2021 Vacation Reward Information: Cease making these errors when shopping for smartphones and different tech items

2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Stop making these mistakes when buying smartphones and other tech gifts

It is best to do analysis earlier than shopping for a gadget present for another person.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is a part of Vacation Reward Information 2021, our checklist of concepts, by subject, by recipient and by worth, that can assist you uncover the proper present.

An unfolding provide chain disaster and a steady pandemic will not cease the vacations — but it surely’ll positively make it harder so that you can get your arms on the proper vacation present. And whereas seeing empty cabinets would possibly push you right into a panic to purchase one thing ASAP, you must nonetheless take the time to not make widespread errors if you’re looking for tech items.

If you happen to’re taking a look at smartphones, you would possibly must determine between Apple’s iPhone 13 or Google’s Pixel 6 (to not point out the Galaxy S21 and all the opposite Samsung fashions). For headphones, you have got choices starting from wi-fi earbuds just like the third-generation AirPods, to over-the-ear choices just like the Bose QuietComfort 45. And when you’re desirous about good audio system, effectively, you have got a wealth of choices: There’s the Amazon Echo, Google Nest Mini, Apple HomePod Mini and Sonos One, simply to call a number of.

It doesn’t matter what tech present you are contemplating — gaming console, laptop or perhaps a good backyard — due diligence isn’t just beneficial, it’s a necessity. On this information, we’ll take a more in-depth take a look at what you must keep away from doing (and what you must do) when contemplating shopping for a gadget.

Learn extra: Greatest locations to promote your used electronics 

Be careful for extras another person should purchase

It doesn’t matter what kind of machine you find yourself shopping for as a present, hold any additional equipment it might require in thoughts. Ask your self — or the salesperson — if the machine is able to use proper out of the field. 

If you happen to buy some color-changing bulbs, for instance, do they require a hub to get them to work? If it is a telephone or pill, does it make sense to additionally give a case, or to let your recipient decide one out later? Many telephones have ditched the headphone jack, so a dongle to go from a USB-C or Lightning plug to a 3.5mm audio connection could also be wanted. 

Extra examples to heed: For a Roomba, additional brushes, filters or digital boundaries are going to be objects the one you love will finally want. Odds are, when you present a wise speaker, which additionally doubles as a voice-activated speaker for streaming music, a present card for a subscription to Spotify or Pandora will likely be appreciated. 

One other side to think about is that if your giftee might want to change stuff they have already got. Possibly that new telephone requires a special sort of charging cable than what they already use. It is probably not your duty to interchange that, however remember that your present may have ripple results.


Dongles are generally a essential evil.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Take note of which gadgets they already personal

The very last thing you need to do is get Dad a gift that he cannot or will not use. Earlier than deciding to get somebody the most recent Amazon Echo or an Apple Watch, discover out what sort of gadgets they already use frequently. 

For instance, in case your giftee has an Android telephone, they will barely be capable to use an Apple Watch. Or if they’ve a home stuffed with Apple HomePod audio system, a good residence present that depends on Amazon’s Alexa assistant most likely is not match.

Wi-fi earbuds are normally a protected guess, and smartwatches (exterior of the Apple Watch) typically work with any kind of smartphone. Streaming gadgets like Roku or Hearth TV usually work with any TV, as effectively (simply be certain they do not have already got a Roku-enabled TV). 

Do not get so caught up in what sort of merchandise your family and friends members have already got that you do not decide, simply keep in mind to maintain your present receipts useful to allow them to make an trade, guilt-free.

In case you have a normal thought of what sort of machine (or gadgets) the giftee already makes use of round the home, listed below are extra particular angles to think about when giving good residence items.


Figuring out what the recipient already owns is a key side of present looking for tech. 

Angela Lang/CNET

The golden rule of shopping for a telephone as a present

If you happen to’re shopping for somebody a telephone, pat your self on the again in your thoughtfulness and generosity. Simply be sure you’ve thought-about all of the angles. 

A very powerful one is ensuring that the telephone you are shopping for for somebody will work with their wi-fi provider of alternative. Wi-fi suppliers use completely different know-how that may stop telephones from working throughout rivals’ networks. The very last thing you need to do is purchase a telephone that solely works on Verizon Wi-fi for somebody who’s entrenched in T-Cellular.

