The TechRadar editorial team spends all year testing and writing about gadgets so that you, the consumer, know about the best tech to buy. And there's no more important time for us than during the festive season. It's when we see our tech buying advice put to the use most.
To answer that question 'what's the best tech?', we put together this Holiday Gift Guide to properly spotlight the best gifts that you should consider purchasing. This includes all of the usual categories we cover: laptops, phones, home theater, PC components, wearables, and game consoles (including individual video games).
Back by popular demand is the Cool Stuff category aka 'The Big Gift' from newer devices: drones, VR, and smart home devices. Rest assured, you can't go wrong with these great presents.
Join us as we celebrate our best picks for a tech-savvy festive season.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
Rarely, a laptop arrives that completely blows everything out of the water. This year, that’s the Huawei MateBook Pro X. It doesn’t do anything altogether new, but it perfects elements from competitors to produce one of the best laptops ever. It’s a perfect gift for anyone that needs a laptop this season.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch
For the Apple fan that wanted a MacBook Pro, but wanted to wait until it was more up to date, this is their year. Packed with 8th-generation Intel Core processors, speedy SSDs and an improved Butterfly keyboard, the 2018 13-inch Macbook Pro is the best MacBook yet.
Acer Predator Helios 500
Packing in an Intel Core i9 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, the Acer Predator Helios 500 is undoubtedly a powerhouse of a gaming laptop that should play many of the recent games at respectably high frame rates. Put together with a great keyboard and a high-res 4K display, the Helios 500 is an excellent choice if you are looking for a new gaming machine. However, it’s heavy build (4kgs+) might not be exactly portable.
Microsoft Surface Go
The Microsoft Surface line of tablets has long been the pinnacle of what Windows tablets should be, but we always wanted a cheaper model. Our prayers were answered with the Surface Go. It’s an affordable Windows tablet that’ll be the perfect gift for any students on your list.
iPad Pro 11
Apple released two new iPad Pros this year, but the new iPad Pro 11 hits the sweet spot. It’s more affordable, more portable, but equally as powerful as its bigger sibling. With support for keyboard covers and Apple Pencil, the new iPad Pro 11 is an excellent creative tool and potential on-the-go laptop alternative.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro was the most innovative phone this year bringing new features such as wireless reverse charging to mobile phones. It was also the first Android phone with a fast 7nm processor, an extremely versatile three camera setup that can take phenomenal photos and a battery that charges quickly and lasts all day.
The Honor 8X proves that great phones don’t need to be priced on the higher side. At just AED 999, the Honor 8X checks all the right boxes required from a modern smartphone such as a great design, a good display and fast performance. The camera isn’t too bad either.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 takes everything to the max. It has a massive, Super AMOLED screen, offering one of the best smartphone displays around. Plus, it’s packs high-performance internals into a stunning design. Then there’s the dual-sensor camera system, which also ranks among the best, especially with Samsung’s dual-aperture technology. The Note 9 would make a truly premium present.
iPhone XS Max
Given the popularity of iPhones, it’s almost a no-brainer that a new iPhone will make a great gift this holiday season. And, the iPhone XS Max is the biggest and best. It offers a massive 6.5-inch OLED display, has incredible cameras, and packs a processor that blows the competition away.
The Nokia 7.1 is another phone that shows how much you can get out of AED 999. Featuring a very clean version of Android, a beautiful LCD screen and a pretty good camera, the Nokia 7.1 is put together in is a beautifully constructed chassis which feels much more expensive than a phone if its price.
A bit of a handheld, a bit of a console: the Nintendo Switch is the most unique gaming device on the market. With a host of brilliant family-friendly games, like Super Mario Party and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the Nintendo Switch is the perfect gift for the entire family.
Sony has had a great run this year with PS4 exclusives like Spider-Man and God of War. And, there are plenty of upcoming titles that will make owning a PS4 even more worthwhile, like The Last of Us: Part II or Ghost of Tsushima, plus there’s the PSVR platform to consider. All of those experience are made that much better by more powerful hardware inside the PS4 Pro, making it an excellent holiday gift this year.
Relive the glory days of gaming with this fantastic piece of retro goodness. The SNES Mini comes packed with two controllers and several games built in, so you can jump into your first competitive game of Mario from the moment you unbox it. Thanks to the addition of save states you can finally take a break and save your progress at any time.
Xbox One X
When Microsoft said that the Xbox One X was the most powerful console in the market, they weren't kidding. The mid-generation spec bump means that the Xbox One X can render most games at native 4K (including the gorgeous Red Dead Redemption 2), and is quickly becoming the best platform to experience multiplatform games. The Xbox Game Pass, Backward Compatibility and Play Anywhere services also makes the Xbox One X an enticing deal.
Super Mario Party
If your family loves to have fun together, Super Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch is an ideal holiday gift for your family. A board game filled with fun mini-games and silly jokes, Super Mario Party is a blast for kids (and adults) of all ages.
Over the last decade, Marvel has seen a resurgence, with fans of all ages embracing its heroes. Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 is the closest we’ve been to feeling like a part of the universe. The ideal gift for any Marvel fans in your life — they’ll be able to do anything a spider can.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Epic, realistic and just plain fun, Red Dead Redemption 2 puts its players in the shoes of an outlaw making ends meet in the wild west. It’s one of the most immersive and detailed games ever made, and will make any western fans on your holiday shopping list extremely happy, no matter the age.
Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII
Treyarch may have stripped a proper first-person campaign out of this year’s Black Ops release, but Black Ops IIII is offering a brilliant Zombies and Multiplayer experience, and it tops that off with a Battle Royale mode. Thanks to excellent execution, the game plays great and will offer plenty of fun to anyone who gets it as a gift this holiday season.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The history-loving gamer in your life is going to absolutely fall in love with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. As Kassandra or Alexios, you’ll journey across ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War seeking your long-lost parents. It’s a fine holiday gift for anyone looking for adventure.
Canon EOS R
Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera is the perfect gift for the photography pro’s in your life. It captures incredibly sharp and colorful photos with its 30.3MP sensor. Thanks to its dual-pixel autofocus system, this camera is also fantastic at shooting 4K videos.
Canon EOS M50
Know someone who wants to get deeper into photography than their smartphone allows? The Canon EOS M50 is an affordable but capable mirrorless camera that’s wonderfully easy to use while offering excellent image quality. 4K video is also an option, as is the ability to quickly transfer photos directly to a phone for social sharing.
Shopping for an adventurous person can be difficult. What do you even buy for someone that just exudes excitement? Well, the GoPro Hero7 might just be the thing. A rugged, portable video camera that can go anywhere, delivering beautiful 4K video. The GoPro Hero7 is the perfect camera for any crazy adventures.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
The days of film and instant cameras aren’t over. Fujifilm’s Instax Square SQ6 is a testament to that, offering a well-built, easy-to-use camera platform for tons of fun photos. This is a great camera gift for Millennials and those who love taking party photos. A mirror on the front even makes it easy to snap an instant selfie.
Apple Watch 4
The new Apple Watch 4 makes a great gift for so many different people. It’s performance and features make it a solid pick for any techies looking for the best smartwatch around. And, it’s advanced health features make it a good choice for anyone trying to monitor their health and habits. Then the stunning screen and design just make it a perfect pick for iPhone owners.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch shows how good a smartwatch can be. It has a sophisticated design, a long 4-day battery in the larger model, and a capable core software experience. While it doesn’t have the same app support as Wear OS, it will make a great gift for anyone who is using Samsung’s phones.
Montblanc Summit 2
Smartwatches are getting better by the day and the Montblanc summit is the first Android Wear watch based on Qualcomm’s new platform which improved performance as well as battery life over previous generation of watches. It’s also a beautifully constructed watch, but you’d expect that and goes well with casual or formal attire.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
If you’re traveling constantly or just want to shut away the world for a few minutes, then the Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise canceling headphones are just what you need. Comfortable to wear, great battery life, and fantastic noise-canceling all come together for a seriously good pair of headphones that you’ll never leave the house without.
Steelseries Arctis 5
With fine-tuned audio drivers, DTS 7.1 surround sound, variety sound presets and extreme comfort, the Steelseries Arctis 5 is a great choice for anyone looking for a competent pair of headsets for both single player and multiplayer games. It also doesn’t hurt that they look quite slick, too.
Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC Headphones
Noise cancelling headphones are awesome when traveling, or even when lounging at home. The Sony WH-1000XM3 ANC Headphones make an amazing holiday gift for aspiring audiophiles. Music, movies and even games will sound fantastic without any of the disturbances of the outside world.
DJI Mavic Air
The DJI Mavic Air is simply a powerhouse drone with long battery life, a great camera system, and and nice suite of sensors for safe flying The camera sits on a gimbal for steady shooting of 12MP HDR photos, sweeping panoramas, and 4K video at 30fps. And, all of that is packed into a compact design with a palatable sticker price. As far as drones go, there’s none better suited for gifting this holiday season.
HTC Vive Pro
If the real world is a bit boring for you, then jumping into VR may be your next best thrill. The HTC Vive Pro features improved resolution and comfort, and sports a massive library of VR games and experiences for you to try on. There’s something for everyone to try out, so grab yourself a kit, plug in, and enjoy.
Lego Technic Bugatti Chiron
Ever wanted to own your own sports car but couldn't quite muster up the cash for it? Then build you own with the exceedingly fun Lego Technic Bugatti Chiron kit. It’s a kit that is bound to keep you occupied for hours, and features a ridiculous amount of detailing. You’ll want to showcase this front and center when you’re done building it, and the best part is it won’t take up too much of space in your garage...
Canon Selphy CP1300
We all snap countless photos with our phones every day, but it’s nice to be able to actually hold a physical photograph every now and then. After all, you can’t frame your smartphone, so the next best thing is the Canon Selphy CP1300. This fantastic little printer can churn out high-quality photo prints from the comfort of your home, so you’ll still love filling photo albums with great memories downloaded straight from your phone.
Listen to music stations, ask general questions, or control your various smart home devices - Google Home is a great addition to any household. When paired with a Google Chromecast, you can easily ask to watch videos and other content on your TVs, saving you from using the usually cumbersome TV keyboards - which alone is worth the price, we think.
Command your smart home with the Amazon Echo, or just sit around for hours trying to answer general knowledge questions. From streaming music to switching on your lights, Amazon’s Alexa can do it all, and will make for an instant conversation-starter for anyone who pops over to your home.
Housework can be a bit dull sometimes, so indulge with the Roborock S5 robot vacuum cleaner to take your cleaning to the next level. Featuring room mapping, scheduled cleans, and even a mopping mode, the Roborock S5 makes quick work of any dust or debris on your floors and carpets, and will never complain about working too hard to clean up after you.
Philips Hue Starter Kit
If you’re looking to make your home smarter, start with lights and Philips Hue is probably the most popular solution in that space. The Starter Kit features two lights and a bridge that connects to your network. The kit is available with white or colored lights- we recommend the colored version as it adds a lot to the mood of a room.