Worth Your Time And Money #3: iPhone 5(S) Accessories

1. The Tavik Bumper Case

In season one of his Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld interviewed MST3K's Joel Hodgson. At one point in the discussion, Joel pulls out his iPhone which is in a protective case. Jerry makes a snide comment about how the case ruins the look and feel of using the device. My response has always been, well that's great for Jerry Seinfeld. He can afford a new iPhone if he drops his on the sidewalk and shatters the glass. The rest of us are not so lucky. So that's why I use a Tavik bumper for my iPhone 5. I loved the original Apple bumpers for the iPhone 4 and 4s, but I guess Apple didn't want to keep making plastic frames for their phones when the iPhone 5 came out. Thankfully Tavik saw an opportunity and took it.

As it is simply a band of rubber and plastic that goes around the perimeter of the phone, it's basically exactly like the old Apple bumper but built for the 5 and 5s. Yes, it doesn't protect the back of the phone, but the back is one of the strongest parts of the phone anyway. I'd say the only drawback is that the plastic/rubber covers for the volume and power buttons take some time to wear-in unlike the Apple bumpers that were easy to press right out of the box. But that's a minor gripe.

They come in several different colors and the design provides cutouts for the Lightning connector, the headphone jack, the mute switch, and the phone's speakers.

So if you like the bumper concept, don't mind an initial wear-in period for the three buttons, and have $30 to spend, I recommend the Tavik bumper case.

2. The Kenu Airframe Car Vent Mount


No one should text and drive but sometimes you need your phone handy, especially now that Google Maps and Apple Maps can provide directions as good as the GPS devices from 10 years ago. Also, if you are using Bluetooth to listen to music, you need the phone handy to switch songs if you're as impatient with music as I am.

My two previous options were sticking the phone under my left thigh or in the empty cup holder. The thigh option always made me nervous that the phone would fall between the door and the seat, and the cup holder (if I wasn't using it for a cup) always worried me that it might have some dried or sticky goo from a previous drink that would get on the phone. So dashboard mounts were always on my mind, but I didn't want to screw in anything to mar the dashboard or stick anything semi permanent to either the dash or the windshield.

Enter the Kenu mount. A spring-loaded rubberized grip arm holds an iPhone (or other mobile) firmly in its grasp either naked or encased in most form-fitting phone cases (like the Tavik bumper from above). This open-ended aspect is one of the nice things about it.

Plus, the makers did something really cool with the design of the, for lack of a better term, "pincher" element that grips the blade of your car's vent on the back of the mount. First, it rotates sturdily 360 degrees for either horizontal or vertical blades or if you want your phone at a particular angle. But then, the pincher accommodates two widths of blade because not all cars are made the same. Put together, its a surprisingly versatile yet simply designed product.

One caveat: so you're basically putting an expensive electronic device in front of an air vent connected to a portable HVAC unit. In the summer, you don't really need to worry about cold air blowing on the back of your phone, but if you want, you can close the vent or direct the air away from the phone depending on how you position the mount and what type of vents are in your car. However, in the winter you have to be very mindful of the hot air blowing on the back of your phone. Internal sensors may shut your phone off if it gets too hot. This did actually happen to me once but when the phone cools down it resumes normal operation. That is just something that you will have to consider when installing and using the mount.

It comes in two color options; the grey rubber gripper arms remain the same between the two models, but the plastic back now comes in white along with the original black.

So for $25, the Kenu Airframe Mount is worth your time and money.

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