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Looking for a Christmas present for tech lovers that won’t cost the earth? Here’s some news that will leave you feeling merry – our tests prove that you don’t always need to dig deep into your wallet to secure a high quality gadget.
Our experts have been hard at work this year to help you add the best cheap tech products to your Christmas list, all of which did well in our tests. They’re not all Best Buys though, so check our full reviews to see exactly how each product scored in the Which? test lab, and whether they performed well on the features that will matter most to the recipient.
It’s also worth checking our tech reviews if you’re tempted by a cheap gadget that’s not in our round up; while we’ve seen plenty of cheap, stand-out headphones, wireless speakers and tablets, there have also been some releases that have made our naughty list.
Where possible, we’ve highlighted at least one truly budget option for £50 or less, plus a slightly higher-end model if you can afford a bit more, but every one of our picks will set you back less than £100.
- Cheap headphones for Christmas
- Cheap wireless speakers for Christmas
- Cheap fitness trackers and smartwatches for Christmas
- Cheap TV streamers for Christmas
- Cheap ebook readers for Christmas
- Cheap tablets for Christmas
- Cheap DAB radios for Christmas
Cheap headphones for Christmas
Sub-£50 headphones: Mpow M30 Wireless Earbuds – £28
Available from: Amazon
We liked: Waterproof design, voice control support, easy to use
We didn’t like: L and R markings on each earpiece are tough to read
If you’re shopping for some budget-priced headphones this holiday season, these buds from Mpow might catch your eye. These truly wireless, in-ear headphones are sold exclusively on Amazon and are IPX8-rated, which means they’ll handle a dip underwater or a jog in the rain.
You can use Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri to interact with the Mpow headphones without having to tap anything. Alternatively, you can use the touch-sensitive controls to play/pause your music, skip tracks and answer incoming phone calls.
Happy to spend a bit more: Huawei Freebuds 3i – £75
Available from: Amazon
We liked: Effective noise-cancelling
We didn’t like: Battery life could be better
If you’ve got a bigger budget to play with, take a closer look at these truly wireless, in-ear headphones from Huawei. The Huawei Freedbuds 3i headphones are aimed at Android users and come with active noise-cancelling that blocks out distracting noises so you can enjoy your favourite tunes.
You get four sizes of eartips bundled in the box, so you should have no problem getting the Freebuds to fit comfortably.
Our headphones expert says
‘You’re spoilt for choice with headphones under £100, but a small fraction of the hundreds of cheap models you could choose from exceed our expectations for sound quality and comfort.
‘Our independent listening panel has found six pairs of headphones under £100 worthy of Best Buy status, and a further ten Great Value models. This includes all styles of headphones, from cheap truly wireless alternatives to the Apple AirPods, to large over-ear pairs.
‘You’ll be able to get all the main features you might want at this price, such as wireless headphones and water resistance. Effective noise cancelling is harder to come by for less than £100, but even here we’ve found rare gems that pull well above their weight.’
Head to our headphone reviews page, and filter by our Which? recommendations to find superb-value models of all styles.
Cheap wireless speakers for Christmas
Sub-£50 wireless speaker: Sony SRS-XB01 – £15.99
Available from: Currys PC World
We liked: Small and compact, easy to use
We didn’t like: Physical buttons need a strong press to register commands
An affordable Bluetooth speaker from Sony. To connect it to a smartphone or tablet, you just need to enable Bluetooth and then look for the SRS-XB01 in your Settings menu.
With this being a mini speaker, you shouldn’t expect heavy levels of bass. We’d say the Sony SRS-XB01 is well-suited if you’re looking for a speaker to put in a small room, rather than a speaker to fire out festive favourites in a larger room.
Sub-£50 wireless speaker: JBL GO 3 – £24.99
Available from: 02
We liked: Small and lightweight, waterproof, easy to use
We didn’t like: We’ve tested better-sounding alternatives
A Bluetooth speaker that’s small enough to tuck into a Christmas stocking. There are a whopping 12 different colours to choose from, including a snowy white and a Reindeer nose red.
