2014 saw the debut of some of the best smartphones ever, including the iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5, the new Moto X, the LG G3, and the HTC One M8. But as great as those phones are, they really come into their own when they are paired with the right accessories. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or looking for a last-minute holiday gift, we’ve put together a list of the most intriguing and noteworthy smartphone accessories that debuted their year. Here are our top picks for the very best smartphone accessories of 2014.
1. HTC Dot View Case for HTC One (M8)
Learn more about how this smartphone accessory works in the video above.
Arguably one of our more controversial picks, the Dot View case is beloved by many HTC One (M8) owners, but absolutely despised by a large number of tech fans as well. While it does provide some cool functionality, the Dot View case was ultimately hamstrung in a couple of ways, and was a bit limited in terms of notifications.
The case is sort of like a Lite Brite for your One (M8). The case lights up to let you know things like the time, weather, or if you have a new message. You can swipe down on the case to reject a call, or swipe up to accept. All that stuff is cool, but HTC One (M8) owners were hoping the case would have a few more tricks up its sleeve. Plus, the case doesn’t quite fold flat when you peel the front cover away from the phone, which irritated a lot of users.
Despite the need for some design tweaks and some added functionality, this cool smartphone accessory was definitely one of the most memorable and most promising accessories of the year. Here’s hoping HTC makes it even better for their next flagship smartphone.
Price: $9.66 and up (81 percent off)
2. Kanex GoBuddy+ Charge/Sync Portable Lightning Cable with Bottle Opener
Is it a bottle opener that also charges your phone, or a phone charger that happens to be a bottle opener? Either way, it’s a pretty cool accessory for iPhone 6 owners who need to sync or charge devices on the go. Plus, you know, it opens bottles. This relatively new accessory is portable, multi-purpose tool that is useful for any iOS user on the go.
This accessory works with the following Apple devices: iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, iPad with Retina display, iPad mini, iPad mini with retina display, iPad air, iPod nano 7th gen, and iPod touch 5th gen.
3. Boxwave Keyboard Case for iPhone 6
Remember when “premium” cell phones had a built-in keyboard? You can give your iPhone 6 an old-school touch with this slide-out keyboard case. This makes it easier for some people to type accurately. The manufacturers say this case will stay charged for up to two weeks. It’s an unusual case, but it has a lot of appeal for seniors, or people with large hands who find it hard to type accurately on a virtual keyboard.
Price: $59.95 (33 percent off MSRP)
4. Misfit Flash
Learn how to use the Misfit Flash in the video above.
The Flash gets a spot on our list for a few reasons. While it may not be the most premium build, or have the most amazing features for a fitness tracker, this solid little workhorse gets a nod because of its minimalist face, range of options for wearing it while working out, and its low price. The Flash can be found online for about $25, depending on the color you select. This makes wearable technology more affordable than in the past, and anything that makes it easy for people to get fit on a budget is great.
The design is like a classic watch, but it’s the handy LED indicators that make this device so easy to use. A halo of 12 LED lights show you how active you’ve been throughout the day, making it easy for anyone to track their progress towards new fitness goals.
Price: $24.99 (50 percent off MSRP)
5. Moto Hint
Learn all about the Moto Hint’s capabilities in the video above.
2014 was the year that Motorola made the Bluetooth headset cool. The Hint is Motorola’s ultra-small earpiece, and it’s got a lot going for it. It’s very small, can be customized with wood or leather accents, and charges in a matter of minutes.
That being said, PC Mag notes that this accessory is really only a winner if you use a Moto X smartphone. Despite its cool look and Moto-only features, the Hint does have some drawbacks:
“For Moto X owners, the Hint’s ability to initiate Google Now without needing to physically unlock the Moto X is a major differentiator; it means you don’t need to touch or look at your Moto X to perform common tasks, like making or answering calls. It works well, but less expensive Bluetooth headsets like the Era by Jawbone have the same text-to-speech, caller ID, and Google Now functionality.”
Despite its imperfections, this is a cool headset that you can feel comfortable wearing in public. Bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to Bluetooth gear.
Price: $142 (5 percent off)