What tech gift would you want to give to your loved ones this Christmas in 2020? Don't worry, this is not a bogus selection of tech gadgets that was put forward by Wish that we are going to recommend here. Rather, the idea is to provide you with the most complete guide possible to help you choose a tech product to place under the tree - be it a smartphone, tablet, Bluetooth headset, true wireless earbuds, or a connected speakerphone - depending on who you would like to gift it to.
If there is some sort of misfortune, such as an Apple or Android fanboy who lurks among your friends or family without your knowledge, offering them the wrong tech product at Christmas is a complete waste of time and money. For instance, you've probably burned a huge hole in your pockets by picking up the latest Samsung flagship for your sulking father simply because the smartphone doesn't detect his Airpods Pro automatically like it did on his old iPhone 8 Plus.
To up the ante in terms of disappointment, your boyfriend bought the iPhone 11 Pro Max during Black Friday and subtly asked you for a Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth headset for Christmas when his smartphone is compatible with only a small number of the audio codecs that are supported by this headset.
Finally, you're not rich, which is the case for almost all of us, so the hypothetical scenarios below are totally unrealistic and do not concern you. Instead, you're looking for a "bundle" to offer a smartphone and a complete but affordable product ecosystem to one of your loved ones.
- Who is this person to tell me what to buy for Christmas?
- What tech gifts to give for Christmas 2020 without going broke?
- What tech gifts to give a teleworker for Christmas 2020?
- What tech gifts to give to a gamer (on a smartphone) for Christmas 2020?
- What tech gifts to give to an Apple fan for Christmas 2020?
My goal is not to dump tech products on you in boatloads to generate revenue via affiliate links. The idea is simply to begin from different scenarios and viewpoints, such as those mentioned above: according to one's desires, needs, and budget, and to come up with an "ultimate guide."
Rather than listing products that you ABSOLUTELY don't need me to decide on your behalf, I'll try to give you some more practical advice from a seasoned person in the industry. Taking the 1 + 4 + N (1= smartphone, 4= accessories, wearables, N= connected home) model into consideration, I will try to offer you different tech "gift kits" with advice based on the different types of recipients.
The objective is not to "sell" you each product that is listed under each category. It is more of a framework, a basis for entering an ecosystem of products, or to complement an existing one. Some of you won't need it, since you already know enough about it.
Basically, this guide is just there if you want to make a tech gift but don't know where to start or are afraid to make a mistake.
Rather than offering you stupid selections "for Mister", "for Madam", "for less than €100", etc., I will try to come up with a list of tech gifts that offer the best possible quality/price ratio. The de facto exclusion would be Apple products, but fret not as I also have a kit that is specially dedicated to Apple fans later in this article.
Basically, the entire idea is to offer a set of products that work together, opening the gateway to a complete ecosystem of products to the recipient. The recipient in question here can be a parent or grandparent who (usually) have absolutely no idea on where to begin when it comes to such tech products. Or perhaps it could even be a teenager who is just about to get started.
If we take the structure that I detailed previously, we would therefore begin on a basis of 1= smartphone or tablet + 4= earphones/Bluetooth headset + N = connected object.
- What smartphone to gift for Christmas 2020 without breaking the bank?
- What accessories to gift for Christmas 2020 without breaking the bank?
- What connected objects to gift for Christmas 2020 without breaking the bank?
Of course, I welcome you to refer to our many comparisons of the best smartphones of 2020 that I have listed at the end of this article of which you will be able to find in the "Our selections" section from the NextPit homepage.
As for this article, I would advise you to choose the so-called "top of the range" models such as the OnePlus Nord, which offers a very good set of features while making sure the price does not pass the €400 ($483) mark. In my opinion, this is the ideal model for a non-tech enthusiast. This purchase is not too restrictive, and the smartphone is more than capable of handling most of the tasks assigned to it. Apart from being a very competent smartphone, the OnePlus Nord also excels are simple things like web browsing, instant messaging, and shooting pictures.
If the person you want to spoil this Christmas is a bit more demanding and happens to lean more toward the power user side of things, you can also opt for the Realme X50 Pro. It is a flagship device with top-of-the-range hardware , and yet is available for less than €500 ($605). The RealmeUI that this phone runs has the merit of being among the easiest to use, with a minimalist approach to design.
