Want an Apple laptop? Here are the best and cheapest you can buy

If you’re looking for the best Apple laptop, the company currently offers three kinds: MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. For now, the cheapest one is the older 2017 MacBook Air, which starts at $999. The newer overhauled version packs an integrated Touch ID sensor and a starting price of $1,199.

If you need additional meat in an Apple laptop, the 15-inch MacBook Pro includes discrete AMD graphics and options for six-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors. The smaller 13-inch model doesn’t have discrete graphics, but you’ll find Apple’s innovative Touch Bar on both. If you’re feeling cash-strapped, Apple sells a 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar too for an even happier wallet.

Okay, let’s jump in and look at the best Apple laptops you can buy right now. 

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (15-inch)

Apple laptop

Apple’s largest MacBook Pro to date features a 15.4-inch IPS screen with a 2,880 x 1,800 resolution. From here the configurations are somewhat tricky to read, since Apple throws three different processors, four separate discrete graphics chips, and two starting points into the MacBook Pro menu.

The first configuration starts at $2,399 with the eighth-generation Core i7-8750H six-core processor, which is upgradable to the Core i9-8950HK for a higher price. The base configuration also includes AMD’s Radeon Pro 555X discrete graphics processor you can swap for the pricier Radeon Pro 560X. It ships with 256GB of storage but can be configured with larger a 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB SSD. Memory starts at 16GB (DDR4 at 2,400MHz) with an option for 32GB.

The maximum price you can pay for this model, just in hardware alone (no extra software) is $6,299.

The second configuration has a $2,799 starting price. It includes the Core i7-8850H six-core chip with the same Core i9-8950HK upgrade option. For graphics, the base configuration includes the Radeon Pro 560X discrete chip with upgrade options for the meatier Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Radeon Pro Vega GPUs at a higher cost. You have the same memory and storage options as the $2,399 version, though this configuration doesn’t offer the 256GB SSD.

The maximum price you can pay for this model, just in hardware alone is $7,049.

Outside those four major differences, the overall design is the same. Both include Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, the coveted Touch Bar with Touch ID, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a 720p camera. Powering this MacBook Pro is an 83.6WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of video playback or web surfing.

Finally, Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro measures 0.61 inches thick and weighs 4.02 pounds. You can configure this Apple laptop in the typical silver or Space Gray.

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch)

Apple laptop

Here we jump down to Apple’s MacBook Pro sporting a 13.3-inch IPS screen and a 2,560 x 1,800 resolution. It’s powered by Intel’s Core i5-8259U four-core processor and integrated graphics with an upgrade option for the Core i7-8559U at a higher price. The base model also includes 8GB of system memory (LPDDR3 at 2,133MHz) and a 256GB SSD for a starting price of $1,799. You can upgrade the memory to 16GB while storage options include 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB.

In addition to the Touch Bar, you’ll find four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, a 720p webcam, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and a 58WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of video playback or web browsing. It measures 0.59 inches thick, weighs 3.02 pounds, and ships in silver or Space Gray.

Unlike the 15-inch version, this model does not provide options for discrete Radeon graphics or Intel’s six-core processors. Note that the $1,999 price point starts you off with a 512GB SSD.

MacBook Pro without Touch Bar (13-inch)

Apple laptop

The hardware is slightly different inside the 13-inch model without Apple’s Touch Bar. This version has the same IPS screen with the 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. By default it is powered by an older seventh-generation Core i5-7360U two-core processor, with a Core i7-7660U upgrade option. The storage options are also slightly different: the base configuration relies on a 128GB SSD and removes the 2TB model, providing only the 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD.

This model only has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one 3.5mm audio jack, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, 8GB of system memory upgradable to 16GB before checkout, a 720p webcam, and a 54.5WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of video playback or web browsing. It measures 0.59 inches thick, weighs 3.02 pounds, and ships in silver or Space Gray.

Prices start at $1,299 for 128GB of storage and $1,499 with 256GB of storage.

MacBook Air “Retina” 2018 (13-inch)

Apple laptop

This is Apple’s latest MacBook Air refreshed with a newer processor. Currently it relies on a single eighth-generation Core i5-8210Y two-core CPU option and integrated graphics powering a 13.3-inch IPS screen with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. The starting configuration includes 128GB of storage and 8GB of system memory (LPDDR3 at 1,866MHz) for $1,199 while the second starting point includes a 256GB SSD and 8GB of memory for $1,399.

In both cases, you can upgrade to 16GB of memory before checkout and ramp up the storage to 512GB or 1.5TB. Meanwhile, the set specifications include two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one 3.5mm audio jack, a 720p webcam, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, and a 50.3WHr battery promising up to 13 hours of video playback and up to 12 hours of web surfing.

This updated model comes in gold, silver, and Space Gray, along with an integrated Touch ID sensor. It measures 0.61 inches thin and weighs 2.75 pounds.

MacBook Air 2017 (13-inch)

Apple laptop

This Apple laptop arrived in mid-2017 packing fifth-generation Intel CPUs. The $999 default configuration relies on an Intel Core i5-5350U two-core processor with an upgrade option for Intel’s Core i7-5650U chip. This unit remains locked in memory at 8GB (LPDDR3 at 1,600MHz) while storage includes 128GB by default with 256GB and 512GB SSD upgrade options.

This model pack a 13.3-inch TN display with a 1,440 x 900 resolution. It’s complemented by two USB-A ports at 5Gbps each, one Thunderbolt 2 port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an SD card reader. Other ingredients include Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a 720p camera, a 54WHr battery promising up to 12 hours of video playback or web browsing, and a silver exterior. It measures 0.68 inches thick and weighs 2.96 pounds.

MacBook (12-inch)

Apple laptop

Finally, we have Apple’s 12-inch MacBook, which sports an IPS screen with a 2,304 x 1,440 resolution. You can get this notebook with Intel’s seventh-generation Core m3-7Y32 two-core processor, 8GB of system memory, and 256GB of storage for a starting price of $1,299. You can also start with the $1,599 price point offering Intel’s Core i5-7Y54 two-core chip, 8GB of memory and 512GB of storage. In both cases, you can upgrade to the Core i7-7Y75 two-core processor and 16GB of system memory prior to shipping.

The latest 12-inch MacBook includes a 480p webcam, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, one USB-C port at 5Gbps, one 3.5mm audio jack, and a 41.1WHr battery promising up to 12 hours of video playback and up to 10 hours of web browsing, It measures 0.52 inches thin, weighs 2.03 pounds, and ships in gold, silver, and Space Gray.

 
So that’s it for our look at the best Apple laptops. While the Pro may technically be the very best Apple laptop, really all comes down to your needs. 

The best earbuds under $50

Cheap earbuds: Close-up of RHA MA390 earbuds on a wooden beam.

The best cheap earbuds are the RHA MA390.

Cheap earbuds litter city streets and occupy gas station walls, making them more ubiquitous than AirPods. Although we’re riding out a wave of wireless and true wireless earbuds, wired alternatives still have their place in our ears and in our bags. The problem with having so many options is that there is a lot of junk out there, making it a bit harder to find the gems. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best of what’s around as you gear up for some last-minute holiday shopping.

If you have a moment, we implore you to read the in-depth list at SoundGuys, which provides greater insight to those interested.

You may like the Best of Android 2018: the best audio

Best all-around: RHA MA390

Cheap earbuds: RHA MA390 earbuds on wooden table with one earbud in background dangling over iPod Classic (silver).

The in-line microphone isn’t the best quality, but it works.

