Dear Santa, please can you get my smartphone the following...

Published by Ewan Spence at 17:48 UTC, December 16th 2010

Cover your phone in a nice case

Santa 2010 Smartphone

No matter how confident you are in the build quality, your smartphone is still an expensive piece of kit, and you want to take care of it. Steve’s already looked at a collection of N8 cases previously, and you should look there for some recommendations. If you want just the answer, then the Nokia CP-500 (Mobile Fun, £17) for the N8 will cover all your needs.

Or you could go all hipster and the Funky Sock Mobile Phone Holder (Amazon £2.99), which hangs a little woollen pouch for your phone on a cord round your neck. Perfect when you want it close by but a big leather case would spoil the lines of your party frock.

Proporta Portable Charger (or equivalent)

Santa 2010 Smartphone

More suited to the N8 with its fixed battery than other smartphones (where you could argue a spare battery is more useful), there are a number of external battery packs that can be used to recharge your phone (or other electronic devices, through the multiple jack adaptors available). Both Steve and I are big fans of Proporta’s USB TurboChargers (available direct from Proporta, £42.95, for their flagship dual-port charger, or 10% off via Steve's 'store') but there are other options – Power Travellers PowerMonkey springs to mind.


How to solve a problem like Symbian

Santa 2010 Smartphone

The entire Symbian project could fill a million textbooks and retrospectives, but one of the more interesting books is by David Wood. On the surface, Symbian for Software Leaders talks about how Wood managed both the software team and the OS itself, but in fact this is a study in the management of a huge and complex project, with conflicting pressures from all sides.

A fascinating, if albeit technical, read.   


Capacitive Gloves

Santa 2010 Smartphone

With the weather closing in around the UK and mainland Europe, there’s an obvious problem with the latest capacitive screens when out and about. Gloves. Because in freezing temperatures, most people are going to want as little exposed skin as possible. Not a problem if you can use a stylus on your phone, but the N8 (and the other Symbian^3 devices) normally need skin contact to register a touch.

Or a pair of specially adapted gloves, in this case the IsoToner SmarTouch Gloves (£14.99, Firebox)  Not only do they keep your hands warm, they have conductive material in the thumb and index finger that will register as if they were skin on your touchscreen.



Santa 2010 Smartphone

If your phone is an extension of you, then personalising it is always an option for a small gift. How many people do you know that just love something with a top made out of rubber, a bottom made out of string, and a little chord to hook through the wrist strap gap on your smartphone?

Yes it’s the Tigger Phone Charm (49p, Amazon), other cartoon characters are available.


Speakers and Headphones

At a push, the bundled headsets and built-in speakers will do if that’s all you have, but if you're planning to listen to a lot more audio or video on your smartphone, a smart investment in some audio tools would be advised.

Santa 2010 SmartphoneFor headphones, the small US-based Ultimate Ears (now a subsidiary of Logitech) have been my port of call for a long time, and they now do a large range of consumer headphones. Head for the 200 (£39.99, Amazon) for a wonderful sound that also has passive noise cancelling as part of the bargain!

External speakers are also popular and there are various choices depending on how much of a room you want to fill. The X-Mini II Speaker uses USB charging to power a small amplifier, has the gadgety look you know you’ll love on Christmas morning, and I love the “buddy” system built in so you can daisy chain more than one X-Mini II for an even louder sound when you meet up with another owner.


Print your pictures in the pub

Santa 2010 Smartphone

With so much emphasis on digital photography, what do you do once the picture is taken? Modern Web 2.0 trends say you upload it to Flickr, Facebook, or the like, but the old fashioned idea of printing out the picture still lives on. But not back at the PC. The PoGo Instant Printer (£25, Amazon) runs off a rechargeable battery, and once you send your picture over Bluetooth from your phone to the PoGo, it’ll pop out a 3” x 2” picture on the supplied paper.

It should be no surprise, with the world “Polaroid” on the casing, where the inspiration for this idea has come from. A nice 21st Century solution to an age old challenge of making (as opposed to taking) photos on the go. And they’re not just pictures, but stickers to boot. Bonus!


USB To Go cable

Santa 2010 Smartphone

While it’s bundled in the retail packaging of the Nokia N8, both the C7 and C6-01 also have the ability to talk to USB devices, if you have the right cable. So if you’re going to be using either of these two Symbian^3 C devices, this cable (Here it is on the Nokia Store) is a great stocking filler.

It works for USB pen drives, low power (FAT32 formatted) portable hard drives, mice and keyboards so it's a versatile accessory.

It will also keep you going until Nokia's delayed USB OTG powered DAB radio headset is available (now expected earlier next year).


Smartphone Tripod

Santa 2010 Smartphone

Taking a design cue from the Nokia DT-22 (which gets ever harder to find online), this, ahem, replica from AAA Products (Amazon, £7.99) has a variable-fit attachment to slot your phone in, a multi-angle head for getting the right shooting angle, and three legs to keep your phone steady for the latest episode of The Phones Show, or any other video capture you’ll be doing!


So why nine items?

Simply because Christmas is all about a great present that nobody else has spotted – these are our ideas, and we’re sure you’ll have your own as well. In which case add them in the comments and let's make the best Christmas wish list of smartphone presents ever!

-- Ewan Spence, Dec 2010.

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