t support Apple Watch 7 fast charge
Doesn’t come with a charging brick
Nomad’s Base One Max is a hefty 2-in-1 charger that emphasizes design and utility. Available in Carbide or Silver, it features a solid metal and glass design along with subtle soft-touch accents to keep your devices protected, and it looks and feels more like a centerpiece rather than just another accessory.
The integrated Apple Watch charger props up the wearable in Nightstand Mode, while the 15W MFi MagSafe pad provides a satisfying thunk every time you place your iPhone down to charge. The charging pad is also compatible with other Qi-enabled devices so that you can charge your AirPods in between Zoom meetings.
Although the Base One Max is heavy at 2 pounds, its weight allows it to stay anchored when you reach for your device, and the rubber base ensures it won’t move around. The Base One Max comes with a 6-foot braided USB-C cable, but you’ll have to supply your own charging brick. It also doesn’t support fast charge on the Apple Watch.
While the Base One Max is pricey and not as transportable as our best overall pick, its thoughtful, high-quality design makes it one of the most elegant MagSafe options for a designated iPhone charging station.
Why it made the cut: Simplify your packing without sacrificing anything with this elegant wireless charging solution.
Dimensions: 0.4 x 12.3 x 3.2 inches
Weight: 9.92 ounces
Power: 7.5W, 15W MagSafe
Compact yet complete charging suite
Apple Watch can be oriented in Nightstand mode
As pricy as a permanent pad, but not as solid
Classy as it is convenient, the Mophie 3-in-1 travel charger with MagSafe is an easily packable trifold charger that comes with all the accessories needed, all tucked within an elegant felt organizer. Inside this backpack, briefcase, or maybe even belt bag-friendly case, you’ll find three pockets for the charger, a 30W USB-C PD wall adapter, and an included 1m USB-C to USB-C cable.Best car mount: Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE Magnetic Wireless Car Charger
Why it made the cut: This vent-mounted charger helps you steer without your iPhone sliding around and driving you crazy.
Dimensions: 1.68 x 3.98 x 5.43 inches
Weight: 3.35 ounces
Power: Up to 10W
Easily mounted/removed on a vehicle air vent
Keeps phone secure, accessible, and charged during navigation
Requires you to run a cable from the console to charge
Placement might require some adjusting, based on vent blades
It may not quite be the jetpacks that the future promised, but having a MagSafe mount in the car definitely changed how I travel for the better. Securing my iPhone conveniently as fast, if not faster, than I fasten my own seatbelt, not having to fish out a charging cable, then detaching the phone just as expediently when I get to my destination is perhaps the greatest expression of MagSafe’s life-changing properties.
Easily clamped to an air vent, the Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE magnetic wireless charging mount holds an iPhone firmly within sight even when traffic patterns shift abruptly. If you must keep an eye on a screen for navigation purposes (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt you won’t play videos or other distractions while driving), it’s far better to situate your phone in an optimal place to the side of the steering column rather than have you fumbling for it with only one hand on the wheel.
In addition to firmly holding the phone in place (in either vertical or horizontal orientation), the Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE can be plugged into (what was once) the cigarette lighter with the included 20W USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 car power supply and charge your iPhone while driving. This helps compensate for energy-intensive programs like Waze and Google Maps keeping your display and GPS continually active. The road may be full of bumps, but at least your phone won’t flip or its battery dip with this convenient accessory.Best phone case: Otterbox OtterGrip Symmetry Series
Why it made the cut: Enter the world of MagSafe without having to get rid of a phone grip.