Reasons to consider the RHA MA390:

  • Despite the ~$30 price, the RHA MA390 sports aluminum housings, emulating a premium feel.
  • You’re allowed virtual assistant access via the integrated one-button microphone and remote.
  • The low-end frequencies are emphasized and reinforced by the solid seal created by dual-density silicone ear tips.
  • Listeners are afforded a three-year warranty.

Best workout: Creative Outlier One

cheap earbuds: Creative Outlier One on a wood surface.

Athletes who want to save some money on a good set of wireless earbuds will like the Outlier One.

Reasons to consider the Creative Outlier One:

Best wireless: SoundPeats Engine

Best earbuds under $50: SoundPeats Engine earbuds on black box with vase in left half of the image.

The SoundPeats Engine Wireless earbuds support aptX and aptX LL, and the magnetic housings are useful when not listening to the buds.

Reasons to consider the SoundPeats Engine:

Best durability: Shure SE112-GR

Cheap earbuds: Shure SE112 earbuds on white background.

These earbuds feature a boosted low-end.

Reasons to consider the Shure SE112-GR:

  • Shure, a legacy audio company, has been around for decades, and its SE112 earbuds feature the company’s bass-heavy house sound.
  • Stress relievers at the Y-splitter and descending from the earbuds are well-reinforced.
  • Despite the lack of a stiff ear hook component, these earbuds are meant to be worn around the ear. This mitigates microphonics, the phenomenon of cable vibrations traveling up to the earbuds.

Best bang for your buck: Panasonic Ergo Fit

Cheap earbuds: Red Panasonic Ergo Fit on white table.

These are great for listeners who just want cheap earbuds that work.

Reasons to consider the Panasonic Ergo Fit:

  • These earbuds usually retail for less than $10 and are available in 15 colorways.
  • The angled nozzles promote a more comfortable fit.
  • Sound quality for the price is surprisingly good.
If you’re still looking, check out the full article for excellent alternatives and detailed information concerning how we chose and tested the awardees.

What you should consider before buying cheap earbuds

cheap earbuds - Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: The earbuds in the case, which lays open, and flanked by two faux greenery pieces.

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 retails for $149.99 and includes more features than the products listed.

  • A cogent seal is an easy way to improve sound quality. If you can’t get a good seal from the included earbuds, investing in third-party ear tips is an easy, long-term solution.
  • Premium materials are usually the first to go. That said, the Outlier One still includes IPX4 water-resistance for running and exercising.
  • A bass-heavy frequency response is common, and often preferred, when it comes to cheap earbuds. If you’d like to EQ the sound, most phones allow users to do so.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

cheap earbuds - Woman wearing Aukey 7.1-Channel RGB gaming headphones.

Writers at SoundGuys respect that audio is both subjective and objective. In turn, they apply this philosophy to their reviews.

 
Editor’s Pick

SoundGuys is Android Authority’s sister site, and the writers often cross-over to cover topics on this site. No one on the SoundGuys team benefits from partnerships or referral purchases. Individually, each writer at SoundGuys has multiple years of experience keeping tabs on the consumer audio domain, informing their review and reporting styles. To get a more in-depth understanding of the inner workings, feel free to visit the SoundGuys ethics policy page.

See also: best cheap gifts under $25

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Here are the best T-Mobile deals and offers right now (January 2019)

T-Mobile is now the third-biggest U.S. wireless carrier and could soon be the second if the Sprint merger works out. Its growth is due in part to the many aggressive T-Mobile deals and offers always available for new and current customers, with discounts on phones and other accessories.

Read Next: Best unlimited data plans in the US

Here are the currently available T-Mobile deals, so you can be aware of them when you make your next smartphone purchase from the carrier. Since T-Mobile lets some deals expire and adds new ones, we will update this post as those deals are revealed.

T-Mobile deals – Buy a Galaxy Watch or Gear S3 Watch and get a second one “free”

T-Mobile is currently running a promotion where if you get a Samsung Galaxy Watch or the older Gear S3 Watch, you can get a second one for free. You have to get both smartwatches up front along with a paid Data plan with Paired Digits line. Existing T-Mobile customers will need to get at least one new line. The “free” part comes with bill credits that will total $400 over 24 months. There’s an upper limit of six “free” watches with the purchase of six regular watches, for a total of 12 watches.

If you cancel your T-Mobile account before the free period ends, you are responsible for paying the rest of the smartwatch’s price.

 


T-Mobile deals – Get up to four free Samsung Galaxy S9 phones with trade in and unlimited plan

The best current T-Mobile deal gets you a free Samsung Galaxy S9 when you trade in a qualified older phone and sign up for one of T-Mobile’s unlimited plans. This deal will be available for up to four phones and lines on T-Mobile unlimited accounts. The phones will become free with bill credits spaced out over 36 months. 

As usual with these kinds of deals, if you cancel your T-Mobile account before the 26 month period ends, you are responsible for paying for the rest of the phone’s price out of your own pocket.


T-Mobile deals – Get a free Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 tablet

 

Another of the best T-Mobile deals gets you a free Samsung Galaxy A 8.0 tablet. You will have to add a new line to get this deal. The “free” comes when you get 24 monthly bill credits that will total $264. Again, if you cancel your T-Mobile account before the free period ends, you are responsible for paying the rest of the tablet’s price.
 
 
 
Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Buying the Pixel 3? Here are the best Google Pixel 3 XL cases

Pixel 3 XL hands on

Google recently took the wraps off the latest additions to its Pixel series – the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. The larger Google Pixel 3 XL offers all the hardware we expect from a 2018 flagship and a slew of camera features that improve on the already fantastic camera of its predecessor. Extras like an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and wireless charging also make for an even more compelling device.

Keeping your brand new smartphone safe from accidental bumps and drops is always important. To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the best protective Google Pixel 3 XL cases and covers that are currently available!


Google fabric case

The four available colors of the Google Pixel 3 Fabric Case. Google

One of the official cases for the Google Pixel 3 XL is the fabric case, which features the same tailored fabric as is seen with the Google Home smart speaker. The case is also thin enough to work with the Pixel Stand for wireless charging and its Active Edge feature. Available in Carbon (black), Indigo (blue), Fog (gray), and Pink Moon, the Google fabric case is priced at $40.


Pixel 3 MNML Case

Promoted

pixel 3 xl mnml mask

Looking for a thin Pixel 3 XL case? There is no thinner case than the MNML case at just 0.35 mm thin. It’s so thin that it will look and feel like you have no case at all. It doesn’t offer much drop protection, but it will protect you from the day-to-day scratches that can accumulate.

The case comes in 5 different colors, including frosted black, frosted white, matte black, really blue, and red, and it’s on sale for $14.99. Get 15% off with code: 15PX3 only at MNMLCase.com


Google My Case

Descriptions of how the Google My Case process works. Google

Another one of the official Google Pixel 3 XL cases is the Google My Case. This is a customized case for which you can upload your own photos or design, pick from Google’s own artwork, or customize a case based on a location. Finally, you can choose to pick a color for the trim of the case that looks like the color of the phone itself to keep everything uniform. The “My Case” from Google will set you back $50.


Otterbox Defender

A promotional image of the Google Pixel 3 OtterBox. Google

The Otterbox Defender is an ultra-rugged case that combines a hard outer shell and a soft inner lining to keep the phone safe from accidents. It also comes with its own belt holster that can also double as a kickstand for some hands-free video watching. The Otterbox case for the Pixel 3 XL is available for $59.95 and comes in black or blue color choices.


