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The best tech gifts to give this Christmas
Christmas is right around the corner, but don’t panic — there’s still time to find good tech gifts as long as you know your audience, the better options out there, and what you’re willing to spend. These are our picks for the best holiday tech gifts this year, split into four (reasonable) price brackets.
The best tech gifts under $25
It can be surprisingly tough to shop in this category, since many products this cheap are utilitarian, and it’s best to find something a person might still get excited about.
Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000
While it looks like an ordinary wall charger with two USB-A ports, the PowerCore Fusion’s trick is that it doubles as a 5,000mAh portable battery, so you can charge your phone, earbuds, or smartwatch when there’s no wall outlet in sight. It’s not Anker’s most advanced PowerCore, but for $25, it’s hard to complain.
Tile Mate 2022
Tile is no stranger to our holiday gift lists, and the Tile Mate is one of the best Bluetooth item trackers on the market. It works with both Android and iOS devices, and it has IP68 protection against water and dust. Although its battery is non-replaceable, it can last up to three years.
A new phone case
Be careful about this option. You not only need to know the exact phone model a person has, but what color and style of case they’d like — slim, rugged, wallet, etc. If you get it right, they’ll be thankful for the protection and new look a case offers. Check out some of the guides below for ideas. There are certainly other case brands, so keep an eye open.
Kasa Smart Plug Ultra Mini (2-pack)
Smart plugs are the simplest possible smart home accessory, mostly just allowing you to turn connected appliances on and off. But that’s their strength — bringing automation and remote control to appliances that wouldn’t otherwise have them, like fans, lamps, heaters, and coffee makers. The Kasa Smart Plug Ultra Mini works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or the Kasa app, and connects directly to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
Wyze Bulb Color (2-pack)
Color-changing smart bulbs can be an ideal gift, since they’re affordable and impressive — the mood of a room can change radically with a voice command or a few taps. If you create automation routines, you may not have to control them at all. The Wyze Bulb Color hits an extremely bright 1,100 lumens, and can be managed with Alexa, Google Assistant, or the Wyze app.
Anker 643 100W USB-C cable
A USB-C cable might not be the sexiest gift, but this one has a 6-foot reach and delivers up to 100W of power. As long as both a device and a wall adapter support it, you can expect ridiculously short charging times. Anker’s cable additionally has a soft silicone texture, and comes in several different colors, such as black, green, and lavender.
The best tech gifts under $50
This is where gifts start to get interesting. While we’re still in “budget” territory, entirely new categories open up, such as smart speakers.
Amazon Echo Dot (5th gen)
The Echo Dot has long been the king of budget smart speakers, and it’s even better in its fifth incarnation, with improved sound, tap gestures, and built-in motion and temperature sensors for Alexa routines. If you’ve got an Eero router, you can use it to extend Wi-Fi to rooms with low or non-existent connectivity.
Google Nest Mini
The Nest Mini is a no-frills speaker, mostly just meant as a gateway to a Google Assistant smart home. But within that context, it works well, and for its price, it sounds good enough for radio, podcasts, and low-key ambient music. Just don’t expect perfect clarity or hard-hitting bass.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Roku products are practically the default for media streamers, and for good reason. They may not have as many features as an Apple TV 4K, but they get most of the way there for a lot less money. You can plug the Streaming Stick 4K directly into a TV’s HDMI port and get 4K HDR, including Dolby Vision.
Razer DeathAdder V2 Mini
We’d suggest spending on a full-size DeathAdder if you have the money — or large hands — but for less than $50, the V2 Mini is a solid wired gaming mouse. Its 8,500dpi optical sensor is insanely responsive, and there are six programmable buttons. It further includes Razer Chroma lighting, which can link not just with other Razer devices but also smart home brands like Micron, Twinkly, and Philips Hue.
Google Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
If you’re building a Google-based smart home, a Chromecast is practically essential. That’s because Google Assistant makes playing media incredibly easy, whether you’re using the bundled remote, a nearby speaker or smart display, or routines created in the Google Home app. It’s also worth owning a Chromecast solo, though, since Google TV is highly user-friendly and you’re getting a portable streamer with 4K and Dolby Vision.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1X
It’s not the flashiest gaming headset, and you’ll have to catch it on sale to get under $50, but the Nova 1X is a wired model that works with PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and even mobile devices, as long as you can plug in its 3.5mm audio cable (check first!). It features comfortable earcups, a noise-cancelling microphone, and support for Microsoft and Sony’s spatial sound standards.
The best tech gifts under $100
At this price level, we’re out of the realm of impulse or Secret Santa gifts, at least for most people. These are products you buy for family and other loved ones, and often a step up in quality, not just price.
