2018 Mobile Gift Guide

Mobile / Tech

We are more mobile than ever before and also more connected than ever before, which means more people are looking for mobile focused gifts for their loved ones.

We are more mobile than ever before and also more connected than ever before. That means more people are looking for mobile focused gifts for their loved ones — from smartphones, headphones, charging accessories, smartwatches, and cases. We have you covered here with the 2018 Techaeris Mobile Gift Guide! Happy shopping, Merry Christmas, and stay tuned for more gift guides over the coming days!

Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy Note9

gift guide

The Samsung Galaxy Note9, in my opinion, is still the king of the big-screen smartphones. It started the trend and it continues to be the best large screen phone out there. The combination of beautiful design, premium materials, performance, battery life, camera performance, and features make the Note9 a Top Pick for 2018.

Yes, the Note9 has a hefty price tag but you do get quite a lot for the money you’re dishing out. Samsung continues to make some of the best smartphones on the market and the Note9 holds its own against the competition. We’ve got no reservations recommending the Samsung Galaxy Note9, especially at its current Amazon price of $799.99USD that’s $200 off the regular price! Be sure to check out our full review!

  Purchase from Amazon

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei-Mate-20-Pro

Huawei is definitely having a difficult time of it in the U.S. but that doesn’t mean they aren’t flourishing in other markets.

While we are still in the process of reviewing the Mate 20 Pro, courtesy of Huawei Canada, it’s definitely a device that would make a great gift. Not only does it sport a Leica Triple Camera on the back and dual front-facing cameras, it’s powered by the Kirin 980 7nm processor for super snappy performance.

Available in four colours, the Mate 20 Pro also features an under glass fingerprint scanner, is IP68 water and dust resistant, has 128GB of storage, and touts a large 4200 mAh battery. 

Like other flagship devices, it’s not the cheapest and will set you back around $1300CAD or USD.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Huawei Canada

moto z3 Play Prime Exclusive

There is an idea I’ve been struggling with for the past year. The idea of the flagship smartphone. It used to be the flagship smartphone was the pinnacle of the industry. It had everything anyone could want or even need. But something happened. Technology got better and cheaper. Now, midrange smartphones like the moto Z3 Play are wrestling the idea that everyone needs flagship device. And, they’re doing it rather convincingly, at least from my perspective.

I’ve had the pleasure of using the moto Z3 Play for the past few weeks and I can honestly say. I’m convinced that the average user does not need a flagship smartphone any longer. Read on for my thoughts and the full review of the moto Z3 Play Prime Exclusive.

The moto z3 Play Prime Exclusive is normally priced at $449USD but is on sale now for $369USD which is a heck of a deal!

  Purchase from Amazon

Google Pixel 3/3 XL

Google-Pixel-3-review

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, the Google Pixel 3 (read our full review) is a fantastic device, especially when taking into account newer features like Night Sight. If you’re still rocking a Nexus or original Pixel device, the Pixel 3 will be a great upgrade. The Google Pixel 3 is definitely an improvement over the Pixel 2 smartphones. However, most of the features have come, or will be coming, to the Pixel 2 and 2 XL as well so it is a bit harder to justify an update unless you really want or need the latest and greatest Google has to offer.

One nice thing about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: the only thing you’re getting out of the 3 XL is the larger display (complete with a notch) and slightly bigger battery. As such, you can be assured that you’re getting the same performance, quality camera, and build quality regardless of which device you choose to pick up. To be honest, though, while I loved the Pixel 2 XL, I’ve grown to love, and prefer, the smaller size of the Pixel 3.

  Purchase from Google

BlackBerry KEY2

BlackBerry-KEY2-review

Last year saw the introduction of the first BlackBerry Android device with a physical keyboard: the BlackBerry KEYone, which we were impressed with. Earlier this year, an updated version of the device came out with minor changes, yet one thing remains the same: it’s all about the keyboard and productivity, as were the BlackBerry devices of old.

The BlackBerry KEY2 definitely has some refinements over last year’s KEYone. While I do prefer the rounded edges, the squared off edges of the KEY2 don’t really affect comfort at all and with the finer texture on the back, the KEY2 is definitely easy to hold and use. As far as design goes, it’s also a solid feeling and business-like looking device.