Bellroy Leather Google Pixel 3 case

A promotional image of the Bellroy Leather Case for Google Pixel 3. Google

These three real leather Pixel 3 XL cases come from Bellroy. Available in three colors – Black, Navy, and Carmel – these cases will definitely give your new phone a classy, fashionable look. Of course, the leather also adds a lot of grip and makes the phone easier to hold. The Bellroy Pixel 3 XL cases are available on Amazon for $49.


Spigen Liquid Crystal

spigen liquid crystal case for the pixel 3 xl

The Spigen Liquid Crystal is an ultra slim case that lets you show off the look of the phone. This TPU case comes with precise cutouts for easy access to all ports and features. It utilizes Air Cushion technology to provide better corner protection and is thin enough to be kept on when using it with a wireless charger. The Spigen Liquid Crystal case for the Pixel 3 XL is priced at $9.99.


Ringke Fusion

ringke fusion pixel 3 xl case

The Ringke Fusion case offers features dual layer protection with a TPU bumper and a hard polycarbonate panel. The case is quite thin but comes with the MIL-STD 810G-516.6 certification for shock protection. Precise cutouts are available for easy access to all ports and features, while the buttons are covered but easy to press. The Ringke Fusion case for the Pixel 3 XL is priced starting at $8.99.


Dretal Armor

dretal pixel 3 xl case with built-in plate for magnetic car holder

The Dretal Armor case is made of environment-friendly plastic and an anti-stretch TPU rubber. The corners are reinforced with an inner airbag design to allow for more shock absorption. The case also comes with a built-in metal plate that can be used place the phone on a magnetic car mount or holder. Available color options include black, orange, and navy blue, and the case is priced at $8.98.


TUDIA Merge

tudia merge pixel 3 xl case

The TUDIA Merge is a dual-layer case that combines a soft TPU gel layer and a hard polycarbonate shell to provide rugged protection. Raised edges keep the camera and screen protected and all the buttons are covered as well. The TUDIA Merge case is available in a few different colors like matte black, green, gold, and metallic slate. The TUDIA Merge Pixel 3 XL cases are priced starting at just $8.99.


Spigen Rugged Armor

spigen rugged armor - one of the best pixel 3 xl cases

The Spigen Rugged Armor is one of the best Google Pixel 3 XL cases you can get. The flexible TPU case utilizes Air Cushion technology to keep the device safe from accidental drops. The buttons are covered but easy to press. A raised lip keeps the camera bump protected and precise cutouts are available for all ports and features. The case is also compatible with wireless charging the Active Edge feature. The Spigen Rugged Armor case is priced at $9.99.


Incipio DualPro

incipio dualpro

The Incipio DualPro is another case that offers dual layer protection with a shock absorbing inner core and impact resistant Plextonium polycarbonate frame. The buttons are covered but easy to press, and there are precise cutouts for everything else. The Incipio DualPro case is currently available for $29.99.


Poetic Revolution

poetic revolution rugged pixel 3 xl case

The Poetic Revolution is a great option if you are looking for one of the rugged Google Pixel 3 XL cases around. Made with polycarbonate and TPU materials, the case comes textured sides that provide enhanced grip and raised supports on the corners to create a cushion. A polycarbonate shell covers the front and comes with a built-in screen protector. The case also comes with a kickstand. The Poetic Revolution case is available in black, white, and sky blue, and retails for $14.95.


Moment Pixel 3 XL case

The Moment Pixel 3 XL case is designed to let owners attach one of Moment’s smartphone camera lens add-ons to the back of the case. Therefore, its great for people who want to get more out of the Pixel 3 XL’s already excellent camera hardware. You can also attach a wrist strap to the bottom of the Moment case for better grip while you take pictures. The case also has a rubberized body designed to protect the phone from any accidental spills or drops.

It’s on Amazon for $34.99 and you can choose from models with a black canvas finish, a speckled white finish with real tan horween leather, or one like the model above with a real wood finish.


That’s it for this roundup of some of the Google Pixel 3 XL cases that are currently available, and we will be updating this post with more choices as they are released.

Pixel 3 XL coverage:

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Best portable battery chargers (January 2019)

Smartphone technology has come a long way in the past few years, but there is a lingering issue that is taking time to evolve — battery life. Sure, batteries are getting bigger and phones more resourceful, but many of us still have a problem keeping our devices alive. One solution is to charge your phone throughout the day, something that proves to be an issue when there is no outlet around. The next best solution is to buy yourself a battery pack or one of the many portable chargers to charge on-the-go.

With so many options around, we know it’s hard to find the best units on the market. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best portable chargers! While many use these devices to charge their phones, many modern electronic devices can be charged up including select laptops, tablets, and game systems like the Nintendo Switch.

Let’s get started and show you our picks for the best portable battery chargers you can buy right now. 


Best high-capacity options

Anker PowerCore+ 26,800mAh portable battery charger

Anker is a trusted name when it comes to portable battery chargers, and this particular option offers it all. To start with, you get the massive capacity of 26,800mAh, which is more than enough to fully recharge your smartphone multiple times. The power bank comes with three USB ports, including a USB-C port with 30W output to let you charge a MacBook and the Nintendo Switch. Like every portable charger on this list, you get protection from short circuits, overcharging, and current and voltage surge. The portable charger also comes with a 30W USB-C wall charger.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 26,800mAh
  • Output: 2 x USB ports 5V/3A max, 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A or 9V~15V/2A or 20V/1.5A (30W max)
  • Dimensions: 166.1 x 80 x 23.1mm, 576grams
  • Current price: $129.99

RAVPower 20,100mAh portable charger

This RAVPower portable charger offers features that are similar to the Anker charger above, with a few key differences. The capacity is slightly lower at 20,100mAh, but the USB-C port offers a 45W output. The capacity is still more than enough to recharge a smartphone multiple times and the device can be used to charge laptops like Macbooks and the Dell XPS 13 or 15 as well. 4 LED indicators let you know how much charge the power bank has remaining. You also get a standard USB-A port that will let you charge a second device simultaneously.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 20,100mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB ports 5V/2.4A max, 1 x USB-C port 5V~15V/3A or 20V/2.25A (45W max)
  • Dimensions: 160 x 78.5 x 23mm, 400grams
  • Current price: $59.99

AUKEY 20,000mAh portable charger

Portable battery charger - Aukey

AUKEY is a pretty well-known name in the phone accessories industry. Its product lineup includes this 20,000mAh external battery that features a thin and slim design compared to the more bulky devices on this list. Even with its thin casing, it has four power output ports for charging up to four devices at once, including three standard USB ports plus one USB Type-C port to charge the latest smartphones.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 20,000mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A max, 3 x USB ports 5V/2A
  • Dimensions: 200 x 96 x 14mm, 435grams
  • Current price: $39.99
 

MAXOAK 50,000mAh portable charger

If you want to get a portable battery charger that can charge all of your smartphones, laptops, and tablets at once, then the MAXOAK charger may be for you. It not only has a massive 50,000mAh capacity, but it has no less than six charging ports. One of the ports has a 20V/5A charging capacity for laptops. Another port has a 12V/2.5A charger, while two others have a 5V/2.1A capacity. The final two ports have a 5V/1A capacity. It may not be the most portable power bank on this best portable chargers list, but it should be more than enough to cover all your charging needs.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 50,000mAh
  • Output: 6 ports (1 x 20V/5A, 1 x 12V/2.5Am 2 x 5V/2.1A, 2 x 5V/1A)
  • Dimensions: 205.7 x 134.6 x 33mm, 1.25kgs
  • Current price: $135.99
 
Looking for more high-capacity power bank option? check out our guide to the best ultra-high capacity portable chargers (26,800 mAh and above).

