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Best Bluetooth Game Controller for Android and iOS Smartphones

Mobile gaming has never been as popular as it is now. In fact, 75 percent of all iOS App Store revenue comes from gaming apps. The appeal is clear: Our modern, fast-paced lives make it hard to just sit for a few hours and dedicate all of our attention to nothing but the TV screen. What’s more, smartphones are now so powerful that mobile gaming experience offers a very similar level of graphical fidelity and gameplay complexity as PC or console games.

ProductBrandNamePrice
MatricomMatricom G-Pad BX Wireless USB Rechargeable Bluetooth Pro Game Pad JoystickBuy on Amazon|$16.95(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
8Bitdo8bitdo SNES30 Wireless Bluetooth Controller Dual Classic JoystickCheck Price on Amazon
ipegaiPega PG-9023 Extendable gamepad Game Controller Portable Bluetooth Wireless Gamepad Joystick ControlBuy on Amazon|$27.5(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
Sminiker ProfessionalSminiker Android Wireless Bluetooth Gamepad Game ControllerCheck Price on Amazon
NykoNyko Smart Clip – PlayStation DualShock 4 Controller Clip On MountBuy on Amazon|$13.5(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Despite all this, there is still, at least, one area where mobile gaming falls short: controls. Playing a twitch shooter or a precision-based platformer using virtual buttons on the touchscreen is a frustrating to experience that can sip away all the fun you would otherwise have. Luckily, there’s something you can do about it. Bluetooth gaming controllers are affordable, convenient, and highly portable devices that can easily add a new dimension to your mobile gaming experience.

There are countless manufacturers and individual controllers available for purchase, but only a small fraction is built up to our high expectations and demands. That’s why we have selected our 4 favorite Bluetooth controllers for 2016. Each controller on this list offers a slightly different set of features and gaming style, and players should consider their individual needs and preferences to determine which one to select.

Matricom G-Pad XYBA Wireless Rechargeable Bluetooth Pro Game Pad Joystick Controller

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The Matricom G-Pad is just about the best bluetooth controller you will find on the market.  The controller will connect to most devices that accept bluetooth connections, including all the latest Samsung Galaxy S series phones, iPhone, tablets, even PC on Windows 10, and of course on the PS3.  The rechargeable battery is a neat feature to have so you don’t need to constantly buying new batteries.

The controller itself is designed similar to a standard PS3 controller with comfortable feel.  Its 16 button design includes all the standard gaming XYBA buttons and top finger triggers.  The performance is flawless once you start playing the games without any lag or connectivity problems.

The Matricom G-Pad undoubtedly will become your go-to bluetooth game controller once you get your hands on these, it should become the standard for all other controllers to model after, especially for the price.
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Willgoo® 8bitdo SNES30 Wireless Bluetooth Controller

Inspired by the beloved Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Willgoo is a wireless Bluetooth gaming controller that is sure to please all fans of retro gaming and platformers.

The controller is essentially identical to the original and should be instantly recognized by those who grew up playing 16bit games. It features a spacious D-pad, start and select buttons, 4 action buttons, and left and right triggers.

It’s only when you take a look inside that you realize that this is far from 80s technology. A built-in 480 mAh Li-On battery lasts up to 20 hours and can be recharged more than thousand times. The controller connects to your device via either Bluetooth or USB connection, which makes it compatible with a wide range of platforms, including iOS, Windows, Mac, and Android. There’s no need for jailbreak or root, thanks to its compatibility with an iCade line of portable arcade cabinets. All games that support iCade are guaranteed to work with Willgoo. The optional smartphone stand can easily accommodate most modern smartphones, such as iPhone 5s or Samsung Note II.

We were initially worried that the controller might be difficult to use for people with larger hands, but this proved not to be true at all. It fits great in all hands and the buttons are precise and responsive. The overall build quality seems superb, especially considering how affordable the controller is.

The only real problem we stumbled upon is that it can turn on by accident when carried in a pocket. Fortunately, the battery lasts such a long time that you are likely to still have plenty of juice left for all your gaming needs throughout the day.

