Valentine's Gifts For Your *Real* True Love: Your Phone

By Holly Brockwell and Tom Pritchard on at

Let's be honest. No partner can ever really live up to a smartphone. No not like that, pervert, I mean in terms of general companionship. The world loves a good smartphone, and it's not hard to see why. They allow us remote access to the sum total of recorded human knowledge, they let us instantly communicate with everyone we like or care about, we can access media from wherever we are, and of course they let us look at funny pictures of cats and capture virtual monsters with magic powers. Beat that, spouses!

So with all this in mind it's about time we admitted the space we have in our hearts for our phones, and buy them some Valentine's Day gifts to show our appreciation.

A beautiful case

Whether it's for decoration, protection, or just so you can get a better grip on the thing, every phone is better off with a case. Which case you get is entirely up to you, though buying popular devices like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy means you're going to have a lot more choice in what you can pick up.

If you're buying a cheap case from a random seller, you can still pick up something for what you have pretty easily. But you can also go direct to sellers, with the likes of Otterbox, Popsocket, Moshi, Tech21 and more. Hell, even the phone companies themselves sell cases of various kinds, so your options are basically limitless.

The fancypants cases in the photo are all by Ted Baker at Proporta.

A dependable screen protector

Whether you're going full on tempered glass, or a simple plastic sheet, there's no reason not to buy a screen protector - assuming of course that you can put it on without borking up the whole process and getting all those pesky air bubbles trapped under the screen. Most phones come with one these days, but in a lot of cases it's just a cheap sheet that gets damaged far too quickly and inevitably needs replacing. Whether you want to jump the gun or simply upgrade, you should get your true love something to keep it safe.

Tempered glass screen protectors will offer the most protection, but they're also usually more expensive as a result. Thankfully most of them let you have more than one attempt at placing it, so if you get stuff trapped under there you can go back and try again up to a point. You can also get liquid screen protectors that can be wiped on and left to dry, and while these often don't protect as well, you can still avoid the usual scratches that have plagued phones since their inception.

The screen protector in the photo is from Rhinoshield.

A good pair of headphones

If you're still using the cheapo plastic earbuds that came with your phone, stop that immediately -- unless of course you got one of the phones that come with free Airpods, Galaxy Buds and the like, of course.

Otherwise, you owe it to your phone and the music within to get a really bloody good pair of headphones just for your phone. Whether you go for the Bluetooth wireless type, the wired style or over-ear cans, the main thing is that they look good and sound great.

The ones in the photo are the very swish Bowers & Wilkins carbon fibre noise-cancellers.

A quality charging cable

Everyone deserves a bit of R&R, especially your phone considering how much you use it. Sure, you could use the bog-standard cable that came in the box, or one of the random ones in your giant box of cables (everyone has one, don't lie) -- but doesn't your beloved deserve something a little more luxurious?

Braided cables basically last forever and they're also way harder for pets to bite through (speaking from bitter experience here). Obviously which cable you go for will depend on which phone you have, how long a cable you need and how fancy you're feeling, but there are some great choices at the Apple Store (including the Belkin cable in the photo), Native Union, and Candywirez.

One of the fancier PopSockets

Oh man, PopSockets -- otherwise known as those ubiquitous round phone-handle-slash-stand type things that have caught on MASSIVELY in the last year or so -- are our weakness. Just try to narrow your choice down to a single product on the website -- it's not possible.

There are bazillions of different PopSocket choices, including customised ones, licensed pop culture ones and swappable ones. But there are also some downright fancy ones made from premium materials, and those are the type your phone deserves this Valentine's Day. There's malachite, marble, enamel, Swarovski crystal and about a million other choices -- good luck choosing just one.

The one in the image is real amethyst, BTW. La-di-dah.

A ring

Not an engagement ring (sadly, it is not yet legal to marry your phone, even if it's the love of your life), but a phone ring. They're handy for keeping your phone attached to your hand even if some little scrote on a moped tries to grab it, and they can also be used as a stand for, um, hands-free purposes. Like movies. What were you thinking of?

Like cases, there are about a billion design choices. Typo has some great styles including Pickle Rick above, and Proporta is giving away heart-shaped phone rings with purchases over £35.

A good clean

Image: Amazon

Unsurprisingly, your phone gets absolutely filthy. Think about it: it gets smooshed up against your face, poked with your unwashed sausage fingers, used on the toilet, and god knows what else. Suffice to say, there's a lot of manky stuff on it.

You can get specialist cotton bud-type things for cleaning out the nooks and crannies of the phone, plus of course the essential bottle of screen cleaner and cloth. But if you really want to go all-out, you need Phonesoap 3, which looks like a sunbed for smartphones but actually charges your phone while using UV light to sanitise both sides of it. Overkill? Yes, but if you use it like a carwash and charge your mates a fiver a phone, you'll be quids in... eventually.

