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Your smartphone and computer are always going to be the center of your tech life, but the right accessories will help you get the most out of them. Think about a phone without a case, or a computer without a nice set of speakers; the devices are great on their own, but made better with those peripherals. Some accessories are physically separated from your devices — think smart security cameras — but require them to work.
We’ve done some research and found the best tech accessories under $50. Almost all of them will work with any device, so you won’t have to worry about having to make an upgrade or change if you decide to switch from PC to Mac, or iPhone to Android. In the cases where we do make a device-specific recommendation, we’ll also mention an alternate option if it’s available.
If you’re looking for a quick way to make backups of your computer, want to make your smartphone photography a little better, or would like your home to be a little smarter, you’ll find what you’re looking for below.
(Note: Amazon prices can change at any moment, but all of these items were priced under $50 at time of writing and this post’s last update).
1. CloudValley Webcam Cover Shade
One of the easiest ways to improve your device’s security is blocking its camera when you’re not on a video conference. The chances of someone taking control of it are pretty slim, but the results could be terrible. CloudValley’s Webcam Covers come in packs of two, and are only .023-inches thick, so you can stick them onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone without them protruding too much. The cover has a shade that slides, so you can flick on or off your camera with your finger.
2. Philips Hue White Smart Lightbulb
Philips’ Hue Smart Bulbs are among the most popular and powerful accessories in the world of smart lighting. The bulb can be screwed into any light fixture, and controlled via an app on your phone or tablet (iOS and Android), or by connecting it to a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo. Once installed, you can schedule the bulb to turn on and off at certain times, or dim the lighting in your room without a dimmer switch. The reason to get a Hue bulb over others is that it’s part of Philips’ larger line of smart lighting, which includes light strips and light bars.
3. RAVPower 20000mAh 60W Battery Pack
RAVPower’s 20000mAh battery pack is the ideal choice for charging all of your devices. It has two ports: a USB-C PD port capable of outputting up to 60W (watts) of power, and a USB-A port that can output up to 18W of power. RAVPower says this battery’s USB-C PD port is powerful enough to charge a 13-Inch MacBook Pro by 60% in one hour; an iPhone 11 Pro should recharge by about 50% in 30 minutes. The battery will automatically distribute power when two devices are connected at once, so you sacrifice speed for convenience. RAVPower says the battery holds enough juice to fully recharge an iPhone 11 Pro Max 2.6 times, so it should get you through a long night out, or even international travel.
4. WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive
You can store your data in the cloud, but it still makes sense to create a digital backup of your computer that you can access without an internet connection. This 1TB (terabyte) drive from Western Digital should be enough to hold a full copy of your computer’s internal storage drive. It supports USB 3.0 data transfer speeds, which means you won’t have to wait very long during backups, and is compatible with both PCs and Macs.
5. Xenvo Pro Lens Kit
Xenvo’s Pro Lens Kit is a photography accessory that allows you to get pictures from your smartphone that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. The lens clips on top of your phone’s existing camera, which makes it compatible with both iPhone and Android devices. This kit comes with two lenses: a 15x macro lens for taking clear close up shots (this isn’t a zoom lens, you need to be physically close to your subject for it to work), and a .45x wide-angle lens, which allows you to take zoomed-out pictures that capture more of a scene. The kit also comes with a mini clip-on light with three brightness settings you can adjust to get the right amount of light for your nighttime shot.
6. Tile Pro
The Tile Pro is a Bluetooth tracker that allows you to pinpoint the last-known location of an object you’ve lost. You can keep it in a backpack or purse that holds multiple valuables, or attach it to your key ring with its loop. Once you’ve set it up inside Tile’s app (iOS or Android), you can monitor where it is. If it’s nearby, you can “ring” it, which plays a chime through its built-in speaker. If it’s lost, you can see the last place it was connected to your device along with the time it was lost. By tracking its location, you’re far more likely to find what you’re looking for, especially if it’s taken a while to notice it’s missing.