Assuming that this kit is intended for the casual user, who has no specific needs apart from a utilitarian use of his/her product ecosystem, I would tend to recommend a pair of affordable true wireless earbuds that would give the OnePlus Nord or the Realme X50 Pro some nice company.
My first choice for an affordable TWS would be the Realme Buds Q. This, notably, is the first true wireless earbuds from the company. If the industry's top names offer models at over €100 ($120), Realme has made the opposite bet with the pair costing just €40 ($50). According to my colleague Berti, who tested them for NextPit, "for the price, these true wireless headphones offer very good sound and a long-lasting battery. Even higher-end features such as IP certification and customizable touch operation are included."
As a slightly more luxurious alternative, I highly recommend the Huawei Freebuds Pro that my colleague Julia reviewed for NextPit. With this, you have the essentials of a high-end pair of true wireless earbuds with the ANC, a semi-protruding design, and a battery life of more than 7 hours with the ANC turned off.
The only real black spot with this purchase is the fact that the Huawei AI Life companion application is not available on iOS, but only on Android and the AppGallery. However, that should not really matter for the combo as detailed in this article. Sold for around €150 or €160 ($180 or $195), the Huawei Freebuds Pro are a good premium alternative and happen to be more affordable than competitors from Apple, Sony, or Sennheiser.
We finally talk about the "N" component of our gift kit for budding technophiles. This is the IoT ecosystem or connected objects segment. Again, the idea here is to recommend a connected device that delivers good value for money, is affordable, easy to use, and powerful enough to offer a progressive curve when it comes to usage.
Here, I will rely on the recommendations of my colleague David who, in his comparison of the best-connected watches, ranks the Mobvoi TicWatch E2 as the champion in the value-for-money category.
"It's a 1.39-inch smartwatch with an AMOLED display and a resolution of 400 x 400 pixels, 512 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of storage. Not bad for only €160. What's more, its 415 mAh battery doesn't disappoint. Of course, at this price, you have to give up a few things: it doesn't have automatic brightness control, it doesn't have NFC, and its design isn't the most beautiful in the world."
Consumers increasingly need or want to renew their equipment and tech goods during lockdown. This is something that many NextPit readers have also pointed out to me in comments over the past few months.
More than a desire to equip oneself to be better entertained by watching a movie or a series when one is stuck at home, the renewal of tech products is also, first and foremost, a need to face this new reality known as teleworking.
If we take the structure that I detailed in the previous section, we would begin on the basis of 1 = smartphone or tablet + 4 = Bluetooth earphones/headset + N = connected object.
- What smartphone or tablet to give to a teleworker for Christmas 2020?
- What accessories to give a teleworker for Christmas 2020?
- What connected objects to give to a teleworker for Christmas 2020?
For this section, I would recommend tablets instead. Even the most seasoned power user won't be able to work under optimal conditions with a smartphone only. I won't recommend PCs either since we don't review enough of them at NextPit and I lack both knowledge and skills on the subject.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus
If you're an Android user, the best tablet for this category is undoubtedly the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. We don't review enough tablets at NextPit, but the latest high-end model from the South Korean conglomerate is at the top of almost all online comparisons.
The Snapdragon 865+ chipset transforms it into a powerhouse, which is backed by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space. The 12.4-inch AMOLED display in a 16:10 format ratio delivers a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate. I've noted a range of concerns in several of our competitors' reviews, where the 10,090 mAh battery discharges fairly quickly. That being said, Samsung does promise up to 10 hours of use on a single charge. The product also supports fast charging.
In addition to the S-Pen support, the real asset of this tablet in my opinion is Samsung's OneUI interface, which is particularly suitable for multitasking. The DeX function enables you to transform your tablet into an Android PC after connecting it to a screen via Bluetooth or via the recharge port, making it an interesting way of getting it connected. This is provided you have a wireless keyboard and mouse to connect to your tablet, of course.
iPad Air 2020 or iPad 2019
If you're running on Apple's ecosystem, an iPad is obviously the first choice. For those of you who are more fortunate, you might as well aim for the sky and pick not the iPad Pro 2020 but the iPad Air 2020 instead.
The iPad Air 2020 gains a smart connector that allows you to add a keyboard accessory like the Magic Keyboard, and it is also compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil. Unfortunately, the screen does not have a high refresh rate and continues to chug along at 60 Hz.
