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Best Android gifts under $50 (2015 holiday gift guide)
It’s hard to imagine that 2015 is almost at an end, and with the anticipation of the holidays comes the stress of holiday shopping. If you’re looking to get a head start on your gift purchasing this year, we’re here to make things a little easier, in an upcoming series of guides that accommodate various budgetary constraints.
For those looking for something that’s under $50, this gift guide is the right one for you, also be sure to check out the rest of our guides ranging all the way up to gifts around the $500 mark:
Along with their flagship smartphone offerings, Google unveiled an updated Chromecast HDMI dongle, featuring a new look, faster performance, and improved functionality courtesy of a better companion app. The setup process remains as simple and minimal as ever, and the impressive list of services and apps that are compatible with Chromecast continues to grow. Priced at only $35, the latest edition of the Chromecast remains of the easiest, and cheapest, media streaming solutions around. You can check out our full review of the Chromecast 2015 here.
Chromecast Audio essentially features the same concept behind the Chromecast, but is an audio-only device, which can be plugged into almost any set of speakers that are lying around, to be then used as a full-fledged audio streaming service, giving new purpose to any old, regular speakers that you may have. Unlike when your smartphone is connected to a Bluetooth speaker, there are no interruptions here, with you being able to use your device normally. Chromecast Audio is a niche product, but with it also priced at $35, could be incredibly useful for some, especially if you are looking to re-purpose a set of speakers. You can check out our review of Chromecast Audio here.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick offers the same functionality as the Google Chromecast, and also features a slew of services, applications, and games that users can enjoy. It comes with a dedicated remote to use with it, instead of having to depend on your smartphone or tablet, and there is also a remote that comes with voice control, that requires an additional $10. While a touch more expensive than the Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick offers a lot of functionality, and makes a lot of sense, especially if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber. The Fire TV Stick is priced at $39.99 with a standard remote, and $49.99 for the device and remote with voice control.
POWER A MOGA Pro Power
The POWER A MOGA Pro Power bluetooth controller is a must-have accessory for an serious mobile gamers out there. It is essentially a full-sized controller with a size and button layout similar to the Xbox 360 controllers, so if that is something you are familiar with, you will be very comfortable with this device. An arm extension helps keep your smartphone locked in place, and works with even large smartphones, and also included in a sturdy stand to prop up your tablet. Connecting to your mobile device via Bluetooth, the controller features a lag-free gaming experience, and as an added benefit, also packs a 2,200 mAh battery to let you charge your device while it is in the dock. You can check out our review of the MOGA Pro Power controller here.
MOGA Mobile Gaming System
If you are looking for a more compact, and far cheaper, alternative to the MOGA Pro Power controller, the MOGA Mobile Gaming System could be what you need. It is very compact and portable, and while it doesn’t offer console-style control, since it is missing buttons like the shoulder buttons, the good news is that there an app, called MOGA Pivot, that lists all the games this controller is compatible with. The arm extension to dock the phone allows for devices up to 3.2-inches wide, so while large phones like the Galaxy Note 5 will be okay, the Nexus 6 falls just outside that limit. The MOGA Mobile Gaming System is priced at just $9.95.
Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R Mobile Gamepad
Unlike the MOGA Pro Power, which is primarily intended for use with your smartphone or tablet (even though it may be compatible with other devices), if you are looking for a true cross-platform controller, the Mad Catz C.T.R.L Mobile Gamepad is the one for you. This full-sized console-grade controller features near-universal compatibility with laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even devices like Fire TV and NVIDIA Shield, and you can toggle between PC mode, GameSmart mode (for Android), and Mouse mode, to use the controller for navigation. The device also comes with media controls integrated into the controller. To use with your smartphone, an attachable arm extension is available as well, that clips on to the controller.
