iPhone Backpack, Smart Screen, and Apple Watch Tower

Say what you will about the Apple iPhone being a hype machine. There’s no question, however, that the thing sells like hot cakes. With syrup and butter.

As with any popular device, the iPhone is bound to attract a large number of accessories. I take a look at four such peripherals for Apple’s popular smartphone, including a strapping “backpack,” a nifty screen protector with “smart buttons,” a charging tower plus a case with a ​built-in battery.

Do they “just work.” And will I ever stop using quotation marks in this article? Read on to find out!

01
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Rokform BackPack

Rokform Backpack
Rokform Backpack. Rokform

Wait, a backpack for your iPhone? What’s next, a talking map and a monkey wearing boots?

Unlike most backpacks that serve as storage for all sorts of, well, stuff, the RokForm BackPack for iPhones actually stores something else altogether: power. Now before you start quoting Uncle Ben or get delusions of grandeur in your head, let me clarify that I’m talking about power of the electric kind. Guess your banana republic will have to wait.

At first glance, the BackPack looks like one of RokForm’s Sport Series cases. Closer inspection, however, reveals that this thing is actually a portable battery pack. In fact, it comes with 4,250 milliamp hours or mAH, enough to charge an iPhone 6 twice and an iPhone 6 Plus once with extra juice to spare. In addition to having a built-in Lightning plug for charging your iPhone, it also comes with a regular-size USB port for charging a second portable device of your choosing, like, say, a Samsung Galaxy S6 if you’re a smartphone two-timer. It even comes with a female mount slot for connecting it to other Rokform accessories.

Do note that it requires you to already have a Rokform case for your iPhone if you want to mount it on the backpack. The whole arrangement also looks a bit chunky once everything is docked, though it admittedly looks more elegant and is a lot more secure than the solution used by Fuel Ion for its magnetic case and battery pack. It’s also pricey for a charger at about one Benjamin.

Cost: $100 

02
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Pure Gear Smart + Buttons Screen Protector

PureGear Smart + Buttons
PureGear Smart + Buttons. PureGear

Ever get tired of having to use your other hand to reach the top menu options for apps such as Facebook and Twitter on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus?

First world problem, I know. Still, with the bigger screen real estate that comes with Apple’s newer phones, one-handed operation can be a challenge. The PureGear Smart + Buttons screen protector rectifies that situation by using circuit transmitters built into the protector itself to allow you to press the top left and right corners of your phone screen by actually pressing on the bottom left and right corners near the Home button instead. Mind. Blown.

The result is more convenient, one-handed navigation for you smartphone warriors out there while using your mail and texting apps, for example. The only issue is that it requires a dedicated press of your whole thumb instead of just a tap to trigger the feedback, which makes it a bit more cumbersome. It’s also, once again, expensive for a screen protector, though it does come with some extra plastic due to its accompanying easy-installation roller.

Cost: $45 

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Spyder PowerShadow Battery Case

Spyder PowerShadow
Spyder PowerShadow battery case. Spyder

If you use your iPhone heavily for browsing and taking photos and video like I do, having a case that doubles as a portable charger definitely comes in handy.

For most of the year, I was using the BuQu Tech Power Armour for my iPhone 6 but the thing just croaked and stopped working after less than a year. As a result, I decided to give the Spyder PowerShadow a shot.

The extra juice certainly comes in handy and is enough to charge an iPhone 6 once. Fit is also more snug, making it feel more secure than the BuQu. That snug fit, however, comes at a price. While it’s super easy to remove your iPhone from the BuQu due to its slide-out mechanism, it can literally be a pain, particularly on your fingers, to take out PowerShadow. It also has a smaller battery at 1,800 mAH compared to the BuQu’s 2,800 mAH. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s more expensive, retailing for $150, though I’ve seen it going for cheaper at Amazon for $75. On the plus side, at least it still works after several months.

Cost: $150 

04
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Griffin WatchStand Powered Charging Station

Griffin WatchStand
Griffin WatchStand. Griffin WatchStand

The release of the Apple Watch this year has apparently unleashed a new kind of peripheral — the Apple Watch and iPhone combo charging station.

The latest to make it into my grubby paws is the Griffin WatchStand. The WatchStand pulls double duty by coming with two ports for charging an Apple Watch and iPhone at the same time. To prevent toppling, the base has some nice weight to it for added stability. I also like how it can hide your charger cables so you don’t end up with a mini Gordian knot forming around the base.

One downside is that it takes up a lot more space compared to, say, the Basecamp Dock. It also looks kind of plasticky.

Cost: $60