Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Phones, Tablets, Laptops, and More


Over the past few articles, I’ve published a collaboration series with some of my tech buddies giving you gift suggestions for this holiday season. We’ve covered phones, tablets, laptops, wearable tech, and smart home devices. In this article, I’ve compiled all of our recommendations so you can easily share them with family and friends who plan to go shopping this weekend.

Who did I collaborate with? Juan Carlos Bagnell (Some Gadget Guy)Hayato Huseman (Android Central)TK Bay, and Max Weinbach (XDA-Developers). So yeah, a bunch of A-listers.

Without further a do, here’s the full Matridox Holiday Gift Guide for 2019. Enjoy!


Juan Carlos Bagnell: LG G8X ThinQ

If you’re looking for something fresh in a smartphone, it’s difficult to beat LG’s offer here. A premium phone, with top tier internals, excellent camera performance, and an audiophile grade headphone jack. Best of all, that retail price includes a dual screen case. This is the best price around to start playing with a folding phone.

Buy LG G8X ThinQ

  • Best Buy (unlocked, works on any carrier): $699.99
  • AT&T (locked): Free with a new line or $779.99
  • Amazon (unlocked, works on any carrier): $949.99

Hayato Huseman: Google Pixel 3a

I’ve had a Pixel in my pocket for most of the year because I just love the pure Google experience. The Pixel 3a isn’t as fast as the Pixel 4, but it has better battery life and the same incredible camera for half the price. Seriously, this is one of the best values in mobile.

Buy Google Pixel 3a: $399

TK Bay: OnePlus 7T

The OnePlus 7T is the best that OnePlus has to offer in the U.S. at the end of 2019. It is definitely nice to have a device so powerful, so small, yet so affordable.

Buy OnePlus 7T: $599

Max Weinbach: Samsung Galaxy S10e

This phone is an absolute blast to use. It’s small, fast, has a great design, and doesn’t have a curved screen. It comes in at $750 which isn’t cheap, but there is almost always a sale (especially for black Friday) so this would make a great gift for that special someone in your life, whether that be a kid, adult, or pet.

Buy Samsung Galaxy S10e: $749

Me: Apple iPhone 11

Full disclosure: I have never tested an iPhone 11 for myself. However, the mix of features it has is not only enough for genral consumers, it’s almost the perfect balance. You get a decent screen, excellent performance, a fantastic camera system (from what I’ve heard), and strong battery life. Plus, it’s only $699. It kind of feels like a no-brainer if a family member needs a new phone and you’re not sure what phone to get them.

Buy Apple iPhone 11: $699


Juan Carlos Bagnell: Apple iPad Pro

Apple seems to be the only company really taking tablets seriously. iPadOS fills in many of the gaps between a mobile OS and a desktop OS, and developers are supporting the platform with quality pro applications. The accessories are silly expensive. The dongles are depressing. But, comparing slate to slate to slate, you won’t do better until you move to a proper computer.

Buy Apple iPad Pro: starting at $799

Hayto Huseman: Microsoft Surface Pro X

I wish it had better app support, but I don’t know that I’ve ever been as enamored with a piece of hardware as much as with the Surface Pro X. Build quality is fantastic, the hinge works at any angle, and the stylus tucks right into the keyboard cover.

Buy Microsoft Surface Pro X: starting at $999

TK Bay: Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite

With smartphones getting bigger nowadays, tablets are becoming less and less common. The MediaPad M5 Lite is an affordable tablet with a great kid-friendly launcher for parents to feel comfortable giving their kids a‘s affordable powerful and available in most online retailers.

Buy Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite: $299

Max Weinbach: Apple iPad (7th-gen)

There are few good tablets, all are from Apple. The iPad is the best value tablet that almost everyone would love to get.

Buy Apple iPad (7th-gen): starting at $329

Me: Apple iPad Pro 11-inch

Yeah, yeah, Juan said it first. But the 11-inch iPad Pro is a fantastic device. For me, it strikes a balance between being a traditional iPad and a computer-replacement wannabe (a.k.a. Apple’s vision for the iPad). It doesn’t try too hard to be a traditional iPad or your next laptop, and iPadOS makes the entire experience better. Plus, you get a killer screen, great battery life, and fabulous performance.

What more do you need?

Buy Apple iPad Pro 11-inch: starting at $799


Juan Carlos Bagnell: Aorus 15 (RTX Edition)

Gigabyte’s premium label has been on a roll this year, with fantastic Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD products. The Aorus 15’s aesthetic still features some gamer eye candy, but arrives in a more sophisticated shell. It’s better able to blend in during meetings, and it’s plenty powerful to frag noobs at night. Top tier power, high refresh rate display, at $800 less than a MacBook Pro 16, and it has an SD card reader and ethernet jack built in.

