[toc] As we move head-first into December 2017, it’s time to think about what might make good Christmas gifts for you, your family and friends. If you’re minded to buy a smartphone for yourself or for your kids (or anyone else) here’s some of the best you can get at the moment:
For the budget conscious
Sure, it may not run Android, but Nokia’s 3310 3G can’t be beat for those who miss the feature-phone days gone by. For $89, it’s ridiculously cheap, and works on all major Australian carriers, allowing users to make calls, exchange SMS, and even play Nokia’s Snake. Of course, it doesn’t really let you do much more than this, but as a very affordable phone, it may make a great option for your child’s first mobile, or one to keep in the glovebox in case of emergencies. Read our review here.
The Nokia 3 does run Android, and is designed to bring a stylish device at an affordable price. It has a 5-inch 720p display with Gorilla Glass inside a polycarbonate body with an aluminium frame. The front and rear cameras are 8MP run by a Mediatek MTK 6737, quad-core 1.3Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM. there is just 16GB of on-board storage but that can be expanded with the microSD slot. The battery is no slouch either for such an affordable device clocking in at 2650mAh. Available in Silver White, Matte Black, Tempered Blue, Copper White, it’s on sale at JB HiFi and Harvey Norman for $249.
Alcatel’s A3 XL is another budget-price smartphone pitched as the perfect phone to surprise your child or grandparents with this Christmas. Available for $179 on Vodafone pre-paid, the 6-inch screen, user-friendly secure finger-print reader and 4G connectivity are put together in a very affordable package. With an 8-megapixel rear camera and creative options for selfies, it’s bound to do well.
If you want the best, but not to spend the most, try the mid-range
If you want to step it up a notch, consider these mid-range offerings with great features and affordable pricing from the likes of ZTE, Sony, Nokia and Motorola.
First up is ZTE’s Axon 7, and though it’s no longer being made, you can grab them at Officeworks for just $355. It’s about twelve months old now, but you need to consider what’s inside. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor was the top-of-the-line mid-2016, and is still considered very capable. Paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, the ZTE Axon 7 is very affordable, and very capable. It’s a steal at this price, and would make a great gift for your teenager. Scott re-reviewed the Axon 7 a few months ago (with the Android 7 Nougat update) after Duncan initially viewed it earlier in the year. They both agree — it’s a great option.
Sony’s Xperia XA1 is priced at a reasonable $399, and is aimed towards busy parents, street photographers and those who want the good without breaking the bank. Available in gold, white, black and pink from Sony Mobile online and JB HiFi, you get a 23MP camera with Sony’s Exmor image processor, wide-angle 23mm selfie lens, a beautiful 5-inch display and fast auto-focus for photos in rapidly changing environments.
If you’re after something Sony but just a bit larger, the Xperia XA1 Ultra might be more your style. Priced from $63.36 a month on Vodafone, it builds on the XA1 with a 6-inch display which is perfect for movie buffs and gamers alike. 4GB RAM and a powerful processor combine to offer the best of both worlds.
Nokia has the Nokia 5 and 6 at this price point, at $329 and $399 respectively, both available from JB HiFi and Harvey Norman. The Nokia 6 has a 5.5in, 1080P LCD display protected by Gorilla Glass. Including 4GB of RAM, Nokia are relying on their “purest form of Android” to keep it running smoothly — which will be Android 7.0 Nougat. There is 64GB of on-board storage with a microSD slot to expand the memory. The rear camera is a 16MP shooter and the front 8MP. You can read our review here.
The Nokia 5 is slightly smaller, though like the Nokia 6, the Nokia 5 is also crafted out of a single piece of aluminium with the antenna located at the top and bottom of the device, and not the back like so many other aluminium phones. The 5.2in HD display is protected with Gorilla Glass once again and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430. It’s design brings attention to detail in a robust package. Available in four colours — Matte Black, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper. You can read Alex’s thoughts on the Nokia 5 too.
Last but not least, Motorola are still making great phones, and the Moto X4 range is no exception. Available from JB HiFi for $599 at the moment, the Moto X4 features IP68 water resistance so even if you drop it in the pool, it should be okay. With dual rear cameras, precision design, 64GB of built-in storage and Android 7.1, the Moto X4 tops out our mid-range suggestions in terms of features and value for money. We’ve not reviewed it, but the time we’ve spent with it suggests it’ll do well.
If money is no object — the flagship range
Nokia’s flagship device is the perfect companion for the aspiring Instagrammer or streamer. Unlock the power of the ‘Bothie’ with the Nokia 8, which simultaneously harnesses both the front and rear cameras in a split screen visual for both photos and videos. Livestream in real-time to social feeds such as Facebook and YouTube.
The Nokia 8 features a market-leading Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor (the same as Google’s Pixel 2 range), and includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. At just $899, it’s a good few hundred dollars cheaper than the competition, and it looks the part too. This is a flagship at an affordable price, available at JB HiFi and Harvey Norman.
We couldn’t publish a gift guide without including Huawei’s 2017 Mate 10, one of the best phone ranges we’ve seen. Available in both the standard and Pro configuration, the Mate 10 is an Ausdroid favourite, combining powerful features with competitive pricing. Like the Nokia 8, the Mate 10 is $899, also has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. It also has a giant battery, dual Leica rear cameras with astounding f/1.6 lenses, a 5.9-inch display, all pulled together in a great in-hand feel. Read Duncan’s review, in which he called it probably the best value flagship phone available in Australia.
On the other hand, the Mate 10 Pro is the next level. At $1,099 through Optus, or outright through Mobileciti, it features a class-leading dual-lens camera engineered by Leica, a 6-inch 1080p AMOLED display, a whopping 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, and it’s every bit as fast as its more expensive competition. The physical design is equally stunning, and I have little doubt it’s Scott’s pick for phone of the year. It’s that good.
No gift guide would be complete without acknowledging Samsung’s great range of phones this year. While they’ve released a good number, the ones capturing attention are the Galaxy S8 range which starts at $988 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, and the Galaxy Note8 which starts at $1349. Dan called the Note 8 one of the best handsets you can buy, albeit at a fairly steep price. With a huge 6GB RAM, great design, incredible camera, giant battery and sheer in-hand-appeal that will leave others staring… the Note 8 is the ultimate indulgence for yourself or someone close.
Its smaller brother, the Galaxy S8, could be the perfect phone released this year, combining a fairly competitive Christmas price with a great camera, excellent in-hand feel and powerful inclusions. I stand by my statement that it will probably be one of the best selling phones of 2017, and for good reason.
Last, but by no means least, is Google’s Pixel 2 range. A late entrant, only announced in October 2017, the Pixel 2 range has made a big splash. In many respects, the Pixel 2 range could be described as “me too”, featuring the same configuration of hardware as many other flagship phones this year. It has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM and (entry-level) 64GB storage, though a 128GB option is available. This means there’s a total of four Pixel 2 options – the standard Pixel 2 and larger Pixel 2 XL, and 64GB and 128GB storage options, starting from $1,079 and topping out at $1,549.
The Pixel 2 range is not cheap; having been only recently announced, there’s not been any real price drop yet, unlike most other phones listed here. However, for the price you get a few guarantees that you simply won’t get elsewhere. Android 8.0 out of the box, and guaranteed to get the latest Android as soon as it’s released for a couple of years. On top of this, there’s things for everyone, including a class-leading camera powered by artificial intelligence, all-day battery life that actually lasts all day, all in a super-slim, convenient package. It’s available from the Google Store, from JB HiFi and from Telstra stores.