Dimensions: 6.02 x 3.11 x .53 inches
Weight: 1.76 ounces
Combines MagSafe compliance with easy grip
Doesn’t interfere with phone buttons
OtterGrip not a complete replacement for the PopSocket
More of a phone grip than a phone stand
Thanks to increasingly more content and the pixels needed to display it, smartphones have gotten bigger and bigger over the last decade. For people with the small, dainty hands of a 19th-century child working in a watch factory, phone grips like PopSockets provided a handle to prevent some accidental drops and smartphone pinky. However, these add-ons meant that anyone using one could never fully experience the convenience of MagSafe—an iPhone‘s back cover has to be easily accessible so that compatible accessories can sit flush and align their magnetic array. Sure, you can buy a PopSocket that attaches using MagSafe, but then you’re taking it on and off and potentially losing it. That changes with the Otterbox OtterGrip Symmetry Series case, originally announced in January 2023 at CES and now available. The OtterGrip gives you the best of both worlds, allowing you to have an integrated phone grip and use any of the MagSafe chargers, mounts, batteries, etc., you see on this page. Simply pull the grip away from the case to use it, and snap it back in place when you decide to place it on a wireless charger or car mount. The grip also rotates 360 degrees for ergonomics.
If you use a PopSocket-like grip for a phone stand, however, you might want to pass on the OtterGrip case—it’s hard to balance the phone and get it to stay in place without the grip snapping back into place. The OtterGrip isn’t a one-to-one replacement for the PopSocket in terms of feeling, and there is some getting used to the experience. But being able to use MagSafe and feel more secure when you’re holding your expensive pocket computer is worth the learning curve.Best battery: OtterBox wireless 5K mAh power bank
Why it made the cut: Two-sided MagSafe compatibility adds versatility to this potent pint-sized battery backup.
Dimensions: 6.69 x 4.25 x 0.39 inches
Weight: 6.5 ounces
Power: 5W Qi, 7.5W MagSafe
Magnets on both sides allow connections to a phone and mount simultaneously
Wireless input and wireless output
LED indicators for charge status/battery life
No magnetic stabilizing strip leaves the opportunity for the power bank to rotate
Not the biggest capacity available in a wireless power bank
The Otterbox wireless 5K mAh power bank tops the battery category not only because of what it can hold and also how you can hold it. It doesn’t have the capacity of, say, Belkin’s equally recommendable BOOST↑CHARGE Wireless Charger 10K, but only holding half the charge means it also takes up less space—a huge plus for pocketability (though the battery has the potential to rotate/become unaligned if you’re power-walking with purpose). And 5K is enough to fully recharge any iPhone 13 once (or the iPhone 13 mini twice).
What really stands out with this power bank is that it has MagSafe on both sides, meaning you can attach it to a MagSafe charger with your iPhone simultaneously attached, topping off both in the process. I actually store one on a Satechi 3-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charging Stand so it’s primed and ready to easily peel off in case I’m leaving the house without my iPhone at 100%. And if I was without that convenient perch and succumbed to a cable, I could use the bidirectional USB-C port to charge the power bank, as well as to charge my phone.Things to consider before buying the best MagSafe accessories
If you have an iPhone 12, iPhone 13, or iPhone 14 of any size/sort, you can access MagSafe. And if you have a debit or credit card, you can access the MagSafe accessories presented here. But before you invest in new accouterments, you might have some questions. And that’s why we’re here.So, how exactly does MagSafe work?
MagSafe uses a series of internal magnets ringing an iPhone’s charging coil to snap securely to compatible accessories. This assures that any attachments are properly lined up, which is particularly valuable for optimized wireless charging. As for how magnets work in general, that is a tale of electrons spinning and atoms aligning and a miraculous mystery for another time. But when magnetized objects of opposite poles enter each other’s magnetic fields, they are as strongly attracted to each other as a long-time Apple fan is to hearing “… and one more thing.”Do I need MagSafe accessories?
No. If you are a connoisseur of cables—each one personally, painstakingly labeled as to what it is for—then keep enjoying those curled-up keepsakes and a Jenga-like set of power bricks. USB-A to Lightning, USB-C to Lightning … you do you. Being hardwired to the wall will continue to work … for now (we have no insight into Apple’s plans to discontinue ports on iPhones). And if you always have or prefer to secure your phone in a dashboard-mounted vice while driving, don’t switch up what works for you. So, no, you don’t need MagSafe accessories. But if you’ve gotten tired of trying to find a convenient place to plug in a somehow always slightly too short cable, or finding out that the cable you desperately need to save you from an imminent power-down has a short in it, you definitely may want MagSafe accessories. And don’t even get me started as to how convenient a MagSafe car mount is … (OK, get me started but wait till we get to our top pick in that category, please.)Do I need a MagSafe case for my iPhone?
