best holiday phone gifts 2022

12 best phones to give as holiday gifts in 2022

This is the time of the year when all the big players release their latest and most popular phone models before the holiday shopping period. Just in the past few months, the Google Pixel 7 lineup was launched and Apple launched the iPhone 14 series.

People are lining up in droves to get the latest and most creative phones, which make them ideal gifts for some people. But the truth is that most people are not early adopters. I’m moderately satisfied with my Galaxy S9, and when I upgrade it, it won’t be to the latest model (see More Expensive).

For anyone struggling to find the right phone to give as a gift or to find a phone that will comfortably fit into your holiday gift budget, we’ve put together this list of the best phones to gift for the holidays. Between now and the end of the year, expect to see great phone deals come and go, especially as Black Friday and Internet Monday approach. So we will update this page with the latest deals.

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Best phone gift ideas for the holidays

Below are 12 phone gift ideas I’ve found for the holiday season this year.

  • price: $899 and up
  • Technical Specifications: Operating System: Android 13 | RAM: 12 GB | Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB

The latest additions to the Pixel family of phones didn’t disappoint. Google Pixel 7 Pro comes loaded with features, excellent battery life, and three powerful cameras.

This is the premium Pixel 7 model and it stands out from the base model with an additional 48MP camera, a telephoto lens, a larger screen with a higher resolution, and a bigger battery. In our review of the Pixel 7 Pro, its performance didn’t degrade when multitasking or using the phone’s other features. This model is available in Hazel, Snow, and Obsidian.

  • price: 800 dollars and above
  • Technical Specifications: Screen: 6.1 inch Super Retina XDR | Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB | RAM: 6 GB

The standard iPhone 14 does not have all the capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max. But the 128GB model is $200 to $300 cheaper than its more expensive counterparts, and unless you really need a telephoto camera or extended battery life, it will meet your needs.

The iPhone 14 comes with the Apple A15 Bionic processor, so you should be able to get most tasks done with ease without any lag. And anyone upgrading from an iPhone 12 or earlier will appreciate the significantly improved performance.

  • price: 600 dollars and above
  • Technical Specifications: Processor: Google Tensor G2 | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 128GB / 256GB

The Google Pixel 7 128GB model is $300 less than the Pixel 7 Pro with the same amount of storage. For that price, you still have more than a decent gift to pass on.

The Pixel 7 has the same main, front, and ultrawide cameras as the Pixel 7 Pro, which only lacks the telephoto camera. It has the same Tensor G2 processor as the more expensive model. The Pixel 7 comes in lemon, obsidian, and snow colors.

  • price: 1050 dollars and above
  • Technical Specifications: Screen: 6.8 inch | RAM: 12GB / 16GB | Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is loaded with options, including a Bluetooth stylus with a built-in storage/charging station silo, two telephoto cameras, and two wide-angle cameras. Plus you will have the option to choose a huge storage space of 1 TB.

It also has a 40MP front-facing camera with a high capacity located below the screen. Speaking of the screen, it has a size of 6.8 inches and also supports 8K video. The advertised 18-hour battery life is adequate for most situations.

  • price: $1100
  • Technical Specifications: Cameras: 12MP f/2.2 wide rear camera (124° field of view), 12MP standard camera, f/2.4 aperture, 12MP dual-lens aperture, 8MP front camera, f/2.0 aperture | RAM: 12 GB | Storage: 512 GB

Sony Xperia Pro-I is a photographer’s dream. The rear cameras include an Ultra Wide Camera with 124° of view and a dual aperture camera. Serious photographers will appreciate the microSD slot, 3.5mm audio port, and shutter button.

This phone is already standard software (Photo Pro, Cinema Pro and Video Pro), which gives you control over every aspect of the cameras. Image Edge enables remote shooting by letting you connect to an external camera and transfer photos or videos to the Xperia Pro-I.

  • price: 110 bucks
  • Technical Specifications: Screen: 6.5 inch | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32 GB

The Moto G Pure may lack storage space (though you can easily add a microSD card) and average smartphone performance, but it’s the perfect compromise for parents who feel their kids aren’t ready for the phone and kids who feel otherwise. At just $110, kids can learn about liability the hard way and it will only cost you 1/10 of the amount to replace that lost phone.

While it’s nothing top-notch, the Moto G Pure has all the essentials, a solid camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and good battery life. It’s not 5G compatible, so when you need more speed, you’ll need to upgrade.

  • price: $389 and up
  • Technical Specifications: Width: 4.7 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB

The latest iPhone SE is one of the cheapest 5G phones on the market, although it doesn’t support the fastest 5G networks. However, there is no shortage when it comes to performance. The third generation iPhone SE has the same A15 bionic processor that you’ll find in the iPhone 14.

Battery life is advertised at 15 hours, which is an improvement over previous models, but a touch on the low side. Personally, I’m a big fan of saving money and smaller phones that fit comfortably in my pocket, and the latest iPhone SE checks these two boxes.

