Incase's Canvas Fitted Sleeve wraps the iPhone in an earthy, olive canvas.
updated 10/18/2007 9:00:28 PM ET 2007-10-19T01:00:28

Anyone who owns Apple Inc.'s iPhone knows that it can be mighty difficult to keep the sleek smart phone shining. But is it necessary to shell out more money to keep the gadget in pristine condition?

If you're among the million people who've snatched up the combo iPod-cell phone, the answer is probably yes. The touch screen is used for everything, and all that finger tapping and swiping can make for a bit of an oily mess at the end of the day. It's hard to be hip with a messy status symbol.

But fear not, those few extra bucks will help keep your iPhone looking like new. And early adopters can use the $100 credit they got from Apple as an apology after it cut the price of the 8 gigabyte model to $399 from $599.

The good news: The best set of accessories (for cleanliness and protection) will only set you back about $45.

First pick up Belkin's $13 ClearScreen Overlay — as the name implies, it protects the phone's screen from the daily damage brought on by hours of surfing the Web, talking and texting. It may be worth picking up a few in case of scratches on the overlay that are inevitable over time.

An iPhone case or cover would provide even more protection — and run the risk of wrecking its appearance or making it harder to slide out of a pocket.

Incase Designs' Molded Rubber Case ($30) is a thin but protective skin with a hip pattern. Cutouts in the case also make it easy to access to the camera, touch screen, speakerphone, microphone and dock connector.

Or for an earthy design take a look at Incase's Canvas Fitted Sleeve ($35) that wraps the iPhone in olive canvas. The sleeves also come in pink, black and tan leather for a more sleek and sophisticated look.

IPhone-toting gym-goers have other options. Belkin's Sport Armband ($30) or Incase's Neoprene Sports Case ($35) help keep iPhones dry. Both sport washable and adjustable armbands. The Incase setup is a bit more bulky _ with extra material and clips to remove the case from the armband _ but does have a cutout for the camera, just in case you stumble upon an interesting sight along your run.

Other accessories do more than protect the iPhone.

While Apple includes a special set of earbuds with the iPhone with a built-in microphone, those looking to use higher-end headphones can do so with Belkin's Headphone Adapter to connect through the iPhone's input jack. For $11, the adapter, which is a bit on the large side, allows you to plug in any set of stereo headphones.

But it doesn't allow for microphone input through your regular headphones. V-Moda's Vibe Duo Earbuds ($100) can fix that, with high-end stereo headphones and built-in microphone and controls for your music.

If you're looking to add a Bluetooth headset to your iPhone, any model should be compatible with the iPhone, but Aliph's Jawbone headset ($120) takes the cake.

Its sleek design matches the iPhone and the sound quality is great. It has military-grade technology that filters out even the loudest background noise. The black, red or silver headset is also comfortable.

Apple's own Bluetooth headset ($130) is a bit sleeker. It does complement the iPhone nicely, but in certain situations it doesn't provide the sound quality that the Jawbone does. The Apple headset does include a dock to charge both the iPhone and the headset, as well as a travel cable that recharges both.

The Jawbone headset boasts up to 6 hours of talk time and up to 120 hours of standby time, where Apple's unit has up to 5 1/2 hours of talk time and up to 72 hours of standby time.

There are hundreds of accessories for the iPhone, and every user has his her own taste and style to spice up the smart phone. A word of advice: to keep your device sleek and portable, and to save money, keep the accessorizing simple.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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