7. Roku Streaming Stick+
Need an easy, efficient way to stream video from Peacock, Paramount+, Hulu and more? We recommend Roku’s Streaming Stick+. The slim media streamer offers instant access to those service (and thousands of others), from a device you’ll never even see. Just plug it directly into any HDMI port on the back of your TV, and you’re all set.
We’re big fans of Roku’s streaming hardware because it’s so intuitive to use. The remote is simple, and you can get to any app in a couple of taps, or by using its built-in microphone to speak your request. The Streaming Stick+ supports all the latest technology, like 4K streaming for clearer pictures, HDR (high dynamic range) for better color reproduction. If you’re sick of the streaming apps that come prepackaged on your TV, or need to turn an older TV into a smart one, this is the right upgrade.
8. Mpow Selfie Stick
Mpow’s selfie stick can help you take group shots more easily, and has a high-tech feature that helps it stand out. It can be extended from 7.1 to 31.9 inches, and hold devices as large as 3.3 inches wide (this means all modern smartphones). Its best feature is the Bluetooth shutter button built into the selfie stick’s handle. Once it’s paired to your phone you can snap pictures without having to set a timer. This feature works with iOS and Android phones, and makes it a lot easier to get the right picture without feeling a time crunch.
9. PopSockets PopGrip
PopSocket’s PopGrip is one of the most ubiquitous tech accessories available right now, and for good reason. The retractable “button,” has an adhesive on one side, which is what attaches it to the back of your phone (or a case). Once attached, you can extend the button, and wrap your fingers around it to make holding your phone easier. The button can also angle your phone up toward you, so you can watch videos more easily.
10. Soundcore Life P2
If you’re shopping for a pair of true wireless earbuds on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with Soundcore’s Life P2s. The Bluetooth headphones are IPX7 waterproof (don’t worry about running in the rain), last up to seven hours on a single charge (their case adds an additional 33 hours), and work with any phone, tablet, or computer. They even have four microphones, so you’ll sound good if you wear them on a phone or video call. They don’t have active noise cancellation, but the Soundcore Life P2s can block some outside sounds by forming a tight seal around your eardrum. They may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but the Soundcore Life P2s are a great pair of true wireless earbuds — especially at this price.
11. Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset
Constant communication is key when playing online multiplayer video games, which is why you need a headset. Razer’s Kracken X is made up of two parts: A pair of over-ear headphones that can simulate 7.1 surround sound, and a flexible microphone that’s designed to block out background noise. The headset is compatible with PCs, the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, so you can easily move between your computer and game consoles. Razor touts the fact that this headset is only .55 pounds, which is light enough that you won’t feel fatigued or weighed down during long gaming sessions.
12. Anker PowerWave II Wireless Charger
Anker’s PowerWave II Wireless Charger is our go-to pick in this crowded category because of its fast speed. It can wirelessly charge devices at a rate of up to 15W; for reference, the iPhone 11 Pro’s maximum wireless charging speed is 7.5W. This extra overhead is a form of future proofing, so you can continue to use this accessory as you upgrade your device with even better results. Ergonomically, the charging stand tilts your phone upwards at a comfortable angle, so you can glance at your phone to screen notifications for the important ones. A nice little feature is the LED on the front of the charger, which gives you a visual indiction that your device is charging.
13. Apple MagSafe Charger
The iPhone has supported wireless charging for several years now, but the latest generation (iPhone 12) support a new version called MagSafe. It can charge your iPhone twice as quickly as a Qi wireless charging pad, and attaches to the back of your phone via magnets, so you don’t have to worry about aligning the charger just so. There aren’t a lot of MagSafe charging accessories available quite yet, but Apple’s official charger is a great option if you want to give this new technology a try.
