It’s less than two weeks until Christmas and one week until the last date Royal Mail says it can get your presents delivered before the holiday, so it’s time to buy those last minute gifts for your family and friends. To help you find the perfect gifts, we’ve teamed up with our friends at TechFruit to put together a list of the best options for every budget and every person in your life.
Want to spoil someone? The best of the best
It is rare that we get to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on Christmas presents for our loved ones, but if money is no object for you this Christmas then the best way to spend your money is on a new phone or laptop. We spend most our days glued to one of these screens, and so the better model you buy now the longer it will last and the more beautiful it will look.
We’ve seen huge improvements in high-end laptops this year, and if you have the money then you will not be disappointed with the Huawei Matebook X Pro (£1,699). This 14″ laptop is incredibly thin and light with a metal chassis, and 8th generation Intel CPU, and a stunning 3000×2000 resolution multi-touch display – it is by a margin the best laptop in the world right now.
For Apple lovers, the latest MacBook Pro 15 (£2,338) is also a beautiful and powerful machine and remains a contender for the best laptop around, but the Apple premium price tag means that it has been knocked off the top spot by Huawei.
Smartphones continue to improve in leaps and bounds, and if your loved on is ready to upgrade then they will be overjoyed with either the Google Pixel 3 XL 128GB (£1,169) or the Apple iPhone XS 256GB(£1,149). Both of these phones standout from a very impressive pack for their amazing cameras and operating systems that are both simple to use and beautiful to look at. Out of the two, we would pick the Pixel, but everyone has their own OS preference these days, and the best option would be to buy the device that uses their preferred OS – Google Android or Apple iOS.
£500 is an extremely generous present and with modern tech you can get a lot of bang for your buck, whether you are looking for a new laptop, smartphone, television, speaker system, or just something completely different.
You can get a great laptop for under £500 today, with Lenovo, Dell, HP, Asus, and Acer all offer the latest 8th generation i3 CPUs in laptops under this price. However, for us the Lenovo Ideapad 330S (£499) offers the best value for money, with 8GB RAM, an SSD, and a FHD 1080P display ina good-looking package.
Android is the platform for the best mid-tier smartphones, and the sector has become increasingly competitive in recent years with smaller manufacturers producing fantastic phones with top-tier hardware for under half the price of some of their competitors. The best smartphone money can buy in this price range is the OnePlus 6T 128GB (£499), which offers the top-line Qualcomm 845 processor, a beautiful 6.4″ display and clean Android (OxygenOS) experience for a very reasonable price.
On the Apple side, the latest iPhones will all set you back well over £700, and to get a device under the £500 mark you will be looking at an iPhone 7 (£449). This remains a good-looking and very capable device, but it came out back in 2016, so Android is generally a better bet in this price range.
Apple invented the tablet market when it released the first iPad in 2010, and has stayed the leader of the pack, keeping its nose ahead of Android options for eight years. And this year is no different, with the 2018 9.7″ 128GB iPad (£380) the best consumer tablet on the market. If you are looking for the best Android tablet then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (£480) is a fantastic device but for last year’s tech it is overpriced (and the S4 is even more expensive at £520)
The cost of large smart televisions has fallen rapidly over the last 12 months, with 4K TVs that cost over £1000 just 12 months ago now down to under £500. A television can be a perfect gift, and the size of the box will look great under the tree, but do remember that not everyone has the room for that 50″ panel – so it might be best to do some measuring first.
At this price point you should be looking for a 4K display with HDR10+, Freeview HD, and smart features with apps like Netflix and BBC iPlayer built in – and the best option today is the 40″ Samsung UE40NU7120 (£333). It’s an incredibly well specced television with thin bezels and most importantly offers a wonderfully detailed picture.
Multi-room WiFi speakers
Sonos is the biggest name in the world when it comes to connected speakers, but they have some very impressive competitors that we think offer better value for money with a slightly better sound. We continue to be huge fans of German speaker manufacturer Teufel/Raumfeld when it comes to multi-room speakers, and their latest models offer everything we want from such devices with Google Chromecast compatibility, so they can work in combination with a wealth of other connected TVs, speakers, and other devices, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for times when WiFi isn’t available.
The Teufel One M (£360) is our recommendation for a connected speaker under £500, as it is both technologically capable with Chromecast and Bluetooth compatibility, but also offers seriously impressive sound in a good-looking and relatively small package.
To find a laptop under £250 you will have to make some sacrifices in terms of materials and CPU, but you can still find something that works perfectly well for browsing the web, checking emails, and editing documents. The 14″ Lenovo 120S (£199) is a lightweight little laptop that offers the latest Pentium N4200, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB eMMC with a decent 720P display at a very good price.
However, for us this price point would make us consider looking to China for something all the more appealing, with Chuwi offering its 13.3″ MacBook Air look-a-like Chuwi Lapbook SE (£223) for less than our budget. It offers the same Intel N4200 CPU and 4GB of RAM as the Lenovo above, but adds a 1080P FHD display and much faster 128GB SSD (replaceable) and the lid is made from a much more styling metal. However, do be aware that when buying form China you are basically buying these devices without a warranty and you may be liable for import duty unless its shipped from an EU warehouse.
