There's this thing, maybe you've heard of it? It's called Pokemon Go, and I have a sneaking suspicion it might catch on.
Duh. The augmented-reality game is the biggest thing to hit smartphones since Angry Birds. And every single player is looking for an edge, a way to reach higher levels and catch more Pokemon.
For example, perhaps you've read CNET's guide to leveling up fast without spending money. But that doesn't address some of the bigger Pokemon Go challenges, namely power and protection.
See, the more time you spend hunting Pokemon, the bigger the drain on your battery -- and the greater the risk of some tragic fate befalling your phone. Like, say, stray mortar fire from wandering onto a military base.
Fortunately, you don't need to spend a lot to accessorize your way to Pokemon Go success. Here's a look at some affordable chargers, cases and other items that'll help you catch 'em all.
Pokemon Go-friendly mobile chargers
There are countless portable power supplies for smartphones. What makes one better than another for, er, Pokemon-ing? (I was just going to call it Go-ing, but I feel like that word's been taken.)
Size, for starters: You may want a charger that's slim and compact enough to carry in a pocket, while at the same time comfortable to carry along with your phone in one hand. That's why I would rule out anything tube-shaped or similarly bulky.
Likewise, look for a charger with a built-in cable, as that's one less thing you'll have to remember to bring -- and one less thing to get in the way.
One solid pick comes from Bestoss: It's a 10,000mAh mobile charger that weighs just under 8 ounces and features a built-in microUSB cable -- complete with Lightning adapter for iPhone users. Price at Amazon: $19.99. That much extra power should let you hunt all day without ever having to retreat to an AC outlet.
Ah, but what happens if you forget to charge your charger? No problem if you've got a solar power pack clipped to your bag. Consider something like the GRDE Solar Charger, a ruggedized, outdoor-friendly battery with dual charging parts and an LED flashlight in case you find yourself hunting after dark.
There are a number of very similar products available on Amazon; this one sports a 10,000mAh battery (which can also be wall-charged -- good because the solar panels are really just for "topping off" the unit) and a $17.99 price tag.
Of course, you could also go the DIY route and 3D-print yourself a Pokedex-style smartphone case/charger.
Pokemon Go-friendly cases
When you walk around staring at your phone, the real world has a tendency to rear its ugly head. Brick walls, open manhole covers, cliffs that appear as if from nowhere -- these are among the obstacles just waiting to ring your bell, to say nothing of destroy your phone.
That's why protection is critical. Start by adding a bit of grip insurance in the form of a Ninja Loop or Petite Loop -- simple hand-straps that help prevent accidental drops. They come in a variety of colors and sell for $4.99 apiece.
Next, Otter up -- by which I mean wrap your phone in an Otterbox-style case that can withstand drops, knocks and other kinds of punishment. Note that I said "Otterbox-style," because there's a hefty premium to be paid for the actual brand. Hit up Ebay or even your local Five Below store and you'll find lots of rugged cases (combining rubber and hard shells) for considerably less money.
If you want your phone always at the ready, quick-draw-style, consider a belt-clip case. But don't bother with a snap-shut enclosure; you want a quick-release system that requires a minimum of fumbling.
For that, look to Arkon's Universal Swivel Belt Clip Holder (about $5 on Amazon), which relies on small circular tab that sticks to the back of your phone (in or out of a case, which is nice) and quickly clips into (or out of) the belt holster.
If you routinely find yourself hunting near pools, lakes, oceans or rainforests, a waterproof case probably makes sense. iOrange offers a 2-pack of universal waterproof phone sleeves for $9.99, or you can do what real cheapskates do and stick your phone inside a Ziploc (or similar) clear plastic bag -- preferably one that has two "zippers" instead of just one.
Don't worry, you won't have to remove your phone every time you want to use it: Your finger taps will be recognized through the plastic. Because, science!
Finally, we all know it's insane to hunt Pokemon while driving (please, please, please don't), but if you want to risk your life while biking, feel free. All you need is a handlebar-friendly phone mount.
Like this one from iPow, which can securely hold just about any size smartphone. Current price: just $12.98.
Pokemon Go extras
Another thing before you Go: Consider a pair of noise-isolating earbuds, which will allow you to enjoy Pokemon Go's music -- and hear audio cues -- while searching in particularly noisy environments. (Of course, you can always fire up your favorite playlists and/or podcasts as well.)
Make sure they're water- and sweat-resistant, too, just in case you work up a sweat while chasing down rare Pokemon -- or you're crazy enough to search in the rain.
One good option: For as little as $14.99, you can score a set of Vtin Bluetooth Headphones, which incorporate ear-hooks to keep the buds in place and a behind-the-neck cord so you can pop them out as needed. They're good for up to six hours on a charge and have a sweat-proof design.
Finally, be sure to adorn yourself in Pokemon Go outerwear, if only to let onlookers know why you're behaving that way.
For example, a new online store dubbed I'm Playing Pokemon Go offers a handful of T-shirt designs, with new ones arriving every two weeks. Among the current options is a shirt that's emblazoned, "If I'm looking at my phone, 99% chance I'm playing Pokemon Go."
Etsy, meanwhile, offers a wide assortment of Pokemon Go team accessories, everything from keychains and purses to decals and, yes, cookie-cutters.
What accessories would you consider essential for the modern Go-er?