Google Nest Hub (2nd gen)
The Nest Hub smart display can be used in many environments, such as a kitchen or office, but seems deliberately built with nightstands in mind. Its size and sound are perfect for bedrooms, and there’s no camera to exacerbate privacy concerns. In exchange you get Sleep Sensing, as well as “sunrise alarms,” which can optionally link with Google Assistant-compatible smart lights to wake you up gradually. The Nest Hub is handy for controlling Google-based smart homes in general, plus things like recipes, YouTube, and standard smart speaker functions.
Amazon Echo (4th gen)
While we’re on the subject of speakers, a 4th gen Echo should be the cornerstone of any Alexa-based smart home. Its fidelity and bass punch well above its price tag, and like the Echo Dot, you get motion and temperature sensors, plus support for extending Eero Wi-Fi networks. It doubles as a Zigbee hub for compatible smart home accessories. In the near future, you can expect Matter and Thread.
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL
Though its name is a mouthful, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an aluminum RGB keyboard with optical switches that’s also this cheap, now under $70. The TKL acronym refers to it being a “tenkeyless” model without a numeric pad. It supports Razer Chroma lighting integration, and for convenience, it connects with a detachable USB-C cable.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Fire TV devices have come a long way, and if you’re not buying a dedicated TV set, the 4K Max is probably the best add-on Fire streamer. Performance is snappy, and it integrates with Alexa voice control and smart home functions. An Alexa voice remote comes in the box. If you like, you can pair a couple of Echo speakers for wireless TV audio, though you’ll really want each of those to be a 4th gen Echo or Echo Studio. Additional format support includes Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HDR10 Plus.
Fitbit Charge 5
The Charge 5 is another one of those options where you have to catch it on sale to meet our price cap, but that’s not hard ahead of Christmas, and what you get is a very capable fitness tracker. Features include an always-on OLED display, and tracking of core metrics such as heart rate, blood oxygen, skin temperature, sleep patterns, and GPS data. Its battery can last multiple days on a single top-up.
Philips Hue Go
Most Philips Hue lights are dependent on a Hue Smart Hub (aka Hue Bridge) to be genuinely useful, since that’s how you get remote control, consistent automations, and links with third-party platforms. All those benefits still apply to the Hue Go, but it can also operate as a fully portable lamp thanks to Bluetooth support, button controls, and an internal battery good for 2.5 to 18 hours, depending on lighting mode. The only catches are that brightness dips when you unplug it, and that it’s not waterproof, so you can’t leave it outdoors.
The best tech gifts over $100
The sky’s the limit at this point. To be realistic, however, we’re going to keep things under $1,000. Over that threshold, most people have very specific products in mind anyway.
If you want the ultimate in multi-device headphones, the WH-1000XM5 are where it’s at. Sound quality, mic input, and noise cancellation are all excellent, and they support a wide range of formats, including wired connections and multipoint Bluetooth if you regularly switch between sources. We just wish they were certified water-resistant, which would give general peace of mind and the option of using them during workouts.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen)
You need to own an Apple device to get the most out of AirPods, but even Android owners can take advantage of the AirPods Pro‘s sound, mic, and noise cancellation technology, including a fantastic transparency mode. Apple users get enhancements like spatial audio, automatic ear detection, more customization, and seamless multi-device switching.
Apple Watch Ultra
All Apple Watches must be paired with an iPhone — for now — but if you know someone with an athletic or adventurous bent, the Ultra may be the perfect iPhone accessory. It has much better battery life than the Series 8, running multiple days, along with tougher construction and superior waterproofing, good for diving down to 100 meters (328 feet). It also has features like a bigger, brighter display, a dedicated action button, dual-band GPS, and an emergency siren that can be heard up to 600 feet (183 meters) away.
For earbuds that are more Android-friendly, check out the WF-1000XM4. These offer great isolation and noise cancellation, and support for spatial audio through Sony’s 360 Reality Audio standard. They’re also IPX4 water-resistant, so unlike the WH-1000XM5, you can wear them during workouts or light rainstorms without fear.
A new console
Now that the initial rush of demand has subsided, it’s finally plausible to hunt down an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 for the holidays. Just make sure you buy everything necessary for a fun day-one experience — there’s not much point to a game console if you can’t play anything. The Nintendo Switch is still an option, too, if you know someone who’s a fan of Nintendo’s first-party games.
A new phone
Being Android Authority, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest a few phones as options. Our $1,000 price cap cuts out some top-end models, but there are still great choices below that ceiling. Check out our best Android phone and iPhone 14 guides for more details.
Read more: The best smartphone of the year 2022