There is so much that can be done with our smartphones now that we basically never put them down. If we’re not checking in to something or watching a video, we’re surfing the web and/or making phone calls. So in between all that hard work we do with them, why not have a little fun as well? Welcome to the wonderful world of smartphone toys.
We’ve already spent hundreds of dollars on these devices after all, so I went in search of some things under $30 that are cool for just about any phone.
I don’t think anybody could ever get tired of a little robot that roams around your desk and is controlled entirely by your phone. The TankBot (pictured above) is a simple, IR-controlled robot with tank treads that roams around your desk. I say your desk, because that is just about the range you will get from the IR blaster that comes with the TankBot. The IR blaster connects to the headphone jack of your phone, and the app uses that to send signals to the TankBot. If you run out of range, the little robot has a tendency to take your last command and just sort of run with it, but fortunately this little tank is fairly durable, at least from what I have seen so far.
The TankBot’s most useful feature is the ability to charge via USB. In the back of the robot there’s a little tab that fold down and gets stuck with in an open USB port somewhere. TankBot lets you know when it is fully charged, and you’ll get about 30 minutes of action with it before that battery needs some more juice.
For $25, it’s one of the more amusing time-wasters that can be controlled by Android or iPhone.
Zeemote Smartphone Joystick
I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to playing games on my smartphone. They make the perfect time-wasters when waiting in line or riding shotgun, but there’s such a huge variety when it comes to gameplay that I feel like many games are hit in miss. Your airplane can’t dodge rockets if your fingers are in the way, and those on-screen joysticks are a joke. If we’re going to take our gaming on our smartphones seriously, we need some better controllers. Fortunately, Zeemote offers up exactly what is needed in this situation.
This tiny joystick comes with four different buttons surrounding the analog stick that are all well-placed for racing, flight sims, and even FPS games on your phone. The Zeemote connects via Bluetooth, and automatically turns off after a few minutes of inactivity, plus it is small enough that you can fit it in your pocket and just pull it out when you need to play a game.
Keep in mind, not every game works with the Zeemote — the game developer has to use the Zeemote’s SDK to weave control into their game, but already several popular games like Mini Squadron have added support for the controller. For $30 it’s a bit cheaper, and a heck of a lot more streamlined, then walking around with a Wiimote, and it a ton of fun to use on-the-go.
Cruzerlite Android Cases
Smartphone cases are ubiquitous part of the smartphone experience, and it is usually kind of hard to tell the good cases from the not-so-great cases. Cruzerlite has started making a series of cases that target the Android fanboys among us, but their cases also offer something I haven’t found with another soft case manufacturer. Like most soft cases, Cruzerlite’s cases are very flexible when not attached to the phone, but when snapped onto the phone the custom TPU molded cases create a solid casing. Additionally, the cases are custom designed for each model they support with the specific intent of feeling like a hard case when on the phone.
Cruzerlite’s cases are available in a variety of models, including the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, and the HTC One line. For $15 you’ll have a hard time finding a better soft case, and the Cruzerlite designs are sourced from creative minds all over the Android ecosystem.
Got a favorite smartphone accessory that’s under $30? We’d love to hear about it.
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