But what makes this tablet interesting and more attractive than the iPad Pro 2020, is the adoption of Apple's A14 Bionic processor. This makes it, de facto, the fastest and most powerful Apple tablet on the market. We can also welcome the return of Touch ID in the form of a sensor integrated into the power button.
And if you're looking for better value from Apple, I must recommend the iPad 2019, which I've been using personally for almost a year. The design is a little more dated with its wide 10.2-inch screen borders and the Home button with Touch ID on the front.
The A10 Fusion chip, which is the same one that powers the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, is also aging but does a great job when it comes to pure office use. With its Smart Connector, it can now accommodate a keyboard for use as a PC and it also supports the Apple Pencil.
The 10-hour battery life won't revolutionize your use and recharging via the Lightning port is quite slow. But I am really satisfied with my iPad which cost me less than €400 ($485).
When we think of teleworking, we also think of video conference meetings. Apart from business calls, I spend most of my working time on common calls on Meet with other colleagues so that I do not end up insane while being surrounded by all four walls.
So having a good pair of headphones or earphones can be a big plus when you are teleworking. I would prefer models with ANC, especially if you are like me, living with a roommate.
Regarding headphones, I would tend to recommend the Sony WH-1000XM3 since it is the best reference headphones on the market despite being released two years ago. It has certainly been renewed by the WH-1000XM4 but I didn't review it, unlike the old model which has since dropped in price and remains a surefire value-for-money purchase.
As far as headphones are concerned under the Android ecosystem, I would also recommend the Jabra Elite 85t, which I will also mention in the gamer gift kit below. They finally offer ANC on it, but it is the quality of the microphones that make it especially interesting. Jabra has real expertise in this area and is one of the only manufacturers to offer decent microphones on true wireless headphones.
Here, we'll think about which connected objects will accompany the tablets that we recommended above. The selection will vary depending on whether you are riding on an Android or Apple ecosystem.
Apple Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard
For the iPad Air 2020, the best option would be the Magic Keyboard, which allows real use of the tablet in "laptop" mode thanks to its integrated trackpad. If you don't have a PC and want to use the iPad as your primary office device, this is a good choice.
The price of €339 ($410) is prohibitively expensive, but you also have the possibility to opt for an alternative with the Logitech Combo Touch that costs €150 ($182), or less than half as expensive while offering the benefits of a trackpad.
For the iPad 2019, I use the basic Smart Keyboard, which also doubles up as a protective shell for the screen and costs €179 ($217). However, it does not incorporate a trackpad.
Samsung Book Cover Keyboard
For the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+, the manufacturer is not going to let up on its prices, either. The Book Cover Keyboard EF-DT970 with an integrated trackpad costs a whopping €224 ($241). But, unlike Apple's Magic Keyboard, you can fold the Samsung keyboard to use your tablet in a more comfortable manner - that is, in tablet mode.
Don't ask me why, but you can't do so with Apple's Magic Keyboard. You would have to disconnect the iPad from the keyboard first in order to use it in tablet mode. Or make use of the Smart Keyboard, which folds up but does not use the trackpad. Ah, Apple's compromises, how nice!
Yes, I can already hear the gaming elitists screaming of scandal. No offense, but the smartphone is the most widely used gaming device in the world. More people play on smartphones than on the sacrosanct PC. This gaming offer will concentrate on offering more in terms of experience and playing time.
And in any case, it is highly unlikely to get your PS5 or Xbox Series X under the tree on time, given their ridiculous inventory figures. If we take the guideline that I detailed in the previous section, we would begin on the basis of 1 = gaming smartphone + 4 = Bluetooth earphones/headset + N = connected controller.
- What gaming smartphone to gift a gamer for Christmas 2020?
- What smartphone accessories to gift a gamer for Christmas 2020?
- What connected devices to gift a smartphone gamer for Christmas 2020?
Asus ROG Phone 3
The ROG Phone 3 is my favorite gaming smartphone of 2020, and in my opinion, it is the best on the market. It has everything you need to play any Android game you throw at it with the graphics settings pushed to the maximum. It features a 6.59-inch AMOLED display with a 144 Hz refresh rate and 240 Hz touch-sampling rate, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ SoC mated to either 12 or 16 GB of RAM, and a massive 6,000 mAh battery.
It is the most complete package and the Armoury Crate software is something else, where its control center manages performance adequately, giving you a unique hold on your smartphone's operation and customisation. Sold at €999 at its release, it is expensive but certainly runs rings around its competitors at the same price or even more expensive offerings when it comes to gaming-centric use.