The BlackBerry KEY2 is definitely a niche product for those who prefer to focus on productivity and security. Well built and with great productivity and security features, the KEY2 is definitely a solid choice for the business professional and starts at $650USD.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Amazon (CA)

iPhone XR

Apple makes some of the most expensive smartphones on the market and rarely do they leave anything for their cheaper line. This year, the iPhone XR has been getting many rave reviews and consumer feedback. Not only is the camera very capable, but the performance and even its LCD screen are not bad for a cheaper iPhone.

We haven’t had a chance to use an iPhone XR for ourselves but given the amount of positive feedback online, we feel good recommending the XR. I currently use an iPhone XS Max and while the device is great, it is very expensive. The beauty of the iPhone XR is you can pick one up on Amazon now for $749.99USD.

  Purchase from Amazon

Tablets

Huawei MediaPad M5

Android tablets are still being made, despite the fact that Apple clearly leads in the tablet space. Huawei is one of the manufacturers who continues to make them. The Huawei MediaPad M5 seems like the company’s attempt to make a premium piece of hardware that competes with iPad but with Android as the core OS. I’ll give Huawei high marks for hitting the first part of that equation but not everyone will like Android on tablets.

The Huawei MediaPad M5 is really a top-notch piece of hardware. Holding an iPad alongside the M5, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference in build quality and looks. The biggest factor for many will be the usability and look of Android apps on this device. You may or may not be bothered by the user experience when it comes to Android. I’d recommend finding a store that sells the M5 and take a look for yourself. Overall, this is a solid device when it comes to hardware. You will have to decide if the software experience fits into your workflow and if your favorite apps are optimized enough for you.

You can pick up the MediaPad M5 on Amazon for $449USD.

  Purchase from Amazon

Wireless Headphones

JLAB Air True Wireless

We currently have the JLAB Air True Wireless earbuds in house for review. While we haven’t written our review up, spoiler alert, we absolutely love these earbuds. Wire-free earbuds are coming out from everywhere and many of them can cost $99USD and up. But the JLAB Air will only cost you $49USD and that’s an absolute bargain considering what you get.

These buds have auto on and connect, class 1 Bluetooth, custom EQ feature and are IP55 sweat resistant. The included charging case has a built-in USB cable so you don’t need to worry about losing or not having it. And these have 14+ hours of playback time. That all being said. There are more expensive wire-free offerings that offer up a little better sound but the JLAB Air really do hold their own. We have no reservations recommending these earbuds.

  Purchase from Amazon

Mobvoi Ticpods Free

TicPods-Free-true-wireless-earbuds

Another pair of true wireless headphones we’re currently reviewing, the Ticpods also offer great sound and batter life, as well as Google Assistant and Siri support.

After having raised $50,000 in the first 4 minutes of the campaign, the company ended up raising $2.8 million on Indiegogo for these true wireless earbuds which feature intuitive touch controls, voice assistant support, in-ear detection, an ergonomic fit, and more. With the included charging case, users can expect to get up to 18 hours of battery life before having to plug in.

The Mobvoi Ticpods free are available in three colours for $129.99USD. At the time of this post, you can use the code TicPodsFreeUS to save yourself $30.

  Purchase from Mobvoi

Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT

Audio-Technica-ATH-M50xBT-headphones

For those looking for over-ear wireless headphones, the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT bring the company’s legendary M50x studio sound to wireless listeners.

The closed-back ATH-M50xBT delivers an exhilarating wireless listening experience with exceptional clarity, articulate, extended bass and smooth, wide frequency response. Its 45mm large-aperture driver, which has the capability of a 15 – 28,000 Hz wide frequency range, is employed to deliver studio-quality sonic accuracy and musical enjoyment. Rare-earth magnets and Audio-Technica’s copper-clad aluminum wire (CCAW) voice coils are the same as those used in the original ATH-M50x.

An internal battery provides up to 40 hours on a full charge (a USB charging cable is supplied), allowing users to enjoy the headphones’ high-fidelity wireless sound without interruption. In addition, the headphones can be used in wired mode for use with devices that have a wired connection or when battery power is low.

The ATH-M50xBT are available for $199.99USD and you can check back soon for our full review if you aren’t sold yet.

  Purchase from Amazon

Optoma BeFree5 Truly Wireless

These are the follow-up to Optoma’s BeFree8 earbuds. The BeFree8 buds were a bit more expensive and Optoma created the BeFree5 to better compete in the market. These buds are just as good as the 8s and utilize AAC for both Apple and Android HQ audio. Here are just a few features of the Optoma BeFree5 truly wireless earbuds.