A cradle for your desk or car

Whether you go for the multi-charging type (like this one that can do your iPhone and Apple Watch together, you big Apple fanboy, you), the type that keeps your phone safely harboured while you're driving, or the type that literally turns your phone into a computer (Samsung DeX FTW), there's a cradle for everyone.

The Halfords one in the photo looks like an old-school iPod, which is a bonus, plus it's universal and only a fiver.

A battery pack

Phones love to do stuff, but that stuff uses up power, and we're not always in a position to recharge from a wall socket. The good news is that you can buy a very large battery pack to sort yourself out. Like damn near everything phone-related you have a lot of choice, with products ranging from credit-card size batteries, pocket friendly cylinders, to large bulky battery blocks with stupid-large capacity. Some of them even double as torches, like the one in the picture above.

Our advice? Get a big one you can keep in your bag that will only need recharging once or twice a week (depending on how much you use it), and if your phone is Quick Charge compatible that will make life easier too.

Just remember that if you're flying there's a 100Wh limit, and everything over that won't be allowed on the plane. Thankfully those types of packs are generally geared towards laptops, rather than phones.

A wireless charging stand

Unless you're rocking a OnePlus or an Oppo, chances are your phone will come with some level of wireless charging capability. So why not treat it with a wireless charging stand? That way you can keep the juice topped up while also being able to see what's going on on the screen.

There's not much speed consistency where wireless charging is concerned, so what you should get depends on your phone. With companies like Huawei and Xioami offering faster wireless charging speeds, you're going to want to take advantage of that. Similarly if you have a Pixel and use Google Assistant, the Pixel Stand has special features you won't get elsewhere. So make sure to look up what you have, what speed it takes, and buy accordingly. But if you're not fussed and just want something basic, all you have to do is make sure it's a Qi wireless charger - because anything else will not work.

The charging stand in the photo is by Native Union.

A best buddy (aka a smartwatch)

Your phone needs friends too, and what better friend can you have than a smartwatch? Smartwatches are essentially companion devices for the smartphone, after all, even if you get one of the fancy ones with its own standalone 4G connection. Because let's be honest, you can't do nearly as much on a watch than you can on a phone, but sometimes it's nice to glance at your wrist for quick actions. So what are your options? Limited, sadly, though iPhone users are best off going for an Apple Watch of some sort because nothing else really works as well on iOS.

If you're an Android user your options are more varied, though obviously the Apple Watch is sealed off to you for daring to not buy an Apple product. Luckily we already have a list of the best smartwatches, so you can take a gander at that.

The one in the image is a Misfit Vapor X.

An unlimited data plan

Image: Three

Your true love gets hungry for something other than a freshly recharged battery, and the only way to feed its cravings is with mobile data. After all what good is having a smartphone if you're not getting any data in? The good news is that all the big networks have started offering unlimited data plans again, though the prices they charge vary quite a lot.

Three is generally considered the cheapest, offering unlimited data for around £20 a month (for two years) and currently offering six months half price on a 12 month plan. That means you pay £11 for six months, and £22 for the remainder. O2 charges £35 a month for 12 months, while EE charges slightly less at £34 a month for 12 months - assuming you don't want the swappable benefits with that because they cost extra. Vodafone does things a bit sneakily, charging less for contacts that have hefty speed restrictions on them. If you want unlimited data at full speed (which you do), you have to pay £30 a month. Unless you want a streaming subscription bundled in, because like EE that costs extra.

Other networks that offer unlimited data include Virgin (£32 a month, and only if you're an existing TV or broadband customer), VOXI (£30 a month), Smarty (£20 a month), and iD (£25 a month). Giffgaff also has an 'always on' plan that gives you a 40GB allowance and once you go over that it restricts your speed to 384 kb/s between 8am and midnight.

Life insurance

 

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

It's always worth insuring your phone, even if it's under warranty, because those pesky phone companies will try and weasel their way out of fixing your stuff for free if they can. The best known kind of insurance is obviously Apple's own Apple Care, but that only applies to Apple products so you can't wander in with your Huawei P30 and expect any repairs.

Your own contents insurance might well cover your phone as well, especially if you have cover for outside of the house, so it's worth ringing them up to check. Likewise if you get your phone as part of a network contract, they will also offer insurance to varying degrees so it's again worth checking to see what's what.

Failing that, there are specialist device insurers like Protect Your Bubble and Insurance2Go, or you can use a comparison site like Compare The Market to find the best deal for your phone.

Still in a shopping mood? Check out the rest of our Valentine's gift guides.

Main image by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels