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The 9 Best Apple Watch Accessories of 2021

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The RundownBest Overall:Apple Airpods (2nd Generation) at Best Buy"A fantastic-sounding pair of earbuds that deliver the performance, quality, and seamless integration we expect from Apple"Best Budget:OLEBR 3-in-1 Charging Stand at Amazon"This Amazon favorite is budget friendly at under $20 but still has a sleek design and sturdy build."Best Splurge:Belkin 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with MagSafe at Amazon"Brings elegant simplicity to your bedside table for the latest Apple Watch and iPhone models."Best for Travelers:Twelve South TimePorter for Apple Watch at Amazon"This Twelve South TimePorter is the travel companion you'll want."Best Rugged Case:Spigen Rugged Armor Pro at Amazon"Rugged impact protection for all of your outdoor adventures that looks and acts the part."Best Portable Charger:Satechi USB-C Magnetic Charging Dock at Amazon"Lets you quickly and easily juice up your Apple Watch anywhere you can find a USB-C port."Best Sport Band:Nike Sport Band at Best Buy"Although it's a more expensive Apple Watch band option, its durability, comfort, and color options make it worth the extra cost."Best Waterproof Case:Catalyst 330ft Waterproof Case at Amazon"A great pick for outdoor water sports enthusiasts any anybody else looking for total protection for their Apple Watch."Best for Athletes:Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor at Amazon"Provides highly accurate heart rate measurements to your Apple Watch."

Whether it's listening to music, engaging in extreme workouts, or even just charging your Apple Watch at night, the right accessories can significantly enhance the experiencing of owning and using an Apple Watch. Even though the wearable is a great standalone device on its own, there are many cool things you can add to the mix to make it even better.

For example, if you want to listen to music during your workouts without bringing your iPhone along, a good set of wireless earbuds make that easy and fun. Charging your Apple Watch at night also doesn't have to rely on the boring old Apple magnetic charging cable when you can spruce it up with an attractive stand that will keep your Apple Watch displayed in full view and even take advantage of its built-in Nightstand Mode. Plus, outdoor sports and adventure enthusiasts will really benefit from rugged and waterproof cases that protect the Apple Watch from the elements. The best Apple Watch accessories are for anybody looking to take their wearable to the next level. We've rounded up some of the best picks below, across a wide range of different categories. 

Best Overall:Apple Airpods (2nd Generation)

4.8 Buy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartBuy on AppleWhat We Like

Seamless Apple integration

Long battery life

Snappy device pairing and switching

What We Don't Like

Hefty price tag

No waterproof rating

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation) Review

Your Apple Watch is more than simply a health and fitness wearable—it's also a great portable music player that's always on your wrist. Without a traditional headphone jack, however, you'll need to pair up a set of wireless headphones, and naturally the best pick for this is Apple's own AirPods.

Although you can technically use any set of Bluetooth earphones with the Apple Watch, the beauty of the AirPods is that since they're made by Apple, they not only pair up with your Apple Watch seamlessly, but you can also switch back and forth between your iPhone and Apple Watch without any fuss at all. In fact, you can even extend that to listening from an iPad, MacBook, or Apple TV; once you link up the AirPods with one of your Apple devices, they'll be automatically paired with everything else that's signed in to the same iCloud account. 

This means that everything just works, so you can just pop in the AirPods and fire up your favourite audio app, whether that's music synced from your iPhone or streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify—either of which can be used directly on the Apple Watch. If you have a cellular Apple Watch, you can even use your AirPods to take phone calls while you're on the go, saving you from having to talk into your wrist, and you can even call up Siri with a simple “Hey Siri” voice command, allowing you to pull up playlists, songs, or albums and even check messages, set reminders, or control home accessories. 

"Every note, chord, vocal, and instrument came through with perfect clarity and richness."— Danny Chadwick, Product Tester

9 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Apple Watch

Best Budget:OLEBR 3-in-1 Charging Stand

Buy on AmazonWhat We Like

Affordable

Charges multiple devices

Attractive design

What We Don't Like

Doesn't come with cables

Wired charging only for iPhone/AirPods

Not compatible with some cases

The Apple Watch and the iPhone go together like copy and paste, which means that anybody who needs to charge an Apple Watch is almost certainly looking for a good place for their iPhone too. This is where OLEBR's affordable charging stand comes in, and best of all it even packs in a bonus by offering a spot for charging a set of AirPods. 

Despite the wallet-friendly price, this charging stand offers an attractive finish and a sturdy build, with premium silicone material that has a soft finish to protect your devices against scratches. The catch is that you'll need to supply all the cables yourself, but that should be no surprise with a price tag this low. Setting up the stand involves threading all the cables through from underneath, popping the Apple Watch magnetic charger into the ring and lining up the Lightning connectors for your iPhone and AirPods. 

