The Google Pixel 8 has the best software support out of any Android, barring relatively rare devices like the Fairphone. It will receive updates for 7 years and Google will ensure that there are spare parts available for that long too. And Google actually adds cool new features with its regular Pixel Feature Drops.
You can grab the small model for $550 or get double the storage for $50 more. If that’s too much, the Pixel 7a is also on sale, but we wanted to look at another phone first.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE can be had for $500, cheaper than the Pixel 8. It won’t get as good software support as the Google phone, but are you really going to use the same device for 7 years? Anyway, this one also has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 instead of the Tensor G3 and performance gap between these two is small to negligible. The Pixel has better battery life, while the Galaxy packs a real tele camera (only 3x, but still).
Note: when buying the S23 FE you can also pick up the Galaxy Buds FE for $50 more (normally, they are $80-$100).
Like we mentioned, the Google Pixel 7a is on sale too, though at $400 for the 128GB model, there isn’t much room between it and the flagship 8-series model. The 7a uses the older Tensor G2 and its display runs at 90Hz instead of 120Hz. The battery life and water resistance are slightly worse too. And the 7a will only get 3 years of OS updates and 5 years of security patches. Still, it costs $150 less.
If you’re in the market for a tablet and want a mid-sized IPS LCD, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE has a 10.9” panel with 2,304 x 1,440px resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. The slate is powered by the Exynos 1380 and an 8,000mAh battery (45W fast charge). It has IP68 dust and water resistance, so you can use it by the pool or at the beach and it comes with an S Pen stylus included. You can easily upgrade the storage via the microSD slot, but you can’t upgrade the RAM, so you may want to grab the 256GB model.
As a cheaper alternative, the Amazon Fire Max 11 is at half the price. It has an 11” IPS LCD with 2,000 x 1,200px resolution and 60Hz refresh rate. The chipset is weaker than what’s inside the Galaxy Tab, but it’s a lot faster than what we’re used to seeing in Fire tablets. This one comes with a stylus too.
If you just need a cheap phone, check out the TCL 40 XL. At $100, this one offers a large 6.75” 90Hz IPS LCD, though with only HD+ resolution. It has a 5,000mAh battery (18W charging), a Helio G37 chipset (so 4G connectivity only) and a 50MP camera (no ultra wide). On the plus side, it has stereo speakers and a 3.5mm jack, plus a microSD slot.
There are plenty of USB chargers out there, but few are as adorable as the UGREEN Nexode RG. This one is the 65W model (there are 30W versions too) and can deliver that though one USB-C port. There are actually two Type C ports on board and they can split the power between them (45W + 20W). There is also a USB-A port for use with older cables (this one delivers up to 20W).
The Doogee V31GT is a rugged phone for the outdoors or the worksite. It is rated IP68/IP69K (the latter is for hot water jets), it has been drop tested onto concrete from 6ft and is MIL-STD-810H compliant. This one is quite fast with a Dimensity 1080 chip and 12GB of RAM, plus it has a massive 10,800mAh battery (non-removable) with 66W wired charging. There is a 50MP main camera (1/1.56”) and as is typical of the brand there is a 24MP night vision camera too. The V31GT also includes a thermal camera (256 x 192px).
We’ll wrap up with a pair of XR glasses – the Xreal Air 2 and Air 2 Pro. You can check out our review for more details, but the main difference is that the Pro has a built-in electrochromic dimming mechanism. These are lightweight (72g) and have one 1080p OLED display per eye (up to 120Hz refresh rate) with 49ppd density. They don’t have processing power of their own, instead they rely on an external device – a phone, laptop, tablet, SteamDeck, Nintendo Switch, just about anything that can output video over USB-C.
The Xreal Beam acts as a power bank (4,870mAh, enough for 3.5 hours of operation) and enables wireless casting (Miracast and AirPlay) as well as 3 DoF head tracking. You can use the Air glasses without it, of course, but it is a handy gadget that enhances the glasses.
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