Great accessories for your new Apple Watch
Are you the proud wearer of a new Apple Watch Series 6? Did you scoop up a discounted Series 4 or maybe choose the Series 3 with the more attractive $199 price tag? Whatever model you’re sporting, it’s natural to think your next stop is the Apple Store — either online or in person. Where else would one stock up on watch bands, wireless earbuds, charging docks and other accessories?
Literally anyplace else. All those things are worth having, but Apple charges a considerable premium for them. Thankfully, there are excellent affordable alternatives, many of them listed below. I’ve tried some of these myself; others I’m including based on user reviews or other factors. Note that my use of “cheap” here isn’t meant to indicate product quality, but rather price. I’ll update this list periodically.
Inexpensive Apple Watch bands
Thanks to easy-to-swap bands, the Apple Watch can quickly alter both its look and its function. A leather band for work. (Someday.) A sport band for the gym. (Someday.) A Milanese loop for the theatah. (Sigh.)
Buy any of these at an Apple Store and you’ll pay anywhere from $30 on up to $150. How absurd is that? Here are some examples of Apple Watch bands you can get for less — in some cases way less.
A Milanese loop is a metal-mesh band with a magnetic closure. It’s one of the easiest bands to put on (and size to your wrist), and it’s also a really dressy option.
Apple charges $149 (!) for its version, but there are countless options available on Amazon in the $10-$15 range. I’ve linked to one of them below, but it’s merely representative of what’s out there. Whatever you do, don’t pay Apple $149.
One bummer about Milanese loops: Over time they can chew up the arm hole of coats and sweaters. So if you want a dressy look without that problem, or you just don’t like the feel of metal on your wrist, look to a leather band.
Like this one: Fullmosa (via Amazon) sells a wide assortment of calf-leather Apple Watch Bands, most of them priced at $10-$15. You can choose from about a dozen different colors, many with one or two buckle color options as well.
Again, this is just one product of dozens. I chose it because the 4,300-plus user reviews average out to around 4.5 stars.
The Apple Watch’s stock sport band is fine, but I always liked the look of the Nike version — the one with all the holes. Turns out you can get one for as little as $7 (maybe even less), in your choice of color combinations. And the options don’t end there; just search Amazon for “Apple Watch silicone band” or “sport band” and you’ll find a generous assortment — many of them priced at $15 or below.
If you don’t want a silicone band but do want something that’s both fashionable and good for exercise, consider a sport loop. It’s like a woven-nylon version of the Milanese loop, with hook-and-loop fastening in place of metal and magnets.
Below I’ve linked to one that’s a mere $8, but you may also be able to find multi-packs in the $15-$20 range. Apple’s price for a single: $49 and up.
My colleague Shara Tibken notes that the Velcro doesn’t last as long on these cheaper bands, but even if you have to replace it every, say, six months, you still come out way ahead.
Check out more great Apple Watch bands you can get from Amazon.
Inexpensive Apple Watch chargers
Traveling with an Apple Watch can be a hassle because you have to recharge it pretty much daily. That means unplugging your charger from whatever nightstand setup is in place, then hoping it doesn’t get lost along the way.
A better bet: Pack a portable charger. Not a portable stand, mind you, one that uses the stock Apple charger, but a rechargeable power bank with its own Apple Watch magnetic charging module.
Granted, this can be something of a hassle as well, as you’ll probably have to recharge the charger after a few uses. But leave it behind in the hotel room, plugged into your laptop or any other USB port, and it’ll be good to go by evening.
As with choosing a power bank for your phone, the higher the battery capacity, the more charges you’ll get. But before settling on a Belkin or Griffin charger from the Apple Store and spending at least $60, check out some of the other options.
Unless you’re looking for something smaller, like a keychain-friendly charger, this is the one to buy. It’s a 5,000-mAh power bank, so already much longer-lasting than most Apple Watch chargers. It sits in a dock that doubles as a Watch stand. When you head out on a trip, just grab the battery and go. Oh, and it has a standard USB port, too, so it can charge your phone or another mobile device.
About as compact and keychain-friendly as portable Apple Watch chargers get, this little guy packs a 1,000-mAh battery — good for a couple recharges, depending on how low your Watch battery is.
One notable perk: The charger itself uses a Lightning cable to recharge, so you don’t have to bring along a Micro-USB cable, which is what most of these things use.
Already traveling with a power bank? Just plug this into one of its USB ports (or any powered port) and, presto, Apple Watch charger. To be clear, this has no power of its own; it’s just a plug-in charging base for the watch. It’s also one of the cheapest and most compact designs I’ve seen. (You can get a charging cable for a few bucks more, but then you’ve got more cord clutter.)
Here are more Apple Watch chargers available on Amazon.
Inexpensive Apple Watch headphones
One of the Apple Watch’s best tricks (if you have a Series 3 or later, that is) is onboard storage for music and podcasts. To take advantage of that, you’ll need a pair of wireless headphones.
Like maybe AirPods? No question, those are a good match for your Apple Watch. They’re also a $159 match (or $249 for AirPods Pro), so no thank you. I’d definitely start by perusing CNET’s roundup of the best sports headphones, which includes my top pick for runners, the AfterShokz Aeropex.
But those are pricey, too, and we’re here to talk (nay, listen) cheap. So check out these affordable Bluetooth earphones that can pair perfectly well with your Watch — and our roundup of the best cheap AirPods alternatives.
With a sturdy feel that belies its amazingly low price tag, the SoundBuds Slim offers good sound, convenient magnetic ‘buds and a carrying case.
These seem almost too good to be true, from the pleasant-sounding sweatproof earbuds themselves to the charging case that supports both USB-C and Qi wireless charging. The EarFun Free has a list price of $45, but they’re currently on sale for $36, and there’s a bonus 10%-off coupon to boot. (Both are subject to change.)
OK, those are my picks for inexpensive — but still great — Apple Watch accessories. What would you add to this list?
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