Since you install and adjust the connectors yourself, the stand also works with most typical iPhone cases, although the position of the connector to the rear of the stand means that some of the more thick and rugged protective cases may need to be removed to charge your iPhone. As an added feature, there's also a notch for placing your iPhone in landscape mode for watching videos, although obviously, you won't be able to charge it in this position. Other than the Apple Watch, this is strictly a wired charger. 

Apple Watch 101 for the New Apple Watch Owner

Best Splurge:Belkin 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with MagSafe

Buy on AmazonBuy on AppleBuy on Belkin.comWhat We Like

15W iPhone MagSafe charging speeds

Base charges AirPods or any other Qi device

Includes power adapter

What We Don't Like

Expensive

If your Apple Watch is paired up with one of the recent MagSafe iPhone models, then you'll definitely appreciate the elegant simplicity that Belkin's 3-in-1 Wireless Charger brings to the table—your bedside table, that is. This durable and attractive stand provides the usual spot to magnetically change your Apple Watch while also packing in an Apple-certified MagSafe charger for your iPhone, and even a spot to juice up your AirPods or AirPods Pro.

Best of all, the MagSafe connector not only provides a magnetic attachment, keeping your iPhone in place while also elevating it to a more convenient viewing angle, but it's also able to provide a full 15 watts of charging power to your iPhone, while also charging up your Apple Watch and your AirPods at top speeds. While many other stands include magnets to attach your iPhone, they can't provide the full-speed 15W MagSafe charging unless they've been tested and approved by Apple like this one has. 

Available in either white or black, the 3-in-1 Wireless Charger also packs in its own power adapter, so you can still use your normal iPhone or Apple Watch chargers elsewhere. Plus, while the base of the charger is designed for charging AirPods (or AirPods Pro), it's just a standard Qi charger, so you can use it to power up any Qi-compatible device, even another iPhone, so it makes a great stand for couples even if you don't have a set of AirPods to charge.

The 7 Best Qi Wireless Chargers of 2021

Best for Travelers:Twelve South TimePorter for Apple Watch

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

Stores Apple Watch accessories

Good cable management

Perfect gift for frequent travellers

What We Don't Like

Doesn't include charging cables

Twelve South's TimePorter is a simple but clever Apple Watch accessory for frequent travellers, effectively combining a storage case and an Apple Watch charging base all in one. About the size and shape of a typical eyeglass case, it has enough room to store several Apple Watch accessories such as extra watch bands, cables, and travel adapters, or even your actual Apple Watch if you want somewhere to put it when you're not wearing it. 

The magic of TimePorter, however, is that it goes a step further, doubling as a place to charge your Apple Watch. Although you'll need to supply your own Apple Watch magnetic charger, as there are no cables included, the case provides a hole for the charger and a cord management spool on the inside to keep the lengthy charger cable out of the way. Small holes on either side of the TimePorter allow you to close the case while it's plugged in, at which point you can simply place your Apple Watch on top to start charging. Alternatively, you can leave the case open to prop up your Apple Watch for use in Nightstand Mode. 

Pop a small battery pack inside, and you can even turn the TimePorter into a portable charging station to juice up your Apple Watch when you're away from a wall outlet. TimePorter is lined with silicone on the inside, and synthetic leather on the outside. A red rubber plug is also included to fill in the hole, so you can still use it as a normal case when your Apple Watch charger is needed elsewhere. 

Best Rugged Case:Spigen Rugged Armor Pro Apple Watch Band with Case

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on Spigen.comWhat We Like

Raised edge protects screen against some impacts

Attractive design

Passes through all Apple Watch sensors

What We Don't Like

Not compatible with Apple Watch Ceramic Edition

Doesn't include direct screen protection

Spigen's Rugged Armor Pro is a great pick for the active, rough-and-tumble Apple Watch user, with the perfect balance of style and protection in a rugged watch case and strap combo that both looks and acts the part. 

Made from solid thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), this case will toughen up your Apple Watch, making sure it's protected against daily damage, whether that's from a busy workplace, high-intensity workouts, or extreme outdoor adventures. While it doesn't pack in direct screen protection, the raised bezel helps to avoid screen damage by absorbing impacts before they hit the screen, and the shock absorbent layer guarantees that side impacts won't dent or scratch your watch. 

The matte finish with carbon fibre accents offers a modern and durable design, making your Apple Watch look feel more like an adventure and sport watch. It also includes a built-in wristband that matches the case and offers a secure metal clasp, for a uniform overall design, so not only is a great combo for protection your watch, but it will help jazz up the look of it too.

