So you want to get someone a present, but you’re a bit clueless, huh? Well if they happen to have an Android smartphone or tablet, you might be able to narrow that search down.
Android users span a wide range of people, but there are some gifts that just work well with an Android device. We’ve counted down the best Christmas apps for Android before, and even some gadget ideas as well, but now let’s take a look at the most up-to-date gift ideas in 2015 for the Android user in your life.
In the most basic sense, the Chromecast is a device that plugs into the back of your TV and allows you to send media to it from your phone or computer. You might not think you need this in your life, but once you start using it, you’ll wonder what you used to do without one.
We reviewed the Chromecast way back in 2013, but it recently got a pretty major update — at least in the physical looks department. Many of our previous articles on setting it up, making it into a media center, rooting it, and learning about its special tricks still apply though.
The new look is smaller, sleeker, and more colorful than the old drab black stick. It’s also easier to hook up to any TV given the longer cable that goes into the HDMI port.
My favorite uses for it have been playing YouTube videos (you just tap a button inside YouTube and it plays — so simple), playing music at parties with Google Play Music or Pandora, watching Netflix without hooking up an HDMI cable to my computer, and mirroring my screen to show photos or browse the Web.
While the Chromecast used to be available on Amazon, the retail giant recently banned both Chromecasts and Apple TVs from their online store in order to “avoid customer confusion” (and by that, they mean sell more Fire TVs). The Fire TV is actually a decent alternative to the Chromecast, but only if you’re willing to be wrapped in Amazon’s ecosystem rather than Google’s.
Nowadays, your best bet is getting a Chromecast straight from Google for $35 or heading to your local Best Buy or other electronics store.
Purchase: $35 from the Google Store
Google Play Gift Card ($10, $25 or $50)
Unsure of what to get someone, or don’t have a lot of time left? Google Play gift cards are available at most major retailers like Target, Best Buy, Walmart, or Sam’s Club. There’s a good chance that if you’re waiting in line somewhere, there are Google Play gift cards waiting there alongside iTunes gift cards.
I remember that iTunes giftcards used to be a default gift for buying music before the streaming revolution happened. Now, people want money to spend on apps. If they’re using an iPhone, an iTunes gift card is still a good idea, but the Android equivalent is the Google Play gift card.
You can grab them for $10, $25, or $50, which means this could be one of the less expensive options on this list.
Purchase: Find in store at participating retailers
External Batteries (around $35)
There are a lot of great options out there for external batteries (even some solar powered ones), but my favorite is the Satechi 10,000mAh battery because it has a decent battery size while maintaining a thin profile — and it isn’t too expensive at $35 on Amazon for the silver version.
It has two USB ports — one with the capacity to recharge a tablet — so you can keep both of your devices up and running. 10,000mAh could also charge your devices at least a few times over, given that the average Android phone has a battery somewhere between 2,000mAh and 3,000mAh. Its sleek design is pleasing to the eye, and it’s easily small enough to pocket on your way out of the door.
Purchase: $35 on Amazon
Games Controllers (from $17)
My favorite Android-compatible games controller is from MOGA, and it’s called the Hero Power. This controller has everything you could ask for — dual analog sticks, a D-pad, and shoulder buttons — while also managing to be relatively slim and compact. This is a controller you can stick in your backpack and whip out when you get bored.
It connects to your device via Bluetooth, but also includes a small cable that will charge your phone using the controller’s built-in 1,800mAh battery (which you’ll need, given how fast games drain battery).
MOGA also sells a Pro Power, but it’s much bulkier to include proper hand grips and it’s currently about twice the price. Unless you know that the person has huge hands and wouldn’t be able to use the smaller Hero, the basic model does everything you could need.
Both controllers can hold even the largest of phones out there (hello, Galaxy Note 5), and you could even use them with a tablet as long as you didn’t want to dock the tablet on the controller.
Portable Speakers (from $15)
Phone speakers are weak — that’s just an unfortunate reality of packing them into such small devices. The good news is that portable speakers aren’t too expensive, and can really make for some much-improved audio.
We’ve reviewed the Inateck MercuryBox portable speaker before, and we loved it. It’s small, relatively cheap at $42, has powerful sound, and it’s splashproof. We can happily recommend this one.
If that’s still a bit too fancy for you, though, you can pick up a small portable speaker for as low as $15 on Amazon — like the XBOOM mini portable speaker. It’s probably not the best quality, but it’ll get the job done, and as long as the person who’s receiving the gift isn’t a hardcore audiophile, they probably won’t care.