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iPega Extendable Wireless Game Controller

iPega definitely knows how to produce an innovative gaming controller that satisfies needs of modern players and offers compatibility with smartphones and tablet devices.

The controller is divided into two halves with an extendable telescoping arm in the middle. This arm is able to accommodate even larger tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S or the Apple iPad, thus removing the need to purchase separate controllers for different devices.

Pairing the controller with either iOS or Android via Bluetooth could hardly be any easier. It worked right out-of-the-box with GBA, N64, or PSX emulators without any additional configuration. All buttons were mapped as we would expect, and the handful of extra buttons on each half of the controller let us comfortable control various functions of different emulators.  All buttons feel very responsive and well-made. All of our inputs were registered with utmost precision without any noticeable delay.

The iPega controller charges very fast and lasts a reasonably long time to support the needs of even the most hardcore gamers out there. A nice bonus is the ability to charge it with the same micro USB cord that you use for your smartphone or tablet.

The only real negative that we had to deal with was the atrocious manual written in broken English. It’s a real shame that a company capable of producing such quality products as iPega doesn’t hire a professional copywriter or translator to take care of these things. However, we can’t really complain, given the fantastic price of the device.

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Sminiker® Wireless Bluetooth Gamepad

If you are looking for a classic controller inspired by the design of PlayStation DualShock, Sminiker might be exactly the right choice. This affordable controller works with all modern smartphones and tablets running on Android or iOS operating system and connects wirelessly through Bluetooth interface.

It offers familiar control scheme with 14 action buttons. Two analog sticks are perfect for playing first-person shooters, while the multidirectional D-pad gives you the much-needed precision for overcoming even the most difficult platforming challenges. All buttons work flawlessly without any delay or problems with accuracy.

The setup procedure is painless on both platform and all buttons work as expected. Actually, almost all. The turbo button seems to be incompatible with most current emulators, but we believe that this issue could be solved with just appropriate configuration settings.

Another advantage of the Sminiker Wireless Bluetooth Gamepad is its ability to work without root or additional drivers. This saves a lot of time and potential hassle; not to mention how much more accessible it becomes for gamers who are not willing to risk having their warranty voided.

The battery can easily last for several days of moderate gaming and charging is quick and straightforward.

It’s also good to know that the connector can be paired with PC or laptop computers. All you need to do is purchase a compatible Bluetooth adapter and configure it as a generic Bluetooth gamepad. Don’t expect it to be as compatible as, for example, the original Xbox Controller, but it’s nonetheless a great way how to get more value from your purchase.

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Nyko Smart Clip

The last device on our list isn’t a gaming controller. Instead, it’s a cleverly designed clip that attaches to your smartphone or tablet device and clips onto the Dual Shock 4 or Xbox One wireless controller.

The Nyko Smart Clip is designed to be compatible with a wide range of devices from different manufacturers, such as Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, or Blackberry. If your device is up to 6 inches tall, you will most likely have no problem hooking it up to your gaming controller. The only real exception are smartphones with protruding volume controls positioned in the same place where the clip attaches to the phone. In those cases, you can use a case to add some padding to prevent the clip from making contact with the buttons.

The attachment is done via a continent strap system that lets users adjust the viewing angle and position their smartphone for the most enjoyable gaming experience.

The Nyko Smart Clip was originally designed with console gamers in mind to allow them to stream games to their smartphone and tablet devices or display helpful information to enrich their gaming session. However, it was quickly adopted by the mobile gaming community, due to the availability of Xbox and PlayStation gaming controllers.

It’s by far the cheapest solution for mobile gaming (that is if you already own a compatible controller) and there is really nothing to complain about when it comes to the build quality and day-to-day usability.

The Nyko Smart Clip is a smart solution that helps you save money by enabling you to use what you already have at your disposal.

