The year 2011 has seen a wide variety of smartphones and other handsets enter the Indian market. Part and parcel of these devices are their accessories available. I mean if you're going to spend a lot of money on a handset, it only makes sense to make sure they're either protected well or look even better than what comes out-of-the-box. Accessories range from screen protectors right down to Bluetooth keyboards. As the market for smartphones increases, so does the market for their accessories. Various international brands are launching their wares in India and even if they aren't available off the shelf, there's always good old Internet shopping. So how does one choose what goes along with their cool new device? Here's a quick look at what you should consider a relevant purchase for your smartphone.

Screen Protectors
Most of the smartphones available over the last couple of years feature screens that are scratch resistant and do not actually require a screen protector. However, like everything available in the market, nothing is impervious to scratches. Screen protectors have been around for several years and rightfully so. The brands selling these accessories cater to various handsets and do not restrict themselves to only the so called “big boys” of the smartphone world.

Different types of screen protectors available

Different types of screen protectors available

Brands such as ScratchGard, Capdase, Zagg, Clarivue, etc. sell different types of screen protectors for various handsets. These types of protectors come in different finishes such as mirror, matte and ultra-clear. They're priced from Rs. 100 to Rs. 600 and are available at most handset retailers or online. I do recommend though, that you ask the shopkeeper to put the guard on for you as it's not as simple as it looks. A single bubble of air under the display can get to be a real pain later on.

Covers
From the time of the Nokia 3310, people have been swapping their panels with different coloured ones to alter the look of their handsets. This trend hasn't changed over the years and the evolution of the mobile case, shell, or skin has not really changed too much. Companies have merely adjusted to cater to the larger variety of devices. Here are some of the different types of 'shells' that are available for smartphones.

Skins
Skins are probably the coolest accessory available for your smartphone. They're removable adhesive-backed vinyl covers for protecting and customizing your electronic device. These skins come in designs that range from funky to simplistic. One can also personalize the design with their own choice of graphics in some cases. The best part about these skins is that once a person decides that they're bored with what they have all they have to do is peel it off and it will not leave any residue. Then it's just a matter of re-designing a new one.

Probably the coolest way to make your own fashion statement

Probably the coolest way to make your own fashion statement

These skins are available online through websites such as GelaSkins, Unique Skins, SkinJam, etc. Their cost depends on the handset and range from Rs. 550 ($11.99) to Rs. 771 ($16.99).

Cases
The range of designs for cases or covers available for smartphones have gone beyond being just fancy-looking. Cases not only provide protection, but also is used as a style statement. When you own a BlackBerry or an iPhone, you take it for granted that a case should be used along with it. Brands such as BlackBerry manufacture their own line of cases for their phones. These cases come in many colours and offer the device a reasonable amount of protection. However, other manufacturers such as Case-Mate, Capdase, InCase and several others offer different types of covers for BlackBerrys and other smartphones. One should definitely consider purchasing a case to protect their phones in case of accidental (or not) falls.

Covers that suit your personality

Covers that suit your personality

The Hybrid cover is a prime example of a tough case for your smartphone. Besides the fact that it is available in various colours, this sort of case provides a  dual level of protection – this includes a silicon cover on the inside and a hardened plastic shell over it. The covers for smartphones are sold at all phone retailers and some online sites and the prices range from Rs. 200 upwards.

Pouches
For those corporate smartphone users out there, pouches are a nifty thing for you. Nothing looks better than stylishly whipping out that smartphone from a funky looking pouch and attending to that important call or sending an email.

Pouches for different needs

Pouches for different needs

Many brands sell pouches that are of different types. BlackBerry handsets come with a leather pouch called Smart Case that automatically puts the phone into sleep mode and even locks the device. For other smartphones in the market such as Android, iPhone, Nokia or Windows Phones, there are various pouches for carrying your handset. All these pouches are stylish in design and come in different shapes catering to your smartphone and your personality. Even big name designers have gotten into the act. The cost of these pouches range from Rs. 500 to Rs. 2,000 and are available at any mobile dealer. Alternatively one can also purchase these pouches online from sites such as eBay, Amazon, etc.

Battery Chargers
Most of the smartphones available in the market are super fast gadgets that can be loaded with a ton of apps, media and other data. But a persistent problem with these handsets is the battery life. Many third party manufacturers have launched portable chargers or battery packs that can help sustain the battery life of your device for those times when you're travelling and need that extra boost.

For those always on the go

For those always on the go

Brands such as Portronics have manufactured a portable charger that allow you to charge various handsets. This is done by merely changing the adapter to suit the device of your choice. There is also the Solmate Fusion solar battery charger, which boasts of the same features and also doubles up as a USB drive. The price range of these chargers range from Rs. 995 to Rs. 1,200.

Bluetooth Accessories and Earphones
Smartphones nowadays usually come with a pretty good set of earphones i.e. handsfree kits, it least that's mostly the case with higher end models. However, there are a handful of manufacturers that supply a Bluetooth headset along with their phone. This is where many smartphone manufacturers as well as third party brands come in.

Nothing like being wire free

Nothing like being wire free

Brands such as Jabra and Plantronics are well known brands in Bluetooth headsetBT enabled accessories also extend into car kits with handsfree speaker phones so you can have both hands on teh wheel an nothing possibly uncomfortable stuck in your ear while driving. The starting price of these Bluetooth accessories is Rs. 800 onwards.

Earphones – If you're not to happy with the handsfree kit that's bundled with the phone, you can always opt to buy a higher quality set that packs in better audio and has a more comfortable design. An example of one such headset is the Sennheiser MM60.

Docks
Docks are usually made keeping the iPhone in mind. Most are fitted with  the proprietary connector found solely on iOS devices. However, those using other smartphones need not be left out as docks or even posrtable speaker kits almost always feature a line-in/ AUX port, which can be used with the handset’s 3.5mm audio jack.

Major audio brands catering to smartphones

Major audio brands catering to smartphones

Brands such as JBL, Harman/Kardon, Altec Lansing, Edifier, etc. all make docks for iPhones. The prices of these docs start from Rs. 2,000.

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