Three years on: What's in Steve's phone-centric toolkit? (2020)

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Three years ago, I let the world know what was in my mobile IT kit, the accessories I group together in the house and take with me on any serious journey to family etc. What inevitably happens in all locations is that, as the 'tech guy', I'm the one people turn to connect A to B, to adapt C to D, to provide power in the middle of nowhere, you get the idea. I'm sure the same is true for you! In compiling this, hopefully of interest and with helpful hyperlinks, I was surprised by just how much had changed, with more capable items replacing older tech, etc.

From my original intro:

Over the years I've reviewed dozens of smartphone accessories, maybe even hundreds. And I've reviewed a fair number formally here for AAS and AAWP. But, of this mass of plastic, metal and, often, lithium, which accessories really made the grade? Which ones do I personally carry around with me on any trip out of the house of more than a few hours? Here's a glimpse into my standard kit.

Here's the same kit briefcase but exploded in summer 2020 form:

Steve's must-have gadgets 2020!

Note that:

  • I've set the case code here to a dummy number to mask my real case unlock...
  • I also often take either my Surface Pro (and Backlit Type Cover) or my Macbook, depending on where I'm going and what I'm doing - and these fit in the top document pockets of the briefcase. And their chargers would go in the main body if I was gone for longer than a day, of course.

I'll start with the stuff in front of the case. Working left to right:

  • The ZAGG Flex Universal Keyboard - super key size and feel, rubberised and grippy, backlit and with integral angled stand for any phone or tablet
  • The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter - because you can't always have cables trailing across living rooms and offices! Perfect for Continuum stuff as long as you don't mind a little lag here and there...
  • A Choetech USB Type C to HDMI adpter cable - not cheap, but a one-wire way to connect to Continuum (etc) displays.
  • A black 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable. Because you never know when Bluetooth is going to let you down and it's best to 'jack in'!
  • cheap and nasty USB current meter - sometimes this seems invaluable, other times I'm not sure I believe its readings. But better than nothing. Shout out in the comments if you have something reliable that you can recommend.
  • The Choetech 6 in 1 Multiport USB C Adapter - connect Type C to just about anhything, including Ethernet and HDMI!
  • A Tronsmart mains-to-dual USB Type A 36W fast charger - hasn't let me down yet when there are multiple phones or tablets to charge. It's no longer available, but this one is very similar.
  • RAVPower 65W PD charger - I don't currently have any PD equipment, but it's part of the future, and this also scales nicely down to anything else. So I'm covered!
  • The HIDIZS Sonata HD Mk II (Type C headphone amplifier) - neatly cased with some nice wired earbuds, this is my 'go to' (very) high quality audio solution when faced with a smartphone with Type C output and no headphone jack!
  • A spare pair of decent wired headphones (here Marshall-made), with spare Type C and Lightning dongles...
  • A third party Lightning to USB-A/SD card adapter, vital if you work even part time with iPhones. Note that Apple's dongles are less flexible and vastly more expensive!
  • My Rolson Tradesman knife - cheap and yet very well made and simply to slot in new razor blades. Perfect for unboxing things?(!)
  • A Smiths knife sharpener, I do like my pen knives (in assorted coats and pockets!)
  • A dodocool mini Bluetooth speaker. It's absolutely tiny. Yet has saved the day when trying to play something in public that a phone or laptop speaker can't quite manage.
  • A small plastic card-case that's the perfect size for tiny things. So it's chock full of microSD cards, adapters, old SIMs, SIM tools, USB flash disks, and anything else that would otherwise get lost!
  • The RAVPower PD Pioneer 20000 AC power bank/inverter. Charge and mains power for most occasions. Bulky, but worth it! The case here has space for a smattering of Type C and other cables, so that I can charge anything.

And inside the briefcase in the photo:

  • The Tronsmart Element T6 Plus Bluetooth speaker. Just THE LOUDEST - and with decent fidelity. Plus it's a power bank, and can also do wired audio or playback from microSD. Amazing bit of kit, with the top analogue volume control being my favourite bit of all!
  • My Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones. Stunning bass and general quality, very comfortable, with the option of wired input too - hence the 3.5mm to 3.5mm lead here. I use the latter when recording podcasts (to avoid Bluetooth latency)
  • A digital multimeter. From testing batteries to diagnosing broken cables, this is used almost every day for... something! Note that mine is now 20 years old, but modern equivalents are readily available for less than £15.
  • Some emergency mundane things: rubber bands, a small notebook (for ideas?), paper clips, stapler, tissues, online banking access gadget.
  • The PONSINC Wireless 10000mAh charger - with three flying leads/connectors, one for each format, plus digital readout, triple input, and wireless charging output, this is just about the most versatile power gadget I own!
  • The dodocool DP13 45W Type C PD power bank - there are other 20000mAh power banks out there. But none that have the metal heft and style, this feels almost military, plus its fully PD-compliant.
  • a handy foldover zipped/velcro cable bag, with a dozen cables and adapters (microUSB/Type C/Lightning/Ethernet) - something for every occasion!
  • A Victorinox 'pen' knife sharpener (because I lost the Smiths one for a while and just love that this fits a pen ring!)
  • A cheap multi-screwdriver in pen form that I acquired from somewhere forgotten(!)

So that's it. The small pockets at the bottom of the case 'top' have emergency medication, first aid stuff, biros, business cards, and so forth. And, when I'm at an event or conference, post-Covid-19(!), a few high energy snack bars!

Not shown above:

Comments welcome, of course. What do you carry your 'kit' around in, and do you have any special recommendations of your own?