Google Cardboard (from around $10)
Google Cardboard is a set of specifications that anyone can use to make a cheap cardboard VR setup for their phone. As such, you can purchase many different styles of Google Cardboard or even build your own. That could be a very personalized and thoughtful gift!
If you still want to buy something, you can nab one on Amazon from Kollea for only $10. This isn’t a perfect VR solution, especially given the lack of serious input from a controller or anything, but it’s still a very cool concept and fun to play around with for a while.
Android Wear Smartwatch (from $150)
Android Wear is a version of Android built specifically for smartwatches, and as you might have been able to guess, it plays really well with other Android devices. You can listen to music, check messages, ask Google questions, and use Google Maps to navigate somewhere — there are so many great apps available for these things.
There are a ton of options out there when it comes to Android Wear smartwatches, but it really depends on how much you want to spend and what kind of smartwatch you’re looking for.
The Asus Zenwatch 2 is currently going for $150 at the Google Store, which is a fantastic deal for a very solid device, even if its square screen means you can tell right away that it’s a smartwatch.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to lay down some cash for a fancy watch, I’d recommend the LG G Watch Urbane. It looks like a real nice watch, not a digital toy, and you can snag the $350 device for only $240 at Amazon right now.
So it really depends, are you looking for a cheap device to entertain a casual Android enthusiast, or are you looking to get someone a serious device that they can wear to work?
NFC tags ($12)
NFC stands for near-field communication, and it basically allows you to tap your phone against something (like an NFC tag) and have it perform an action.
You can purchase packs of NFC tags that aren’t too expensive, and they’re pretty fun. People can get quite creative with their uses, but some examples including having an NFC tag on your nightstand that silences your phone, an NFC tag in your car that activates Car Mode, or having one near your front door that turns on/off WiFi.
Really, you could snag any NFC tags from your local Best Buy or other tech store, but you can also find them on Amazon pretty cheap if you have Prime.
Decent Headphones (from $25)
There are a lot of confusing terms out there associated with headphones, so it can be hard to know exactly what to search for. Luckily, we can simplify the search for you.
If the recipient of the gift isn’t a huge audiophile, you probably don’t need to shell out for the best headphones out there. Most high-end headphones would be wasted on us commoners, and most likely left on a bus at some point.
That’s why I’d recommend something a step above the $10 nearly-disposable headphones you can find at most places, and I’d say get the ActionPie $25 pair of in-ear headphones from Amazon, which has just phenomenal reviews. Of course, it has a built-in mic so that you can use it for phone calls, and it’s compatible with Android.
For the more serious audio-lover, this $100 pair of Sennheiser headphones should satisfy all their needs. These come with a two-year warranty in case something goes wrong. Be careful to buy the version for Android, though, and not the iOS version — they’re different!
MicroSD Storage (around $25)
Buying microSD cards can also be tricky — there are a lot of mistakes you need to avoid — but again, we’ve made the process easy for you.
First, make sure the person you’re getting a gift for has a device with a microSD card slot. Ask them what phone or tablet they have and Google it. Once that’s confirmed, I’d suggest getting a 64GB SanDisk microSD card from Amazon. It’s only $25, it’s from a reliable brand, it’s the highest speed of microSD card, and it’s guaranteed to work in any phone with a microSD card slot.
Some phones support the larger 128GB microSD cards, but not all of them, so you’re probably safest going with the 64GB. Besides, that’s plenty of space considering the base model of most phones comes with only 16GB. You’ll really be giving them a lot more space for movies, TV shows, and music.
Wireless Charger (from $13)
Wireless charging is awesome, but you need a device that supports it. Again, check what device the person you’re giving a gift to has and verify that it supports wireless charging. Specifically, verify that it supports Qi wireless charging (though few others use Powermat, the alternative). If you want, you can even read up on everything you need to know about wireless charging.
Once you’re sure they have a Qi-compatible device, you’re pretty much good to go with any Qi charger. You can find them for as cheap as $13 on Amazon, and even that cheap one from JETech has solid reviews.
Purchase: JETech Wireless Charger ($13) on Amazon
Which Will You Be Getting?
As an avid Android user myself, I’d be super happy with any of these gifts — but I’m curious what you’ll be getting the Android user in your life.
Will you be picking any of these up for the holiday season? Let us know down in the comments!