The 8 Best iPhone 12 Cases of 2021

Best Portable Charger:Satechi USB-C Magnetic Charging Dock for Apple Watch

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

Extremely portable

Built-in USB-C connector

Sleek aluminum design

What We Don't Like

May block other laptop USB-C ports

A bit pricey

Satechi's USB-C magnetic charging dock offers a great way to keep your Apple Watch charged up when you're on the go. It's a pocket-sized Apple Watch charger, and while it's targeted primarily at MacBook users, it can be plugged in pretty much anywhere you can find a USB-C port.

This makes it ideal for charging up your Apple Watch while you're working away in a coffee shop or airport lounge, since it will hang right off the side of your MacBook or USB-C equipped Windows laptop, allowing you to drop your watch right on for a quick power boost. However, it will also work great with USB-C power adapters, battery packs, or even the USB-C ports found in many recent model cars. You can even plug it into the USB-C port on an iPad Pro or fourth-generation iPad Air. 

With USB-C ports becoming much more commonplace, it's a handy device to take with you anytime you're concerned your Apple Watch may not get you through the day, and it takes such a small amount of power to juice up the Apple Watch that you don't need to worry about depleting the battery on your MacBook or iPad while using this charging dock. It's the next best thing to having a USB-C connector right on your Apple Watch.

Best Sport Band:Nike Sport Band for Apple Watch

Buy on Best BuyBuy on AppleWhat We Like

Lightweight and comfortable

Wide range of colors available

Durable construction

What We Don't Like

A bit pricey

Workout enthusiasts know how important it is to have a watch band that's comfortable enough to take you through the paces of a rigorous run. While there are lots of sport bands available for the Apple Watch, it's probably no surprise that Nike has designed one that leads the pack in just about every way. 

While it's far from the most inexpensive Apple Watch band available, the higher price tag is easily justified by what it offers over the competition. For one thing, the synthetic rubber and fluoroelastomer material offers a smooth touch that's surprisingly more reminiscent of soft leather than rubber, so it's extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. An array of compression-molded perforations around the entire band help to reduce the weight while also making sure that your skin can breathe, so water and sweat will just get right through. 

Unlike most other watch bands, Apple and Nike have also very cleverly taken advantage of all the holes to allow for a much wider range of sizing adjustments, since every single hole can be used as a closure point. This allows for much more granular adjustments as your wrist swells during a warm day or an intense workout session. Best of all, it's available in six cool colours and there are versions available to fit every Apple Watch model and wrist. 

The 9 Best Apple Watch Bands of 2021

Best Waterproof Case:Catalyst 330ft Waterproof Case for Apple Watch

Buy on AmazonBuy on Catalystcase.comWhat We Like

Fully Waterproofs the Apple Watch

Impact resistant screen protection

Includes Wrist Strap

What We Don't Like

Not compatible with Ceramic Edition Apple Watch

Doesn't support Apple Watch ECG feature

Although the Apple Watch is water resistant enough to take it for a swim, it's not technically waterproof—merely water resistant—so if you plan to take your Apple Watch on deep dives or even rigorous outdoor adventures, then you'll want to add a truly waterproof case like Catalyst's, which is good for dives of up to 330 feet (100 metres).

Technically speaking, Apple only certifies the Apple Watch to a depth of up to 50 metres under standard conditions, however those conditions don't include exposing your watch to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and other similar chemicals as they can wear down the water resistant seals over time. On the other hand, with its IP68 rating, the Catalyst waterproof case not only doubles the depth of water protection but also lets you use it in a wide variety of other conditions that the uncased Apple Watch wouldn't be able to handle by itself.

This makes it a great pick for scuba diving, water skiing, white water rafting, or any other activities that involve deep dives or high velocity water. However, it's also a great pick for anybody who just wants a guarantee of total protection against water, and since it covers the entire Apple Watch, including the face, it also offers 6.6-foot drop protection and impact resistance.

The 9 Best Waterproof Phone Cases of 2021

Best for Athletes:Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on Polar.comWhat We Like

Highly accurate heart rate readings

Comfortable fit

Up to 400 hours of battery life

What We Don't Like

Can be a bit clumsy to use during certain workouts

Even though the Apple Watch includes a heart rate monitor, serious athletes will appreciate the extra accuracy and advanced features that the Polar H10 heart rate monitor brings to their fitness regimen. This dedicated heart rate monitor uses an electrocardiogram, or ECG, to provide a level of accuracy that the optical technology built into the Apple Watch just can't match. 

