Holiday Gift Guide: Smartphones

Do you have a friend or family member who's ready to finally upgrade from their old flip phone and try out a fancy new smartphone? Are you looking for a gift for someone who simply wants to upgrade their old smartphone? We've compiled a list of great smartphone gifts and gadgets that may be exactly what you are looking for this year.


Samsung Galaxy S III (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon)

One of the most popular Android phones released this year, the 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy S III is a well-rounded smartphone with a large display and solid performance.  

The Samsung Galaxy S III sports a 4.8-inch 720p display in addition to an 8MP rear-facing camera, 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, a microSD slot to expand the memory an additional 64GB, a fast 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM that provides more multitasking capabilities.

Regarding price point, the Samsung Galaxy S III typically ranges from $199 to $249 under a two-year contract depending on the amount of internal memory. Specific to the unlocked version, it typically retails for around $700. However, deals on the unlocked version can be found as cheap at $500.  

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy Note II (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon) 

For anyone looking for a massive screen on their smartphone, the 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy Note II is definitely the product to check out. Samsung has included a massive 5.5-inch display (1280x720 resolution) that seriously dwarfs the Galaxy SIII. While it might not be the best option for slipping into the pocket of your pants, the screen is fantastic for streaming video or other forms of multimedia content.

In addition, the Galaxy Note II includes an 8MP camera capable of taking HD video, 16GB of internal memory (64GB expandable), a stylus (S Pen) for more accurate screen interactions and a multiview mode to work within more that one app at a time.

Regarding price point, the Samsung Galaxy Note II can be found at the $300 price point when included with a two-year contract. While ordering the device without service costs about $700 on average, deals can be found on the unlocked version around the $575 to $600 price point.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Verizon)

Definitely an excellent choice for anyone who's concerned about battery life, the main selling feature of the 4G LTE Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD is the 32 hours of performance time. Even during more intensive tasks, like playing streaming video, the smartphone offers approximately 13 hours of playtime; ideal for a cross country trip. 

In addition, the Droid Razr Maxx HD also offers a 4.7-inch, 720p resolution display, an 8MP camera capable of taking 1080p video, 32GB of internal storage and 4G data speeds.

Regarding price point, Motorola is positioning the Droid Razr Maxx HD at $300 under a two-year contract and $650 for the unlocked version. However, deals on the smartphone can occasionally be found at the $199 price point with a two-year contract.

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx


iPhone 5 (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon)

Certainly Apple's most powerful smartphone, the 4G LTE iPhone 5 is the gift for the Apple consumer that must have the latest and greatest from the technology company. Barely under 4 ounces, the iPhone 5 offers a 4-inch Retina display (1136x640 resolution) and the A6 chip that's rated as being twice as fast as the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S.

Available in both white and black, the iPhone 5 can also be purchased with either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal memory. The front-facing camera has been upgraded for 720p video for Facetime and the rear camera is capable of taking 1080p video. 

Shifting over to Apple Maps, the iPhone 5 offers turn-by-turn directions. The smartphone also includes access to the Siri voice-assistant as well as a new version of Apple's Earpod headphones.

Regarding price point, the Apple iPhone 5 ranges from $199 up to $399 (depending on memory) with a two-year contract. Deals on the iPhone 5 are likely scarce, but Apple could offer a slight discount on a new iPhone 5 during Black Friday. 

Apple iPhone 5

iPhone 4S (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Virgin Mobile)

Definitely a solid smartphone for anyone who doesn't mind the previous generation of Apple 3G phones, the iPhone 4S offers a great deal of features for a less expensive cost than the iPhone 5. It's also a good option for someone looking for an unlocked smartphone.

Available in white and black, this Apple smartphone comes with a 3.5-inch Retina display (960x640 resolution), 16GB of internal memory, 8-megapixel rear facing camera, panorama pictures, 1080p video recording and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

According to Apple, the iPhone 4S offers up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G and up to 200 hours of standby time. For anyone with an Apple TV, the iPhone 4S is also capable of mirroring content on the screen to an HDTV through AirPlay.

Regarding price, the retail price of the phone is $99 with a two-year contract with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. While there aren't many deals posted regarding discounts on the iPhone 4S, anyone looking for an unlocked version of the phone should watch around the $540 to $580 price point. 

Apple iPhone 4S

Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 920 (AT&T)

Only available through AT&T, this 4G LTE Windows Phone is extremely popular due to the low cost and extremely powerful hardware. While large and heavy compared to other smartphones, Nokia's Lumia 920 offers features such as wireless charging, the ability to use the touchscreen with gloves on (ideal for colder climates) and turn-by-turn directions.  

The display size is 4.5-inches with 1280 × 768 resolution. In addition, the Nokia Pureview camera offers 8.7 megapixel resolution and the smartphone comes with 32GB of internal memory for photos, apps, video and other content. 

According to Nokia, the Lumia 920 is capable of nine hours of talk time and offers 320 hours of standby time when on 3G. Regarding price point, the Lumia 920 retails for $100 with a two-year contract with AT&T.  However, recent deals on the smartphone have been as low at $50 with the same two-year contract. If you prefer to purchase the phone without a contract, the price is $449 through AT&T.

Nokia Lumia 920

Bluetooth Headsets 

Plantronics M50

The Plantronics M50 Bluetooth headset features an extended battery life, whispered talk-time alerts, and noise reduction features. You can also monitor the battery life automatically on an iPhone in order to make sure you have time to talk.

The M50 headset is capable of delivering Bluetooth audio streaming capabilities for listening to music, podcasts or GPS directions. It also offers multipoint technology which allows you to pair and maintain connections with two or more devices. For charging the devices, Plantronics includes a micro USB port.

Definitely an impressive battery life, the Plantronics M50 offers up to 11 hours of talk time and up to 384 hours (16 days) of standby time. Regarding price point, the M50 headset retails for around $50. However, deals on the M50 can be found in the $25 to $35 range. 

Plantronics M50

BlueAnt Q2

This smart Bluetooth headset comes packed with features such as voice recognition, text to speech technology that announces the names of incoming callers, voice access to a world of information and incoming SMS readout.

When the phone rings, you can respond by simply saying Answer or Ignore. When you receive a call from your contacts, the Q2 headset will use the integrated Text to Speech (TTS) engine to announce the caller's name.

The Q2 also supports true multipoint which allows users to connect two phones at the same time and answer the one that rings; ideal for consumers that have to carry both a personal and a work phone.

The BlueAnt Q2 offers up to 4 hours talk time and 100 hours (about 4 days) of standby time. Regarding price point, the Q2 headset is positioned around $100. However, deals on the Bluetooth headset can be found in the $25 to $50 range. 

BlueAnt Q2 headset

Jawbone Era

Utilizing the latest version of Jawbone s noise and wind canceling technology, the Jawboine Era  auto-adjusts inbound call volume and intelligibility based off the surrounding environment. Whether you are at a sporting event or on the road, the noise canceling technology should help you hear the other person on the line.

The Jawbone Era also comes with a built-in accelerometer that helps the user pair the headset with the phone as well as tap the headset to automatically answer an incoming call. Tying into Jawbone's MyTalk application platform, the user will be able to download more motion applications as they are developed for the Jawbone headset.

The Jawbone Era offers up to 5.5 hours of talk time and up to 240 hours (10 days) of standby time. The price point of the Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset is around $75 to $80. However, deals on the headset can be found in the $50 to $60 range. 

Jawbone Era