Buy Aorus 15 (RTX Edition): starting at $1,549.99

Hayato Huseman: Apple MacBook Pro

Yep, the keyboard sucks, but the MacBook Pro is still great in most other regards. I live by Mac-exclusive apps like Final Cut Pro X and Logic every day.

Buy Apple MacBook Pro: starting at $1,299

Max Weinbach: Microsoft Surface Pro X

This laptop is thin, light, also a tablet, and absolutely amazing for everyone. It has incredible battery life and LTE support along with a stylus. This laptop works for anyone and everyone no matter what. It’s by far the best laptop to get over the holidays.

Buy Microsoft Surface Pro X: starting at $999

Me: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

I’ve been raving about this laptop on Twitter and I plan to rave about it in my full review. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga, at the moment, is my favorite laptop. It offers fantastic performance, a beautiful (and optional) 4K screen, a 2-in-1 form factor, a stylus, plenty of IO, and great construction. Battery life kinda sucks, but other than that, you get a great laptop for the money.

Buy Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga: starting at $1,199

Wearable Tech

Juan Carlos Bagnell: Focals by North

The Apple Watch is hands down the best smartwatch on the market. We can hope that Google will figure out a competitive strategy after buying Fitbit. But what if I told you that outside of fitness tracking, the “smart” features on your watch are woefully out of date? Apple won’t have AR glasses until 2023, but you could already be using a wearable heads up display. The Focals are the most discrete option to present all of your phone notifications and navigation at eye level. Considering every product I reviewed in 2019, these felt the most futuristic and the most disruptive. You can wait for bigger companies to catch up, offer less functionality, and charge more. Or you could be wearing Focals today.

Buy Focals by North: starting at $599

Hayato Huseman: Apple Watch Series 5

There are some decent options on the Android side, but none of them come close to being as full-featured as the Apple Watch. I don’t love the UI or even the design, but it has great health features and a huge variety of accessories and watch straps.

Buy Apple Watch Series 5: starting at $399

TK Bay: Samsung Galaxy Buds

Samsung Galaxy buds are by far one of my favorite in-ear headphones. They provide good audio, long playback times, and great wireless connection to your smartphone be it an Android or iOS device.

Buy Samsung Galaxy Buds: $129.99

Max Weinbach: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 44mm

The Watch Active2 44mm is the best watch I’ve used. It has a great value and works with any (modern-ish) phone on the market, iOS or Android. It has everything you’ll want and need while not looking like a small phone on your wrist.

Buy Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2: starting at $229.99

Me: Apple Watch Series 3

Hayato may have recommended the much newer Series 5, but for this list, I’m going with the 2017 Apple Watch Series 3. Why? Because for the holiday season this year, it’s gonna be discounted like crazy. Apple has started selling it for $199 by itself, and other retailers have listed it at $129 for Black Friday. That’s an insanely good price for a smartwatch that’s plenty capable. You won’t get the fancy bezel-less screen, EKG recorder, or always-on display, but it’ll still serve you well if what you want is a nice smartwatch.

Buy Apple Watch Series 3: starting at $199.99

Smart Home

Juan Carlos Bagnell: Arlo Cameras

There are a ton of IOT products set to invade our homes, but I haven’t found any camera system as easy to implement and manage as a set of Arlo cameras. Rechargeable units, one base stage with emergency alarms, a terrific app with GOBS of cloud storage. There really isn’t a better “plug it in and go” home monitoring solution.

Buy Arlo Cameras

Hayato Huseman: LIFX Lights

Smart lighting is easily my favorite home tech; I can turn on, dim, or even change the color of my lights with a simple voice command. LIFX’s products all work without a hub, the bulbs are brighter than Philips Hue’s, and the Z Strip looks great behind an entertainment center.

Buy LIFX Lights

TK Bay: Google Nest Hub

When it comes to smart speakers, the best experience is always going to be when you have a display to see the search results that you’re looking for. The Nest Hub offers a great speaker with a small display that you can have on your nightstand, in the office, or even in the kitchen.

Buy Google Nest Hub: $129.99

Max Weinbach: Google Nest Hub Max

The Nest Hub Max both sounds amazing and has great functionality. Having a security camera built into your Google Home with a display makes it the perfect smart phone phone.

Buy Google Nest Hub Max: $229.99

Me: Lenovo Smart Clock

TK and Max may’ve suggested some smart displays already, but my selection, the Lenovo Smart Clock, is a little different. It works nearly identical to the Nest Hub, but it’s designed to replace your traditional alarm clock with one that gives you access to the Google Assistant. I absolutely love it. Being able to yell at Google to wake you up tomorrow is a true pleasure. Plus, it’s absolutely adorable.

Buy Lenovo Smart Clock: $79.99 (on sale for $39.99)

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