Holiday Gift Guide 2020: The Best Phones, Laptops, Earbuds, Wearables for the Holidays!
Christmas time is always a cause for celebration, but perhaps even more so in 2020 because it celebrates the end of what has been a tougher-than-usual year. While the pandemic shut down many industries, the consumer tech space didn’t miss a beat, with one excellent product coming after the other. So no matter your budget or what your friends or family need, there should be something on this list that would make the perfect gift.
Navigate this guide to the best Christmas gifts in 2020:
Huawei Watch Fit
Huawei’s smartphones have always had epic battery life, so it makes sense that its wearables do too. The Huawei Watch Fit can go 10 days on a single charge, which makes the roughly 24-hour battery life of the Apple Watch, three-day battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, or the six-day endurance of the Fitbit Sense look lightweight in comparison.
The Fitbit Sense is the fitness brand’s most ambitious smartwatch to date, as it not only keeps track of your exercises and heart rate, but also your mental stress level thanks to a new electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, which detects small electrical charges on our skin that are caused by our nervous system.
The Sense is the first consumer wearable in the world to use this sensor, which will likely make its way to other smartwatches down the line as mental health awareness is becoming important. The Sense also supports Google Assistant along with Amazon’s Alexa, giving users more options for digital assistant than rival smartwatches.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
From the gorgeous OLED display to the rotatable bezel that makes cycling through the UI so satisfying, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is one of the better looking and feature-packed wearables released in 2020.
Samsung’s app and watch face selection has grown in recent years, and most of them are entirely customizable. Samsung’s fitness tracking is also accurate, allowing the user to keep track of crucial health stats and even conduct an electrocardiogram (ECG).
One of the best parts about using the Galaxy Watch 3 is that it is better at responding to notifications than most WearOS devices or Fitbit, as Samsung’s TizenOS allows you to respond via voice, typing on a mini on-screen keyboard, or with T9, the old-school predictive text technology used by phones before they went “smart.”
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
If the person you’re gifting likes their wearable small and sleek, Xiaomi’s very affordable Mi Band 5 is a great option. It weighs just 12g and measures 12.4mm at its thickest point, but it’s not lacking in features. The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 can still track your steps, stairs climbed, heart rate, and specific exercises like cycling, yoga, and swimming. Battery life is pretty good too — a single charge can get you a week’s use, as we confirmed in our review of the Mi Band 5.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro
Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro are some of the best reviewed wireless earbuds for good reason. It’s got a relatively clean design with a shorter stem than most other earbuds on the market, and it has arguably the best transparency mode and active noise cancellation we’ve ever tested from earbuds. The latter in particular is impressive — Huawei developed this tech called “dynamic noise cancellation” that allows the earbuds to analyze the user’s surroundings and adjust the level of noise cancellation accordingly.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live may look like kidney beans, but don’t let the odd shape fool you — these are some of the most comfortable wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested, thanks mostly to its design that’s meant to sit gently on the nub of your ear instead of sticking into your ear canal. This means there isn’t much noise cancellation to be had here, but if you’re not in a too noisy environment, the Buds Live sound wonderful, with solid bass, clear mids, and crisp highs. Also considering that the whole wireless earbud industry has gone with the elongated stem look, the Galaxy Buds gets points for originality.
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple’s wireless earbuds are ubiquitous for good reason — they work and sound great and are one of the very rare Apple products that aren’t locked into the iOS eco-system. Sure, you lose some features when pairing the AirPods Pro with an Android device or a Windows laptop, but most of the core features still work, including the awesome sound quality and transparency mode.
Yes, we know the AirPods Pro are no longer the alpha dog in Apple’s AirPods line. But the AirPods Max, however good they are, have a sky high price tag. We think the more compact AirPods Pro are a better value.
Wireless earbuds under $100 usually don’t have great active noise cancellation, and so Mobvoi’s TicPods ANC are a pleasant surprise because they offer solid ANC — not quite as good as the earbuds listed above, but still more than good enough to drown out the unnecessary noise of modern city life. What’s more, these earbuds even have a functional transparency mode that is ideal for joggers and cyclists.
