Julie asked me to suggest some gift ideas for the iPhone and iPad users in your life. I thought about how I have used my original iPad mini, the new iPad Air I owned for a short while, and the iPad mini with Retina display I replaced the Air with, and I came up with five things I use daily and love. I have a mixture of accessories and apps, and none of them is very expensive.
Click through to see the details.
- First up is the STM cache. I reviewed this great little bag at the beginning of 2013, and it and a second one in black that I bought have been used by both my husband and me since I got the review bag. It’s the perfect size for the full-sized iPad (both the 3rd-gen iPad and the iPad Air) with a Smart Cover and a snap-on back cover. There’s room for some accessories, too, like a charger and some cables or a backup battery. You can even fit your iPhone in there, too. I have also used it with both my original iPad mini and my new iPad mini with Retina display, both wearing snap-on back covers and Smart Covers. With the iPad mini, I have enough extra room that I can throw in my wallet and keys and use only the STM cache when I’m out. They’re about $29 at eBags.
- I ordered a Case-Mate case for my iPhone 5 before the phone was even officially released. I wanted a case that covered the sides and back for protection, but I wanted the beauty of the iPhone 5 to show. The actual case I bought seems to be missing from the line up now. That case was made with recycled materials, but it looks just like the Barely There for iPhone 5/5S in clear. I’ve taken the case off while reviewing other cases, but I eventually come back to the Case-Mate. The Barely There is $25.
- I’m still using the Incase USB Mini Cable Kit I bought in 2012. I’ve added a 4″ Amazon Basics USB A-to-Lightning cable to the kit, and I keep it in my gear bag. Anywhere I find myself, I can use these cables and an AC adapter or a USB port port on a computer to charge my Apple devices, and I have a miniUSB and a microUSB cable for any items that need them. The Incase USB Mini Cable Kit is $25, and the Amazon Basics Lightning cable is $10 in black. You might want to throw in a USB extension cable to give these short little cables a bit more reach.
- I use a Smart Cover on my iPad every day. The original Smart Covers had metal hinges that left black marks on the metal backs of my iPads, but Apple has redesigned the attachment system for the Smart Covers. The new design was introduced with the original iPad mini, and that design has carried over to both the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. The hinge is made of the same materials used for the cover itself, and the back of the hinge has the same microfiber lining that protects the screen. I haven’t seen a single mark on the iPad’s body from this new hinge. I always get the polyurethane Smart Covers, which is a good thing since Apple doesn’t seem to have the leather Smart Covers for the newest iPads. I like the colors that are available, and I like the toughness of the polyurethane. I don’t want to have to worry about a leather cover getting marked up when I throw the iPad in my bag. The one thing I don’t like is Apple’s pricing for these covers. They are $39 for both the iPad Air and the iPad mini. Shouldn’t the smaller size be a bit cheaper? I pair the Smart Cover with an i-BLASON Hard Snap On Slim-Fit Case with Smart Cover Anchor to protect the metal back of the iPad. The i-BLASON has a channel that fits over the Smart Cover’s hinge and locks it in place, so I don’t have to worry about the Smart Cover suddenly slipping off the iPad. I got covers for both the iPad Air ($17) and the iPad mini with Retina display ($14), and I got the clear version so the back of the iPad shows through in both cases.
- The best $15 I spend each month is for my subscription to the Next Issue magazine service. For $15, I get unlimited access to new and back issues of 124 magazines, some published monthly, others weekly. If you aren’t interested in the weeklies, you can subscribe to the 112 monthly magazines for $9.99 a month. Since I began my subscription, Next Issue has added more and more magazines without increasing the pricing. The free app is available for iPad and iPhone, though I haven’t tried it on the iPhone. You can gift a 3-month subscription for $45, 6 months for $90, or a full year for $180. Imagine what it would cost you to give gift subscriptions of all those magazines in print format! And imagine all the clutter the recipient of the paper subscriptions would have to deal with!