Need a unique gift idea for the techy person in your life? Look no further than that phone they always have in their hand. There are plenty of great accessories, apps, subscriptions, and other smartphone-related goodies that will improve their quality of life, and thoughtful gifts like that are always the best-received.
If your friend or loved one is an Android user, it's not quite as easy to buy them phone-related gifts as it would be for an iOS user. Apple accessories work for almost any iPhone, but with the sheer variety of Android devices, there's not always a one-size-fits-all solution. But don't let that steer you away — there are plenty of nifty gadgets that any Android user would appreciate as a gift this holiday season.
Before we get into the accessories, if the person you're buying for is using an older phone, the best present you could get them is obviously a new one. Of course, this isn't realistic if you're on a budget, but if they're a close family member and you share a cellular plan, you could always finance a new phone on their behalf.
If we limit the choices to Android devices, a few stand out as the absolute best phones on the market right now. The OnePlus 6T has beastly performance, the Pixel 3 is great for photographers, the Galaxy Note 9 is ideal for multitaskers, and the Galaxy S9 is a perfect all-around device.
If this person is close to you — say, an immediate family member — you probably have a good idea of the type of apps and games they like. Many of the top games and several high-quality apps require an up-front purchase, though, and this is where you can swoop in and be the hero.
It's not quite as easy as buying an app for an iPhone user, but there are ways to gift apps and games to someone else that uses Android. You can either set up a Google Play Family Library and buy the app or game for them, or you can shoot them Google Pay cash over Gmail. If none of that works for you, you can even snag a digital or physical Google Play gift card that they can use to buy apps and games. To learn more about how all of these methods work, check out our full guide below:
- Don't Miss: How to Gift Apps & Games to Android Users
These days, to get the most out of a mobile device, you almost have to pay for a subscription or two. A person might really want one of these, but think they're too frivolous to put money into since they're smartphone-related and these types of expenses didn't exist a decade ago. But that's where a friend or loved one (you, the generous reader) comes into play — if someone else buys it, they don't have to feel guilty about enjoying it, right?
For Android users, Google services are some of the best options in this category. After all, Google makes Android (in case you didn't know, Google is to Android like Microsoft is to Windows):
Instead of outright buying them a subscription, which is actually kinda tricky in most of the above examples, the best way to do this would be to get the subscription with your own Google account, then add them to your Google Play Family Library, which will automatically grant them access to the subscription you purchased. Note that this doesn't work with Google One, however. But to see how it's done, check out our full guide below:
Aside from just Google services, there's a section on the Play Store that lists all of the top subscriptions among Android users — check it out!
Now we'll start getting into the more traditional accessories. Simple, physical items that can enhance the overall experience for any Android user. To start, let's talk about TV accessories.
Apple TV would be an obvious choice for an iPhone user since many of their purchases would carry over and they can always mirror their phone's content over to the big screen using AirPlay. This obviously wouldn't work for the Android user in your life, but thankfully, there's a perfect analogue: Android TV.
Android TV comes in many forms, including entire TVs with the software baked in. But when it comes to gift ideas, the best Android TV solution is the standalone set-top box. Anyone can attach one of these to their existing TV and get features like the ability to mirror their phone's screen to the TV using Chromecast, access to all of their Google Play Movies & TV purchases, and purchases they've made on their phone will often carry over. The absolute best Android TV box is the Nvidia Shield TV, but it's a bit pricey, so I'll also link the best cost-effective option.
If those options are still too pricey, there's the tried-and-true Chromecast. This device doesn't let you install apps or games, so your purchases don't carry over in that regard. But it does let you mirror an Android phone's display and send content from most popular media apps over to your TV.
If you're interested, we made a separate gift guide showcasing many other TV-related accessories for smartphone users. Check it out at the link below:
If the person you're buying for is a gamer, there are plenty of great accessories for Android phones. Let's start with controllers, which can be attached to the user's phone to add physical, tactile buttons which offer far more precision compared to borderless touchscreen controls.
- SteelSeries Stratus XL Bluetooth Controller - MSRP $59.99 (Amazon | Walmart)
- 8bitdo SN30 Bluetooth Controller - MSRP $29.99 (Amazon | Walmart)
- GameSir G4 Bluetooth Wireless Controller - from $37.99 (Amazon | Walmart)
- iPega PG-9087 Bluetooth Gamepad - from $32.99 (Amazon | Walmart)
Then there are physical, real-world games that leverage features like GPS, Wi-Fi, and augmented reality in Android smartphones to create a completely different gaming experience. For instance, the Recoil Laser Combat kit that turns your phone into an accessory for laser tag, or the selection of RC vehicles that have wireless cameras that you can view on your smartphone while flying or driving.
