When it comes to accessories this year, our favourites have almost all been audio or audio related. This probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, because there aren’t that many different kinds of mobile accessories out there, and audio is undoubtedly a popular product category.
There are some items which we considered for inclusion, and quickly took out. We thought about drones, about modular items for certain mobiles, … and we quickly gave up. Why? These aren’t things that most people buy. If you’re buying a mobile, the thing you’re most likely to buy to go with it is a case, or maybe a decent pair of headphones or something audio related.
Hence, our focus this year, so let’s jump into the best of the best.
Ausdroid’s Best Accessories of 2016
When it comes to accessories, looking back over all the reviews, I think these are undoubtedly our two favourite devices that go with phones this year. Phil reviewed the Bose QC35 headphones earlier this year, and more recently, Duncan reviewed the BlueAnt Pump Mini 2 wireless headphones.
Writing this piece up, I suppose I have the luxury of having used both of these as well; I wound up with the QC35 review unit after the review was written, and I went out and bought a pair of the BlueAnt Pump Mini 2 headphones after reading Duncan’s review, and I have to say both are absolutely at the top of their game.
In the case of the Bose QC35s, I know a little bit about noise cancelling headphones. I’ve had a pair of QC25s for years, which are some of the best and most widely used noise cancelling headphones on the market. If you jump on board a flight, chances are you’re going to see at least five or six people wearing QC25s, and for good reason — they’ve made many an unpleasant flight bearable. The QC35s take this up a notch. No longer do you need a headphone cord. No longer do you have to worry about keeping a handful of spare AAA batteries in your luggage, you just charge them off a MicroUSB charger, and they connect to your phone or whatever via Bluetooth.
In fact, there’s really only two qualms with the QC35s, and they are these: firstly, you can’t turn noise cancellation off, so if you want to listen to something without it, you’re out of luck. Secondly, because they’re Bluetooth, you might be tempted to leave the 3.5mm cable behind. If you do that, you’ll be listening to what’s on your phone only, unable to enjoy inflight entertainment. Don’t forget that cable!
When it comes to the Pump Mini 2, I bought these for one reason — to leave in my bag so I could have quality music anywhere I needed it, and the ability to make calls, regardless of what car I was in, where I was, or what I was doing. I’ve used these to spend almost an hour on hold trying to get through to the Family Assistance office following the birth of our daughter, to listen to music in the car while at work, and to walk around making calls hands-free while doing other things.
The battery life is incredible, they’re super light, and feel at home just about everywhere. Even Duncan commented that he could walk around all day wearing his, without any discomfort or needing to even take them out; he could simply pause his music and have a conversation, then turn the music back on. Yes, he looked a little strange, but who cares. He does anyway.
Best runner-up accessories
Choosing a category winner (or two winners, in this case) wasn’t all that difficult, but reaching a consensus on runners up was a bit more difficult. In fact, we really didn’t identify any great candidates.
Scott suggested the Pioneer AVIC F70DAB Android Auto head unit, which he bought and installed in his car earlier this year. I’d have to agree, Scott, Android Auto is awesome, and it’s definitely a great accompaniment to any Android smartphone, especially for the connected enthusiast. However, it’s not something too many people are actually going to go and buy.
Of course, you can get Android Auto built into a whole range of cars these days, and we’ve even reviewed a few of them, so if you’re in the market for a new car, definitely check out some of these reviews in our Tech on the Road category.
At the end of the day, the best accessory is the one that meets the need that you have; these are the ones we thought were best, but you’ll undoubtedly have your own views. That said, if you’re looking for great headphones, you can’t really beat the all-around flexibility and power of the Bose QC35 and BlueAnt Pump Mini 2.