Like the MOGA Mobile Gaming System, the SteelSeries Free gaming controller is compact and ultra-portable, and while not as packed with capabilities as some of the others in this section, what it offers is a solid build quality and cross-platform compatibility. This controller is estimated to have roughly 10 hours of nonstop play time, as well as a battery saving mode that shuts the controller off after 3+ minutes of inactivity. It also has up to a 20-foot range, so you can sit back in your favorite chair and play your game from across the room.
iPega Telescopic Game Controller
If you are looking for a fully-capable game controller at a cheaper price than the MOGA Pro Power or the Mad Catz controller, look no further than the unique looking iPega Telescopic Game Controller. While it features PC compatibility, it’s unique design means that this controller is intended mostly for your smartphones and tablets, with the telescopic stand able to accommodate all devices that fall within the 5-inch to 10-inch size range, but does means that smaller smartphones will not fit. It supports the vast majority of Android games and simulators, and offers impressive battery life, with up to 20 hours of gaming possible on a single charge.
Kindle Fire 7-inch Tablet
The Kindle Fire 7-inch tablet features a beautiful 7-inch display with a 1024 x 600 resolution, and a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, to keep things running smoothly while you enjoy content on this device. The latest Fire OS version is designed for quick access to your apps and content, plus personalized recommendations that make it easy to discover new favorites, and you also get to take advantage of the all-new Amazon Underground, a one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games and even in-app items are actually free. Only 8 GB of storage doesn’t sound like much, but expandable storage via microSD by up to 128 GB is available, and you also get free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices. Priced at just $49.99, the Kindle Fire 7-inch tablet could be a great media-consumption device for a lot of people.
View Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack
The View Master VR headset will remind you of the View Master 3D from your younger years, and given its kid-friendly nature, actually comes with a similar reel as well, with additional Experience reels available separately. For VR, all you need to do is plug your smartphone into place, and download and run any compatible app, including Google Cardboard apps, to launch yourself into 360-degree immersive environments.
Google Cardboard V2 by D-Scope Pro
The D-scope Pro includes everything needed to transform your phone, including 2 biconvex lenses which offer a 37 mm adjustable focal length for stunning, lifelike HD images. Rather than trying to print and construct the glasses yourself, the Kit includes precise machine cut, clearly numbered parts, which allow you to assemble the glasses within minutes and with minimal hassle. The device comes with QR codes for fast access to a slew of VR experiences, including games and scenic tours, and of course, you can also download more on your smartphone or tablet. The device compatible with most smartphones up to 6-inches in size.
The Shure SRH145m+ Portable Headphones provide deep, rich bass with full range sound, and integrated controls. The closed-back, on-ear design provides external noise isolation, while the lightweight, collapsible design with adjustable ear cups and padded headband ensure long-lasting comfort and ergonomic fit. There is also a version of the device that comes with a remote and mic, priced at an additional $10.
Sennheiser HD 203
The HD 203 studio stereo headphones are the ideal partner for home recording. The rugged lightweight headphones have a secure fit that blocks out ambient noise and keeps your music and monitoring cues from leaking out to adjacent microphones or other people. This headphone is versatile enough for use with portable audio devices like MP3 players but also the latest audio interfaces and home recording gear, making it great for everything from casual music listening and gaming to studio applications.
The Skullcandy Method sweat resistant earphones are the perfect fitness companion, featuring sweat resistant earbuds that offer a super secure and comfortable fit. Fix, Off-Axis and Stickygels tech boost the performance of these earbuds when you’re covered in sweat, and means that it won’t budge once they are in your ears. Pureclean ear gels prevent build-up of germs keeping the earbuds fresh and clean. there is also a specially constructed low profile, sweat-proof remote with a single button in-line remote with mic that will help you stay in control of your music. You can take/make calls, play/pause music and cycle through tracks.
SOL REPUBLIC RELAYS Sport
Like the SkullCandy Method, the RELAYS Sport is lightweight and sweat resistant, and will stick with you for your entire workout and won’t fall apart. These earphones deliver full sound from a compact design, with balance and details that bring out the best in all types of music, and comes with a mic and 3-button remote allows you to control your phone calls as well as your music.
Xiaomi Mi Band
The Xiaomi Mi Band is a fantastic low-cost fitness tracker that lets you monitor your activity levels, track walking distance, and calculate calories burned. It also measures the length and quality of your sleep, features incoming call alerts by vibrating, can be used as an alarm, and also allows you to unlock your smartphone without needing to input a password or code. Its IP67 rating for resistance to dust and water means that you never have to take it off, and with a battery rated for up to 30 days of use, charging it isn’t a regular requirement. All of this for just $20, the Xiaomi Mi Band is a great choice.
The Misfit Flash is one of the best affordable fitness bands around, and comes with features comparable to its more expensive counterparts. Flash tracks walking, running, cycling, swimming, tennis, yoga, dance, and other sports. The Misfit app then takes all of your hard work and turns that data into easy to read charts. Flash’s long-lasting battery, which you need to change only once in six months, and automatic wireless syncing means you’ll worry less about charging and more about staying active.
Anker 2nd Gen ASTRO 6,700 mAh power bank
The Anker 2nd Gen external battery bank is a portable battery pack that is perfect device to have when in a pinch. It doesn’t offer the highest capacity, but 6,700 mAh should be more than enough to charge most smartphones up to two times comfortably. Like all current Anker battery banks, this also comes with Power IQ technology that detects your device to deliver the fastest possible speed, up to 2A. The Anker 2nd Gen ASTRO 6,700 mAh battery bank is currently priced at $19.99.
Lumsing 10,400 mAh Harmonica Style power bank
The Lumsing battery bank offers a very high 10,400 mAh capacity, which should be enough to charge your smartphone multiple times, and you can charge two devices simultaneously as well. 4 LED indicators are present to show how much charge the device still holds, and there are protections available to avoid overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, and short circuits. Despite the capacity this device offers, the Lumsing battery bank is currently priced at just $19.99.
RAVPower 20,100 mAh power bank
Apart from featuring a massive 20,100 mAh capacity, this RAVPower power bank features compatibility with Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0, allowing you to take advantage of a compatible device’s fast charging capabilities without needing to plug into a wall charger. Further, this power bank is also one of the first to feature a USB Type-C port, allowing you to charge on the go one of the new smartphones to adopt the latest standard, such as the current generation Nexus devices. Further, the “regular” charging port features iSmart technology, that detects your device and provides the fastest possible charging speed, up to 2.4A. The battery bank itself charges very quickly, requiring just around 5 hours to fully charge. If you have smartphones and tablets that fit the various features this power bank offers, the RAVPower battery pack is a great choice, albeit slightly expensive, priced at $47.99.
Anker 2nd Gen ASTRO E3 10,000 mAh power bank
The Anker 2nd Gen ASTRO E3 battery bank is very portable, and offers a high 10,000 mAh capacity, which should be enough to charge your smartphone multiple times, and you can charge two devices simultaneously as well. 4 LED indicators are present to show how much charge the device still holds, and there are protections available to avoid overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, and short circuits. Like all current Anker battery banks, this also comes with Power IQ technology that detects your device to deliver the fastest possible speed, up to 3A. The Anker 2nd Gen ASTRO E3 10,000 mAh battery bank is currently priced at $21.99.
CB3 Ultra Slim Bluetooth Speaker
As the name implies, the Ultra Slim is, well, it’s pretty slim. Measuring 8.5 x 4 x 1.8 inches, the speaker is meant to be able to pick up and go any time, anywhere. It’s also meant to survive that trip, with an aluminum unibody design and sturdy buttons. You can’t expect a speaker this size to pump out a massive amount of bass, but the dual drivers do as good a job as we’ve been able to find in this size and price range.
The CB3 Ultra Slim is designed to fit nicely along side the MacBook or ultrabook of your choice, but it doesn’t weigh anywhere near as much on your wallet at $49. We’ve worked hard to make sure the Ultra Slim stands up to any speaker in its class, and we’re just too proud of it not to share here.
