A smart phone's high price and monthly bill may limit its appeal as a holiday gift, but a smart accessory can be the gift that keeps on giving. Here are a few Black Friday deals that might thrill someone on your shopping list.
Wireless speaker systems
These offer a great way to play music stored on a phone, tablet, media player, or computer that's across the room or even elsewhere in the house. Our tests showed that you don't have to trade sound quality for convenience, but you will pay a premium for it.
Most models use Bluetooth wireless technology, which works with a wide range of mobile devices, including the Apple iPhone and Android smart phones. The pickings for deals have thus far been slim in this category. The most promising offer so far is h.h. gregg's Black Friday discount on the Bose Soundlink Mobile Speaker II, down $30 from its typical $200 price tag. This model is a fine choice; it delivered good sound quality in our tests and features a stand that doubles as a fold-over book-style cover.
You're more likely to run into heavy discounted wireless speaker systems from unknown brands, and even well-known brands that didn't perform well in our tests, such as the beats by dre pill, and the Jawbone Jambox ($60 off its regular $160 price tag at Best Buy). These models had sound quality that was only fair or poor.
Find the right smart phone for your needs and budget with our cell phone buying guide and Ratings.
Give your loved one's phone some extra storage for their favorite movies, music, or even pictures of you. Most Android, BlackBerry, and Windows phones can accept a micro SD card (about the size of your fingernail) that can boost capacity by up to 64GB—enough for 25 high-quality movies, or tens of thousands of songs, photos, and video clips. MicroSD cards come with adapters, too, so you can also use them with your desktop or laptop PC. Too bad iPhones lack such a slot. Three great deals:
Sandisk 64 GB Class 10 Micro SDXC and Adapter, which claims transfer speeds up to 30 mbps and is waterproof, temperature-proof, X-ray proof, and shock-proof. You'll find it at Costco for $34, which is $21 off its regular price. The PNY 16GB Micro SDHC Card and adapter, also at Costco, is marked down to $7.99 from its $29.99 price tag. And RadioShack is offering the SanDisk Ultra 64GB MicroSDXC UHS-I Card for $40—$20 off the regular price.
If you have friend with a Samsung smart phone, the online retailer Tanga.com has suedelike flip-cover cases for the the Samsung Galaxy S 3, Galaxy S 4, and Note 2 that protect the phone's screen when it is not in use and are easily flipped open for access to devices' screens. Marked down from their regular $30 price to $4, these cases snap on easily, replacing the phones' standard battery cover without making them bulky.
The S-View Cover for the Samsung Galaxy S 4, also $4, has a cutout that lets you see the time and other notifications when the cover is flipped over the phone's screen. The cover's auto wake-up function activates the phone's screen when the cover is flipped open. You can even receive and reject calls without opening the case.
And if you know someone with an iPhone 5c, consider the AceAbove Protek Air External 2,200mAh Battery Case for iPhone 5c, available at ctcstore.com for $34.95 (regularly $70). Besides giving you an extra day's worth of power, the case comes with an earphone extension, charging switch, and LED battery life indicator. The deal ends Nov. 23.
Walmart has a few accessories in its Black Friday circular, too. Zagg screen protectors for several phones, normally about $15, will sell for $9.88, and the ONN 6-in-one smart-phone accessory kit for $14.88. We've seen similar products selling for as much as twice that.
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.