Its adequate camera module and design more discreet than other gaming smartphones. These make it far more feasible as a daily driver. I still use it to this day for my daily gaming needs and, until my PS5 arrives in 2021, it's my main gaming console.
RedMagic 5S or OnePlus 8T
If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, I have two gaming smartphones at a more affordable price. Mainly for gaming use, the RedMagic 5S sold for less than €600 is an excellent choice. It boasts of a Snapdragon 865 chipset, 144 Hz AMOLED display and 240 Hz touch sampling rate, 12 GB of RAM, UFS 3.1 storage, 64 MP triple camera module, haptic triggers, and a 4,500 mAh battery.
The raw performance power of the Snapdragon 865 chipset is obviously there and I was really impressed with the efficiency of the temperature control. The smartphone remains almost as cold as ice even after an hour of playing Call of Duty Mobile in high graphics mode. The interface deserves some fine-tuning but the Game Boost control center is a total success on the software side.
For a more versatile user, I would recommend the OnePlus 8T. It's not a pure gaming smartphone, but it has the merit to be more comprehensive with a more powerful camera module, while keeping key features like the Snapdragon 865 chipset, a 120 Hz refresh rate, and 240 Hz touch sampling rate.
Like Asus, Lenovo, or Razer, OnePlus also collaborated quite a bit with video game publishers and studios.
For example, the OnePlus 8 was among the first and only (exclusive for several months) device to be able to run Fortnite and PUBG in 90 FPS.
The OnePlus 8, 8 Pro, and 8T can run COD Mobile at maximum framerate, just like the ROG Phone 3 or the Lenovo Legion Duel. This framerate which is reserved for certain models, is 60 FPS on COD. Sold for less than €600, it's a good alternative if the RedMagic 5S is too "niche" for your taste.
Here, I would advise you to pick up either a Bluetooth headset or true wireless earbuds to be able to play with the ANC and communicate with your teammates in multiplayer games.
Personally, I use the Jabra Elite 85t true wireless earphones. This is the latest top-of-the-line offering from the Danish audio expert Jabra. They offer 5 ANC levels based on four microphones. The Jabra Sound+ application allows you to create custom EQ and noise reduction profiles that automatically change according to your sound environment.
For example, it will create a profile when you play with the microphone at home and set the ANC at a low level, where it will be changed to another level where you play without a microphone and with the ANC cranked up to maximum when traveling, for example. The Jabra Elite 85t cost €250. For an equally good but cheaper alternative, I would recommend last year's model, the Jabra Elite 75t. They even received ANC capability via a firmware update last month.
I would have liked to be able to recommend pico projectors to broadcast your mobile game on your big screen or wall, but unfortunately I haven't reviewed any this year. So I'm going to focus on controllers instead.
I personally don't use them on purely mobile games because I find the touch controls to be a bit more intuitive, like on COD Mobile. But when it comes to cloud gaming, having a controller is a must.
If you look at all the smartphone controller comparisons, you'll often see the Razer Kishi controller coming out on top. I own it and have been able to use it for several months. And I wouldn't recommend it because it doesn't fit the form factor of all smartphones, doesn't work on all games, which makes its price of €89 irrelevant.
I would rather recommend you a connected accessory for the Xbox One or PS4 controller, depending on your preferences. If you already own one, then a simple "clip" to attach your controller to your smartphone is also a good alternative.
For the Xbox One controller, the PowerA Moga Mobile Gaming Clip is one of the best choices and is easily found on Amazon for about €15. For the PS4 controller, the OIVO PS4 Controller Clip Mount that I bought for €12 does its job very well.
Apple fans are certainly the easiest and hardest to satisfy simultaneously with a tech gift at Christmas. Easy to fulfill because Apple's product catalog has the merit of being much clearer when it comes to smartphones and connected devices, than those of Android manufacturers. Difficult to fill because the products are significantly more expensive than their Android counterparts.
If we take the guideline that I detailed in the previous paragraph, we would begin on the basis of 1 = iPhone + 4 = iPad, Apple Watch, Airpods + N = Homepod, etc.
- Which iPhone to give to an Apple fan for Christmas 2020?
- What accessories and/or wearables to gift to an Apple fan for Christmas 2020?
