Tech gadgets

With the start of school just a few days away, we decided to create a back-to-school gadget guide for phone charging, protection and entertainment. For students (and anyone on the go), we also decided to feature an ultra-slim iPad keyboard case from our friends at ZAGG.

While most of what we’ve included has been set up for an iPhone XR, many items are compatible with non-Apple phones and tablets as well.

Belkin Wireless Charging Pad-2

Belkin BOOST↑UP™ Special Edition Wireless Charging Pad

This snazzy, 7.5W wireless charging pad does just that: charges your Qi-compatible smart phone without the need to plug in a cable. It’ll work for iPhone models 8 and up. It’s a breeze to set up: just plug in the (100 to 240-volt) AC adapter into a wall or power strip, then into the pad itself.

Belkin Wireless Charging Pad-4
[What’s in the box]

You can even charge it with a (lightweight) case on your phone. So far, we’ve charged the Xr with Apple’s own clear case and the OtterBox Pop Symmetry case detailed below.

Belkin Wireless Charging Pad

Less than 1.4cm (1/2”) thick, weighing in at 130g (4.6 oz.), it only takes up 9.5 cm (3.7”) on your desk. A built-in LED light lets you know that your smart phone is properly aligned and charging. It also detects foreign objects so the pad won’t use unnecessary power or heat.

BelkinBelkin BOOST↑UP™ Special Edition Wireless Charging Pad

It’s constructed from stainless steel with a chrome finish plus protective coating and ships with a two-year warranty (by registering online at Belkin, you’ll get a third year for free).

Additionally, you’re safe with Belkin’s $2,500 Connected Equipment Warranty, meaning that if your device is ever damaged by an electrical charge while properly connected to the charger, Belkin will repair or replace it up to a value of $2,500.

BelkinBelkin BOOST↑UP™ Special Edition Wireless Charging Pad

The BOOST↑UP™ Special Edition Wireless Charging Pad, sold in White/Silver and Black/Silver, is available at Belkin online, at Apple Stores in Canada and the US as well as at Best Buy. CAD/USD $69.99

3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar™

So you’ve upgraded your iPhone but still want to charge it while listening to wired headphones that use a 3.5mm jack. Enter Belkin’s 3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar™. You can connect a 3.5 mm headphone, speaker or AUX cable and still enjoy hands-free talk as well as your tunes, movies and podcasts while you charge the phone.

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio+Charge RockStar

This dongle is easy to pack into a bag or purse to take on the road, to work, or in the car.

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio+Charge RockStar-2

It’s compatible with any Apple device using iOS 9 or later (with iPhone 7/7 Plus and newer). CAD/USD $39.99

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio Cable With Lightning Connector

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio Cable With Lightning Connector

Why deal with an adapter when you can connect with a single cable! Designed for iPhones 7 and newer, the 0.9 m (3-ft.) cable minimizes clutter at your car seat or desk, while the 1.8m (6-ft.) length is perfect for hidden or hard-to-reach AUX ports in your home and car.

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio Cable with Lightning Connector

In addition, Belkin’s first MFi-certified 3.5mm audio to Lightning cable on the market guarantees sustained compatibility with future iOS updates.

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio Cable With Lightning Connector

In black and white; CAD/USD $29.99

OtterBox Pop Symmetry Case-2

OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series for iPhone XR

If you’re a fan of PopSockets, you’ll want to check out OtterBox’s Pop Symmetry series cases. They look and feel rugged, with a protective all-around bevel on the front side.

OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series Build Your Own Case
[OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series in Go To Blue, Blue Nebula]

The fun factor about this case is that you can fully customize your case with swappable PopTops (see below).

The Symmetry case works with Qi wireless charging (though according to the OtterBox site, you may have to remove the PopTop to do so. We charged it just fine with the Belkin wireless charging pad mentioned above).

OtterBox Pop Symmetry Case
[PopSocket on an iPhone 6 case vs. OtterBox + Pop Symmetry Series case]

I did notice that OtterBox has designed the case with the PopGrip in the center, so if you like having a PopGrip a bit higher or lower on the back of your phone, keep that in mind.

OtterBox Pop Symmetry Case-3

Having the integrated PopGrip versus a standalone PopTop gives the Symmetry case a slightly slimmer profile.

OtterBox Pop Symmetry Case-4 OtterBox Pop Symmetry Case-7

This black case (with Gilded Glam PopTop) is currently on my iPhone Xr. The Otter + Pop Symmetry case is also made for iPhone X/Xs Max, 8/8 Plus and 7/7 Plus.

OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series for iPhone XR

It comes in Black, Go To Blue, Mauveolous, Lilac Dusk (Purple), Blue Nebula and White Marble for CAD $64.95/USD $59.99.

OtterBox Pop Symmetry Case-5

OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series Build Your Own Case

While at CES Asia earlier this summer, I visited the OtterBox booth and discovered these fun, customizable PopGrip-integrated cases with a collection of designs and case colours to match pretty much anyone’s taste.

OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Series Build Your Own Case

There are five case colours plus black, and over a dozen pop tops that screw on and off the OtterBox Symmetry case. Choose a case colour and PopTop (USD $67.95 total before tax and shipping). The case ships with its own matching PopSocket, so you get two in one order. CAD $74.99/USD $67.95

ZAGG BRV-360 Waterproof Speaker

BRAVEN BRV-360 Waterproof Speaker

BRAVEN’s BRV-360 waterproof speaker delivers smooth and consistent 360-degree sound from dual passive radiators so you get perfect sound with every play. It’s designed to be fully mobile too, and can fit in cup holders, water bottle cages and backpacks.

BRAVEN BRV-360 Waterproof speaker
[Charging the BRV-360]

With 12 hours of listening time on a full charge, this cool-looking speaker also stands up to wet conditions so you can take it with you on long weekends.

BRAVEN-BRV 360 Waterproof speaker-2

And speaking of charging, there’s a built-in battery/USB port that charges a smartphone twice.

ZAGG BRV-360 Waterproof Speaker

The exterior is certified waterproof. Sounds reach to an enhanced distance of 100 feet.

ZAGG BRV-360 Waterproof Speaker

Built-in voice control works with your smartphone to give a command or make and take calls hands-free. Available in black, blue and red. CAD $99.99/USD $79.99

ZAGG Rugged Book Keyboard and Case

ZAGG Rugged Book Keyboard and Case

The durable, magnetic-hinged, detachable Rugged Book Keyboard and Case works in four modes: keyboard, video, case and book, and contains a unique magnetic hinge that secures your iPad at virtually any angle.

ZAGG Rugged Book
[What’s in the box]

There’s a sleep/wake function that helps preserve battery life when the keyboard is not is use, and the backlit, laptop style keys come in seven different colours to allow easy and comfortable typing, even in low-light conditions.

ZAGG Rugged Book Keyboard and Case

The Rugged Book is built with a combination of materials for durability and protection from impact, corner damage, even falls up to 6.6 feet (via four layers of stainless steel, polycarbonate and rubber).

ZAGG Rugged Book-2
[Rugged all around]

Easily pair your iPad with the keyboard via Bluetooth. ZAGG also promises up to two years of use between battery charges (based on one hour of use per day. Using the backlit feature may mean more frequent charging).

The Rugged Book ships with a one-year limited warranty and is available for iPad 9.7”, 9.7” Pro and Air 2 (CAD $149.99/USD $129.99) as well as a smaller version for iPad Mini 5 (CAD $149.99/USD $129.99) and iPad Mini 2/3 (CAD $159.99/USD $139.99).

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