The JBL GO 3 is a lightweight Bluetooth speaker with a wrap-around rubberised look. It comes with a handy lanyard loop, which means you can attach it to a rucksack or hang it up. This speaker has an IPX67 dust and waterproof rating, so it can survive an afternoon by the pool if you take it on holiday next year.
Sub-£50 wireless speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) – £29.99
We liked: Acceptable sound quality, well built
We didn’t like: There are better-sounding speakers out there
This sphere-shaped speaker has both wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity and is available in black, blue or white. Best of all, it’s currently on sale for under £30.
On the top of the Echo Dot, you’ll spot some controls that are used to play and pause music or mute the built-in microphone. You can use your voice to put Amazon’s Alexa assistant to work – it can run web searches, set alarms and control your other internet-enabled devices. There are a load of music streaming services supported, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and Deezer.
If you’re looking for more of a hefty sound from your next speaker, you might want to take a closer look at the larger Amazon Echo (4th gen).
Happy to spend a bit more: Google Nest Audio – £89.99
We liked: Great voice control, good sound
We didn’t like: Can’t link to other devices with a wired connection
You can pick up the Google Nest Audio for a little under £100, making it one for the shortlist if you’re trying to keep costs fairly low. Google Nest Audio is powered by Google Assistant, which can answer questions, adjust the volume of your music or change the colour of the smart light bulbs above your Christmas tree.
There are three touch-sensitive areas on the Google Nest Audio – tap the front-left corner of the speaker to turn down the volume, front-right corner to turn it up, or tap the top-middle to start/stop playback.
Want to check more options before making a decision? Head over to our full wireless and smart speaker reviews.
Cheap fitness trackers and smartwatches for Christmas
Sub-£50 fitness tracker: Honor Band 5 – £27.99
We liked: Lightweight, good screen, reasonably easy to use
We didn’t like: Poor heart-rate monitoring
Despite its price tag, this cheap wearable manages to pack in plenty of health-focused features. The Honor Band 5 comes with black, pink or blue bands and tracks steps, distance, calories and heart rate. There’s also a ‘find my phone’ app that can come to the rescue if you misplace your mobile while you’re building a snowman.
This fitness tracker is water-resistant to 50m. If you have an Android phone, You can tap at the gadget on your wrist to control music playing through your smartphone.
Sub-£50 fitness tracker: Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 – £39
We liked: Slim and comfortable
We didn’t like: No built-in GPS
The Galaxy Fit 2 becomes Samsung’s cheapest fitness and activity tracker and could help you shed some pounds in the new year. Compared to the original Galaxy Fit, this model has a larger 1.1-inch colour display running at a higher resolution. It comes with a slim silicone band in black or red.
You can use the Galaxy Fit 2 to track steps, distance travelled, calories burnt and sleep. Luckily, there’s no mode that tells you how many Christmas puddings you scoffed in December. Various sports modes are included, with the full list including walking, running, cycling, swimming and indoor rowing.
However, note that this wearable doesn’t come with built-in GPS, so it might not be the best pick if you’re shopping for somebody that wants to track their outdoor runs.
Happy to spend a bit more: Huawei Watch GT – £94.99
Available from: Amazon
We liked: Responsive touchscreen, good battery life, customisable watch faces
We didn’t like: Can’t download third-party apps
The Huawei Watch GT follows on from 2017’s Huawei Watch 2 Sport. With this successor, youget an updated heart-rate monitor and far more sophisticated fitness tracking. This Bluetooth-enabled smartwatch can track your smartphone, load up messages from social media, show you calendar events and check the weather in case you fancy a walk on Boxing Day.
It tracks the sort of stuff you’d expect from a brainy smartwatch – step count, calories, active minutes and common exercises such as running, jogging and rowing. You can also track elevation on a hike with the built-in altimeter.
Our wearables expert says
‘Buy a budget fitness tracker or smartwatch and you’re much less likely to get sophisticated smart notifications, detailed tracking or built-in GPS. You’ll still get step-tracking, and probably heart rate monitoring and sleep-tracking too, as more and more cheap models are offering these – but whether they’re accurate or not is another matter.