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ProductBrandNamePrice
MatricomMatricom G-Pad BX Wireless USB Rechargeable Bluetooth Pro Game Pad JoystickBuy on Amazon|$16.95(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
8Bitdo8bitdo SNES30 Wireless Bluetooth Controller Dual Classic JoystickCheck Price on Amazon
ipegaiPega PG-9023 Extendable gamepad Game Controller Portable Bluetooth Wireless Gamepad Joystick ControlBuy on Amazon|$27.5(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
Sminiker ProfessionalSminiker Android Wireless Bluetooth Gamepad Game ControllerCheck Price on Amazon
NykoNyko Smart Clip – PlayStation DualShock 4 Controller Clip On MountBuy on Amazon|$13.5(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Best Bluetooth headsets of 2019 (so far)

If you thought ranking the world’s best Android smartphones, tablets or wearable devices was difficult, considering ever-increasing competition, the sheer sizes of the three markets and diversity of consumer preferences and budgets, we’d like to see you try to compile a mobile accessories top picks’ list.

ProductBrandNamePrice
JabraJabra Stealth Bluetooth HeadsetBuy on Amazon|$94.5(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
PlantronicsPlantronics Voyager Legend Wireless Bluetooth HeadsetBuy on Amazon|$62(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
LGLG Electronics Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo HeadsetBuy on Amazon|$59.95(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
SamsungSamsung Level U Pro Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones with MicrophoneBuy on Amazon|$54.98(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)

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There are so many things to factor in when rounding up, for instance, the finest Bluetooth headsets that it comes as no surprise today’s top ten directory already looks very different from the September and April 2015 rosters.

Bluetooth headset

Thus, without a doubt, we’ll need to refresh the 2017 best Bluetooth headset collection at least once before the new year wraps up, but for now, let’s focus on the current cream of the crop, ordered from most recommended:

Plantronics Voyager Legend

Plantronics Voyager Legend

Cheaper than ever before, the “legendary” Bluetooth 4.0-enabled mono Plantronics Voyager Legend headset withstands rain, sweat and coffee spills, can separate your voice from 80 Db’s of background noise (which is a lot, trust us), and automatically answers calls if you just start wearing it all of a sudden.

At the same time, it redirects audio to your phone when it senses the user doesn’t want to activate hands-free endeavors, and understands two very straightforward spoken commands – answer or ignore. Pretty intuitive UI at such a low price.

JayBird X2 – starting at $129

JayBird X2

As the successor to the incomparable Bluebuds X, we always expected the X2 headphones to cost far more than most of their low-profile new rivals. There are a number of good reasons for that, including brand loyalty and product reliability, the latter of which is supported by Amazon’s four-star review average.

Then you have a minimalistic, timeless, unparalleled design, six different coats of paint, ranging from “alpha” to “storm” to “ice”, a lifetime sweat proof warranty, SignalPlus technology for skip-free music outdoors, 8-hour battery life, and Shift Premium Bluetooth audio quality. It’s perfect for professional and novice athletes, business users, audiophiles and travel enthusiasts.

Samsung Level U Pro – $90

Samsung Level U Pro

Don’t let the manufacturer’s name fool you into thinking this is a Galaxy-exclusive “appliance.” It can work fine with any type of Bluetooth-enabled Android handheld, and even iPhones. It’s good for wirelessly initiating and answering voice calls, but especially playing music, courtesy of Ultra High Quality Audio (UHQA) features delivering a “true” 24bit digital audio experience on the tiniest imaginable earbuds.

Flexible and neck-adjustable, the Level U Pro can also handle its occasional splash, and technically lasts up to 9 full hours of talk or play time on a single charge.

Jabra Move – $86

Jabra Move

Before you even start, we know, we’re comparing apples and oranges, i.e. over-the-ear and in-ear headphones. But both classes of devices work towards the same end goal, the former typically edging out the latter in audio quality and the latter easily winning the portability battle.

Besides, we’re not telling you to choose the Jabra Move over the JayBird X2 or vice versa. We’re simply urging you to consider every possibility, including paying just 85 bucks or so for a pair of large yet lightweight stereo headphones that look extremely similar to your “premium”, overpriced Beats Studio.

Jabra Stealth – $80

Jabra Stealth

Why in the world would you ever go for a mono earbud when it costs the same or more than decent stereo mobile accessories? Well, because sometimes, it’s wise to keep an ear free and connected to the surrounding reality, and because the Jabra Stealth ensures “crystal clear sound at both ends of phone calls.”