- Recoil Laser CombatStarter Set (Pistols) - from $29.99 (Amazon | Walmart)
- Recoil Laser Combat Major Striker Edition (Rifles) - from $114.00 (Amazon)
- Recoil Laser Combat Fragmentation Grenade - from $11.47 (Amazon | Walmart)
- FAO Schwarz RC Italia Racer - MSRP $99.95 (Amazon)
- Air Hogs FPV High Speed Race Car - from $39.75 (Amazon | Walmart)
- Full Immersion Video Drone - MSRP $99.95 (Amazon | Hammacher Schlemmer)
- Air Hogs DR1 FPV Race Drone - from $89.99 (Amazon | Walmart)
If you're not really feeling any of the above gift ideas, but you know the person you're buying for is an avid mobile gamer, we have plenty more gift ideas for gamers at the following link:
Speakers are a great accessory for smartphone users, and recently, they've gotten even better with the advent of the smart speaker. For Android users, Alexa is okay, but you really can't beat Google Assistant-enabled speakers if you're in the ecosystem.
These devices, such as Google Home, house the same exact digital assistant that comes included in every Android phone, so all of your recipient's attached services will carry right over. There are even a few options with screens nowadays, and the best part is there's one for every budget.
If smart speakers don't feel right, you can still give that Android user in your life a better way to listen to music and watch movies on their phone if you buy them a Bluetooth speaker. They can simply pair their phone to one of these, then the tinny sound from their phone will instantly turn into a nice, booming audio experience.
A super-easy gift idea for any music lover in your life is a nice pair of headphones. Not only will one of these options work for their smartphone, but they can even use them with other devices. First, however, you should find out if their phone has a traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack. You can check our phone comparison tool to see which models include this port — just look for the "3.5mm Headphone Jack" row in the Audio section to see if their phone has one.
If their phone doesn't have a headphone jack, or if you're simply unsure, the best option would be a pair of Bluetooth headphones. A key aspect to look out for is whether or not the headphones support the latest Hi-Fi codecs added to Android, which will improve audio quality (an area that Bluetooth has received much criticism over). These next few headphones are the best of the best in this regard.
If their phone does have a headphone jack, then a standard pair of wired headphones will do the trick. But since most phones come with a cheap set of earbuds in the box, the person probably doesn't need another set of those. So instead, we found some of the best deals on premium wired headphones:
If none of those ideas work for you, don't fret. We have an entire guide dedicated to helping you find the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life, and this is one area where the options are really extensive. Check it out below:
This next section is one we wish we didn't have to include, but the fact is many phones these days have ditched the headphone jack altogether. Perhaps the person you're shopping for has a pair of expensive wired headphones already — if this is the case, the best way for them to use their nice headphones with a newer phone is to grab an adapter. Specifically, a USB-C to minijack (3.5 mm) dongle:
- Apple USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Adapter - MSRP $9 (Apple)
- Google Headphone Jack Adapter - MSRP $12 (Google)
- Razer Audio Adapter - MSRP $20 (Razer)
If they've voiced their opinion against dongles in the past, they still have another option. There's a tiny Bluetooth adapter that you can plug into the end of any wired headphones to give them wireless capabilities — complete with the latest Hi-Fi Bluetooth codecs that Android 8.0 added support for. Check it out below:
One gift any smartphone user can benefit from is a good charger. My personal favorite at the moment is Google's Pixel Stand, which charges wirelessly and turns the phone into a live photo frame with Google Home features baked in — but sadly, none of these extra features work on non-Pixel 3 phones, so unless the person you're buying for has one, all the Pixel stand would be is a standard wireless charger.
Speaking of wireless chargers, many Android phones are compatible with the Qi standard, which opens up a ton of possibilities for simple and cheap wireless charging pads. I'll link some of the best ones below in addition to the Pixel Stand.
Then there's one final option here — standard charging cables. They probably have a few already, but since Android phones recently switched over to USB Type-C after using Micro USB for years, the person you're buying for likely doesn't have enough USB-C chargers and cables yet. I'll link to some good deals on longer cables so they don't have to huddle up against a wall when their battery is low.
- Google Pixel Stand - MSRP $79 (Google)
- IBIS Dual Wireless Qi Charger - MSRP $39.99 (Amazon)
- Anker Ultra Slim Qi Charger - MSRP $19.99 (Amazon)
- Samsung Fast Wireless Qi Charger - MSRP $49.99 (Amazon)
- Anker PowerLine 6 ft. USB-C Cable - MSRP $19.99 (Amazon)
- CableCreation 10 ft. USB-C Cable - MSRP $9.99 (Amazon)
If the person you're buying for is an avid smartphone photographer, our top recommendation is the Moment Telephoto Lens and case. As long as their phone has an official case available to it, you purchase the case, then snap in any of the available pro-style lenses to give the phone wide-angle, telephoto, and other lens capabilities. Before you run off to buy a lens, though, check Moment's site to grab a case for their phone, as the lenses will only work if they're attached to the case.
There are other great gift ideas for mobile photographers, like tripods, selfie sticks, remote shutters, and memory cards. Since this area is so rich with ideas, we made a separate gift guide that's chock-full of the latest cool gadgets in this arena. Check it out below: