Now here's an interesting accessory that, at first glance, isn't needed at all. At least by most smartphones owned by AAWP readers. Audio comes out of your phone via a 3.5mm jack, right? Powered by an internal DAC and amplifier, and all should be well - it certainly is with the IDOL 4 Pro, with a pro-rated DAC. But what if, for example, you have a Lumia with average output and you want to take your music to the next level? Or, perhaps more topically, what if you want to move to a new Android-powered smartphone that doesn't have (boo!) a 3.5mm jack at all? Enter this well thought of and intriguingly customisable USB Type C accessory, which takes digital output from your phone and provides a high resolution audio power amplifier.
Recent Reviews - Accessories
As a change after a week of imaging features, let's go to something completely different. Even away from smartphones, but staying within the Windows world. Now, the most recent Surface hybrids have had Windows Hello cameras in their top bezels and compatible fingerprint scanners in their optional Type covers. But what if you wanted fingerprint access to your older Surface device?
Don't worry about the 'XXX' bit, these headphones aren't at all 'adult'(!) Except that it takes someone with a bit of experience to really appreciate what these smartphone headphones offer. Away from my Bluetooth adventures (here, here, here and here), I'm also still striving for unobtrusive headphone nirvana from my wired smartphones. After all, every single Windows-powered phone has a 3.5mm audio jack. So why the heck not use it? Despite the unassuming name and packaging, this smartphone headset is top-notch when it comes to audio quality.
With most of us taking two things everywhere we go - our smartphones and our wallets - an obvious question to ask at some point is "Why not put the two together?" Now, while there have been 'folio' cases for many smartphones for years, usually with a few token card slots inside the front flap, this brand new Noreve accessory takes the concept and dials it up to 11. With understandable caveats for bulk and (here) price!
My quest to find some decent value Bluetooth headphones which actually deliver good audio continues. I rejected Samsung's new Galaxy buds after five minutes, but these lasted a full day. Ultimately, they fell short, but there's lots to say along the way in the full review, tested with both Windows 10 Mobile and Android.
Bizarrely, the FYE-3 featured here is actually a development of the FYE-4 reviewed previously. Perhaps Blitzwolf is working down the numbers, not up?! Regardless, it's an Apple Airpods competitor for the rest of the smartphone world - and, unlike the FYE-4, it does a lot of things right (including acting as a part time power bank), even though it too ultimately falls down when considering audio fidelity.
What would you say to a Bluetooth speaker that really delivers in 2019? 40W of music power, USB Type C fast charging, NFC Tap-to-pair, IPX7 water andand sh proofing, microSD and Aux input, all for less than £50? That sounds a lot like the Tronsmart (slightly pretentiously named) 'Element Force'. Yes, it's a Bluetooth speaker, but on steroids.
No, don't snigger at the back. Far from being a geek case, this has the potential to make you think differently about what you carry around. For example, I carry a fairly fat wallet (not all money, I should add!) and a cased smartphone around all day, every day. What if the two could be fully combined? And not just with a couple of token card slots, as with most 'folio' cases, but a full wallet complement?
Although this can apply to Windows 10 phones as well, it's less likely than for the Surface Go, which is more likely to need to hook up with USB accessories. Either way, this is an ultra lightweight, cheap way to expand a single USB Type C jack to four USB-A jacks. It only weighs 35g, costs just over £8 (including shipping), and is a no-brainer to pick up if you have a Go. Or indeed a recent Macbook or you just like having adapters and dongles in your kit bag!
Apple announced something like this a year ago, but have yet to ship it. Meanwhile, Choetech has come up trumps with a 5-coil array that can handle the most casual charging positions or, side by side, can wirelessly fast charge two smartphones/gadgets at the same time, at up to 2A each (depending on the recipient's capabilities). And it works exactly as advertised, with a theoretical 20W total output.