12 perfect holiday gifts for smartphone lovers
Christmas is fast approaching and if you're still stuck for gift ideas for friends and family, then you might want to think about smartphone accessories and add-ons – chances are the people you're buying for have a phone, so we've picked out 12 ideal gifts that are sure to be appreciated.
1. Google Chromecast
You don't necessarily need a smart box set up underneath a television set to bring Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and everything else to the big screen – you just need a smartphone and a Chromecast. You can pick up the non-4K version for just $35 at the moment, with the Chromecast Ultra $19 extra, but whichever one you choose for a gift, the lucky recipient will be able to beam content from a whole host of phone apps over to their TV set.
2. Moment Tele Lens
Your smartphone may already have a decent camera, but clip on a lens like the Moment Tele Lens and you can take your mobile photography to the next level. With a 60 mm focal length it's useful for portraits, landscapes, sports, and more, reducing your reliance on digital zoom and getting you closer to the action. Moment's lenses work on a variety of flagship phones, as long as you buy the right case for the phone they need to work with.
3. OtterBox Statement Series Case for iPhone X
If someone you know has just splashed out on an iPhone X then they're no doubt keen to make sure no harm comes to their shiny new gadget, and this Otterbox case can help. It features a clear back, so the elegant curves of Apple's latest handset aren't completely obscured, and comes with the OtterBox Certified Drop+ Protection seal, which means it's passed 24 different drop tests lasting hundreds of hours in the OtterBox engineering labs.
4. Tech21 Evo Tactical Case for Samsung Galaxy S8
For friends and family using Android, the Tech21 Evo Tactical Case for the Galaxy S8 is a solid choice for protecting the phone from drops up to 10 feet or 3 meters. Despite the rugged protection, all the ports and sensors are still clearly accessible and work as normal, and the case is comfortable to hold in the hand too. Tech21 (and many other case makers) do cases to fit any iPhone or Android handset, so you should find something to suit.
5. Mophie PowerStation XL
Battery drain is something most smartphone owners have to battle against, but with the Mophie PowerStation XL your friend or loved one doesn't have to worry about running out of juice before the end of the day. It comes with two USB ports for charging multiple devices (any handset you've got a USB cable for will work with this), and thanks to the 10,000 mAh battery packed inside, you can recharge a smartphone several times over.
6. TechMatte MagGrip Car Mount
A car mount is a decent gift for anyone who owns a phone and drives, which is most of the people you're likely to know: It's useful, it's inexpensive, and it'll last all year. You've got a host of mounts to pick from, but this is one of the most popular and well-reviewed options out there – it fits on an air vent, so it doesn't block the view of the road, and works with just about any smartphone inside a case, thanks to a magnetic pad that you fit inside it.
7. TrackR Pixel
The TrackR Pixel is a very compact Bluetooth tag that you can attach to keys, or a wallet, or anything else that you don't want to lose - which for the purposes of this list would be a smartphone or a smartphone case. It doesn't have GPS, but it can report its last known position via Bluetooth, and it can work in reverse too: So if it's your phone that's gone missing around the house, tap the Pixel to make your phone ring, even in silent mode.
8. An app store gift
Perhaps not the most exciting present, but your smartphone-loving friend, family member, or colleague can use your generous gift to buy whatever they want from either Google Play or iTunes and the iOS App Store – movies, music, apps and games for their phone, and so on. As an added bonus, these gifts can be sent digitally over email, so you're really stuck on Christmas Eve for a suitable present, here's one that can be delivered instantly.
9. Sphero BB-8
With a new Star Wars film out every Christmas at the moment, the BB-8 replica from Sphero makes a winning gift for anyone who's a fan – the smartphone link is that the robot is controlled by an app. Given the price this is probably only a gift you're going to get for your nearest and dearest, but whoever you buy this for is guaranteed hours of fun as they pilot the droid across the floor, and play with some of the holographic special effects.
10. Samsung Gear VR
Give the gift of virtual reality this Christmas with the 2017 edition of the Samsung Gear VR, as long as the person you're buying for owns a Galaxy phone or Galaxy Note phone from the last couple of years. It's the perfect entry point for VR, as you just plug in your phone and go, and with more than 800 apps now available for the platform, there's plenty to explore. The latest version of the headset comes complete with a controller device too.
11. Google Pixel Buds
Alongside the Pixel 2 earlier this year, Google also unveiled the Google Pixel Buds, wireless headphones specifically designed to work with the company's own-brand smartphones. They pair quickly, they let you access Google Assistant and adjust the volume from your ears, and they can even translate between different languages, with the help of a phone app. The basic audio functionality will work on pretty much any Android or iOS phone.
The verdict seems to be that Apple's own AirPods are the best way to listen to music from an iOS device, as long as you don't mind a few strange looks on the subway. They don't come in the box with Apple gear, so if you've got a relative or a friend with an iPhone or an iPad, then they might appreciate you stumping up the cash for some AirPods for them. The earphones come with a compact carrying case that also doubles up as a charging dock.