Inexpensive Gifts for the Geeks you Love (Part I)

June brings us Fathers Day, graduations, and another Dr. Mac gift guide, this time with inexpensive (none over $30) gift suggestions to protect, enhance, or improve the performance and/or life expectancy of your loved ones’ precious electronic devices.

I use (or have used) all of the products below on my own devices, and I recommend them all without hesitation.

Device Protection

Let’s start with protection products for Apple Watch and iPhone users. The first thing I do when I get a new Apple Watch or iPhone is to apply a tempered glass screen protector. I tried many different brands for my Apple Watches over the years, but the screen has curved edges, and none of them looked as good or protected as well as I would have liked. Then I found SNSIR Liquid Tempered Glass Screen Protectors, which have polished rounded edges, so they’re virtually invisible. And, because their edges are curved like the watch face, they’re easier to apply than others. A pair goes for just $9.98 at, making them a thoughtful yet inexpensive gift. For bonus points, offer to apply it for them (it’s easy).

I’ve had good luck with several brands of tempered glass screen protectors for my iPhones, but I’ve been using ones made by JETech for the past couple of years. The price for a three-pack fluctuates, but the last one I ordered cost me $5.95 (at

Tempered glass protectors are less expensive and less trouble than a screen replacement, making them a perfect gift for loved ones with unprotected screens. Since I began using it on all of my small devices, I have not broken, scratched, or otherwise damaged an iPhone or Apple Watch screen.

Just in Case(s)

After tempered glass, the next thing I do for any new device is put it into a protective case to save it from scratches or scuffs. And, after a fumble-fingered incident with my previous iPad (may it rest in peace), I prefer cases that offer some degree of drop-protection, just in case.

For iPads, I recommend the SEYMAC stock case, available for under $30 for most iPad models at It includes a built-in screen protector, a 360° kickstand, detachable shoulder and hand straps, and serious padding to protect your iPad from impact. It’s bulkier than many other cases, but it also does a better job of protecting your iPad.

I test iPhone cases all year long, and I’ve never been disappointed with the reasonably-priced cases from local (Austin, TX) accessory maker, Smartish. In addition to a full line of iPhone cases, including several with integrated wallets, you can now create custom cases (as shown below) with your own artwork or patterns, plus text, initials, emojis, or whatever else you like. A custom-designed case is an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind gift at a price you can afford (around $30 for most case designs).

A custom-designed iPhone case from Smartish.
Designing a custom iPhone case in the Smartish Design Studio.

Finally, if your loved one loves bling, Casemate offers an assortment of glitzy cases and detachable phone grips in flashy styles such as Karat Crystal, Twinkle, Halo Gold Mirror, and others.

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