YourTechExplained Holiday Gift Guide: Phone Edition
Your phone is one of (if not the most important) part of tech in your life. It is your lifeline to the world and without it, most of us would be completely lost. With the prices they are charging these days you definitely want to do your homework and make sure whichever one you purchase it’s going to last for awhile and fit your needs. Check out some of the favorites from the YourTechExplained team from this year, and see which one you’d love to get or give this holiday season.
Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL
I’ve long been a holdout on whether the Pixel line was worth it, but after owning the Pixel 2, and getting time with the Pixel 2 XL, I’m convinced they are the best Android phones you can buy right now. From their sleek industrial design to the phenomenal cameras, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a better option. Oh, and they run Google’s fantastically clean build of Android.
The negative? The price and availability. They are going to cost you a paycheck or two. The Pixel 2 starts at $649 at the Google Store, while the Pixel 2 XL will cost you another $200 at $849 for the 64GB models. The other issue is that Google’s stock has been less than consistent. However, they currently show available so get them while you can!
I love the design of the Essential. It’s easily my favorite hardware of the year. From the titanium trimmed sides to the ceramic back, this phone is a beautiful tank of a device. The PH-1 also has the slimmest and most unadulterated Android software I’ve ever seen. If you want a clean slate with nothing in the way, then this phone should be on your list.
The one knock at launch? The camera made the $699 price tag unrealistic. Fortunately, the camera has gotten considerably better with software updates and the retail price has dropped to $499. Add on the company’s potential for mods with the magnetic pins on the back, and you have a premium device at a huge discount just in time for the holidays.
Moto Z2 Play
Speaking of budget phones with mod potential… the Moto Z2 Play is the king here. For $499 you get great battery life, cool Moto software tweaks, and the best mod lineup you’re going to find. I’ve been a Moto believer for quite a few years and the Moto Z2 Play follows the trend of Moto phones, offering a really good balance of price versus performance. The specs aren’t blowing anyone away, but you’ll be challenged to notice them anyways. Plus, your wallet will be thankful at the reasonable price tag.
Now about those mods. It’s the biggest selling point for the phone and you have multiple options to choose from. You can extend the functionality of the Z2 Play with the simple, satisfying, magnetic click of addons like JBL Soundboost Speakers, TurboPower Pack, or even an Alexa Smart Speaker that essentially makes your phone an Echo.
Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+
Every year when it comes to a flagship phone Samsung steps up and delivers one of the best. This year the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ came out with a beautiful design, featuring a nearly bezeless display, a fantastic camera, top of the line specs, great battery life, wireless charging, and Samsung Pay. As you can see, the list goes on and on — there’s a reason Samsung has one of the largest market shares for Android phones. One downside is the S8 models can feel a little sluggish because of everything that Samsung includes. However, word from the Oreo beta says that it makes performance much snappier. If you’re lucky you can grab either the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ on sale and save some cash. The Note 8 is also a fantastic phone but for me, the S-Pen and the extra camera didn’t justify the added cost.
My other pick would have to be the OnePlus 5T, a more budget friendly flagship. The newly released OnePlus 5T comes with many of the same great specs you can get with the Samsung Galaxy S8 models but without the high price tag. It packs a Snapdragon 835, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, a dual camera, an 18:9 AMOLED display, and still keeps the headphone jack. With the 5T model they’ve even placed the fingerprint scanner on the back where I prefer it. The only thing that the 5T is missing is a microSD card slot. But for everything that it offers, a $499 starting price is a pretty good bargain.
If you don’t want a stock Android phone and would rather go for something more feature rich the LG V30 may be up your alley. The V30 runs on LG’s exclusive nature skin and includes some handy extra features out of the box. It may also be the best phone for media aficionados.
The V30 still includes a headphone jack as well as a HD Quad-DAC for improved audio performance, and it has a great camera with impressive manual features. The design is quite sleek and incorporates this year’s trend of having a tall, rounded-corner display. The LG V30 is definitely an underrated beast of 2017 and I’d take a look at it if you really care about your media. Read our review here!
iPhone 8 Plus
I’m choosing to go iPhone 8 Plus here rather than X for a couple reasons: price and practicality. The iPhone X is definitely more of a looker but when it comes down to it, the 8 Plus may reach a broader audience with iOS fans. The whole world may not be ready for gesture-based iOS just yet.
Other than that, the iPhone 8 Plus is a couple hundred dollars cheaper and maintains most of the specs that the X has, including almost everything about the cameras. Plus you get a bigger phone (even though the screen itself is smaller) which is made for those of us who like larger devices. So if you’re in the iPhone market and want some new, fast, and powerful but also want something familiar, get the iPhone 8 Plus. More details in my comparison review.
Thanks for joining us on another week of the YourTechExplained Holiday Gift Guide! If you found these suggestions helpful, be sure to share this article with your friends on social media.