Best smaller capacity option: Anker PowerCore Slim 5,000mAh portable charger

Anker PowerCore Slim

The Anker PowerCore Slim, as the name suggests, is a thin, sleek, and ultra portable battery charger. The device comes with a 5,000mAh capacity, which should be enough to fully charge or get close to a full charge with most current smartphones. It comes with a single USB port that takes advantage of PowerIQ technology to allow for the fastest charge possible. While the PowerCore Slim may not be as feature packed as the other ones on this best portable chargers list, its portability is the biggest selling point.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 5,000mAh
  • Output: 1 x PowerIQ port 5V/2A
  • Dimensions: 124.5 x 63.5 x 10.2mm, 126grams
  • Current price: $29.99

Be sure to check out our guide for more portable chargers with a capacity of 10,000mAh or less.


Best for wireless charging power bank: AideaZ 20,000mAh portable battery charger

Portable battery charger - AideaZ

The Aidez portable charger not only has a battery with a big 20,000mAh capacity but also offers wireless charging. Owners can place compatible phones on top of the battery and charge them cable free. It also has two USB Type-C ports with Quick Charge support for a more conventional, and faster, phone charging experience. That means this portable battery can charge two wired phones and one wireless phone at the same time. The battery also has an LED indicator to let you know the exact charge percentage left in the battery.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 20,000mAh
  • Output: 2 x USB-C output ports (5~6V/3A, 6~9V/2A, 9~12V//1.5A), wireless charging
  • Dimensions: 170.2 x 61 x 22.9mm, 377grams
  • Current price: $44.99
 
 

Jump start capable battery pack: Beatit 500A 10,800mAh portable charger

The Beatit portable jump starter is ideal for anyone looking to address all their emergency power needs with a single device. This portable charger will jump-start a 3.0L gas or 2.5L diesel engine up to 20 times on a single charge. It also comes with three USB ports, including one with support for Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 and a USB-C port, to keep your devices charged on the go. There is also a flashlight with three modes — normal, SOS, and strobe. Considering all its features and its affordable price, this is one of the best portable battery chargers for anyone who is on the road a lot.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 10,800mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB port 5V/2A, 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A, 1 x QC 3.0 port 5V/2A or 6.5V~9V/1.5A or 9V~12V/1A
  • Current: Start current 250A, Peak current 500A
  • Dimensions: 145 x 84 x 25.4mm, 454grams
  • Current price: $39.99

Best for solar battery chargers: RAVPower 25,000mAh solar charger

If you’re the outdoorsy type, this is the best portable charger to get. It offers a large 25,000mAh capacity and features a solar panel on top for charging the device while you’re out and about. It’s also waterproof and there’s a flashlight on board that can be used in case you run into trouble on your adventure. The power bank has three USB ports, including a quick charge port and a USB-C port. All of these features make it a great option for those who love to hike, camp, and do similar outdoor activities.

Key details:

  • Capacity: 25,000mAh
  • Output: 1 x USB port 5V/2.4A, 1 x USB-C port 5V/3A, 1 x QC port 5V/3A or 6.5V~9V/2A or 9V~12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions: 233.7 x 99 x 38.1mm, 550grams
  • Current price: $52.99
For more solar battery chargers, be sure to check out our extended guide.
 

There you have it. These are our picks for the best portable chargers currently available! Now hit the comments and let us know which portable battery charger would you consider getting. Are there any other portable battery packs you think your fellow Android fans would like?

Related

Android Authority’s CES Top Picks 2019 Awards: Our favorite products from the show

We’ve spent the last week meeting with companies and roaming around the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center to find the very best of CES 2019. From laptops, to smart home devices, to drones, there’s certainly a lot to take in — that’s why we’ve created a list of the best products announced at CES 2019.

Here are Android Authority’s CES Top Picks 2019 Awards.

The best smartphone: Alcatel 1X

The Alcatel 1X is proof that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a decent smartphone. For around 130 Euros, Alcatel’s new budget-friendly phone offers a 5.5-inch display, Android 8.1 Oreo, a 3,000mAh battery, and support for 4G connectivity. It also comes with this beautiful sandstone texture on the back that will instill nostalgia in any OnePlus One fan out there.

What’s more, it packs a dual 16MP and 2MP rear-camera setup, which actually turned out to be quite impressive during our hands-on time with the device. Portrait mode is surprisingly good too.

The best laptop: Dell Alienware Area-51m

Dell’s Alienware went back to the drawing board to overhaul its popular gaming laptop design. Called Alienware Legend, the move marks a significant change in the overall Alienware brand. That includes a reimagined shape and new color options: Lunar Light and Dark Side of the Moon. The underlying sci-fi theme fans love still remains highly relevant.

The first product based on this new Alienware Legend identity is the Area-51m. In addition to the new outward appearance, Alienware revised the internal design to provide better overclocking and a thinner form factor. All this plays host to the latest Intel Core processors and GeForce RTX 20 Series graphics. The Area-51m initiates a new era for Alienware and its fans.

The best smartwatch: Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2

A ton of smartwatches were announced at the trade show this year, and the best one came from Kate Spade. We’re giving the Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2 an award this year because it was clear the team listened to user feedback. With an on-board GPS and heart rate sensor, the Scallop Smartwatch 2 is now a capable fitness companion — not just a pretty watch.

Watch: The best smartwatches from CES 2019

Let’s be honest, this is still a pretty watch, though. The flower-like design surrounding the bezel adds to the classy aesthetic, backed up by the understated silicone strap and stainless steel case. Of course, the iconic spade icon is scattered throughout, adorning the rotatable crown and on the top of each Kate Spade watch face.

A pretty, feature-packed smartwatch. What more could you ask for?

The best fitness product: Withings Move ECG

Don’t miss

The Withings team is back in full force after its brief time at Nokia, and it just announced two new fitness watches called the Withings Move and Withings Move ECG. The Move ECG won Android Authority’s Best Fitness Product Award due to the overall quality of product and benefit users will get out of the electrocardiogram.

ECGs can be literal life savers for some people, and the fact that it’s packed into an attractive, affordable, and customizable fitness watch should not be overlooked. At $130, the Withings Move ECG is a no-brainer if you frequent the doctor for heart problems.

The best smart home product: Google Assistant Connect

For years Google has been trying to become the one-stop shop for smart home products, and the Google Assistant Connect is its next big push to bring even more Assistant-connected products to your life.

Assistant Connect is a set of capabilities that product manufacturers can use to connect their own products to Google Assistant-powered devices like the Google Home or Home Hub. If a product was developed with Assistant Connect, it’s able to talk to nearby Assistant devices and display your personal information (i.e. calendar events/weather) on the screen.

The most obvious example is if a company were to create a simple display without any mics or speakers, including Assistant Connect would allow it to show you content from your linked smart speaker. In this case, the smart speaker would handle all the computing on its own while using Assistant Connect to transfer and display that content on the display.

It’s an inexpensive and easy way for companies to bring Assistant to their products, which is why it’s deserving of our Best Smart Home Product award.

The best audio product: Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT

Few audio companies have the professional history of Audio-Technica, and when they throw their hat in the ring, we pay attention. Taking aim at the top end of active noise cancelling headphones, the ATH-ANC900BT has the firepower to be a blast.

