Oh the weather outside is hot and humid, so that means Christmas is approaching, with that in mind we’ve taken a look at what we’d all like to see under our Christmas tree this year. We’ve been at pains to take care of all ends of the market, from your lowly $10 max Kris Kringle gift, right up to the I just won Lotto and want to spoil you level.
Here at Ausdroid we do this for love, but we’d like to do it for money too. For our Christmas present we’d just like your support which you can show through our Patreon campaign we’re running to hopefully give you better and more content. Head over and support us, you can show us some love from as little as $1 per month – or as much as $100 per month, the choice is yours, and the gratitude, ours.
But, if you’re after some gift ideas for the Android fan in your life, here’s our picks for 2015:
Android’s bread and butter is phones, it’s where most people use it and it’s a personal choice, so if you’re planning to buy someone a phone try to do a bit of surreptitious investigation as to their preferences. However, if you really need a pointer in the right direction, here’s our tips for 2015’s best offerings.
Huawei Nexus 6P
Crafted from aeronautical-grade anodised aluminium, the new Nexus sports the curves and contours of a machine built for turning heads. Diamond chamfers encircle its edges, and the new visor on the back of the device accents the low-light-loving, 12.3 MP, sapphire- crystal lens camera – a camera that finally proved that Google was serious about mobile photography.
There’s plenty of hardware under the hood as well, with a Snapdragon 810 v2 SoC and 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM, you’re not going to be lacking for speed. The phone comes with a choice of storage sizes ranging from 32GB up to a monstrous 128GB a treat for the digital hoarder in all of us – though with beautiful 12MP photos and 4K video available to capture you could fill all the sizes quite quickly.
The Huawei Nexus 6P has topped both our internal and reader surveys as the best phone this year and with the design and build quality that make up this phones hardware, plus the bonus of the Nexus built software which includes the best of everything Google, as well as expedited security and software updates the Nexus 6P is hard to go past and it’s at a price that’s not too high.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has an eye-catching design, high-end hardware and takes great outdoor photos. Using the stylus has never felt better, and battery life is terrific. Samsung chose to use 4GB of RAM in the Galaxy Note 5 and the speed increase and usability is stunning making the Galaxy Note 5 a truly usable handset.
Samsung has had some detractors this year with their decision to not include a removable battery of microSD card slot, but the phone is still one of our favourites from this year and it’s a worthy phone in the Note line. If your gift recipient has ever been a Note or phablet sized phone fan and really has made use of the stylus then the Note 5 is a great handset to look at.
2015’s new LG G4 broke new ground for smartphones, with features ranging from its stunning aesthetics and brilliant screen to its amazing 16MP camera with f/1.8 aperture lens and brand new manual mode. The G4 brings camera features previously available on professional cameras to a smartphone, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Whilst the G4’s auto modes allow users to take great photos easily, it’s the G4’s Manual Mode that will really get creatives and photographers excited. The G4’s Manual Mode allows you to adjust settings like shutter speed, ISO settings and white balance to take the perfect picture in light conditions that other camera phones can struggle with.
Besides the camera features, LG’s G4 is an exercise in brilliant design mixed with brilliant software. Not only does the phone look and feel beautiful, but it works amazingly well, and it’s the first non-Nexus phone to see an update to Marshmallow too.
This, and other reasons, are why LG’s G4 is Chris’ Phone of 2015.
Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3
The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is perhaps Dan’s favourite phone of the year in this category. Alcatel has designed the absolute hell out of the Idol 3, it feels great in the hand and Alcatel has managed to pack a 5.5″ display into a handset that feels surprisingly compact in the hand.
With an efficient and yet powerful Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage with microSD Card slot, the Idol 3 ticks most of the boxes when it comes to specs. Alcatel has also included a capable 13MP camera on the rear with an LED flash and an 8MP camera on the front, even better the pictures taken on the phone are very decent.
Alcatel has a nifty trick included with the phone, you can use it any which way you like, with the phone including microphones on either end of the phone.
The Alcatel Idol 3 is only available through mobile and home broadband provider Dodo, where you’ll have to order it from their website or their phone sales staff – the phone costs $379 with a $9.90 delivery fee – if someone on your Christmas list would like this one, head over and grab one soon.
Motorola Moto G Gen 3
We will always make room for a Motorola handset on our list, and with their great design and near stock Android interface, the Motorola Moto G Gen 3 is one of the better buys you’ll find this year.
Under the 5″ HD-resolution screen you’ll find a Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage with a microSD card slot to expand storage. The camera has been taken up a level on the Moto G this year with a 13MP rear camera and 5MP camera on the front. The casing is also waterproof with an IPX7 rating giving the phone a half hour life after being immersed in water.
Though late to the party with their stock levels this year, the Moto G Gen 3 is a capable phone as Chris found when he reviewed the phone earlier this year. You can pick one up for around $369 from The Good Guys and a variety of other retailers if your giftee has been good this year.