Both ask the present recipient which wi-fi provider they use or take into account shopping for an unlocked telephone. Many phone-makers provide an unlocked model that can work on nearly all wi-fi carriers. Simply know that not each provider function would possibly work, like Wi-Fi calling, which is tuned to particular networks. In a nutshell, know your viewers. 

Preserve your receipt useful, and ensure to inform your recipient that there aren’t any onerous emotions in the event that they finally need to return or trade the telephone. This present is all in regards to the gesture.

 Pixel 5

There are many unlocked telephones so that you can decide from. 

Juan Garzon / CNET

Look ahead to privateness crimson flags

Some merchandise have privateness and safety implications. Even when you’re OK with having an Amazon Echo and its always-on microphone in your house, your giftee won’t be as comfy with the concept. And though you might really feel that Aunt Mary desperately wants to hitch the twenty first century with an Echo Present 8
, hold her consolation stage in thoughts. 

We retailer numerous info on our telephones and devices. Personal info equivalent to banking information, incessantly visited places, our present location, pictures and conversations are all issues we blindly belief our gadgets with. 

At least, you must be aware of firms equivalent to Meta (the brand new identify for Fb) or Amazon, that are always surrounded by privateness questions and considerations, when you’re contemplating shopping for a next-gen Portal Plus or the most recent Ring Video Doorbell 4 as a present. 

If you happen to’re taking a look at a product from an organization you’ve got by no means heard of, and even for firms you have got, a fast Google search is so as. Wanting up “Meta/Fb privateness points,” for instance, ought to floor any potential points.


For somebody who’s uneasy with Fb’s privateness practices, the Portal is probably not a good suggestion. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Look into how lengthy an organization will help its product 

Routine software program updates are an vital a part of proudly owning a tech product. Not solely do updates make a product higher over time however they’ll repair and enhance the safety of a tool. 

As such, it is vital to believe that firms are going to proceed to help a tool by means of updates, particularly when safety points are found (as they usually are). 

If you happen to’re looking for a telephone, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Pixel lineup obtain constant and well timed updates. Outdoors of Google’s personal telephones, Samsung has monitor report for constant updates to its Android telephones, as do the OnePlus telephones.

Software program updates for good audio system and streaming gadgets equivalent to a Chromecast or Apple TV are dealt with within the background, with out you ever realizing. That is superb for many who aren’t all that tech-savvy. 

It is a good suggestion to look into how lengthy an organization guarantees to help a product with software program updates after its launch. 

Lastly, there are certain to be many nice offers and promotions this buying season, particularly round Black Friday. Do not be swayed by a deal on a product that appears too good to be true. If the product is discontinued (or soon-to-be), your present may find yourself changing into an costly paperweight. Once more, Google is your buddy in the case of studying extra a few product and its future. 


Meta (previously Fb) discontinued the Oculus Rift S in 2021.

John Kim/CNET

Learn a number of opinions

Even when you’re handed a listing with a selected gadget present thought, do your individual analysis by studying opinions of the product. Learn multiple assessment and search for similarities in compliments and points. 

For instance, the Nintendo Change is available in three variations: the authentic ($300), OLED ($350) and Lite ($200). If you happen to’re choosing the Lite — the least costly model — you must know that it would not include Pleasure-Con controllers, not all video games are appropriate with it and it would not function TV or tabletop mode. And whilst you may swing for the fences with the OLED mannequin (which comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, 64GB of storage and a built-in wired LAN port), the unique nonetheless packs a punch and comes with lots of the options the Lite is lacking. 

Evaluations might help you make a extra knowledgeable resolution.


Evaluations are an vital a part of researching new merchandise. 

Scott Stein/CNET

The identical may be stated for merchandise that had been launched earlier within the yr and are prone to be upgraded and changed shortly after the vacations. Take a while, do your analysis and make an informed alternative. 

Nonetheless undecided the place to begin? Listed below are one of the best telephones of 2021, together with our 2021 present information that features objects for various budgets, and items for various varieties of individuals, equivalent to Star Wars followers. You may as well take a look at our favourite picks for fashionable merchandise like good audio system, tablets and laptops

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