By using a more energy efficient Bluetooth 5 connection, the ATH-ANC900BT has the specs to outlast the likes of Bose, Sony, and Sennheiser’s top-of-the-line headphones. Additionally, they’re also the most affordable entry into the top-end of ANC headsets, coming in at only $299.

The best concept: Whirlpool Connected Hub Wall Oven

Whirlpool surprised us this year when it showed off its Smart Countertop Oven, produced under its WLabs brand.

The WLabs Smart Countertop Oven automatically detects the type of food you’re cooking. You can then choose from additional cooking options based on your preferences. For example, if you’re cooking pizza, the Smart Countertop will give you a range of crispiness to to choose from.

Related

Whirlpool is also the first on the market with a product that can distinguish between frozen and non-frozen food. Its current cooking algorithm is set to a 95 percent confidence interval too, so cooking times and settings should be very accurate.

What impressed us most, however, is Whirlpool’s planned distribution model for this product. Whirlpool will ship just two thousand units in the coming weeks for $799 each. We’re told the reasoning behind launching under the WLabs brand is so that Whirlpool can better gather user feedback and tweak anything accordingly. That way, it can improve the experience even further before launching a mainstream consumer product.

Overall, we were quite impressed with Whirlpool’s work as is. So, we’re very happy to see a commitment to develop the concept further.

The best mobile accessory: Corning Gorilla Glass Personalized Phone Case

The Corning Gorilla Glass personalized phone case is a surprisingly fun new addition to the mobile protection market. Corning will print any photo you like on the back of its Gorilla Glass 5 which then gets embedded into a rubberized case for your smartphone. The final product is a sturdy case with a smooth, elegant glass back that also has a picture of your spouse, kids, family, pets, or anything, really.

Eventually, Corning will have vending machines that will print you a case in a matter of minutes. Just upload your photo to a web server, tell the machine which phone you own, and a few minutes later your brand new case will pop out. Keeping your phone free of scratches and dents has never been this cool.

Best innovation: LG Signature OLED TV R

LG’s Signature OLED TV R is something we’ve only ever imagined or seen in a movie or TV show. It may shape the future of TVs forever, which is why it wins our Best Innovation Award.

Watch: LG’s rollable OLED TV at CES 2019

A prototype of the TV was shown off at CES 2018, but this year the rollable TV is a real product that consumers will actually be able to buy. The way it beautifully rolls and rises out of the sound bar feels like pure magic. The TV is there when you want it, and disappears when you don’t. It can even be there when you only partially want it. The horizon-line view shows only a fraction of the display for quick access to basic functions. It’s cool, futuristic, and will be a game changer to the TV industry.


Spotlight Awards

It’s easy to focus on the biggest names in technology at trade shows as big as CES. That’s why Android Authority has chosen six of our favorite innovative tech products that may have flown under the radar.

Jabra Elite 85h


Elevating their wireless headphones game, the new Jabra Elite 85h are noise-cancelling cans made for folks on the go.

Equipped with SmartSound, these over-ear headphones adapt automatically to produce the best sound for phone calls, music, and more. Coming in four colors with a rain resistant build, enjoy ANC on the go for up to 32 hours of battery life, even longer with ANC turned off. ANC auto switching turns on and off the service based on your environment. Of course, the Jabra Elite 85h also sound great, and you can adjust the EQ and sound profiles through the Jabra Sound+ app for extra sound clarity.

Insta360 ONE X

Weather you’re skiing down a mountain or hiking up a cliff, the Insta360 ONE X should be just the thing you need to capture great 360-degree video. This 4K-capable camera features Insta360’s FlowState Stabilization, which means smooth footage even in the most

Nuu Mobile G4

Nuu Mobile showed off its brand new G4 smartphone at CES 2019, and it provides some killer value at a cheap price. It comes with a big 6.2-inch display, a 2GHz MediaTek Helio P60 processor, dual 16 + 8MP rear cameras, and it runs Android 9.0 Pie.

The best part? You can get all of that for just $249 in March 2019.

Next: All our favorite CES 2019 announcements in one place

Best phones with 8GB of RAM — what are your current options?

It wasn’t that long ago that 8GB of RAM was considered a pretty sizeable capacity, even for a computer. Now, phones with 8GB of RAM are a thing – in fact, phones are even starting to offer 10GB of RAM! While that’s arguably an overkill, more RAM is never a bad thing, especially if you plan to keep your handset for several years. More RAM doesn’t necessarily mean you’re totally future proof, but it certainly helps.

If you’re in the market for a phone with 8GB of RAM, you’ll be happy to hear there are already quite a few of them to choose from — check out the five best ones below.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

phones with 8GB of RAM

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was announced in August and is currently one of the best smartphones you can get your hands on. We here at Android Authority named it the smartphone of the year. It comes with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, although a version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is also available.

The flagship sports a 6.4-inch display with QHD+ resolution and is powered by the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset, depending on the region. There’s a dual-camera setup on the back with two 12MP sensors featuring dual aperture and scene recognition. It’s IP68 rated for protection against water and dust, has an 8MP selfie snapper, and packs a massive 4,000mAh battery.

Read next: Best Samsung phones you can buy right now

The handset also comes with the S Pen, which is a signature feature of the Note series. It now supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that lets you remotely control the camera with the button on the stylus. Samsung’s flagship is quite expensive, with the version sporting 8GB of RAM retailing for $1,250.

Specs

  • 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,960 x 1,440 resolution, 516ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset — depending on the region
  • 6/8GB of RAM
  • 128/512GB of storage, microSD expansion up to 512GB
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm, 201g

Read more


OnePlus 6T

OnePLus 6t large display

The OnePlus 6T features 8GB of RAM paired with either 128 or 256GB of storage. However, a cheaper variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is also available.

Editor’s Pick

The device sports a 6.41-inch Full HD+ display with a notch and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 845 chipset and has a dual-camera setup at the back with 16 and 20MP sensors. Other specs and features include a 3,700mAh battery, a 16MP front-facing camera, and Android 9.0 Pie with the popular OxygenOS skin on top.

What makes the OnePlus 6T so popular is its price. The 128GB variant can be yours for $580, while the 256GB model retails for $630. This is a great deal, but keep in mind that the device is missing a few flagship features like an IP rating and wireless charging, to name a few. There’s also no headphone jack on board.

Specs

  • 6.41-inch AMOLED display with 2,340 x 1,080 resolution, 402ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 6/8GB of RAM
  • 128/256GB of storage, non-expandable
  • 16 and 20MP rear cameras, 16MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,700mAh battery
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm, 185g

Read more


Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro in-display fingerprint sensor

The Mate 20 Pro is the best phone in Huawei’s lineup, as well as one of the best phones you can get. It comes with high-end specs, a gorgeous design, and a few extra bells and whistles you won’t find on any of its competitors.

The Mate 20 Pro sports a curved display, a triple-camera setup, and a massive 4,200mAh battery.

The flagship sports a large 6.39-inch screen with curved edges, similar to the ones found on the Galaxy S9 series. It has an in-display fingerprint scanner, a triple-camera setup on the back, and 3D facial recognition. There even a feature called reverse wireless charging on board that allows the phone to double as a wireless charger — learn more here.

The Mate 20 Pro is the class leader when it comes to battery life thanks to its a massive 4,200mAh cell. It’s also IP68 rated for protection against water and dust and supports expandable storage via Huawei’s new Nano Memory standard. The 6GB RAM version of the handset launched with a price tag of 900 pounds in the U.K and 1,000 euros (~$1,145) in the rest of Europe, but you can get it from around 850 euros at the moment — depending on where you buy it. The variant with 8GB of RAM is exclusive to certain markets and is a bit harder to track down — but you can get the international model on Amazon for around $1,200.