JBL Clip+ Splashproof Bluetooth speaker
The JBL Clip+ is an ultra-light, ultra-rugged, and ultra-powerful portable speaker. This splashproof upgrade to the JBL Clip+ provides 5 hours of playtime. Stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth, or plug it into any smartphone or tablet with its integrated audio cable, and there is also a speakerphone to make clear, noise and echo free phone calls. The JBL Clip+ earns its name with its built-in carabiner, clipping to your clothes or backpack so you can enjoy the device on the go, and with it being splashproof, you don’t have to worry about damage in the rain. You can also wash the device under running water, and as long as it isn’t submerged, it will continue to work well.
Anker Classic Bluetooth speaker
While Anker is a fairly recognizable brand name, the company has its hands in so many areas that you might not know them for the audio products. It may not stand toe to toe with the other Bluetooth speakers on this list, when it comes to sound quality, given the tiny size and low price, the Anker Classic is definitely worth a mention. While the heavy-duty look and small size might not be for everyone, the price certainly is, and the 20 hour battery life is another plus, and priced at just $26.99, it’s a no-brainer.
SoundBot SB571 Bluetooth speaker
The SoundBot SB571 features a stylish design, is very compact and portable, and offers solid performance, courtesy of crystal clear 6W + 6W HD loud speakers and 40 mm premium drivers that allow for crystal clear deep bass. While featuring universal compatibility for all smartphones, tablets, and audio devices with Bluetooth capabilities, the speaker also comes with a 3.5 mm audio line in to plug in devices directly, or for those that don’t have Bluetooth. The SoundBot SB571 Bluetooth speaker is priced starting at just $19.99.
More: best bluetooth speakers under $50 (soundguys.com)
Bluetooth car kits
iClever Himbox HB01 hands-free car kit
The Kinivo Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit is designed to provide a simple hands-free solution for answering and receiving calls while on the go, along with the ability to stream music from your smartphone. The Car Kit features an understated design and can be mounted anywhere, and includes easy to use music controls and a built-in microphone to answer calls. The included USB charger also lets you charge two devices simultaneously. Keep in mind that audio is provided through your 3.5mm input in Car Stereo when playing music and answering phone calls, and requires a car stereo with a 3.5 mm AUX input. The Himbox HB01 is priced at $29.99. There is also another version, the HB01+ priced at an additional $10, that allows for CD quality audio streaming with support for the aptX codec.
Belkin hands-free car kit
The Belkin Hands-Free Bluetooth Car Kit is made to be small so that it doesn’t get in the way, and works the same way as most other car kits, by plugging it into the power outlet in the car, and then placing the unit on the dashboard. You can now play music and answer calls, all while using Bluetooth. Also, the cigarette plug power source adapter has an extra USB input, so you can charge your phone without having to worry about unplugging the Car Kit first. Remember, the audio will play out of your car speakers, so it requires a car with a 3.5mm audio jack input. The Belkin hands-free car kit is priced at $29.99.
SoundBot SB360 hands-free car kit
The SoundBot SB360 provides an instant solution to turn car stereo system into a Bluetooth wireless environment for hand free calls on the road and access to the music on mobile devices. On-board 3 control button functions for answering/ending call, skip/volume up,backward/volume down. The device features echo and noise reduction technology for crystal clear calls. The included high-performance car charger also lets you charge two other devices simultaneously. The SoundBot SB360 car kit is priced at $18.99.
Samsung Wireless Qi Charging Station
The latest wireless charger from Samsung is an official accessory of the Galaxy S6, but of course, works with any Qi charging enabled device, and is very easy to setup and use. This sleek charger leaves a small footprint, requiring minimal space. Properly aligning the device on the charging pad is needed though, and the built-in LED indicator light will alert you if the device is not properly aligned and when a good charge alignment is acquired (LED lights up blue). The Samsung Wireless Qi Charging Station is currently priced starting at $28.90. Don’t forget to check out how the Samsung Wireless Charging Station works in our comparison of the best wireless chargers here.