To charge wirelessly, no, you don’t need a MagSafe case. But to attach additional accessories to your iPhone while it’s in the case, yes, you need a MagSafe case. Plus the MagSafe system in the case helps alleviate any concerns that it might fall off.If I buy a MagSafe accessory, does it need to be “Made for MagSafe” to work?
No, though it can’t hurt. There are plenty of “MagSafe compatible” options with the magnetic ring that lets your iPhone snap to them with the precision needed to stay and/or charge properly. We even recommend some. But the “Made for MagSafe” badge does bring some benefits. It means that the device can support 15W charging (12W for iPhone mini models), rather than the 7.5W charging of “MagSafe compatible” alternatives (and more watts=faster charging). To get maximum output, however, be sure you have at least a 20W USB-C PD adapter for the charging pad. In addition, the near-field communication between “Made for MagSafe” charging devices means you get the undeniable satisfaction of seeing your iPhone’s screen light up with the curling green MagSafe animation that guarantees authenticity and efficiency.Can I charge anything other than my iPhone with a MagSafe pad?
Sure, you can place anything with Qi-enabled wireless charging on a MagSafe pad and the battery will fill. However, the device won’t snap into place so you won’t know if it’s set down correctly and there’s nothing to stop it from getting knocked off the pad accidentally. There are Android devices, and optional cases, that do have magnetic rings in them, which solves that problem, but Android devices don’t replicate the alert an official MagSafe charger gives when it comes into contact with an iPhone.FAQs
Now is a good time to buy the Apple Watch. A new version with GPS called Series 2 came out in September, and the original model was updated with a speed boost and a new name: Series 1. Both models fix issues that made the original Apple Watch fine for early adopters but harder to recommend to the masses. There’s also an ecosystem of Apple Watch accessories that we’ve tested and can recommend. Read on for my hand-picked Apple Watch gift guide choices including some out-of-the-box suggestions.
First, a quick primer on Apple Watch models in case you’re considering one as a gift for yourself or someone else.
First-generation: Not recommended if buying new due to performance issues (discontinued)
Series 1: Recommended for many customers, same speed as Series 2 (reg. $269-$299)
Series 2: Recommended for fitness use, features GPS and brighter display plus more case choices (reg. $369-$1499)
Deciding between Series 1 and Series 2 can be confusing; this is what I wrote in my Series 2 review:
Personally, I think these questions are necessary when deciding between Series 1 and Series 2:
Do you want stainless steel with wider band compatibility or ceramic instead of aluminum?
Do you want to map runs or outdoor cycles without bringing your iPhone?
Do you want to get credit for swimming workouts?
Do you care about display visibility in very bright sunlight?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, then buy Series 2. If not but you’re still in the market for an Apple Watch, strongly consider Series 1. I do not recommend the first generation Apple Watch if you want to have the best experience unless you’re on a tight budget.
For the best Apple Watch deals, stay tuned to 9to5Toys. Now for our recommendations:
Best Apple Watch Docks
You don’t need a dock to charge Apple Watch but they’re certainly nice to have. Nomad Stand for Apple Watch is my top pick. Stand works with all Apple Watch models including both open- and closed-style bands.
It’s a solid dock with a minimal, modern look. You have to supply your own Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable like the one that comes in the box and Stand doesn’t support Nightstand mode, but it’s an attractive dock worthy of presenting any Apple Watch.
Stand is reasonably priced at $39.95 from Nomad and Amazon and comes in two colors: silver and space gray aluminum.
If you want to go the official route, Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock is your only option. I personally use this dock but it’s not my top recommendation because of its price: $79.
Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock is a soft padded disk with a firm weighted bottom. An integrated charging connector in the center pops up for closed-style bands and lays flat for open-style bands.
Magnetic Charging Dock does support Nightstand mode and doesn’t require supplying your own charging cable.
It actually relies on an included Lightning cable (2 meters) for power. This cable can be useful when traveling if you need a spare iPhone charger although you can’t charge both your iPhone and Apple Watch overnight when sharing.
This dock’s $79 price makes it difficult to recommend given its basic function but it’s a nice-to-have accessory if you like its look.
Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock is available in one color — white — from Apple and Best Buy.
If you like the disk shape of Apple’s official dock, Bluelounge Kosta is a $15 charging coaster that has a similar footprint. Like Nomad Stand, you supply your own charging cable like the one that comes with your Apple Watch.
The charging end can stand upright or lay flat to support both open- and closed-style bands, although it’s not fixed in place so it can be difficult to keep positioned. Bluelounge Kosta is available in dark gray for $14.95 on Amazon; check out our hands-on review here.
Finally, Belkin has a few dock options with integrated charging connectors like Apple’s solution. Pictured is Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone in rose gold. It’s a pricey Apple Store exclusive at $129.95 but includes everything you need to power both your iPhone and Apple Watch.
Belkin also makes a cheaper version that only serves the Apple Watch plus a new design with a lower price tag called PowerHouse Charge. Check out our full review of the combo Valet Charge Dock here.
Best Third-Party Apple Watch Bands
Nomad is back with my favorite third-party Apple Watch band: Leather Strap for Apple Watch. Priced at $59.95, Leather Strap comes in brown or gray for silver or black hardware.
The leather is sourced from Chicago’s Horween Leather Company and the hardware comes in two styles: modern or traditional. See our hands-on review here.
Best Active Lifestyle Accessories
Apple Watch features an integrated heart rate monitor that stays active when logging workouts, but it can be a battery drain during lengthy exercises. Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker (~$50) wirelessly pairs with Apple Watch and provides heart rate data without taxing the Apple Watch battery.
I don’t use it for casual workouts, but it’s beneficial during days when I know I’ll be logging a lot of activity. A side benefit is capturing constant heart rate data throughout the day even when you’re not logging workouts; Apple Watch only measures about every ten minutes when not logging workouts to preserve battery.
Speaking of battery life, Kanex has one of the only all-in-one solutions for keeping your Apple Watch charged during a weekend off the grid. Kanex GoPower Watch features an integrated charging connector that can recharge your Apple Watch over several nights. It’s pricier than other options at $74-$99 but makes for a nice gift or splurge purchase. See our hands-on review here.
If you’re using Apple Watch as a fitness tracker with the goal of getting in shape, a connected scale can be super convenient. I manually logged my weight in Apple’s Health app for months before upgrading to a Withings Wi-Fi Scale that automatically logs weight and BMI with Apple’s HealthKit feature. Prices start around $129 and vary depending on additional measurement features.
After starting to get serious about regularly running with Apple Watch Series 2, this week I decided to my running shoes need an upgrade and I’m in the market for running gloves to help get me through the winter — preferably something touch screen compatible for controlling Apple Watch.
Before cycling and running, my fitness story with Apple Watch started with a NordicTrack elliptical that I use for at least 30 minutes a day when I can’t get out and run or bike. I also keep a gym membership (Black Card at Planet Fitness) primarily for exercise equipment access when traveling.
I also rely on a few third-party apps on my Apple Watch that may be worth recommending or checking out: MyFitnessPal which I use to log my meals on iPhone and glance at goal progress from the app dock, Nike+ Run Club where I log my runs, and Fantastical ($2.99 currently during sale) which provides a streamlined calendar and customizable watch face complication.
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The “new year, new you” adage might be a cliche at this point, but for better or worse, it’s many people’s mindset when we start a new year. We’ve already rounded up some of the best applications to help you stick to your new year’s resolutions, but what about hardware?