This will ensure that you're getting the best heart rate readings possible during your workouts, but what's great is that the Polar H10 will pair right up with your Apple Watch via your iPhone, allowing you to feed your heart readings directly into the Health app. However, you also don't necessarily need to keep your Apple Watch on when working out, as the H10 has enough memory to store a full training session, so you can upload the data later, and it offers 400 hours of run time form a single CR2025 replaceable coin cell battery. 

Load up the accompanying Polar Beat app on your Apple Watch and you can keep an eye on your readings in real-time along with using smart coaching feedback. You can even pair it up with a GoPro Hero to overlay your heart rate data on the recorded video. It's also waterproof, so you can use it during a swim, and the strap is machine-washable, so you can easily toss it in the wash after finishing up a particularly gruelling workout session. 

10 Best Apple Watch Fitness Apps for Achieving Your GoalsFinal Verdict

Apple's AirPods are by far the best way to listen to audio from your Apple Watch, and they're an accessory that few Apple Watch users should miss out on. Plus, OLEBR's 3-in-1 charging stand also offers a solution to charge not only your Apple Watch and companion iPhone, but also a set of AirPods that's really hard to beat for the price. 

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a tech journalist with 15 years of experience writing about technology. Jesse previously wrote for and served as Editor-in-Chief for iLounge, where he reviewed hundreds of Apple Watch and iPhone accessories over the years. He's also authored books on the iPod and iTunes and has published product reviews, editorials, and how-to articles on Forbes, Yahoo, The Independent, and iDropNews.

Danny Chadwick has been writing about tech since back in 2008, and has produced hundreds of features, articles, and reviews on a massive range of subjects. He specializes in mobile audio equipment and reviewed several of the speakers on our list.

FAQ

Can I use any watch band on my Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch features a special attachment system for watch bands, so you will need to make sure any watch band you buy is designed specifically for the Apple Watch. The good news, however, is that bands are compatible across the respective sizes of every Apple Watch ever made, meaning that a band designed for the smaller 38mm Apple Watch Series 1 will also fit the 40mm Apple Watch Series 6 with no problems, and the same is true for the older 42mm Apple Watch models versus the newer 44mm versions. 

Do I need to buy AirPods to listen to music on my Apple Watch? 

Although Apple's AirPods (or AirPods Pro) are one of the best choices for Apple Watch users, you can technically pair any set of Bluetooth headphones or earphones with your Apple Watch. In that regard, it works like any other Bluetooth device. However, if you plan to use your wireless headphones with your iPhone as well, you'll need to manually switch them between devices each time. This is where Apple's AirPods, AirPods Pro, and even its Beats headphones make things much easier, thanks to a special chip that syncs up with all of your Apple devices via iCloud and automatically connects to whatever device you're listening to at any given time.

Why Should I Buy a Protective Case for my Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch is pretty durable, but it's not designed to withstand some of the more extreme activities that many users engage in. For instance, while the screen will survive bumping your wrist against a wall or door frame, it may not survive a kickboxing workout. Similarly, even though the Apple Watch is water resistant, that's only designed for activities like swimming, so users who plan to scuba dive or even water ski should consider a more waterproof case for their adventures. 

What to Look for in an Apple Watch Accessory

Compatibility: There are four different sizes of Apple Watch, so when it comes to cases and watch bands, be sure to read the fine print and make sure you're getting the version for your specific model. Watch bands are divided into two size classes, 38/40mm and 42/44mm, so either 38mm or 40mm will work for the smaller Apple Watch, as well as 42mm or 44mm for the larger. Cases, however, will definitely be specific to each Apple Watch model and size, and occasionally the more premium finishes, like ceramic, are left out of the mix. The good news is that Apple Watch chargers are universally compatible across every version ever made.

Included Accessories: When buying a charger or charging stand, be sure to check whether it includes the Apple Watch magnetic charging disc built in, or whether you'll need to supply your own. Many Apple Watch chargers cut costs by letting you use the charger you already have, which is not a bad idea—unless you had other plans for it, of course. Likewise, when shopping for Apple Watch cases, check if it includes a screen protector or whether it's something you'll have to buy separately if you want one.

iPhone Support: If you're an Apple Watch owner, chances are good that you have an iPhone, so when buying something like a charging dock, or even a set of earphones, it's a good idea to consider whether you want to be able to use that accessory with your iPhone as well. There are a lot of charging docks available that can charge both an iPhone and an Apple Watch together, but while the charging requirements for an Apple Watch are pretty much universal, iPhone charging needs can be more diverse. For example, if you have an iPhone 12, you'll probably want to look to a MagSafe charger, whereas iPhone 7 users will need a wired Lightning connection.