There is a huge amount of competition in the budget end of the smartphone market, and we would highly recommend choosing an Android device at this range rather than the ageing iPhone SE (£239), which is the only Apple model available under this price. Having just launched in the UK, Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi offers the best smartphones at this price, with the Mi A2 Lite (£199) the best of the options offering impressive performance, a great screen, good camera, and a pure Android experience as part of the Android ONE programme.
For under £250 you have a choice of a variety of Android tablets that offer great FHD+ displays and great performance, with our favourite being the ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 (£240), which looks remarkably like an iPad but runs Android 7.1 Nougat.
Multi-room WiFi speakers
Just as Teufel offers the best sub-£500 connected speakers, they also offer the best option under £250 with the Teufel One S (£179), which offers WiFi streaming, Chromecast and Bluetooth support, and strong sound in a compact bookshelf size, pushing out the Sonos One for the top prize.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to headphones – do you want tiny portable earphones you can fit in your pocket or would you prefer some over-ear cans that can block out the world – or both. For earphones, true-wireless Bluetooth earbuds have come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, with the Jabra Elite 65t (£150) our favourites for their combination of their light weight, comfy fit, and excellent battery life with 5 hours of battery on a single charge and 15 hours with the included charging case.
If you’re after some over-ear headphones, then we would recommend the Sony WH-H900N (£149) for its clean sound reproduction, 28 hour battery life, comfortable fit, and good quality active noise cancelling.
It is amazing that you can get a fully featured smartphone for under £100 today, but the Xiaomi RedMi 6A (£98) is available sim-free with its HD+ display, Android 8 (Oreo), and reasonable performance and camera. This phone won’t compete with phones costing £300 or more, but works great for most tasks and will even many Android games – for the price it is unbelievable value.
You aren’t going to find an iPad for under £100, but if you just want a larger screen to watch movies or TV shows on the move, then the Huawei MediaPad T3 10″ (£99) will do the job just fine. We’d like to see
Multi-room WiFi speakers
It’s tough to find a WiFi speakers under £100 as most at this price point rely on only Bluetooth for their wireless connectivity, but the Onkyo NCP-302 (£99) manages to just squeeze in under the limit. For the price you get an impressive array of connectivity options, including Chromecast and Bluetooth, and a decent stereo speaker.
RHA have been leading the pack for budget-friendly earphones for a while now and for the price, you really can’t beat the RHA MA390 wireless earbuds (£54). Whilst we would only recommend buying Bluetooth earbuds at this point as most phones are moving away from stereo jacks, the wired version of the same earbuds are a steal at £20.
You aren’t going to find WiFi/Chromecast support at this price point outside of the Google Home Mini (£49), but that does not mean you can’t find a great wireless speaker at the price that connects over Bluetooth. For us, the Anker Sound Core Boost 20 (£50) provides the best value for money at this price as not only do you get a good speaker that produces an impressive volume for the price, but the speaker also includes Anker’s famed battery technology so you can charge your phone at the same time – so a perfect choice for road trips.
You can find some great wireless earphones under £50, but for us the best are the SoundMAGIC E10BT-BK (£44) with their great build quality and excellent performance for the price. Or if you are happy with wires then the RHA MA390 (£20) are you best option, with superior audio quality but without the wireless connectivity.
Connectivity and Media Streamers
If you just want to update an older TV or hifi to become “smart” and web-connected, then you can do so for cheap with a small connected device. In our view, the best video streaming device to update your TV is a Roku Express (£25), which brings 1080P streaming of iPLayer, Netflix, and more to your older TV with a simple HDMI-connected device and remote. And if you are looking to make your hifi WiFi enabled, then the Google Chromecast Audio (£30) will make it multi-room enabled in seconds.
The Tribit XSound Go (£21) offers the best bang for you buck at this price point, with decent sound and a good compact package and 24 hours battery life.
For wireless earphones at this price we would go with the Anker SoundBuds Slim (£19) for their 7 hour battery life and water resistance and solid sound reproduction. Or if you are happy with wires then the RHA MA390 (£20) are you best option, with superior audio quality but without the wireless connectivity.
Possibly not the sexiest gift, but in terms of need power banks are hard to beat – they fit in your pocket and can give you a full extra days worth of juice out of your phone. We recommend the Anker PowerCore 5000 Portable Charger (£15) for its compact size – it’s about as big as a packet of mints – and its ability to give even the biggest phone batteries a full 100% charge.
Smartphones only come with one charger, and in reality we all want one at home and another at the office, so a second charger is a super useful gift. Anker is known for its battery and charging technology, and the Anker 30W 2-Port Compact Type C USB Charger (£20) is one of the best available offering 18W Power Delivery and 12W PowerIQ.
It can be hard to find gifts under £10 to fit in someone’s stocking, but fear not – there’s plenty of tech available at this price that everyone will find useful, such as an Anker 1.8m lightning cable for iPhones and iPads (£8.99) or the similar Anker 1.8m USB-C cable (£5.99) for just about anything else. Or a charger like the AUKEY 54 W 3-ports Quick Charge 2.0 USB wall charger (£10) or the Anker 24W PowerDrive 2 dual USB car charger (£7.99). Or maybe some storage like the SanDisk Ultra 32GB USB 3.0 Dual USB-C and USB-A (£10) or a MicroSD card to expand their phone or tablet like the Kingston 64GB MicroSD Canvas Select Class 10 UHS-I (£8)