Its design is a bit bulky compared to the more sleek earbuds on this list, but then again, the TicPods ANC are less than half the price.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro
Huawei’s latest flagship has one of the most premium and unique designs of the year; and it’s the only Android phone running on a 5nm SoC right now — that powerful Kirin 9000 chip. Elsewhere, it’s got arguably the best camera system of all smartphones this year, with a 50MP main camera that can practically see in the dark, 20MP ultra-wide “Cine Lens” that can take in more into the frame without losing details; and a Periscope zoom lens that can produce crisp photos up to 50x. The Mate 40 Pro is also one of the longest lasting phones with a well-optimized battery that can go all day and night.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is not Samsung’s most powerful or cutting-edge phone of 2020 — but it is by far the best value. By bringing over most of what made Samsung’s 2020 flagships great — that 120Hz OLED display with Snapdragon 865 and One UI — while trimming some of the nice-but-not-essential flourishes like a Periscope camera, the Galaxy S20 FE manages to meet a price point that doesn’t leave most wallets hurting.
While no longer the value king they once were, OnePlus’ phones have developed a level of polish that can rival the big boys. The company’s latest, the OnePlus 8T, is an excellent smartphone with the smoothest and fastest software in smartphones this year. And the OnePlus 8T’s 120Hz OLED panel can give Samsung’s displays a run for its money.
POCO X3 NFC
If you live in the US, this one will require importing, but it’s worth it if you want a near flagship level phone at almost budget phone prices. The POCO X3 NFC offers a 120Hz display — albeit an LCD instead of OLED — a premium glass and metal construction, and a huge 5,000 mAh battery, all for less than half of the price of other phones on this list.
The MIUI Android skin that runs here is surprisingly clean and optimized for even western audiences. Even factoring in the marked up price of importing, this is still easily the best value on this entire list.
Huawei MateBook D 14 R5
At just 15.4mm thick and weighing just three pounds, the Huawei MateBook D 14 is a sleek yet powerful laptop thanks to its premium construction and Ryzen’s 5 3500U chip. While not as premium as Huawei’s flagship MateBook X series, this one still has that one-touch fingerprint/power button that allows seamless login from cold boot, and a near bezel-less screen with a 1080p resolution.
If you use a Huawei smartphone, the MateBook D 14 can seamlessly connect to your handset so you can access your phone’s apps directly on the laptop’s screen.
Huawei's Ryzen-powered ultrabook has a 14-inch 1080p screen wrapped by minimal bezels and a generous sized keyboard with great travel. While not as premium as Huawei's pricier MateBook X series, the MateBook D 14 is an excellent entry in the mid-tier ultrabook space.
Apple MacBook Air (M1)
Apple’s laptops and computers have typically been relatively overpriced compared to alternative offerings in the PC space. But with the company’s first-ever laptop running its own silicon, the script has been flipped. The MacBook Air running on Apple’s M1 chip, which starts at $999, offers processing power that can easily keep up with Intel-powered laptops that cost two or three times more.
This is true in both benchmark numbers and real-world performance. The caveat is that, because the M1 chip is built on ARM’s architecture and resembles a smartphone/tablet SoC more than a traditional Intel processor, apps have to be adapted for Apple’s silicon to run at full potential. Right now, not all apps do — but this is Apple we are talking about, so it’s just a matter of time.
Dell XPS 13 7390
Dell’s 2-in-1 convertible laptop has always had that sleek, versatile design, but it didn’t always have the guts. The first model that launched a few years ago ran on Intel’s underwhelming Y-series processors, but this late 2019 update brings Intel’s 10th-gen 10nm U-series chips. And this simple internal upgrade alone makes the Dell XPS 13 7490 one of the best convertible machines on the market.
If you’re artistic or a note-taker, the Dell XPS 13 7390 also supports a stylus that adds further use cases for this laptop.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
If you want a machine that can handle both, work and play, you can look no further than the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14. From the 120Hz refresh rate to that NVIDA RTX 2060 Super graphic card to that retro LED screen on the lid (because you know, someone apparently set the rule that gaming laptops and phones must have light strips), this is a beast of a gaming laptop. And that AMD Ryzen 9-4900HS processor is enough for creative or work tasks too.
Despite all that power, the battery life of the Zephyrus G14 is surprisingly good, getting 11 hours in productivity use cases, and heavy gaming getting you close to five hours. The thermal management system is intelligent too, turning on the fan at various levels and not getting too loud unless it needs to.
That’s all for our recommendations. There are options in every category, and coverage across different price points, so there should be something to gift to every techie in here. A piece of general advice we would give is to understand the person’s need — if they are a student, they might benefit a lot from a new laptop, while someone frequently commuting might do well with some good earphones, and someone looking to stay fit and healthy would need a good wearable to track their exercises. And if you can’t figure it out, a new phone works out for everyone.