New technology certainly isn’t required to help you achieve your 2023 goals and resolutions, but it can absolutely help. These suggestions add that new-technology motivation factor and can help you track new metrics to stay on top of your health throughout the year. That’s a big benefit whether you’re looking to improve certain things, maintain progress you’ve already made, or a combination of both.Apple Watch
First and foremost, Apple Watch can play a major role in helping you stay motivated throughout the year. The focus of Apple Watch is the Activity Ring system: Set a goal for calories burned in a day, exercise for 30 minutes per day, and move around for at least one minute in 12 different hours of the day.
Now, you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest Apple Watch to track your fitness. While Apple Watch Series 7 is the best Apple has to offer, you can buy a previous generation model to save some cash while still getting most of the features. For instance, you can get an Apple Watch Series 6 at around $300 with support for an always-on display, fitness tracking, and more.
If you really want to take things to the next level, you can get an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity. This will allow you leave your iPhone behind on outdoor walks and runs but remain connected in case of an emergency. It’s pricier, but if you plan on a lot of running and walking in the new year, it might be the right choice for you.Oura Ring
If you already have an Apple Watch or the idea of wearing a watch every day doesn’t appeal to you, another option on the market is the Oura Ring. The Oura Ring was just updated to Generation 3 with a host of new features, including 24/7 heart rate monitoring, improved health insights, and detailed sleep data.
I’ve been wearing an Oura Ring Generation 3 in addition to my Apple Watch for the past month, and I’m very impressed with the data it provides. In particular, I like the “Readiness” score that it gives you every day. This score is based on factors like your sleep and previous day’s activity.
The Apple Watch currently doesn’t factor in things like rest days, so the Oura Ring is a great addition for helping you get a more wholistic look at your fitness and health progress.Beats Fit Pro or AirPods
To truly embrace the Apple Watch-only lifestyle, you’ll need a pair of Bluetooth headphones. They’ll allow you to connect directly to your Apple Watch and play music, podcasts, and audiobooks while on the go, without a nearby iPhone.
Whenever I complete an outdoor run or walk, I make sure to bring my AirPods Pro. I don’t use the Active Noise Cancellation features while exercising because I like to be aware of my surroundings, but Transparency mode allows me to hear what’s going on around me. AirPods Pro are especially tempting when you can find them on sale for under $200.
Another new option on the market are the Beats Fit Pro, which I reviewed in depth last fall. The Beats Fit Pro feature a secure in-ear design with an ear hook, as well as support for Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and more.
Finally, there are AirPods 3, which are Apple’s newest generation of truly wireless earbuds. AirPods 3 feature a more compact design than their predecessor, a MagSafe Charging Case, up to six hours of listening time per charge, spatial audio support, and more.Polar Verity Sense heart rate sensor
To go with your Apple Watch, a dedicated optical heart rate sensor is a nice addition. Apple Watch has a built-in heart rate sensor, but there are a few benefits of going with a standalone sensor.
My personal favorite option is the POLAR Verity Sense optical heart rate sensor, which you can pick up on Amazon. It lasts for up to 20 hours on a single charge, which means you can use it for multiple workouts without worrying about battery life. It connects directly to your Apple Watch via Bluetooth, and you simply strap it to your arm before a workout.
So why do you need a standalone heart rate monitor when Apple Watch has one built in? The biggest benefit is that it removes the burden of tracking heart rate from Apple Watch, which has a major impact on battery life. If you plan on stretching Apple Watch to its limits with long outdoor runs and bike rides, an external heart rate monitor will dramatically extend your Apple Watch battery life, especially if you’re using cellular connectivity at the same time.
There are other options to extend Apple Watch battery life during workouts, such as disabling cellular or enabling Workout Power Saving Mode. But, if you want to maximize battery life without losing features, this is a great way to do just that.Smart scale
Regardless of your goals for 2023, a smart scale is a great purchase. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, bulk, or just get a better feel for your overall health, a smart scale makes it much easier to track your weight.
