If you’re looking to buy some Google-y phones and tablets and laptops and smartwatches for your loved ones this holiday season, look no further. We’ve had our hands on most Android phones, Android Wear smartwatches, and Chromebooks to come out over the last 12 months, and now it’s time to decide which are the best of the best. Read on…
Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!
Nexus 6P – from $499
If you want the pure Google experience on your phone, the Nexus 6P is the device you want to buy. Two Nexus devices launched this year, the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P, and the latter has been the one much better received. The 6P has a 5.7-inch QHD resolution AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor, 3 GB RAM. and a large 3,450 mAh battery inside for a full day’s use. The phone also has NFC and a fingerprint sensor by the name of Nexus Imprint, which can recognize fingerprints in less than 600ms. To round it off, the Nexus 6P has USB Type-C, which future-proofs the phone.
You can get the Nexus 6P from the Google Store for $499.
Moto X Pure Edition – from $400
If you’re familiar with last year’s Nexus 6, you’ll find that the Moto X Pure Edition is very similar. While the phone has a slightly smaller screen and an arguably higher-quality build, it similarly has a “pure” Android experience that is very lightly modified by Motorola. Moto X Pure Edition has a 5.7-inch Quad HD display and the Snapdragon 808 running at 1.8 GHz, 3 GB of RAM, and 4G LTE connectivity. The phone has a 21-megapixel main camera with 4K video capture, dual-tone flash, and a 5-megapixel front cam. One of the biggest upsides of the Moto X is that you can customize it yourself in the Moto Maker.
You can get the Moto X Pure Edition from Motorola’s site starting at $400.
iPad Air 2 – from $450
Yep, sorry about this one. But before you start screaming at me, hear me out. There just aren’t any good Android tablets on the market right now. Samsung has their share of Tabs, there’s the SHIELD tablet, and there’s the Nexus 9. But none of them are particularly great experiences, and all of them have too many downsides to beat the iPad. That’s not to say that they’re not worth gifting — if you’re going to gift an Android tablet, feel free. But if you want my recommendation for buying your Google-loving friend a tablet, I would say the iPad Air 2 fits the bill. Hey, Google publishes most of their apps on the App Store anyway, and in many cases they’re better than their Android counterparts.
You can get the iPad Air 2 from Amazon starting at $450 for the 16 GB model.
ANDROID WEAR SMARTWATCHES
Huawei Watch – from $350
My favorite watch — at least in the realm of Android Wear — is the Huawei Watch. The Moto 360 (2nd gen.) is a close second in my eyes, but I would definitely go with the Huawei Watch if money isn’t a factor. The device sports a look that’s classy and unique, and — sadly, for some — a price point to match. The watch doesn’t have the infamous “flat tire” of the Moto 360, and comes in many different tiers — some upwards of $800. The device has a 1.4-inch screen covered by sapphire crystal, powered by a 300 mAh battery, 1.2Ghz Snapdragon 400 processor, and 512 MB of RAM.
You can get the Huawei Watch from Amazon starting at $350.
ASUS ZenWatch 2 – $130
On the other hand, if you want to give the gift of Android Wear without the enormous price tag, you can go with the ASUS ZenWatch 2. While it may not have the dazzling circular display and high-quality build of other Android Wear watches, you’ll still get everything that Android Wear has to offer functionality-wise with the ZenWatch 2. Additionally, unlike older Android Wear watches, the ASUS ZenWatch 2 has built-in speaker hardware, which will be used when Android Wear 1.4 launches in the coming weeks. This watch may not be jewely by any means, but it gets the job done and sports a price tag that’s less than half of the Huawei Watch.
You can get the ASUS ZenWatch 2 from Amazon from $130.
Samsung Gear Live – from $80
The Samsung Gear Live is definitely an oldey, but it’s also a goody. If you’re on even more of a budget than the $150 ASUS ZenWatch 2, the Samsung Gear Live is arguably the best option. Just like the ASUS ZenWatch 2, it’s not the prettiest watch ever — but it will give you everything you need to get started with Android Wear.
You can get the Gear Live for $80 from eBay.
Dell Chromebook 13 – $429
I don’t have much experience with this year’s Chromebooks, but the Dell Chromebook 13 is the one I would recommend for any Chrome lover. Chromebooks have been controversial since they launched, with many cliaming that they just don’t “do” as much as a regular laptop. The average laptop user, though, will find that a Chromebook will delightfully fill their needs. The Dell Chromebook 13 is a lightweight, 13-inch laptop with an Intel® Celeron™ 3205U processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of flash storage.
You can grab the Dell Chromebook 13 from Dell’s website for $429.
ACCESSORIES AND STOCKING STUFFERS
Chromecast 2nd gen. – $35
I’m a big fan of the Chromecast — it has become one of the most used devices in my household, actually. And while it is no Apple TV or Nexus Player, the recently-released Chromecast 2nd gen. is one of the best stocking stuffers you can buy. The Chromecast allows you to tap a single button on your phone, tablet, or laptop, and stream many kinds of content straight to your TV. They’re super cheap at $35 and come in three colors (and they’re super small), so I can’t really think of any reason not to get one for… everyone you know.
You can grab the Chromecast 2nd gen. from the Google Store for $35.