Gadget Roundup: iPhone Padlock and More

Gadgetology: iPhone Padlock and Dock, Flash Drive & Lightening Cables

Forget, milk. Got an iPhone?

If you’ve got Apple’s popular touchy-feely smartphone, there are a bunch of peripheral makers eager for your business.

For this edition of Gadgetology, we look at a portable flash drive, dock, cables, and iPhone controlled padlock.

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Dog & Bone LockSmart Mini

Dog and Bone LockSmart Mini
The Dog and Bone LockSmart Mini. Dog and Bone

 Smart devices are the new black, or whatever phrase describes the new “in” thing these days.

You’ve got your smart lights like the Ilumi Color Tunable LED Smartbulb and Elgato Avea Flare Smart Lamp. Heck, you even have smart selfie sticks such as the Satechi Bluetooth Smart Selfie Arm.

It’s no surprise then, that you now have smart locks that don’t work with keys but with apps instead. One example is the Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini, a lock that can be operated with iOS or Android apps so you don’t have to worry about lost keys anymore.

The padlock comes with a built-in battery that can be charged via microUSB and even sends an alert to your phone or tablet via its app when battery levels are getting low. Access can be shared with other folks and the app allows you to track which people have accessed the lock. 

Lastly, the LockSmart Mini is weatherproof, able to withstand rain, hail, ​and snow as well as temperatures ranging from minus 20 to plus 70 degrees celsius. The lock comes in black, blue and red and costs $69.95.

What’s up, dock?

Docks can be a convenient way to park your iPhone on your work desk or by your bed while charging it at the same time. One new option is the Native Union iPhone Dock, which works for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 series, including the Plus.

The Native Union Dock skips the slot and wood accents of the Grovemade iPhone Dock we’ve reviewed in this space before. Instead, it goes for a simpler yet still modern look with minimal elements. By not using a slot design for the iPhone, the Native Union dock also can accommodate not just iPhones but even an iPad Mini as well. The base is weighted and also uses silicone for extra stability and grip.

Do note that it doesn’t come with its own cables. On the plus side, this means you can use your own but also keep in mind that not all third-party cables will comfortably fit with it. Cost is $49.99.

If you’re one of those folks with a 16GB iPhone or iPad, you’re likely well aware of the song and dance involved with freeing up space on your device.

The good news is that there is an assortment of flash drives that help you manage the available memory on your iPhone or iPad, particularly for images and video. One of the gadgets we’ve reviewed here before was the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive, a Lightning and USB-capable memory unit that can help transfer files in and out of your Apple smartphone or tablet. The device, however, had one key drawback compared to competitors such as the Leef iBridge. It was a tad on the large side.

That size issue is now being rectified with the new Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive, which comes in a smaller profile reminiscent of the Leef iBridge, while also adding USB 3.0 functionality.

In addition to its smaller footprint and faster USB speed when connecting to a computer, the new version of the iXpand also gives you more memory bang for your buck, compared to the initial release of its predecessor, which has since received a price drop as well. The new iXpand costs $59.99 for the 32GB version and $119.99 for the 128GB variant.

Lightning cables are a dime a dozen. This makes multitasking cables that go the extra mile more prized by savvy gadget users.

Take the Skross Buzz 2-in-1 MicroUSB Lightning Connector. At first glance, it looks your typical Apple certified Lightning cable but closer inspection reveals that it’s actually more than that.

For starters, you can pull out the Lightning connector to reveal a microUSB tip, allowing you to use it for connecting and charging not just iOS devices but Android gadgets and a host of other electronics as well.

On top of that, it also comes with an alarm that triggers when your phone is unplugged from the device, great for deterring thieves at the airport or reminding you not to forget your smartphone when you’re out traveling. The cable is available online at Amazon for $24.99 to $39.99.

Toddy Gear Lightning Cables
The Toddy Gear Lightning to USB cable. Toddy Gear

For something a bit more basic but isn’t short on style, one option is the Toddy Gear Lightning to USB Cable. This Apple “Mfi-certified” cable comes with a flat wire that resists tangling and is also sturdier than Apple’s stock cables, which can fray near the connection points. For a personal touch, you can also order it with your design of choice, including your pick of colors and logos such as your business or alma mater, for example. Pricing for just the basic cable without any designs range from $14.95 to $22.79.

Jason Hidalgo is’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. More »