This bad boy’s built-in mic is the best in the biz, and through tricks that may often feel like magic, it somehow manages to reduce background noise to the absolute minimum. Oh, oh, oh, and it’s got a dedicated physical button for remote activation and voice interaction with Google Now. Also, NFC for easy pairing, Multiuse for controlling the audio on two handhelds at once, and 6-hour autonomy in HD voice calls.

LG Tone Pro – $40 and up

LG Tone Pro

And we’re back to stereo headsets. To an industry classic, that is, which ergonomically bends around your neck for an ideal fit and stellar ergonomics, taking less than two hours to charge and then resisting up to 21 days in standby or a whopping 15 hours in talk time.

The design for this LG Tone Pro received awards, enhanced bass response, HD Voice, aptX compatibility, echo cancellation and noise reduction cover everything you need in both call and music modes, but unfortunately, the advanced age comes with a Bluetooth 3.0 speed tradeoff.

Photive BTH3 – $40

Photive BTH3

Here we have a cheap as chips over-the-ear wireless Bluetooth headset with built-in mic and 12 hour battery that doesn’t look very glamorous, but pulls off its duties honorably, generally satisfying almost 3,000 Amazon customers.

A four-star review average means the bang for buck factor is as delightful in reality as it looks on paper, though compared to some of our list’s headliners, the Photive BTH3 may not be so great for high-fidelity audio detail playback.

AYL V4.1 – $26

AYL V4.1

The AYL brand name probably doesn’t ring many bells, the design is by no means special, but at the end of the day, there has to be something special about this in-ear stereo headset, since Amazon currently lists it as its general best seller in Bluetooth cell phone headsets.

Granted, that doesn’t directly make it the best Bluetooth headset of 2016, not even to date, but it goes to show you don’t need to spend a full Benjamin to enjoy decent wireless smartphone audio controls, including on two devices simultaneously, with EDR APT-X decode technology, CVC 6.0 digital noise reduction, and 10 meters range.

SoundPeats QY7 – $20

SoundPeats

Bluetooth 4.1 capabilities? Check. Ergonomic, lightweight design? Double check. Lengthy endurance? Semi-check, at 5 hours in “premium quality talk/play time.” Partial liquid protection? You got it. Why only 20 clams then? No idea, but let’s keep it on the down low, before the little known manufacturers realize they could get more.  The SoundPeats QY7 is the true underdog of this list.

Mpow Wolverine – $20

Mpow Wolverine

You thought the Mpow Cheetah was flashy, eye-catching and, well, ear-catching with a decidedly cool name? Mpow Wolverine takes everything to the next level, clawing its way on our top ten list of today’s best Bluetooth headsets thanks to 4.1 compatibility (read easy pairing with all the new high-end Androids), “dynamic”, rich sound (they all say that, though), a unique, rectangular look, robust aluminum shell, Noise Cancellation 6.0, and 8-hour battery performance under heavy use.

We don’t remember ever seeing the X-Men listen to any tunes, but Hugh Jackman can sure sing and dance, so we wouldn’t be shocked to hear him endorse Mpow. For free, even, given the profit margins here are likely razor-thin already.

ProductBrandNamePrice
JabraJabra Stealth Bluetooth HeadsetBuy on Amazon|$94.5(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
PlantronicsPlantronics Voyager Legend Wireless Bluetooth HeadsetBuy on Amazon|$62(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
LGLG Electronics Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo HeadsetBuy on Amazon|$59.95(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)
SamsungSamsung Level U Pro Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones with MicrophoneBuy on Amazon|$54.98(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Best cheap 10 inch Android tablets available today

Are Android tablets on their sure way to extinction, caught in an inescapable chokehold by rapidly soaring phablets and slowly recovering conventional Windows PCs? Hard to cast a definitive verdict, but even Apple’s mighty iPads seem to be losing steam, as iPhones close the size gap.

