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Great gear you may have missed

Dan Frakes | Jan. 20, 2014
As the editor who coordinates most of Macworld's iOS- and Mac-accessory coverage, I'm inundated with miscellaneous cables, connectors, chargers, and other "minor" products that don't necessarily warrant a full review or article. But, as I wrote back in late 2012, that doesn't mean they should all go unnoticed. Some of these products are interesting or useful enough that they're worth talking about; or they're things that, though they may not have impressed me at first, have since earned a spot on my desk or in my bag.

PhoneSuit Flex Pocket Charger: If you know you're going to be subjecting your iPhone to heavy use while away from a power source, a battery case, which includes a high-capacity battery inside a (chunky) case, is your best bet. But if you just want to keep an emergency reserve on hand, PhoneSuit's $70 Flex Pocket Charger is a nice option. This compact battery — it's just 2.9 inches wide, 0.8 inches thick, and about 1.6 inches tall with the cap on — offers 2600mAh of juice, which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 5, 5S, or 5c (at full speed, no less) and still have some left over. The built-in Lightning connector means the battery attaches directly to the bottom of your phone, so there are no cables to deal with; the aluminum body is solid and tough; and at just under 3 ounces, the Flex won't add much weight to your bag. The battery's Micro-USB port acts as a pass-through, so you can charge the battery and your phone at the same time when you get home. The only real drawback is that the battery may not be able to dock with your iPhone if the phone is wearing a bulky case.

USBfever 8-Pin Lightning Male to Female Adapter/Connector: Speaking of not being able to dock with a case on, USBfever's $7 8-Pin Lightning Male to Female Adapter/Connector — descriptively named, as all USBfever gear is — aims to solve that problem. This diminutive device offers a narrow, Lightning-connector stem, just a few millimeters wider than the connector itself, at one end, and a wider Lightning-connector port at the other. The idea here is that if you have a speaker dock, charging dock, or other Lightning-connector accessory that doesn't fit in the hole at the bottom of your iPhone case, you put this adapter in between. The male end still isn't quite as thin as the one on Apple's USB-to-Lightning charge/sync cable, but it should fit most iPhone 5, 5S, and 5c cases, including Apple's own. One caveat: The adapter isn't Made-for-iPhone certified, so whenever you plug it in, iOS displays a message that the accessory "may not work reliably," but in my testing, it's worked just fine.

CableJive DockXtender for Lightning Devices: If you need even more distance between your device and its dock, CableJive continues the company's tradition of providing unique and useful cables with the $26 DockXtender for Lightning Devices. This two-foot cable features a female Lightning Connector port on one end and a male Lightning Connector plug on the other. Connect the female end to your favorite Lightning Connector speaker dock, charging cradle, or other accessory, and that accessory becomes usable even if your iPhone or iPad is in a bulky case. The DockXtender is also great for using iPhone-dock accessories, which typically use an iPhone-size dock cradle, with an iPad.


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