14. Blink Mini
The Blink Mini is a smart security camera with tech specs that rival far more expensive options. It can record video at 1080P (Full HD), so its footage will look clear, and has an infrared mode to produce great results at night. The camera will send your phone (iOS or Android) a notification when motion is detected, and you can get a live video feed immediately to check what’s going on. If you see something suspicious, you can use the Blink Mini’s speaker and microphone to communicate with anyone on the other side. If you miss the camera’s notification, a clip of the event will be saved on the cloud. This feature is currently free, but will cost $3 per month per camera in 2021.
15. TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug
TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Plug is the perfect accessory for anyone just starting their smart home. The plug sits between your device (a coffee maker, for instance) and an outlet. Once everything is connected, you can set up the smart plug using the Kasa app (iOS and Android), which will allow your device on or off. You can do this manually, or set the plug to turn on and off at specific times. This sounds simple, but allows you to do some advanced tasks, like setting the coffee maker to turn on right when you wake up, so your coffee is ready as soon as you’re ready for it.
16. Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon’s Echo Dot (4th Gen) is by far the best smart speaker under $50.
It has an all-new spherical design that’s smaller, and an upgraded audio system for better, richer sound. It marquee feature is still Alexa, Amazon’s AI assistant, which lets you use the device totally hands-free. You can set timers, get a weekly weather report, add items to a to-do list, listen to music or audiobooks, and even play Jeapordy by talking with the speaker. Whether you’re just starting your smart home, or want to expand the one you already have, Amazon’s Echo Dot (4th Gen) is the smart speaker to get.
17. Logitech Z313 Speaker System
Logitech’s Z313 Speaker System is a great upgrade over any laptop’s built-in speakers. This is a 2.1 audio system, which means it includes a pair of stereo speakers and a subwoofer for extra bass. You connect your computer to the system via a standard 3.5mm audio cable that comes in the box. Instead of putting controls on the speakers themselves, Logitech’s system comes with a small controller that allows you to turn it on or off, and adjust the volume. The controller also has a headphone jack, in case you’d like to route your computer’s audio through a set of cans.
18. Braven BRV-360
Braven’s BRV-360 is an excellent Bluetooth speaker that you can take with you anywhere. The device gets its name from the fact that its drivers (the part of a speaker responsible for creating sound) are pointed forward and backward, so you don’t have to position it in a certain way to get great sound. Braven says the BRV-360 has a range of 100 feet, can last up to 12 hours per charge, so you don’t have to worry about it conking out. The speaker has two USB-A ports, which you can use to charge your phone in a pinch. Finally, the BRV-360 has earned an IP67 rating, which means it can be submerged in up to 3.3ft of water for up to 30 minutes.
19. Casetify Impact Case
A case is the most important smartphone accessory, and we recommend iPhone users get the Impact Case from Casetify. It’s only .3 inches thick, which means you can still use your phone with a wireless charger, but Casetify says it can prevent damage from drops as high as 6.6ft. This is because it has two sections: a hard outer shell that takes the brunt of the damage, and a softer inner layer that absorbs shocks from the impact before they reach your phone. This case is available for the iPhone 8, XS, and 11 Pro; if you have an iPhone 12 Pro generation phone, we recommend Case-Mate’s Tough case.
Note: While this case is over $50, Rolling Stone readers can get a 15% discount by using the promo code ROLLINGSTONE15 at checkout.
20. iOttie Easy One Touch 5
iOttie’s Easy One Touch 5 is a tech accessory that can actually help make driving a little safer.
The mount can be attached to any spot on your dashboard via a suction cup built into its base. We recommend picking a place that’s around eye level, so you can keep your map app of choice in your peripheral vision while focusing on the road. The mount has several points of articulation, which allows you to manuver it to get your phone to a comfortable angle. We’ve tested iOtties’ mount for ourselves, and it successfully held an iPhone 12 Pro Max in place without drooping. The mount’s arms, which keep the phone from falling or moving around, never lost their grip, even on bumpy terrain. Technology is often designed to distract us, but iOttie’s Easy One Touch 5 is an exception.