Talk Android’s 2018 Gift Guide for the Holidays

Need to get started on your holiday shopping? Don’t panic, Talk Android is here to help you out.

We’ve rounded up our favorite phones, smart home devices, and accessories to give you some ideas of what to get for the holiday season, and we’ve tagged some reviews so you can read up on everything before you buy. Check it out!

Best Phones

Smartphones are extremely important to our daily lives, whether you religiously use your calendar to keep up with things or you use Google Assistant to manage your smart home. If you know someone that needs an upgrade or you’re just looking to upgrade that old LG G4 you’ve had for way too long you’ll find some excellent holiday deals on Android smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S9

If you need an idea, it’s hard to go wrong with the most popular Android flagship on the planet. Samsung has done an excellent job over the past few years of making their phones universally compatible and available, so not only is the Galaxy S9 a stellar device, but you can buy it for any carrier you want through a ton of retailers. You’ll also be able to take advantage of killer Black Friday deals if you’re going through a carrier, too, and Amazon almost always runs some special deals on phones throughout the holidays.

In our review we noted that the Galaxy S9 checked pretty much all the boxes you could want out of a phone, including a fantastic screen and speakers, an excellent camera, and a spacious 64GB of internal storage with microSD card slot. Catching all of that on a big sale over the next month is a definite holiday victory.

Buy it now: Amazon, Best Buy, Samsung

Moto Z3

Motorola and Lenovo went exclusive again this year with the Moto Z3 on Verizon, but for very good reason; the Moto Z3 is the first 5G phone on the market thanks to a 5G Moto Mod, which means if you’re looking for a future-proofed device on Verizon’s network for the next few years, this is your best option.

And that’s not to knock anything else about the phone, either. The Moto Z3 packs a Snapdragon 835 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, plus a dual-camera system and the option to upgrade with other Moto Mods for better pictures, sound, or whatever other crazy Mods Lenovo cooks up.

Verizon is also running a pretty killer deal on the Moto Z3 if you’re willing to pay off the device in installments, knocking 50% of the phone’s price down. You’ll only have to pay $10 per month, making this a $240 5G phone. What’s not to like?

Buy it now: Verizon, Best Buy

Moto X4

Not all great smartphones have to cost a ton of money like some of the other devices on our list. If you still want that slick clean Motorola software without breaking the bank, the Moto X4 offers a great experience at a much more aggressive price.

You’ll still get a dual-camera system and a polished unibody design, plus a battery-efficient Snapdragon 600 series CPU, fingerprint scanner, and waterproofing with the 4th generation Moto X phone, and some holiday deals are keeping this device under $200.

You can snag an Amazon Prime edition of the phone to save some money, and there’s an Android One variant, too. There’s plenty of options to get this phone exactly how you want it.

Buy it now: Amazon, Best Buy

More options:

Honor 7XAmazon
Honor View10Amazon, Newegg
Samsung Galaxy J8Amazon
NUU G3Amazon
Essential PhoneAmazon

Best Smart Home

Smart home accessories are excellent ideas for small or big presents, and they always have great deals to take advantage of other the holidays. Whether you or someone you know is just starting to put together their connected ecosystem or they just need some new lights to round out a few rooms, you can’t go wrong with some of these gifts.

Google Home

All of us here are pretty enthusiastic about Android, and that often comes with some Google love, too. If you fit that category, the Google Home is easily one of the best options to start building up a smart home.

You’ll be able to pick among a few different options, including the Google Home Mini, the standard sized Google Home, and the music powerhouse Google Home Max, all of which cover a ton of different situations and price points. For someone that’s primarily building automated and voice activated systems, a Mini is probably the best option. If you need to blast your Spotify playlists, though, the regular Home or Max are better options.

Keep an eye out for killer deals on these (especially the Mini) as we get closer to Black Friday, too. Most places will knock anywhere from $20 to $50 off some of the speakers.

Buy it now: Google, Best Buy (Mini is $25 on Black Friday)

Amazon Echo

Are you more of an Amazon fan than a Google fan? If you buy a ton of stuff from Amazon and use their digital services, it might make more sense to go with an Amazon Echo instead, since you’ll have access to your music library and quick purchases that you can’t get from a Google Home.

Other than the voice assistant included, though, both devices are pretty similar in price and form factor. The Echo Dot offers a small device, while you can get bigger versions with better speakers for better music playback. Amazon also has a few different form factors with screens to compete with Google’s Smart Displays, too.

Buy it now: Echo Dot, Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Show

Google Home Hub ($99 on Black Friday)

If you want something a little more visual than just a voice assistant, Google has a new product just for you. The Google Home Hub is the company’s own take on the Smart Display gadgets that were unveiled earlier this year, and it offers the best of Google Assistant in a hands free, visual experience. You can still talk to the Home Hub and use it like the other Google Home devices, but it can also play YouTube videos, show recipes and details, and give you a visual indicator of your current schedule and the weather.

It launched very recently, which means it’s another device that’s set to get some Black Friday discounts. Tons of places are going to be selling it for just $99 in the next few weeks, and that’s your cue to jump in.

Buy it now: Google, Best Buy, Target

Philips Hue

Philips Hue lightbulbs and accessories are almost the de facto brand of connected accessories and smart home devices, at least as far as lighting goes. They’re easy to use, they’re sold everywhere, and they integrate with all of the major voice assistants and platforms.

For most people buying up a starter kit is the best (and cheapest) way to get in, and you can get the kit with two bulbs and the bridge for just $69 without a sale. There are bigger kits, too, and once you get the bridge you can start adding colored lights, LED strips, mood lighting, and way more.