Way back in 2023, I invested in the Withings Body Smart Scale, which integrates with the Health app on your iPhone. It connects to your WiFi network and syncs to your iPhone every time you weigh in. This makes the weigh-in process as frictionless as possible and ensures that you’re logging your exact weight every time. The Withings Body scale supports up to 8 different profiles, so everyone in your household can track their weight with the same scale.
Four years later, I’m still using the Withings Body Smart Scale every day, and it reliably syncs to my iPhone without any issues.
If you want to take things to the next level, the Withings Body+ is a pricier option that tracks some additional metrics. There’s support for weight, body fat, water percentage, and muscle and bone mass.Smart blood pressure monitor
Last but not least is the Withings BPM Connect, which is a Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled smart blood pressure monitor. As I’ve written about before, high blood pressure runs in my family, and I’ve made it my goal to be more aware of my own blood pressure and the lifestyle choices I make that affect it.
I purchased the Withings BPM Connect a few years ago, and it makes it incredibly simple to track my blood pressure on a regular basis. In addition to the small LED screen on the monitor itself, all of your results sync directly to your iPhone in the Withings Health Mate app, as well as in Apple’s Health app. Much like with tracking weight, these data make it easy to view trends overtime, improvements, and more.Wrap up
Regardless of your goals this year, these technology picks can help you be more aware of your health and overall fitness level. Being more attuned to things like your blood pressure can help you make small changes in your day-to-day life and track the effects of those changes with ease. New technology isn’t a necessity for new year’s resolutions, but it can certainly help.
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Thousands of lightning strikes across California have caused hundreds of individual fires in recent days, creating two massive blazes that mark the second and third largest in the state’s history. Officials expect more “dry lightning”—thunderstorms that don’t produce enough rain to keep the parched land below from sparking—to hit Northern California on Sunday and Monday.
More footage from the firefight taking place at the peak of Mt. Hamilton this evening (East of San Jose). Your SLO City and fellow California Firefighters are working hard to protect and defend landmarks, buildings and infrastructure. #SCULightningComplex chúng tôi San Luis Obispo City Fire Department (@SLOCityFire) August 20, 2023
The two largest wildfires currently burning in California are known as the Santa Clara Unit (SCU) Lightning Complex and the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit (LNU) Lightning Complex. A “complex” refers to two or more individual fire incidents that are in close enough proximity to fall under one unified containment effort.
On Sunday, local outlets were reporting that both the SCU and LNU complexes had surpassed 340,000 acres, with the record for California’s second-largest wildfire being volleyed back and forth as the blazes spread. The pair are surpassed only by 2023′s Mendocino Complex.
During their assignment on the #SCULightningComplex OES 385 and Strike Team 5806A continued to mop up hot spots after the main fire front burned around the @LickObservatory property to keep hot spots from flaring back up. chúng tôi San Luis Obispo City Fire Department (@SLOCityFire) August 22, 2023
On Saturday evening, The New York Times reported that SCU had burned through at least 339,968 acres in Contra Costa County, Alameda County, Santa Clara County, Stanislaus County, and San Joaquin County. Fortunately, SCU has so far burned mostly less populated areas than the 2023 blaze—because the fires that grew to form the Mendocino Complex were caused by human activity, the flames quickly devastated many communities. This is not to say, however, that the SCU Lightning Complex does not pose a major threat: Local news report two civilian injuries and two injured first responders as of Sunday, and several counties are under mandatory evacuation orders.
Devastating images coming out of the #LNULightningComplex Fire in Northern California. Please stay safe out there and I cannot stress this enough: heed any warnings and evacuation orders from local officials. chúng tôi Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 19, 2023
The LNU Lightning Complex has reportedly burned through more than 341,000 acres in Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, and Solano counties, and has killed at least four civilians so far. Multiple counties are under mandatory evacuation orders, as storms on Sunday and Monday are expected to spark more fires to join the complex.