A tablet is less a personal gift than a phone and generally they’re pretty well received; the major sticking point for people is between large and small screened devices, so a little background checking might be in order.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″
As a matter of course, Samsung has become the default choice for Android tablets, at least those that are built well and have a decent list of specs under the hood. The latest in the higher end of the Samsung tablet range is the Galaxy Tab S2 series which come with a beautiful high resolution screen. The Tab S2 series comes in both 8″ and 9.7″ sizes, but so far we’ve only taken a look at the larger model, and Duncan was fairly impressed.
The Galaxy Tab S2 has one of the best resolution (2048 x 1536, 264 ppi) screens on the market, though it has been changed to a 4:3 aspect ratio since the original Tab S was first released. Samsung has used their own processor under the hood to excellent effect and the tablet performs well with media playback and web surfing – essentially all the media consumption duties a tablet excels at.
Samsung has been pretty good at releasing software updates for their tablets, so a Marshmallow update is likely on the way for the Galaxy Tab S2 in the new year.
Priced around $599 for a Wi-Fi model or $749 for the LTE capable model, these aren’t cheap but they are good. If you’re really wanting the best for under the tree, this tablet should be high on you list.
Huawei MediaPad M2
The smaller screen tablet market is still going strong, that form factor has slowly migrated from 7″ to 8″ as phones got larger and people looked to move into a larger screen device for their media playback. Huawei has seen the trend and released their MediaPad M2, an 8″ tablet with a comfortable design and an all metal body.
With their in-house developed Kirin processor powering the tablet, Phil found the tablet to have great battery life, good design and handles itself admirably under load playing games or using apps. The screen is beautiful, too.
The MediaPad M2 is available through Vodafone on a plan, although you can always hit the internet to get one imported if you want.
We’re big fans of Chrome OS here at Ausdroid; a large quantity of our content has been written on a Chromebox or Chromebooks and a new category of Chrome OS devices we’ve seen just introduced is the Asus Chromebit.
At around $150 the Chromebit isn’t the highest end device, but the simplicity of the system which sees you simply plug the HDMI stick into a monitor that supports it and then add a keyboard and mouse for essentially a full desktop experience. The Chromebit is only seemingly available in Australia in Black at the moment, but if you’re really into the Tangerine option they’ve advertised in press shots, perhaps Amazon can help you.
The Chromebit has only just started hitting stores, so if you’re looking you’re best off hitting up Staticice to find the nearest retailer.
Android Wear is about the best choice in Smartwatches these days. Pebble has their fans, Samsung is doing interesting things with their Gear S2 and if Apple doesn’t care to make the Apple Watch Android compatible, we’re going with Android Wear as our pick.
Though there’s been several Android Wear watches released this year it’s the Huawei Watch we’ve fallen in love with. The design, great specs including a high resolution display placed beneath a scratch resistant sapphire crystal display, and of course the latest in Android Wear all add up to the Huawei Watch being our pick as the best smartwatch released this year. Chris agreed — calling it the best Android Wear watch released this year — and it’s a choice backed up by the readers in our 2015 poll.
The Huawei Watch isn’t exactly cheap, with prices starting at $549 for a stainless steel model with a leather band, but it’s a gorgeous looking piece that Huawei worked on with actual watch designers (as opposed to software nerds locked in a room). If you or your family/friends are after a premium watch then the Huawei Watch is for you. Harvey Norman and JB Hifi are both stocking the watch so check it out in their stores.
BenQ Trevolo Portable Bluetooth Speakers
The Trevolo bluetooth speakers from BenQ use electrostatic technology in a world-first for portable speakers to produce loud sound from super thin speaker wings, making them a great fit for shelves everywhere.
The speakers output great quality sound in a small size, and their sleek modern design means they’ll look at home anywhere (including a TARDIS), and the included battery should keep you going for a while – it’s rated for 12 hours of use.
Bose SoundTouch 10
Whereas Sonos once had the monopoly on best wireless speakers, Bose — which has amazing audio creds already — jumped renewed into the wireless speaker market this year with its new SoundTouch line, and boy are they wicked good.
Supporting thousands of internet radio stations, Bluetooth casting for legacy devices, and synchronised playback over WiFi if you have more than one, the SoundTouch 10 really is a rocking little speaker. Add a Chromecast Audio to the back for $40 or so, and its Chromecast compatible too.
Chris loves his — and I mean, unhealthily loves — and you would too. Starting at $299, they’re not too cheap, but the price is worth the reward — amazing audio quality that you can control from your phone, computer, supplied remote, or just by the buttons on the unit itself.
Stockists include JB HiFi and Bose’ online store.