Plus, “Hey Google, turn off the lights” never gets old.

Buy it now: Amazon, Best Buy, Target

Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Edition

Smart home lighting is useful, but it can also be really, really cool. Just check out the Nanoleaf Aurora.

Instead of a simple light bulb that you plug into a lamp, the Aurora is a set of LED panels that you can arrange in different formations and then control with your smartphone. If you want something to light up a room, it can do that, but you can also create vibrant art and moods with it.

If you know someone that likes to show off, you can’t go wrong with a Nanoleaf product. They also offer a new Rhythm extension for the Aurora that allows the light to sync up with music and a new handheld controller, too, so this is another present that you can keep adding to over the years.

You can check out our review of the Nanoleaf, and take my word for it, this thing is the life of the party every time.

Buy it now: Best Buy, Amazon

NVIDIA Shield TV ($40 off for the holidays)

What good is a smart home without an equally smart TV? The NVIDIA Shield TV is still one of our favorite Android TV boxes, offering way more power and capability than some cheaper boxes and streaming sticks. It’s capable of playing tons of games, streaming games from your PC and NVIDIA’s servers directly, and it can even support Google Assistant through the remote.

While it may be a couple years old, this is still easily one of the best boxes on the market. But with some age comes better discounts, which usually ends up with a free controller, extra smart home accessories, or just a cash discount.

Buy it now: Amazon, Best Buy

Wyze Cam Pan

Wyze makes some incredibly affordable smart cameras, and their latest versions have even added Alexa support and panning controls and they’ve barely increased the price.

Less than $40 nets you a full 1080p camera with complete pan/tilt/zoom controls that also includes two-way audio, night vision, and alerts via its smart companion app.

Sure, it’s not going to beat out a Nest camera or anything, but for a fraction of the price I don’t think you’ll have a bad time.

Buy it now: Amazon

More ideas:

Polk AssistAmazon
WeMo SwitchesAmazon
Bestek LED Desk LampAmazon
JBL Link ViewAmazon, Best Buy
Amazon Fire StickAmazon (Free Echo Dot), Best Buy ($25 for Black Friday)

Best Accessories

Need something small, last minute, or as a stocking stuffer? Accessories for your phone or house can also make for some pretty stellar presents, and they often have the best deals out of everything on this list. Check out some of our favorites.

Anker ZOLO Liberty+

Sure, you can buy Apple’s AirPods. I’m sure they’re great earphones. But you can also take that money and put it towards Anker’s ZOLO Liberty+ headphones and get a more comfortable fit, better sound quality, and longer battery life. Go ahead, think about it.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t love totally wireless headphones; they have way too many compromises for a good experience, especially in the sound quality department. Anker has managed to convince me with these Liberty+ earbuds, though. Seriously, they’re that good, and you can get them on Amazon.

Buy it now: Amazon

Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro

Smartwatches are another device that can be really hit or miss, but when a device gets it right, we really like it. Mobvoi tested the Wear OS market with the Ticwatch Pro, and it’s absolutely a device that we can get behind.

You get Wear OS and everything that entails, plus phenomenal battery life, tons of sensors for GPS, hear rate monitoring, and mobile payments, a build-in speaker, and IP68 water and dust resistance.

If you’re itching for a new smartwatch, it’s hard to go wrong here.

Buy it now: Amazon

Sbode M350

Phone speakers are almost never good enough, and that’s exactly why small Bluetooth speakers exist. Don’t deal with tinny sound when you can get something like the Sbode M350 that offers a dramatically better experience in the size of a Funko Pop figure.

The speaker offers solid bass and crisp sound, which is more than your current speakers can say. It also features playback from a microSD card and an FM radio built right in, so even without a phone you can use this thing to jam out, and it’ll fit right in your bag.

Buy it now: Amazon

Tronsmart Titan Plus

If you need to charge up a ton of devices at your desk or beside your bed, it’s really easy to accidentally run out of ports. Or, even worse, you have enough ports and can’t get a fast enough charge for your tablet.

Fortunately things like the Tronsmart Titan Plus exist, which offer 5 ports and up to 90W of total output. That means you can charge pretty much anything you want thanks to the high output and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 spec, and it’s got a clean and minimalist enough design to fit just about anywhere. It’s cheap, too, coming in at under $40.

Buy it now: Amazon

Anker PowerWave Wireless Charging Stand

Wireless chargers are all the rage now, especially ones that can push a little extra juice to your phone so you’re not waiting around for six hours. Anker offers the PowerWave 7.5 watt Qi wireless charging stand that has slightly quicker charging speeds, plus a nice design that lets your device stand up on a desk so you can actually see it while it’s charging.

There’s enough extra stuff built into this gadget to make it worthwhile, too, including a fan to keep things cool and a very high-speed charge thrown in the box. I’ve been using this thing every night for months now, and my charging port has never been happier.

Buy it now: Amazon

More options:

Anker SoundCore Space ANCAmazon
Anker PowerCore Lite 10000Amazon
Anker SoundCore FlareAmazon
Axum Gear EarbudsAxum
Aukey High Speed 2-port Car ChargerAmazon
Garmin Speak Plus with Amazon AlexaAmazon, Best Buy
JBL Flip 4Amazon, Best Buy, Target 
Dolby Dimension HeadphonesDolby
Netflix Gift CardsBest Buy

 

Did we miss any deals that you think stand out? Do you have a product that you think needs to be on the list? Let us know in the comments!

Editor’s note: Talk Android may receive a kickback when you purchase through links on this page. For any questions or inquiries, please email jared.p@talkandroid.com


About the Author: Jared Peters

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo's Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.