California governor Gavin Newsom said in a Friday press briefing that Cal Fire had already called out 96 percent of its available fire engines. He emphasized that the state’s annual fire season has just begun, and put out a call for assistance from Canada and Australia’s firefighting personnel.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump declared the fires a “major disaster” and ordered federal aid to assist affected areas. According to a White House statement, the funds could include “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”
Evacuation efforts are complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is actively spreading in many parts of California. Officials have suggested that evacuees stay with friends or family outside the endangered zone whenever possible, and shelters are reportedly enforcing social distancing as best they can. You can read more about how COVID-19 has affected preparations for fire season here.
The LSU and SCU complexes may be particularly massive, but they are far from California’s only concern. Two other, smaller complexes are also raging in Northern California this weekend, in addition to multiple individual wildfires. As Popular Science has previously reported, California’s natural propensity to burn has collided disastrously with the effects of climate change. That, combined with the pandemic, may make for a particularly dangerous fire season.
Crocodiles and their relatives get kind of a bad rap; they’re not generally reckoned to be very cute, and can be pretty dangerous. But there’s a lot more to crocs than basking in the sun or ripping hapless wildebeests to shreds. A new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York has brought in live animals to reveal crocodilians’ unique adaptations, diversity, and social lives (some species hunt in groups, and gharials raise their young in communal nurseries called crèches).
Most of the 23-odd crocodilian species alive today are all built along similar lines (stubby legs, long snout, lots of pointy teeth). This wasn’t always the case.
“The crocodiles that we have today represent only a small fraction of the different kinds of crocodiles that lived in the past,” Mark Norell, curator of the exhibition, said at a press conference at the exhibition’s opening on May 24. “Fossil crocodiles had a broad variety of types. Some of them looked like armadillos…some of them looked like little tyrannosaurs, some of them were arboreal, some of them looked like cats.”
Siamese crocodile Crocodylus siamensis
The Siamese crocodile is one of the most highly endangered crocodile species in the world. Only hundreds are left living in the wild in Southeast Asia.
The common ancestor of modern crocodilians lived between 80 and 90 million years ago. “There’s other more primitive crocodilians that also pretty much looked like the living ones that go back another 50 or 60 million years before that,” Norell told Popular Science.
But just because they’ve been around for a long time doesn’t mean that crocodilians aren’t well adapted to the habitats they live in today. Among their tricks:
Bony back scales laced with blood vessels collect the sun’s heat and ferry it deeper into the body
A sprinkling of little bumps on their skin house nerve bundles to pick up vibrations in the water around them
A collection of membranes and flaps keep water from invading their ears, eyes, nostrils, and even throats
Their muscle tissue can store oxygen until it’s needed
Central African slender-snouted crocodile Mecistops cataphractus
Hanging out at the American Museum of Natural History.
Some of crocs’ adaptations might even come in handy for humans. Scientists have discovered antimicrobial compounds in the blood of Siamese crocodiles, and are looking for ways to use it to develop human antibiotics.
“Crocodiles have a very amazing, notable ability to resist infections,” Evon Hekkala, a member of the museum’s department of herpetology, said at the press conference. “People who work on crocodiles often see them with major injuries that have healed, and they’re sitting in swamps.”
Croc skin is a lot less popular today than a few decades ago, when crocodilian species across the planet were almost hunted to extinction. Though many populations have recovered, Siamese crocodiles are critically endangered, and still face poaching and habitat loss.
You can see one at the exhibition, dwelling in a glass enclosure tucked up against the wall. Visitors can also meet two other adult crocodilian species: West African dwarf crocodiles, which spend their nights hunting on land in tropical forests; and Central African slender-snouted crocodiles, often found chilling on logs over water.
The real stars of the show, though, are the American alligator hatchlings. If you watch for a few minutes, you’re likely to spy them roving about their enclosure, gliding through the water and even grabbing sticks in their tiny jaws.
The show was put together by Peeling Productions, which keeps a staff member on hand to care for the animals as long as they dwell at the museum. “Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World” is open to the public from May 28, 2023 until January 2, 2023.
American alligator hatchlings
Alligator hatchlings play with a stick.
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