‘Fitness trackers under £50, and smartwatches under £120, are rarely Best Buys. If that’s beyond your budget, choose wisely and you can still get a budget wearable that covers the basics well, that’s well-built rather than cheap and nasty and that has a decent screen and an app that’s easy to use.‘
Cheap TV streamers for Christmas
Sub-£50 TV streamer: Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite with Alexa Voice Remote– £29.99
Available from: Amazon
We liked: Plenty of apps, voice control is useful, can control volume and power of the TV
We didn’t like: Some features could be explained better
With the £30 Fire TV Stick Lite plugged into the back of your TV, you get instant access to popular TV streaming services including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix, ITV Hub and All 4.
We’ll admit that typing with the bundled remote can be a pain at times, but you can use your voice to open up your favourite apps in just a couple of seconds.
Read our full Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite with Alexa Voice Remote review, or buy it now at Amazon.
Happy to spend a bit more: Amazon Fire TV Stick with 4K and Alexa – £49.99
We liked: Detailed 4K picture, voice search works well, easy to set up
We didn’t like: Can’t cast pictures and videos from your phone to the TV
Even this pricier Fire TV Stick model will leave you with a penny spare from £50. It plugs into your telly as the Lite version does, but for around £20 more you get a TV streamer that’s capable of outputting video up to 4K.
Our TV streamers expert says
‘There’s no shortage of choice of TV streamers for less than £50. There’s a handful of considerations to keep in mind and help you narrow your search.
‘Firstly, decide between a HD one and a 4K one. If you have a 4K TV then you should really go for a 4K streamer, so you can make the most of the extra resolution your TV is capable of displaying. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV yet, if you’re expecting to upgrade to one in the next few years then it may be worth future-proofing with a 4K streamer; don’t worry, you’ll still be able to stream HD content through it.
‘You’ll also need a streamer that supports the apps you want. The tech specs tab on all our streamer reviews tells you which of the UK’s most popular catch-up and streaming apps the streamer works with. We’d also recommend a streamer with voice control, as its usefulness when searching for something to watch can’t be understated.’
Read our full round up of TV streamer reviews to see all the devices we’ve tested.
Cheap Ebook readers for Christmas
Amazon Kindle 2019 (10th-gen) – £59.99
Available from: Amazon
We liked: Useful screen light feature, audiobook support
We didn’t like: No waterproofing, no local library lending
Sadly there’s no sub-£50 star in this category, as even this – the cheapest Ebook reader we’ve tested, and the cheapest in the Kindle range – tops that price mark. But it’s still well under £100, and an Amazon Kindle could be the ideal present for any bookworm.
This model features a 6-inch e-ink display and LED front lighting for enjoying page-turners in low light. You can also use the Amazon Kindle to listen to audiobooks.
The entry-level Kindle comes with 4GB of storage, which is plenty if you’re just looking to read normal books rather than image-heavy magazines. If you think you’ll need more storage space, you’ll have to break the £100 mark and think about the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (£119.99).
Take a look at more options in the Kindle range, plus models from rival Kobo, in our full Ebook reader reviews.
Cheap tablets for Christmas
Amazon Fire HD 8 – £89.99
We liked: Compact and light, excellent battery life, handles the basics well
We didn’t like: Screen and speakers not the best
If you’re shopping for an Android tablet that won’t break the bank this Christmas, the 8-inch Amazon Fire HD 8 is up for grabs for less than £100.
There’s 32GB of storage on-board initially, although that’ll drop down to around 25GB after you’ve set up the tablet for the first time. If you need more storage space, you can bundle a microSD card with your order – this will let you increase the storage space up to 1TB (1,000GB).
Find out how Amazon’s budget tablet measures up against pricier rivals such as Apple iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tabs in our full tablet reviews.
Cheap DAB radios for Christmas
John Lewis Arietta – £79
Available from: John Lewis
We liked: Versatile, great sound
We didn’t like: Control buttons could be better
You’re looking at John Lewis’ wood-styled, compact DAB+/FM radio. The retailer is promising that the John Lewis Arietta is the ‘ideal bedside radio’, thanks in part to a telescopic aerial, dual alarms and sleep and snooze functions.
Using Bluetooth, you can sync the radio with your smartphone or tablet to play your own music.
If the look of the Arietta isn’t to your taste, head over to our full DAB radio reviews for more options.