  • Long-lasting battery: be Free5 deliver long-lasting battery life: users can listen to 4 hours of continuous Audio with three full charges with its portable charging case, a total of 16 hours.
  • Easy-to-use controls: the earbuds are equipped with a microphone for calls, and buttons on top of the earpieces to control volume, activate Siri, Google assistant and to play, pause and skip songs.
  • For any environment: built to accommodate activities and environments, the be Free5 earbuds have an Ipx5 rating, are sweat proof, water resistant, ensuring coverage in all terrains and environments.

You can snag a pair of the BeFree5 earbuds on Amazon for $99USD.

  Purchase from Amazon

JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro

With an MSRP of $20USD, these headphones are definitely in impulse buy territory for their nostalgic look alone. However, given the sound quality at regular volume levels, you are getting more than your money’s worth in value as well. To be honest, I’m sure JLab Audio could probably get away with charging $30 for these…

The JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones aren’t the flashiest or most luxurious wireless headphones you can get on the market. However, as I mentioned, they are more than worth the price for the retro look but definitely impressed with the decent sound quality and built-in EQ as well. As such, they’ve definitely earned a Top Pick of 2018 here at Techaeris.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from JLab

Wired Headphones

Creative Aurvana Trio

A Top Pick and Editor’s Choice earlier this year, for those who still use wireless earbuds, the Creative Aurvana Trio are an excellent choice. 

In the case of the Creative Aurvana Trio, the dual balanced armature drivers consist of a super tweeter for “detailed highs” and a mid-range for “natural vocals.” The third driver is separate and is a bio-cellulose woofer for “accurate bass.” Creative isn’t kidding when they talk about detailed highs, natural vocals, and accurate bass. Highs are definitely detailed and clear, vocals sound very natural, and the bass reverbs nicely without overwhelming the mids and highs. Even at maximum volume, which is quite loud, the balance between the mids, lows, and highs is maintained.

With an MSRP of $149.99USD, the Creative Aurvana Trio earbuds are definitely on the higher end of the price scale for earbuds. That being said, they do offer exceptional sound and solid build quality and are well worth the cost. Even better, they are currently on sale for $99.99USD.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Creative

Monolith M1060

Monolith-M1060-review

Easily the best headphones I’ve reviewed to date, the Monoprice Monoltih M1060 over-ear  wired headphones feature planar driver technology for absolutely fantastic sound.

When I was thinking of how to start the sound section in my review, my first thoughts were of how the sound washes over you… it’s almost like you’re drowning in the sound in a good way. Based on Monoprice’s explanation of both planar magnetic drivers and the open back design choice, it’s easy to see how it does feel like you are totally immersed with whatever music you’re listening to through the M1060s.

The sound output by these on-ear headphones is perfectly balanced, at least as far as I can tell. Highs, mids, and the low bass end never compete with each other and complement each other exactly as they should. When I was thinking of how to start the sound section in my review, my first thoughts were of how the sound washes over you… it’s almost like you’re drowning in the sound in a good way. Based on Monoprice’s explanation of both planar magnetic drivers and the open back design choice, it’s easy to see how it does feel like you are totally immersed with whatever music you’re listening to through the M1060s.

With an MSRP of $299.99USD, these aren’t cheap but are currently on sale for $199.99 over at Monoprice.

  Purchase from Amazon   Purchase from Monorpice

Smartwatches

Skagen Flaster 2

SKAGEN-Falster-2-smartwatch

While we haven’t had a chance to review the Skagen Falster 2 smartwatch yet, the original Falster remains one of our favourites for its minimal design and functionality.

Featuring the addition of two programmable pusher buttons, the Falster 2 Wear OS smartwatch also gains heart rate monitoring, untethered GPS, NFC, and improved water resistance for active swimmers. All this without sacrificing the minimalist design SKAGEN strives for.

Starting at $275USD, the various designs are currently $25 off on Amazon and Skagen’s website.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Skagen

Samsung Gear Sport

Samsung-Gear-Sport-review

With a name like Gear Sport, you’d think this smartwatch is a fitness-geared smartwatch and you wouldn’t be wrong. That being said, the other functionality and features of the Samsung Gear Sport make it a well-rounded smartwatch for daily use as well.

Samsung’s Gear Sport runs on their Tizen 3.0 operating system and it is not only very responsive and quick but runs very well on the Gear Sport — as one should expect. 

With an MSRP of $279.99USD, the Gear Sport is currently available for $179 — which is a fantastic deal to say the least.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Samsung

Apple Watch Series 4

The Apple Watch Series 4 was introduced this year and while we haven’t done a proper review, we have been using it for weeks now. For iOS users, the Apple Watch Series 4 is an absolute perfect smartwatch.

  • GPS + Cellular (Wi-Fi model available)
  • Over 30% larger display and 50% louder speaker
  • Electrical and optical heart sensors
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback
  • S4 SiP with faster 64-bit dual-core processor
  • Improved accelerometer and gyroscope for fall detection
  • Swimproof

Smartwatches aren’t for everyone but the Apple Watch Series 4 is a must buy for iPhone users who are looking for a smartwatch. You can pick them up on Amazon now starting at $499USD.

  Purchase from Amazon

TicWatch S

The debate over wearables is real with some writing them off completely and others absolutely in love with them. The Wear OS space is crowded with many contenders but the Ticwatch S is a standout. It’s comparatively low cost but high-quality build and materials makes it a perfect choice for just about anyone. 

It’s a full-featured Wear OS watch that’s comfortable, has a great screen, nearly all the features you’d want in a fitness tracker/smartwatch, and has a very nice price at $199.99USD. Currently, you can save $40 off that price for the TicWatch S.

  Purchase from Amazon  Purchase from Mobvoi

Charging Docks

Pixel Stand

Pixel-3-Wireless-Charging-Pixel-Stand-FI

The Pixel Stand is Google’s new wireless charging stand for its Pixel 3 devices. In addition to wirelessly charging your smartphone quickly, the Pixel Stand also adds some extra functionality. Not only can you view photos or listen to music while on the stand, you can also configure alarms, smart home devices, and utilize Google Assistant easily with the modified home screen when the Pixel 3 is placed on the stand.

The Pixel Stand is a bit pricey at $79.99USD/$109.99CAD but given it’s currently the only wireless charging stand that will fast charge the Pixel 3/3 XL as well as the extra functionality, it is worth it.

  Purchase from Google

Lynktec Bolt Smart Car Mount

The Lynktec Bolt Smart Car Mount offers wireless charging on the go for your Qi-enabled smartphone.

Features include:

  • Automatic Lock & Unlock: Bolt will sense when you place your phone on the mount and automatically close around it.
  • Qi Certified Wireless Charger: Bolt delivers a safe and reliable wireless charging experience.
  • Fast Charge Capability: Bolt is optimized to deliver the fastest possible charging speed to your phone, so you can use maps, stream music, or take a phone call without losing battery life.

Available for $49.99USD, you can snag this for $30 during Black Friday on the Lynktec website.

  Purchase from Lynktec

Phone cases

Assorted cases for iPhone and Android phones

We recently reviewed several cases for the iPhone and have two more case roundups coming for the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL. Most of these cases come from seven major brands. Rather than list every case we reviewed we thought we’d list the brands we picked as some of the best case makers out there.

It’s important to note that not all of these case makers will carry a case made for your specific smartphone. Most all of them will have cases for iPhones, Galaxy phones, and Pixel phones but you may be out of luck if you have a One Plus phone or some other brand. Without further ado, here are some brands we picked as top case makers and great stocking stuffers! Just click on the brand’s name to be taken to their website. Most of these brands are currently holding Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Miscellaneous

Apple Watch watchbands

Believe it or not, Apple Watch watchbands aren’t that easy to find. Well, at least really nice watchbands at a reasonable price. Apple’s offerings are good but limited and sometimes costly. You can find dozens of cheap watchbands on Amazon, but most of those suck donkeys. The Monowear Apple Watch watchbands are most certainly not sucky. Plus, they’re reasonably priced for what you get.

Listen, I know it’s super easy to pick up a watchband or two from Amazon for $9USD and call it a day. But I’m telling you that investing a few bucks into a decent band makes all the difference in the world. The Monowear Apple Watch watchbands not only make your Apple Watch look like a million bucks, they feel better than some cheap, fake leather band that will likely fall apart in a few months. I don’t score products a perfect 10 very often at all, but these Monowear bands are really top notch Apple Watch watchbands. One thing to note, the bands may say 42mm but they fit the 44mm perfectly.

Check out Monowear’s website below where they are having a buy two get 15% off sale now. Be sure to check out our review of the Monowear bands.

  Purchase from Monowear

And there you have our 2018 Mobile Gift Guide. Of course, this is only a small sampling of the many items that we’ve reviewed this year and are available out there, so if something doesn’t quite catch your eye in this list, be sure to check out some of our other reviews from the past year!

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