  • price: $90
  • Technical Specifications: Screen: 2.4 inch | Storage: 128MB | RAM: 48MB

The AGM M6 won’t win any awards or land on the bestseller list, but at under $100 it might be the perfect gift for anyone looking to sever ties with their smartphone.

This model is durable and is advertised as water-resistant (1.5 meters under water for 30 minutes), shock-proof, dust-proof, and temperature-resistant. But the AGM M6’s allure isn’t in what it is, it’s in what it isn’t – electronic power steering. It’s the perfect gift for someone who is serious about eliminating distractions in their life but still wants to stay connected.

  • price: from $150
  • Technical Specifications: Screen: 6.49 inch | RAM: 4 GB | Storage: 64 GB

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G is a third of the price of the OnePlus 10 Pro but many of its features are a bit less powerful than its more expensive sister model. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor and a 6.49-inch screen with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 pixels.

Just as with a number of budget 5G phones, the OnePlus Nord N200 does not support the fastest 5G (mmWave) connection. However, given mmWave’s limitations and the potential drain on your battery, that might not be as big a deal as it sounds.

  • price: 1500 dollars and above
  • Technical Specifications: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Storage: 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB | RAM: 12 GB

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the latest in Samsung’s foldable phone series. It has a large screen size of 7.6 when it unfolds and collapses so that it can fit comfortably in most pockets.

This generation of the Z Fold is lighter than previous iterations and has an improved array of cameras. The processor and memory are designed to handle most resource-intensive tasks, so you won’t have any trouble loading videos or games, even though the battery life is average.

  • price: $375
  • Technical specifications or features: Screen: 6.1 inch OLED | Storage: 128 GB | RAM: 6 GB

In our review of the Google Pixel 6a, we found that it performs as well as the more expensive Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. It has the same Google Tensor processor as the other 6th Pixel and the 4,410mAh battery should last all day under normal use.

The 12MP rear and 8MP front cameras may not win you any prizes for photography but they are more than enough for everyday photos. It’s water-resistant to 4 feet and is available in sage, charcoal, and chalk.

  • price: 300 dollars
  • Technical Specifications: Processor: Samsung Exynos 9611 | RAM: 4 GB | Storage: 64GB

The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro ditches the bulky design you’d expect to find with the best rugged phones in favor of sleek design and looks. It has a 6.1-inch screen, a 4,050 mAh removable battery, a 13 MP front camera, and a pair of rear cameras (wide-angle and ultra-wide).

It’s perfect for anyone who needs a phone to handle extreme conditions and has an IP68 dust and water resistance rating as well as MIL-STD-810G drop test certification. The improved touch feature allows you to use the phone without removing the gloves, which is a great option for harsh weather conditions.

The best phone deals during the holidays

Here are four phone deals I’ve found happening right now.

All the phones we have included in this list are from reputable, reliable and trustworthy brands. In most cases, ZDNET has either done a hands-on review of the phone or included it in one of our top list lists.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to choosing a phone to give someone as a gift. The latest high-end iPhone may not be the best for everyone and certainly won’t fit into everyone’s budget. So we’ve chosen a variety of devices to suit any need or desire, at a range of price points.

An unlocked phone can be used with any cellular service provider that operates a compatible network for this device. If you know your gift recipient is a bargain shopper who loves to bounce from one service to another in search of the best price, an unlocked phone is the way to go. An unlocked phone is also necessary for international travel if you want to swap a SIM card.

A locked phone is associated with a specific carrier, such as Sprint, T-mobile, AT&T, or Verizon. Most of the best phone deals are for unlocked phones and usually require you to switch services, trade in an old phone, and stick to a contract. If you are buying a phone for someone that is part of the same family plan, a locked phone can be a smart move because you will most likely be able to get an excellent deal. Even with a locked phone, your carrier should unlock it once you pay it off.

If your phone is running out of space and you constantly have to delete photos just to take a new one, it’s time to find additional storage. If you have a phone with an internal microSD slot this is a simple solution, just make sure that the card is compatible with your phone. However, phones with expandable internal storage are becoming less popular which is a feature you won’t have with iPhones.

In most cases, the easiest way to increase your phone’s storage space, and hopefully increase its usefulness, is to take advantage of the many cloud storage options. The free Dropbox account comes with 2GB of cloud storage and Google Drive has 15GB of shared storage. An Apple iCloud account comes with 5GB of free storage. And all of these cloud services allow you to increase your storage space for a fee.

Giving the phone as a gift can be a tricky situation because you really need to know what the recipient wants. And if you’re getting a phone for someone who isn’t on your cell phone plan, it’s even more difficult.

The easiest solution is to ask the gift exactly which phone he wants, but if you want to maintain a level of surprise, you’ll at least want to know the following:

  • What carrier do they use or want to use?
  • Do they prefer Android or iOS?
  • What do they want a phone? Photography? video? Outdoor adventures?
  • What is your budget?

Once you know how much you are willing to spend and what person the gift is getting for needs and wants, it becomes much easier to narrow down your options.