Specs

  • 6.39-inch AMOLED display with 3,120 x 1,440 resolution, 538ppi
  • Kirin 980 chipset
  • 6/8GB of RAM
  • 128/256GB of storage, expandable up to 256GB via NM (nano memory)
  • 40, 8, 20MP rear cameras, 24MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,200mAh battery
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm, 189g

Read more


Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

The front of Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro has top-of-the-line specs including the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB of RAM. It also sports a dual-camera setup on the back, a 6.21-inch Full HD+ display, and 128GB of storage. 

Editor’s Pick

The phone has an in-display fingerprint scanner, allowing you to unlock it by placing your finger on a specific part of the screen. But in his review, our very own Oliver Cragg said it only worked maybe 40 percent of the time.

Xiaomi’s flagship has an eye-catching design thanks to its transparent back, which allows you to see the internals of the device — kind of. Other specs include a 3,000mAh battery, dual-SIM support, and Android Oreo with the company’s MIUI skin on top.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro was announced in September and is available in a number of European markets. In the U.K., you can currently get it for 480 pounds (~$605), which isn’t a bad deal. 

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro -- one of the best phones with 8GB of RAM

Specs

  • 6.21-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,248 x 1,080 resolution, 402ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB of storage, non-expandable
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras, 20MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • 154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm, 177g

Read more


Asus ROG Phone

Asus ROG Phone display

This is a gaming phone. In addition to high-end specs, which include the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB of RAM, it sports an attention-grabbing design with a customizable RGB logo at the back.

You can get the Asus ROG Phone with a range of accessories.

The phone comes with a range of accessories that improve the gaming experience. These include a TwinView handheld dock with a secondary display and 6,000mAh battery, a third-party GameVice controller with WiGig functionality so you can play on an external display, and more. The flagship even sports a performance mode called X Mode, which raises the minimum clock speed and restricts tasks to the four fastest cores.

Other specs and features of the handset include a 6.0-inch display, a massive 4,000mAh battery, and dual front-facing speakers. The entry-level version with 128GB of space can be yours for $900, while the 512GB variant will set you back $1,100.

The back of the Asus ROG Phone.

Specs

  • 6.0-inch AMOLED display with 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, 402ppi
  • Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128/512GB of storage, non-expandable
  • 12 and 8MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • 158.8 x 76.2 x 8.3 mm, 200g

Read more


There you have it, folks. These are our picks for the five best phones with 8GB of RAM, although there are quite a few others out there to choose from. These include the Oppo Find X, Asus Zenfone 5z, and the Huawei P20 Pro. Then there’s also the Pocophone F1, but the version with 8GB of RAM is exclusive to certain markets and kind of hard to get. Let’s not forget about the Honor View 20 that recently made its debut in China, with the global announcement scheduled for January 22. Which ones would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

Best fitness trackers (December 2018)

Fitness trackers have come an extremely long way over the years. No longer are they glorified pedometers; they’re much more than that. Most standard fitness trackers nowadays can track your steps taken, distance traveled, how many calories you’ve burned for the day, and even your sleeping patterns. They’re handy little devices if you want a better look at how active you are throughout the day, and there are plenty to choose from.

Related: Best Fitbit fitness trackers | Best Garmin watches

We understand it can be a little daunting trying to choose which fitness tracker best suits your needs, so we’ve compiled a list of the best fitness trackers on the market. We’ve divided our list up into separate categories to help you narrow down your options. As always, if you feel like we missed something on our best fitness trackers list, be sure to tell us in the comment section below.

Without any further delay, here are the best fitness trackers you can buy right now.

Best fitness trackers update:December

This month we removed the Fitbit Charge 2 and Withings Steel HR to make room for the Fitbit Charge 3.


The best fitness tracker overall

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit’s Charge 3 is the best fitness tracker you can buy for most people. Its classy, versatile design means it’ll look good in the office and at the gym. It’s also water resistant this time around, and has one of the more accurate wrist-based heart rate sensors we’ve tried on a wearable.

Elsewhere, the Fitbit Charge 3 offers a great software experience, plenty of smartwatch features, and a battery that can last almost a week on a single charge. Unless you’re a runner, you probably don’t need GPS. For those folks, the Charge 3 is a great option. If you need a GPS, move on to our #2 pick.

Read more: The best Fitbit alternativesThe most common Fitbit problems and how to fix them

Garmin vivosport

garmin vivo sport

The Garmin vivosport is the best fitness tracker with GPS.

Editor’s Pick

It also packs in a heart rate monitor, which is pretty incredible considering its slim and lightweight design. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters, will last up to seven days on a single charge, and comes with a Chroma touchscreen display that’s miles better than the display on the vivosmart 3. The display is a little small for my liking, however.

The vivosport is available now for around $149.99. That’s an absolute steal for the best fitness tracker with GPS.

Also read: Best GPS running watches

Garmin vivosmart 4

garmin vivosmart 4 review screen

Garmin’s vivosmart 4 might not have a built-in GPS, but it has almost everything else you could want in a basic fitness tracker.

Don’t miss: Garmin vivosmart 4 review

It’s thin and lightweight, has a much better screen than its predecessor, and it’s proven itself to be a reliable fitness tracker at its core. It also comes with advanced sleep metrics that are right up there with Fitbit’s, as well as a pulse ox sensor for keeping tabs on blood-oxygen saturation levels.

The big downside here is the lack of GPS and GPS phone tethering option, so this is purely a health and activity tracker, not so much for high-intensity workouts. If that doesn’t turn you away, the vivosmart 4 is a great option.


Best multisport fitness tracker: Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

The standard Garmin vivoactive 3 is one of our favorite multisport fitness watches. Naturally, the vivoactive 3 Music made its way to our list right when it was announced.

Everything you loved about the vivoactive 3 is here, along with support for music storage of up to 500 songs. You can load up your favorite songs, or download playlists from iHeartRadio. Deezer support will be added in the future, too.

Don’t miss: Garmin vivoactive 3 review | Hands-on with the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

Aside from a slightly redesigned bezel on the new watch (and music support, of course), the vivoactive 3 and Music version are basically the same. That means you get a fantastic running watch with a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, 5ATM water resistance rating, Garmin Pay support, and seven-day battery life. You can check out our full vivoactive 3 review right here to learn more.

Also read: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?


Best fitness smartwatch

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit Versa

If you were underwhelmed by Fitbit’s first smartwatch offering, the Versa might be just the thing for you.

The Fitbit Versa is much better looking and more compact than the Ionic, and it doesn’t cost as much money. Now, that lower price tag will get you fewer features (no GPS, for instance), but that’s the whole point of this smartwatch — the Versa is a smartwatch for everyone.

Don’t miss: Fitbit Versa review | Fitbit Versa vs Ionic

With the recent addition of quick replies, you can now reply to just about every app notification you receive on your wrist. The Versa also recently received Fitbit’s female health tracking suite, making this a much more powerful health tracker for women.

The Versa also brings Fitbit OS 2.0, 24/7 heart rate tracking, on-screen workouts with Fitbit Coach, over 15 exercise modes, Connected GPS, and swim tracking thanks to its 5ATM rating. There’s also room to store your music, and if you spring for the Special Edition model you’ll have access to Fitbit Pay.

Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic

The Fitbit Ionic is a great fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid if you need something a little more powerful than the Versa. It’s an incredible fitness and sleep tracker, comes with a built-in GPS, allows you to pay for things from your wrist, and it’s water resistant.

More: Fitbit Ionic review | Fitbit Flyer review

Just like the Fitbit Versa, the Ionic now has support for quick replies for notifications and female health tracking features.

The Ionic is one heck of a fitness smartwatch. It’s available now on Amazon and Fitbit.com for $269.95, and comes in three different color options.


Best budget fitness tracker

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

If you need a basic fitness tracker and you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, buy the Xiaomi Mi Band 3. At only $25, it’s hard not to recommend this device.

Not only has the design been improved from the Mi Band 2, it’s also received a few nice upgrades under the hood. The heart rate monitor is fairly accurate for a budget device, and it can still track all the basics — steps taken, calories burned, and sleep.

More: Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review

To get down to this price point, Xiaomi had to make some compromises. It doesn’t support many activity profiles, and the software is a little wonky at times. If that doesn’t bother you, the Xiaomi Mi Band is probably the best bang-for-your-buck activity tracker on the market.

Garmin vivofit 4

Garmin vivofit 4

Garmin’s vivofit 3 was one of our favorite inexpensive fitness trackers of 2017. Is the vivofit 4 a worthy successor? That depends.

Related: Garmin vivofit 4 review | Best fitness trackers for kids

In many ways, the vivofit 4 is an improvement over its predecessor. It’s more comfortable, has a new color display, and plenty of useful extras. But the lack of heart rate monitor connectivity is unfortunate, and we hope it returns with the next model.

Throughout our two weeks of testing, the vivofit 4 was so close to delivering accurate results but ultimately fell short more often than we’d like. To its credit, it does offer users a general idea of their performance levels, which is why most people will buy the vivofit 4. It’s an inexpensive fitness tracker that you basically never have to take off, and it keeps track of the basics. If you need a device you basically never have to take off, the vivofit 4 is for you. If you own a vivofit 3, it might not be worth it to upgrade.


So there you have it, the best fitness trackers on the market right now! How did you like our list? Did we leave anything out? If so, let us know in the comments!

Now is a great time to invest in smart light bulbs, but what should you get?

With Christmas just around the corner many smart home products are on sale, hoping to make their way under the tree. This includes smart light bulbs, but what should you get? Hands down, Philips Hue is probably the best choice for most of you reading this. Yes, you need a hub but Hue bulbs are super reliable and also easier to find at brick-in-mortars in the event you need to get a replacement bulb in a hurry.

Hue offers loads of smart light bulbs and lamps that can be controlled via Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. Don’t have a smart speaker?  You really should, but if you don’t the good news is you can also control smart light bulbs directly from your smartphone via any Hue compatible apps.

You can turn all the lights on or off at once, or just the one in the room of choice. You can also dim the lights to specific percentages and even check with Assistant if you forgot to turn off the one in the bathroom before going to bed. As you’ll find with all smart light bulbs, setup is a breeze. Just plug or screw in the light and follow any included instructions for setting up with an app or smart speaker.

Philips offers a few starter packs worth checking out. They include smart light bulbs and the Hue bridge hub, which is required for the system to work. If you buy the Hue bulbs individually, you’ll still  have to get the Hue bridge, which goes for $60 on Philips’ website.

Philips Hue White starter kit

The cheapest starter kit with the Hue bridge goes for $70 and comes with two smart bulbs that produce a warm white light. For an additional $30, you can get a starter pack with four bulbs that emit different shades of white, from cool daylight to relaxing warm white light. The most expensive option goes for $200 and gets you four bulbs able to light up your room in 16 million different colors.

There are also loads of sexy lamps and lights available that range from $35 to $350. You can check out some of the best ones below, along with a few starter kits:


Runner up: Lifx smart light bulbs

Lifx smart light bulbs

Not impressed by Hue? Lifx is easily the second most popular choice. Lifx smart light bulbs are similar to those from Philips. You can turn them on or off, dim them, change their color, and more via Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. You can even create schedules to automate your lighting. Unlike Philips products, they don’t require a hub to work.

Editor’s Pick

There are many products to choose from. The cheapest bulb will set you back $25 (Lifx Mini White), and only produces white light. You’ll have to dish out $20 more for the Lifx Mini Color, which lets you light up your home in any of the 16 million colors available. Keep in mind most Lifx products come with a discount when purchased in packs of four. Four Mini Color bulbs can be yours for $160, which brings the price of each unit down to $40 and saves you $20.

Two of the most interesting Lifx products are Tile and Beam. Tile costs $250 and comes with five tiles included in the box, allowing you to create a unique layout on a wall. Every tile features 64 controllable zones and you can assign a different color and brightness to each one — check what this looks like in action below.

Lifx smart light bulbs tile and beam Lifx

Lifx Beam is cheaper, at $200, and works pretty much the same way, although it doesn’t feature controllable zones. It also has a different form factor (11.8 x 1.37 x 0.78 inches). There are six “beams” included in the box, which you can set up any way you want to create a unique look. Learn more about Beam, as well as other Lifx products, via the links below:


Best for budget: Xiaomi Yeelight family

Xiaomi Yeelight Color Led Light Bulb

There are tons of light bulb brands but for the most part we recommend Hue and Lifx. The one clear exception is for those looking to make their homes smarter on a budget. If that sounds like you, we highly recommend checking out Xiaomi’s offerings.

We recently reviewed Xioami’s desk lamp, smart plug, and other accessories and found them all great. Particularly impressive is the Yeelight color LED bulb. It works well and is only $20, which makes it much cheaper than the competition. In fact, this pricing wouldn’t even be expensive if we were talking about a white-only bulb, but with full color support this is a steal!

Also worth mentioning: Sengled and Nanoleaf

Another great choice for budget users is Sengled, which offers affordable smart light bulbs under the Element brand. Pricing starts at $10 for the cheapest bulb, with four and eight-packs available to bring down the price even further. But you’ll have to dish out $20 extra to get your hands on a light bulb that can change colors. Also the bulbs require a hub.

If you’re looking for something super modern and stylish, Nanoleaf is the company to go with. It sells light panels you can piece together into any shape you want. You can set schedules and create scenes that Assistant or Alexa can activate. It’s far from the cheapest option out there — nine panels go for $230. If you need more, you can get 15 panels for $315 or 30 for around $550.


There you have it, these are the best smart light bulbs and other lighting products compatible with Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Related: What is a Smart Home — and why should you want one?

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Best of Android 2018: the best audio

We’ve subjected the best Android devices of 2018 to a slew of testing and can confidently inform you of what the best sounding phone is, as well as list other standout products with excellent audio. While we’ve only highlighted one phone, a handful of options produce perceptually perfect audio when it comes to noise and dynamic range. Aside from the models that are virtually indistinguishable from each other, we’ll also address a few other phones that perform well but not perfectly.

What makes something the best sounding phone?

Best sounding phone: Red Hydrogen One headphone jack

As more and more flagships drop the headphone jack, its presence has become a sought-after feature for audio junkies and is required to be crowned the best sounding phone.

As writers from our sister site SoundGuys will tell you, audio is both a subjective and objective experience. While the subjective, experiential part is valid, we’re here to highlight some of the more scientific bits to get you on your way.

When looking for a phone that produces excellent sound quality, there are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Noise levels should be under -96.6dB for CD-quality music.
  • Dynamic range should similarly be at or over 96.6dB.
  • Frequency response shouldn’t ever deviate from 0dB in either direction, but you won’t hear it if it’s less than 0.5dB.
  • Smartphone speakers suck.
  • Headphone jacks are the only way to ensure high-quality audio.

