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What to buy a smartphone lover? Accessories, of course

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY

Friends don’t let friends use an unprotected smartphone. They also don’t let them listen to music through the phone’s lousy earbuds, run out of storage, or leave the house without a back-up power solution.

Smartphone accessories – such as protective cases, wireless earbuds, portable flash drives, and battery boosters – can all help add some functionality and longevity to a beloved (but limited) device.

If you’re in search of some holiday gift ideas – for that smartphone-loving friend, family member or hard-to-buy-for co-worker – consider one of the following affordable suggestions.

(And hey, why not treat yourself to a year-end gift, as well.) 

Sound advice

Whether your smartphone doesn’t have a headphone jack, or you simply want to be untethered from your device, Sony’s True Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones (WF-1000XM3; sony.com) are small, comfortable and sound great.

In fact, these earbuds offer active noise cancellation, which electronically blocks out ambient noise around you, so there’s nothing between you and your music, podcasts, or phone calls.

Sony WF-1000XM3

Featuring 4.5 hours of battery life (or up to 24 hours with the matching charging case), these $228 wireless buds let you tap to access your Google Assistant. Or cup your left hand over the earbud to turn off noise cancellation and quiet the music down so you can chat with someone without taking the earbuds out.

Thanks for the memory

Find yourself running out of storage for all your photos and videos? This can be especially with phones, like iPhone, that don’t offer expandable storage.

As such, a great gift idea would be SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go (from $39 for 128GB; sandisk.com) for iOS, or SanDisk’s Ultra Dual Drive Go USB Type-C (from $9.49 for 64GB) for Android.

The premise is the same: it’s a teeny drive you can snap in the smartphone to automatically back-up photos, videos, and contacts (plus more options for Android). Once media is copied to the drive, unplug, and then insert the other end into a USB port of a computer or TV to view your content.

If you like, you can also shoot videos directly to the drive, instead of using up valuable space on your device.

You can also password-protect the drive, in case you lose it.

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Making the case

There’s no shortage of protective cases to wrap around a smartphone for when – not if – it’s dropped on the ground (or, er, in the toilet).

Serious klutzes might consider an OtterBox Defender Series (from $50; otterbox.com) for ultra-rugged protection.

Available in multiple styles and colors, these fitted cases safeguard your smartphone in a few ways: a clear membrane that covers the screen, a hard polycarbonate skeleton that surrounds the smartphone and a wrap-around silicone skin that absorbs bumps and shocks (with plugs that keep dust and dirt out of the ports when not in use). It also includes a durable holster that clips to your belt, should you want it.

Remember, you’ll need to know which phone model your family member or friend has before you buy the case, as it’s not a one-size-fits-all purchase.

If you prefer not to have a screen protector, there’s also “screenless” edition of the Defender Series case for iPhone 11.

Stick it to me

The newest smartphone accessory in this round-up, the dop kit ($25; thedop.com) is a multipart gadget that lets you stick your smartphone on any number of flat surfaces, for when you prefer to access your phone hands-free.

Want to watch YouTube while brushing your teeth? Stick your phone against a bathroom mirror. Or video chat while cooking by affixing your phone to the fridge. You get the idea.

The dop kit consists of the dop ring, which secures to the back of your phone (and doubles as a kickstand), and the dop mount, which can stick to a surface and then be removed and placed elsewhere over and over (it’s suction-based, and secures with three twists). And yes, the mount also works with PopSocket.

Once locked onto the mount, you can swivel your phone at any angle.

The dop kit is available in jet black and rose gold, and includes a micro-cloth travel bag that doubles as a surface cleaner. By itself, the dop ring costs $17.

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Power play

Finally, there’s nothing worse when you’re on the go and your smartphone’s battery starts to wane.

A handy travel companion, the Anker PowerCore Metro 20,000 mAh Portable Charger ($49; anker.com) is a power bank that provides up to 96 hours of power for your smartphone, tablet, wireless headphones, smartwatch, and other tech toys.

Anker PowerCore Metro 20000

In fact, there are two USB Type-A ports to charge two devices at once, while a blue LED light shows the charging status. Exclusive PowerIQ technology optimizes the charging to best match what’s plugged into it.

The slim drive is covered in a sleek fabric exterior.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at www.marcsaltzman.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Holiday gift ideas: Smartphone accessories are your go-tos