Anker Ultra Slim wireless charging pad
The Anker Ultra-Slim Wireless Charging Pad holds true to its name and is about the same size and thickness of a coffee cup coaster. Proper alignment is required, and a LED light indicates charging status. This charger also comes with a power efficient idle mode to prevent overcharging your device. Charging devices with a case on is possible, but like most other chargers, will see a reduction in performance if the case is thicker than 5 mm. The Anker Ultra-Slim Wireless Charging Pad is available for $19.99. Don’t forget to check out how this wireless charger works in our comparison of the best wireless chargers here.
RAVPower wireless charging pad
The RAVPower Portable Qi Wireless Charger is a wireless charger that is comparatively larger than most, and comes with a soft touch rubber finish, with a power button design on the center to indicate where the charging chip is located. There is an handy LED indicator to show how much of the battery life is left, and another to show when the device is charging. The RAVPower wireless charging pad is currently priced at $24.99. Don’t forget to check out how this wireless charger works in our comparison of the best wireless chargers here.
CHOE Stadium Qi wireless charger
f you need a wireless charger that’s a bit bigger, this one may be for you. The CHOETECH Stadium Qi Wireless Charger is big enough to fit your entire phone, almost eliminating the need for you to move the device around until it’s connected. It works with any Qi-enabled device, and can also be used on any device with a Qi-receiver. The device doesn’t come with a wall charger, so most people have an extra one lying around to use with this. However, it does feature a blue LED light to ensure that your device is charging. The CHOETECH Stadium Qi wireless charger is currently priced at $27.69.
SanDisk Ultra 64 GB microSD card
The SanDisk Ultra microSD card features up to 30 Mbps transfer speeds, and it allows for Full HD video recording and playback. The microSD card is temperature proof, shock proof, X-ray proof, and magnet proof, and there is also the Memory Zone app, that lets you auto-manage media and memory for peak phone performance. The SanDisk Ultra microSD card starts at price point of $10.39 for the 16 GB version, up to $29.95 for 64 GB.
Samsung EVO 64 GB microSD card
The Samsung EVO microSD card features up to 48 Mbps transfer speeds, and also allows for Full HD video recording and playback. The microSD card is temperature proof, shock proof, X-ray proof, and magnet proof. The Samsung EVO microSD is also the cheapest option on this list, with a price starting at $7.64 for the 16 GB version, up to $19.79 for 64 GB.
Lexar high-performance 64 GB microSD card
The Lexar high-performance microSD card is the premium memory solution for sports camcorders, tablets, and smartphones. It uickly captures, stores, plays back, and transfers media files, including 1080p full HD, 3D, and 4K video, with a transfer speed up to 95 Mbps. The card also comes with a USB 3.0 memory card reader. While comparatively a bit pricey, with the 16 GB version priced at $17.99, going up to $37.87 for 64 GB, this is ideal for use with devices like GoPro Hero 3 and others.
PNY high-performance 128 GB microSD card
The PNY microSD card features up to 60 Mbps transfer speeds, and also allows for Full HD video recording and playback. The microSD card is temperature proof, shock proof, X-ray proof, and magnet proof. The Samsung EVO microSD is also the cheapest option on this list, with a price starting at $10.99 for the 16 GB version, up to $49.09 for 128 GB, making it the only 128 GB microSD card under $50.
Google Play gift cards
Google Play Gift Cards are a great gift choice for an Android user. They are available from numerous retailers like Walmart and Target, and also from some online retailers. They come in $10, $25, and $50, and can be redeemed online by entering the code on the back of the gift card. The balance can then be spent on movies, music, apps, games, or any other content in Google Play. There is no additional cost above the value of the gift card and they never expire. Of course, you’ll need to remember that these gift cards cannot be used for magazine or app subscriptions, or for hardware purchases.
You can find the list of retailers that sell Google Play Gift Cards here.