Stocking Stuffers 2018

With the holiday season upon us one of the questions I get from clients a lot is what sort of inexpensive gadget they can get people that will be appreciated. This year the most popular buzzwords are USB-C, Qi wireless charging, and Bluetooth.

Headphones

Apple AirPods are easily one of my personal favorite devices Apple has released in recent years. They are dead simple to use and are extremely convenient. I would suggest waiting until the last moment to get these, though, as Apple is expected to release a new model that supports wireless charging, Hey Siri support, and Bluetooth 5.0 for better range and sound quality. The current model came out just days before Christmas 2016 so a surprise announcement is still possible. They may be a little expensive for a stocking stuffer for most people, but if you want to give something a little extra special it’s a great option.

BeatsX are a great option for those whose ears don’t fit the AirPods or who want something a little more tethered. They offer many of the same conveniences for less money and more flexibility, using the same W1 chip for automatically pairing. And they charge using the same Lightning cable you use to charger your iPhone.

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Cables

Anker Powerline is my favorite brand of cable. Their sturdy construction last a long time, and their braided ones keep your cables from tangling as easily.

If you want to charge your iPhone or iPad as fast as possible, the best and only cable is Apple’s USB-C to Lightning cable. Apple just announced a program for third-party certification but there are no certified third party options on the market just yet. With an appropriate USB PD charger your iPhone can go from 0 to 50% in 30 minutes.

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Charging

Fast 7.5 watt Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless chargers have come down in price quite significantly this year. And they are especially useful in homes that have iPhones and Android because the same charger can charge pretty much any recent model smartphone. One thing to remember is that most of these chargers do not include the power block that connects the charger to the wall because manufacturers are now assuming you have a lot of these lying around. Also, to get fast charging speeds you’ll need to make sure the power adapter is Quick Charge (QC) 2.0 or 3.0 compliant (usually designated with an orange connector, see the next listing). Plain USB chargers will work, you just won’t get fast charging speeds.

For the ultimate speed in charging an iPhone 8, X, or later, you’ll need a USB-C PD (Power Delivery) charger. Aukey makes one of the most affordable and compact chargers out there. Here are a selection of my favorite QC, PD, and combo chargers out there. The combo charger below even provides enough juice to charge a USB-C MacBook Pro under average workloads. Don’t forget the appropriate cables.

Batteries

External battery packs let you recharge your phone on the go. This one will charge an iPhone from 0 to 50% in half an hour if used with a USB-C Lightning cable (above). It’s also extremely compact for how much juice it supplies, enough to recharge an iPhone X 2.5 times.

Black Friday Deals

Black Friday deals are too numerous for me to catalog all of them when MacRumors has already done such a good job. Check out their Black Friday deal roundup for all kinds of great deals.