Only three phones tested exhibited audible errors

If you were to take a look at our huge, color-coded results spreadsheet, you’d notice right away how most smartphones in 2018 exhibit no audible flaws. When it comes to figuring out which smartphone is better than others for audio quality, only two things separate them: features (like a headphone jack), and Bluetooth.

We don’t like shaming phones around here, but these are the offending models:

  1. RED Hydrogen One
  2. Huawei P20
  3. Huawei P20 Pro

SoundGuys noted some irregularities with the Huawei phones when it came to AAC, but also noted every Android phone has errors with that finicky codec. The phones listed here can handle SBC, LDAC, aptX, and aptX HD on-spec. Additionally, the errors exhibited by those phones are unlikely to be heard by over 70 percent of the population, so be sure to temper outrage on that front.

However, the RED Hydrogen phone has frequency response errors of over 7dB, meaning you’ll absolutely hear it affect your music. It’s the lone “bad” phone for audio here.

The tests tell a very rosy story

We were surprised to find that noise wasn’t really a factor in differentiating phones, as most phones did a great job with it, however, there were a few shortcomings in other areas that thinned the herd considerably.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

While it’s important for smartphone audio to minimize noise, high dynamic range is just as crucial. Although we’re accustomed to seeing the acronym “HDR” in photography, auditory dynamic range is the ratio of the quietest sound to the loudest sound a device can produce.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

Speaker loudness might mostly serve to annoy the crap out of everyone around you, but sometimes you need a little boom in your mobile to catch a call or watch a YouTube video with a group. This purely tested how loud a given smartphone’s speaker can get and didn’t take into account distortion. We see quite a bit of difference between our top contenders, with the Nokia 7.1 and LG V40 ThinQ leading the pack.

Speaker Loudness

Higher is better

A fourth metric brings us back to the fundamentals of audio: frequency response. Although consumer headphones and earbuds tend to alter sound with a brand’s specific “house signature,” if you’re looking for accuracy, you want a device’s frequency response to be as neutral as possible. Though much hay is made over the high-end DAC assemblies of the LG V40 and Samsung phones, the truth is most handsets can decode and output a decent enough signal for even picky listeners. Only five phones crossed our +/- 0.5dB barrier, three of which are listed above. 

This is particularly pertinent, as it applies to the best sounding phone. By producing a neutral frequency response, a smartphone minimizes harmonic distortion at the source. Any issues with the DAC’s ability to reproduce an accurate, high-fidelity response may be amplified down the line when you plug your headphones in.

An accurate, neutral-leaning frequency response is imperative for any phone to be considered as the best sounding phone.

Most phones deviate less than 0.5dB in either direction, and score nearly perfect in this regard. Any of the phones listed today are essentially indistinguishable from one another performance-wise, making each smartphone an excellent choice when considering audio quality. While we can easily get lost nitpicking smartphone audio performance, the fact of the matter is smartphones handle audio exceptionally well. Generally speaking, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between the top 10 smartphones for audio.

However, that brings us to a funny artifact of our scoring: only phones with a headphone jack could top our list. Dongles are a death sentence for our awards.

The current state of smartphone audio

Best sounding phone: The LG V40 ThinQ and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 standing next to each other on a shelf.

Smartphone audio has come a long way, and we’re confident that any of the notable phones mentioned today will be satisfactory.

Listen to the SoundGuys podcast: The state of smartphone audio

Yes, 10 phones is a lot of models to be indistinguishable — it serves as a testament to how far smartphone audio quality has come. Now, what makes each phone a top contender is its ability to exceed the limits of human hearing.

Human hearing ranges from 20Hz-20kHz — hence why you see that range brandished all over headphone packaging — but this range assumes a young age and unsullied ear mechanics. Most of our hearing abilities degrade naturally by the time we hit our early- to- mid-twenties, which you can put to the test here. If you find that you can’t hear a few of those files, try applying a filter in your phone’s settings (found in Samsung, LG phones). You might be surprised at the improvements you can get.

What’s more, if you’re streaming over Bluetooth, even the highest quality codec can’t keep step with wired listening. In fact, LDAC 330kbps showed itself less reliable than SBC, the lowest-common-denominator of codecs. So, the assumed codec pecking order been skewed up until now. AAC diminishes audio quality a bit when streamed over an Android device, and aptX is what listeners should be sticking to. Even then, however, wired remains king of quality.  

The LG V40 ThinQ has the best sound quality of any handset in 2018

After subjecting each of the 30 contenders to a battery of tests and analyzing the data through our in-house scoring algorithms, the LG V40 ThinQ narrowly reigned victor over the Asus ROG Phone and Samsung Galaxy phones. These phones actually beat out the V40 in some cases, but because many of those measurements lie outside the realm of human perception, they didn’t give those phones an edge with our scoring methods. The LG V40 ThinQ’s headphone jack, Quad DAC, and internal amplifier is a winning combination that’s yet to be bested.

Best sounding phone: LG V40 ThinQ camera

The LG V40’s 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC in tandem with the retention of the headphone jack makes it the best sounding smartphone of 2018.

It’s that internal amplifier that makes the LG V40 ThinQ a special phone. Where LG’s V-series has had it for a long time now, no other phones offer a 2V output, which means you can use power-hungry high-end headphones without breaking a sweat. Though it’s probably not the most practical idea to listen to a pair of planar magnetic headphones on the town, the fact is the LG V40 ThinQ is the only phone that’s going to let you do that. The Quad-DAC certainly sounds flashy, but the power behind the headphone jack is what makes the LG V40 ThinQthe best phone for audio. 

Editor’s Pick

Although it’s important to acknowledge the winner’s weaknesses, we tip our headphones to the LG V40. It — along with the Asus ROG Phone, Vivo NEX, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — outperforms its smartphone brethren in dynamic range. Additionally, the V40 frequency response deviates just 0.07dB, outperforming all other potential picks.

Although the V40 can’t outperform its competition in every metric, the top-notch power output makes it the best sounding smartphone of the year.

This year, there’s a wide selection of excellent phones out there for listeners who prioritize audio quality. All of the listed candidates are within a few meager points of one another and remain perceptually indistinguishable — unless you have a set of high-impedance headphones that require a lot of juice.

  1. LG V40 ThinQ
  2. Asus ROG Phone
  3. Nokia 7.1
  4. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
  5. LG G7 ThinQ
  6. Samsung Galaxy S9
  7. Vivo X21
  8. Vivo Nex
  9. Xiaomi Pocophone
  10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

One more thing about testing

Best sounding phone: focusrite scarlett 2i2 connected to a smartphone.

We use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to conduct our smartphone audio tests.

Any of the nine alternatives are very close to the LG V40. We understand if you want a more financially viable choice, or a battery that’s not going to quit after a few hours. In that case, the Xiaomi Pocophone, and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus remains standout performers. Though they’re technically not the best sounding phones, they’re sure to satisfy any enthusiast’s ears. We’ll have future comparisons coming down the line to help inform you on future smartphone-related decisions.

Although we’re not yet publishing our internal scoring, we implore our readers to learn about how we conducted our testing, and the philosophy behind it. We want to ensure our data tells a story and informs our audience of relevant information. What’s more, we want our data to be accessible to a wide array of readers, be it the computer engineer or the average consumer.

Come back throughout the week for more Best of Android 2018 coverage as we have plenty more to share with you.

Next: Best of Android 2018: The best displays