From cables to speakers to stands that prop up your phone, there are more cool accessories out there than you can shake a stick at — and they all seem grossly overpriced. Don't feel like cashing in an arm and a leg to power up your phone? Here are 10 mobile phone accessories that are cheap and easy to make yourself.
10. Car Docks
Most smartphones have pretty superb navigation options these days, but you don't want to just stick your phone in your cup holder and try to follow it from there. Car docks can often be pretty pricey, too, but it's pretty easy to throw one together with just a few office supplies. Our favourite is definitely the binder clip car dock, though if you have a car mount from a previous navigation unity lying around, you can mod that to fit whatever phone you have now, too.
Who would have thought the Samsung Galaxy Note would be so popular 10 years after Palm Pilots and their styluses bit the dust? If you find it handy for jotting notes, drawing pictures on your iPad, or doing other things, you don't need to go out and buy a stylus for your phone. We've shown you tons of ways to make one, from candy bar wrappers to mechanical lead holders to cheap pens, sponges and whiteboard markers. Some are a bit easier than others, so be sure to check them all out and find out which project fits your needs.
8. Rubber Cases
There are a lot of great cases out there, and not a lot of ways to DIY one at home. But if all you want is a little extra protection for your phone, you can give it a little rubberised back with a product called Plasti Dip. It'll give you a better grip, keep it from attracting fingerprints, and add a little bit of extra protection to the back. If you absolutely have to have a full case, there's not a lot you can do unless you have a pretty well-stocked workshop, so you might have to sink a few dollars into it after all.
7. Touch Screen Gloves
With it being winter, know all know how annoying it is when you can't use your phone when you have gloves on — and how annoying it is to take your gloves off when it's freezing outside. If you don't want to go buy a new pair of touch screen-friendly gloves, you can make your own at home with some conductive thread. Alternatively, this 6 Stitch Kit takes all the planning out of your project and will make any gloves touch screen friendly with minimal work.
6. Mini Charging Cables
We love these mini cables from Griffin, but it just feels weird paying so much money for a smaller version of something we already have. Instead of buying them, you can just shorten your existing USB cables with a wire stripper and a bit of soldering. You'll save heaps of space in your backpack, not to mention never deal with tangled cables again.
5. Headphones With Built-In Remote Controls
All iPhones come with a pair of crappy headphones with an awesome remote control and microphone built-in. If you actually want a pair of quality headphones, though, you'll have to buy them yourself — and if you already have a quality pair, you'd probably have to buy yet another pair for phone compatibility. Instead of doing that, you can always splice your existing remote into your existing headphones for free, or better yet, turn your remote control headphones into an adaptor so you don't ruin your favourite 'buds.
And, if you've made the switch to Android, remember that a little hacking is all it takes to make those iPhone headphones work for you, too.
4. Portable USB Chargers
There are about a billion products on the market that will give your phone a little battery boost during the day, but if you don't feel like buying one, you can make a solar powered USB charger or just make a quick one out of a 9V battery.
3. Screen Protectors
Screen protectors aren't as necessary as they used to be, but if you still want one for your phone, there's no need to buy an expensive one from the store. Just buy a cheap piece of vinyl and cut it yourself with an Stanley knife. Not only is it much cheaper, but making it yourself ensures that it'll fit any device you could possibly need it to.
2. Portable Speakers
Crappy sounding iPod docks can cost a fair amount of money, and good sounding docks can cost a lot. Why waste your money when you can boost your volume just fine with a paper cup or a cereal bowl? We ran down the most popular free DIY volume boosters and found that some of them worked remarkably well — specifically, sticking your phone in a paper cup. If you want a more involved project though, you can always craft a "speaker" out of a bock of wood or make a thin boombox with this cool, minimalist design.
1. Stands And Docks
Ever since the invention of smartphones, people have been making DIY docks and stands out of anything they could find. We've featured more than we could ever list, but if you're still in the market for a dock to hold up your phone, check out these posts we've done on the subject:
- Nine DIY Docks for your non-iPhone
- Seven DIY iPad Stands for Six Bucks or Less
- DIY Print-and-Fold iPhone Dock Looks Great
- DIY iPhone Binder Clip Dock
- Use Your Glasses as an Impromptu Smartphone Stand
- Make Your Own Phone Stand with the Box Your Phone Came In and Makedo Pins
- Turn a $US1 Plate Stand into a Universal Smartphone Stand
There's more where that came from, but those are definitely our favourites, and the easiest to make (not to mention the best looking).
Got any of your own favourite DIY projects for your smartphone that we didn't mention? Tell us about them in the comments below.