- What connected object to gift to an Apple fan for Christmas 2020?
If you want to offer a smartphone to one of the Apple fans in your social circle, the iPhone 12 Pro is the best choice. My colleague Julia, a fan of the brand, reviewed it, and ranked it as the best iPhone on the market to choose from in 2020.
Julia does have her caveats, explaining that "the iPhone 12 Pro will be the choice of Apple regulars who want the most powerful Apple smartphone every year anyway. But long-time users of older iPhone models, such as the iPhone 6s or the iPhone 7, will also be able to choose the Pro model to keep it for a long time."
If you already owned one of last year's iPhone 11 models, the evolution and upgrades are not significant enough to justify a new purchase. If this is the case for your gift this Christmas, perhaps you should allocate your budget to other products listed below.
One of Apple's strengths is that it offers a very well integrated and synchronised product ecosystem when using your iPhone. Airpods and Apple Watches dominate their respective markets and are obviously a logical choice for this 2020 Christmas gift set.
The Airpods Pro
There is no need for any introduction when it comes to the Airpods Pro. They happen to be the best solution if you want a pair of true wireless earbuds with active noise reduction capability in the Apple ecosystem. Personally, I find the noise reduction to be of lower quality than the Sony WF-1000XM3. And the unique AAC codec doesn't allow for majority of HD audio rendering.
But the instantaneous connectivity, the quality of the semi-protruding design, the automatic adjustment of the equaliser based on the ambient noise, and the sound insulation inside the ear canal are very good points.
The Apple Watch 6
Announced last September, the Apple Watch Series 6 is Apple's latest connected watch. My colleague David ranks it as the best WatchOS smartwatch on the market in 2020, where his comparison has not yet been published on our site.
Apple has a 1.78-inch OLED display with a resolution of 448 x 368 pixels and a thinner bezel. The new S6 processor is more powerful, has two cores and comes with better battery management. The Apple Connected Watch is waterproof up to 50 meters, comes equipped with a cardiac ECG monitor, carries a blood oxygen level (SPO2) sensor and boasts of a storage capacity of 32 GB. It is available in a version with e-SIM support. The only problem? Its high price.
The MagSafe Charger or 20-Watt Wired Charger
Apple's MagSafe wireless charger, introduced along with the iPhone 12, doesn't just work with the iPhone 12. It's based on the Qi standard, so it's compatible with iPhone 8 and later, as well as the wireless Airpods cases.
However, the magnetic alignment will only work on the iPhone 12. However, you should take into account that the MagSafe charger is limited to 15 Watts, and 12 Watts for the iPhone 12 Mini.
If this does not suit you, you can also opt for the 20 Watt wired charger that Apple does not provide in the box of its iPhone 12. This is a highly recommended purchase, especially if you are still stuck to the old 5 Watts power brick that accompanied even the most basic iPhone 11 last year.
Finally we move on to the "N" category of our Apple product gift set. This is the ecosystem segment, namely connected objects and IoT, such as HomePods or Apple TV. Since our kits take a smartphone as a starting point, I find it more relevant to recommend a connected speaker such as a HomePod.
For once Apple offers a product that is competitively priced compared to the Android competition, so we might as well mention the HomePod Mini that was unveiled this year. We haven't been able to review it at NextPit yet, but the English and French reviews that I've read were all very positive. The €99 price tag is still quite high compared to a Google Nest Mini that retails for less than €50.
If you want to have Apple integration to the fullest, I think the HomePod is a good choice to complete such an ecosystem. You'll be able to use it in conjunction with your iPhone to take advantage of Apple's "Intercom" feature, and broadcast voice messages through the speaker or send notifications to all the devices connected to it.
As a stand-alone gift, its dependence on an iPhone or other Apple product makes it less advisable. So it's a "plus" and not really an "essential" to put under the tree.
What do you think of this guide? I think it could be adapted for other situations and the more "typical recipients" could also benefit . Feel free to share your impressions and suggestions in the comments!
Also read on NextPit:
- What are the best flagship smartphones in 2020?
- The best camera smartphones to choose from in 2020
- Which Apple iPhone is for you?
- What are the best gaming smartphones to purchase in 2020?
- What are the best smartphones you can buy for less than €500?
- What are the best smartphones you can buy for less than €400 in 2020?
- Which are the best smartphones for under €300 in 2020?
- Which are the best smartphones for under €200 in 2020?