You probably don't spend much time thinking about the back of your phone. All the action happens in the front; duh, that's where the screen is. But turn the phone over for a second. See all that empty space? Seems like prime real estate for, well, something.
But what? Turns out you can put that backside to good use, whether for practical purposes or plain old fashion. Let's take a look at some interesting accessories for the forgotten part of your phone.
A longtime personal favorite, the Ninja Loop (best name ever) is a simple strap that works with just about any case. Once installed, you just slide your fingers through for a much safer and more comfortable grip. Safer, because you're less likely to drop your phone when it's literally strapped to your hand. And more comfortable if you're trying navigate or touch-type with just your thumb.
The Ninja Loop comes in a variety of colors and styles. It costs just CA$5.99 -- about $4.50, £3.50 or AU$6 -- and shipping is free anywhere in the world if you order three or more.
Doesn't matter if you're reading a book, watching a movie or chatting on a video call: Your phone needs a way to stand up for itself. In other words, it needs a kickstand, a way to prop it up on a desk, table, countertop or other flat surface so you can comfortably view the screen hands-free.
Ideally, the kickstand should go where you go, meaning it's semipermanently attached to the back of your phone. For example, the Spigen U100 Universal Metal Kickstand is a narrow, spring-loaded stand that flicks open as needed to prop up your phone in landscape mode. It sells for $9.99 or £7.59 (about AU$13 converted) and comes in silver, black and rose gold.
You might also consider something like the Spigen Style Ring, which sticks to the back of your phone and performs two functions: stand and drop-free gripping (kind of like the Ninja Loop, but for one finger). You can also get a dashboard mount to hook your phone to your dashboard. Style Rings sell for $19.99, £9.99 or AU$26 each.
Another gripper/stand option: the PopSocket. Available in a wide variety of colors and styles (including custom ones you design yourself), these self-adhesive discs "pop out" for kickstand and finger-grip duty and then collapse to become almost flat. The regular ones run about $10, £7 or AU$15; a custom PopSocket will cost you $15. (Cheapskate tip: You can get $2 off via this link.)
A magnet mount
I'm a big believer in mounting your phone on your dashboard when you drive, and think magnetic mounts are arguably the single best option.
Hit up Amazon, eBay or just about any store and you'll find loads of choices, the vast majority of them priced $10 or less. Some use magnets that adhere directly to your dashboard; others clip into an air vent. Either way, you'll need a metal plate that sticks to the rear of your phone.
That plate can go inside your case, if you use one, provided it's fairly thin. Otherwise, you may need to stick it right to the phone itself, in which case I strongly recommend choosing a mount that comes with a clear-film removable tab that goes between the phone and the plate. That way, if you decide you don't want the plate any longer, it's easy to remove and won't leave behind any residue.
This is an idea that never really caught on, which is too bad, because it's a good one.
Dimple is a tactile set of buttons that sticks to the back of your Android phone. (Sorry, iPhone users -- you'll understand why in a minute.) You then program them to perform just about any function: launch the camera, turn on the flashlight, call your spouse and so on.
Amazingly, all this requires no battery, no wiring... nothing except NFC. That's the wireless technology used to pair the buttons to your phone; an app handles the programming. (Apple doesn't allow third-party products to access NFC this way, alas.)
The buttons work on just about any NFC-equipped Android phone, provided it's not encased in metal, which does leave out certain premium models, alas, such as the OnePlus 3. A set of four will run you $17.99 (about £14 or AU$24 converted).
Lots of folks prefer to go caseless, which I think is crazy -- one sudden burst of gravity and crrrraaackk goes the screen. On the other hand, cases add bulk and diminish phone beauty, so I get it.
That still leaves you with a naked backside, one that doesn't really reflect your style, your personality. So consider dressing it up with a skin. Mighty Skins, Slickwraps and Skinit are among the companies offering a wide variety of cling-style wraps for most phone models. They also give you the option of uploading your own art -- a company logo, a photo of the kids and so on -- and turning that into a skin.
Prices typically start between $10-$15, depending on style, phone model and so on. Custom skins can raise the cost to the $20-$30 range. (Wrappz and XtremeSkins in the UK and NevSkins and PrintVenue in Australia offer similar options.)
There are lots of self-adhesive wallets that can hold a couple cards and some cash -- a great way to add utility to the back of your phone. I like one that takes it a step further, adding a kickstand to the mix.
The Cellessentials Cell Phone Wallet with Stand offers exactly that addition, in the form of a pair of "wings" that fold out to prop up your phone. It can stick directly to the back of your phone or to any nonsilicone case.
Although this product can be found elsewhere with different branding and pricing, it's hard to beat Cellessentials' deal on Amazon: a five-pack of wallets in assorted colors for $8.97 (about £7 or AU$12 converted).
Have you found any other cool accessories to add to the back of your phone? Shout them out in the comments!