DJI Phantom 3
DJI are a Chinese company, and they’re doing great things in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) space. Their Phantom 3 line, released earlier this year, is undoubtedly one of the best drone lines on the market,
The Phantom 3 adds built in Lightbridge downlink, which gives you a maximum control range of 2 kilometres (with video downlink over that same distance), as well as visual positioning for indoor use or environments where GPS may be unreliable. On top of this, the Phantom 3 comes with everything you need in one box (except for a smartphone or tablet for video downlink). The Phantom 3 is compatible with most Android handsets, but be careful to check this out before throwing down the cash.
There are three models of the Phantom 3:
- Professional: features 4K video recording and a 100W charger, from $2,199 ea
- Advanced: features 1080p video recording and a 57W charger, from $1,699 ea.
- Standard: release in August 2015, it is cheaper and features 2.7k video recording starting at just $1,199.
We recommend purchasing from CamZilla in Sydney’s northern suburbs (they’ve looked after our needs for spares, accessories etc), but they can be found in other retailers such as camera stores and hobby stores too.
Eachine H8 Mini RC Quadcopter
These drones we sell via the Ausdroid Shop, and they feature a 6-axis gyro and 4 channel control to ensure stable flight and ease of use. Features include:
- Remarkable design with durable, lightweight frame.
- Easy to use. The perfect entry level drone.
- Headless Mode means there’s no need to adjust the position of aircraft before taking off.
- One key automatic return functionality can call the quadcopter back home.
- 4 Channel navigation ascends / descends, fly forward / backward, left / right sideward.
- 360 degrees roll over with flip rotation.
- Frequency correction and aircraft calibration with sensitivity modes.
- Easy to control 6-axis gyro offers better stability in flight.
- 3D tumbling in four directions with LED lights for flight at night.
- Charges from the USB port on a wall charger or laptop/computer.
- Rechargeable battery included with protection.
- Ideal for drone enthusiasts and makes for a great gift.
We’ve got these on special at the moment for just $34.95 ea on the Ausdroid Shop. Shop early to receive them in time for Christmas.
Parrot’s range of Minidrones are ideal gifts for anyone with a tech focus this year. Each drone connects to your phone either by Bluetooth or Wi-fi, and you can use the Free Flight app to control it.
There’s a few different types of Minidrones to choose from – there’s Airborne Night and Cargo (that can even carry small items around with it), Jumping Night and Jumping Racer and even a Hydrofoil ready to run across water (or perhaps just your pool).
Minidrones range from $200 to $289 each, depending on the model.
- There’s one Cardboard headset this year we recommend and that’s the Mattel Viewmaster. At $50 the headset isn’t cheap and at $20 a pop for each of the three software experiences you’ll be paying a pretty penny for this stocking stuffer, but guaranteed it will keep everyone entertained at your Christmas lunch. Find them in places like Toys R Us, Big W, Kmart, and other reputable retailers.
- Google IO 2015 Cardboard – if you’re after the VR experience, but the Mattel Viewmaster is a bit too expensive for what you’ll use it for, then consider the standard Cardboard; we’ve got the special ones released this year at Google I/O 2015 (which, in our view, are superior to the normal Cardboard). Bear in mind, these are made from cardboard (as the name implies) so they might not last forever … but they are GREAT fun and for just $24.95 on the Ausdroid Shop, they’re super affordable too.
- If storage is your problem and with a raft of phones coming out this year without a microSD card slot, the Sandisk Connect Wireless Stick is a great option with the USB drive able to connect to your device through Wi-Fi and an app on your phone. With storage sizes ranging from 16GB for $49.95 up to 128GB for $179.95, this could be a perfect way to stuff a stocking.
- Chromecast – This is the third year in a row that we’ve had the Chromecast in our Christmas list, but this year we’re sort of hesitant. The Chromecast has now been superceded by the Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Audio, so we’re going to recommend you get one of those from overseas and shipped to you. B&H Photo Video has them in stock and can get them to your door.The Chromecast 2 can do all the things the original can, but with a faster processor, access to 5GHz Wifi and it comes in Coral or Yellow as well as black. Chromecast Audio is just the thing for turning that old disused speaker into something useful for streaming music or podcasts on.
- Google Play Gift Cards – Available in $20, $30 or $50 denominations, Google Play Gift Cards will let whoever you give these to, access movies, music, apps, books and more. You can now even use them to pay for a subscription so they’re incredibly versatile and make an excellent filler or last minute present.
- Again this year we point you at the mainstay of Android Novelty items that is Dead Zebra. Artist Andrew Bell has kept the hearts of Android Fans aflutter since releasing his original Andorid Minis. The shop is filled with great Android themed gifts, but the shipping for Dead Zebra may take a while so we recommend checking out Popcultcha in Melbourne to get you an Android figure in time for Christmas
- How about a ceramic Android shaped planter for your desk? These ceramic Androids are available in a range of colours, but beware these ship from AliExpress so you may have to wait a while for shipping if you choose the free option.
We’re always hoping to get some good gift ideas in the comments as well, if you’ve got some ideas for Google or Android fans then please do sound of in the comments.