ProductBrandNamePrice
LenovoLenovo Tab A10 10.1-Inch 16 GB Tablet (59413342) Midnight BlueBuy on Amazon|$399.88(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
AsusASUS Transformer Pad TF103C-A1-Bundle 10.1-Inch Tablet with Keyboard Bundle (Black)Buy on Amazon|$254.99(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
AmazonFire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa, 10.1" HD Display, 16 GB, Black - with Special Offers (Previous Generation - 5th)Check Price on Amazon
HPHP Slate S10-3500US 10-Inch Tablet with Beats Audio (Silk Grey)Check Price on Amazon
LGLG Electronics E10 LGV700 10.1-Inch TabletBuy on Amazon|$650(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
LenovoLenovo TAB2 A10 - 10.1" Tablet (ARM Cortex A53 Quad-Core, FHD IPS, 2GB SDRAM, 16GB SSD, Android 4.4 KitKat) ZA000001USBuy on Amazon|$89.95(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
AsusASUS ZenPad 10 Z300C-A1-BK 10.1" 16 GB Tablet (Black)Check Price on Amazon

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.


Woman with tablet

What’s crystal clear is Google-endorsed slates have trouble standing out without an obvious, compelling selling point. The superior productivity of laptops can’t be denied, and convertible models are no longer significantly bulkier than, say, your average 10-inch slate.

Meanwhile, there are 5.5, 6-inch, even 6.4-inch “handhelds” around that can essentially do whatever a 7-inch tab is capable of, plus make and receive voice calls. Game over for Galaxy Tabs, Amazon Fires, G Pads, Asus ZenPads, and so on, and so forth? Not so fast, given some of those still hide an important ace up their sleeve.

Namely, extreme affordability, combined with a footprint phablets don’t come close to… just yet. Yes, dear readers and friends, the best budget 10-inch Android tablets on the market today should stay in the spotlight a while longer, and tempt you with their quality-pricing ratios, generous screen real estate, and in a few cases, remarkable versatility.

Lenovo Tab A10 – $240 (Bluetooth keyboard included)

The first product featured on our list of best inexpensive 10-inch tablets is not necessarily the absolute best, but it’s the costliest, when you factor in the companion keyboard cover accessory. Without it, the first-gen A10 doesn’t look great on paper, sporting mediocre 1,280 x 800 display resolution, and packing humdrum quad-core MediaTek 8121 power.

Lenovo Tab A10

But you have to consider the ensemble’s economical price when judging its specs, and at least appreciate the 8-hour battery life, 16 GB internal storage space, microSD support, dual front-facing stereo speakers, and relatively slim design. On the not so bright side, you’re offered an ancient Android iteration out the box, 4.4 KitKat, and 1 gig of RAM hardly makes this a multitasking champ.

Asus Transformer Pad TF103C-A1 (keyboard bundle) – $233

Another 4.4-running 2-in-1 machine, the TF103C further ups the endurance ante, to close to 10 hours, and likely improves raw speed as well, thanks to an Intel Atom Bay Trail Z3745 CPU. At 545 grams, keyboard not included, the Transformer Pad is no featherweight, but it’s decently robust, and more importantly, comes with over $270 worth of free content and services.

Asus TF103C

Before you yell crapware, let us mention Asus gives you 500 gigs of complimentary WebStorage cloud depository for two years, in addition to a 16 GB ROM and microSD card slot. Even the six gratis mini-subscriptions to your favorite magazines out of a very generous library sound pretty enticing.

Amazon Fire HD 10 – $230

It has barely gone on sale, and so, it’s untested at the moment, but the closer-to-stock-than-ever Android user interface alone makes it an attractive prospective purchase. It’s also the thinnest Fire family member to date, at 7.7 mm, and yet, it still vows to last a solid 8 hours between charges.

Fire HD 10

Like all Amazon products, the Fire HD 10 is ideal for e-book reading first and foremost, though the on-board Dolby Atmos audio system means listening to music is always an option. And the 1,280 x 800 display isn’t that bad, delivering decent HD video content.

HP Slate S10 – $200

Is the Palo Alto-based computer giant really so delusional that it believes an affordable 10-inch tablet can actually sell in 2015 loaded with decrepit 4.2 Jelly Bean software “treats”, and powered by a dual-core Marvell SoC?

HP Slate S10

Technically, HP isn’t the one charging two Benjamins through Amazon for this Beats Audio-armed bag of mediocrity. It’s a third-party merchant, which had better consider a discount if it wants to clear lingering inventory. Make it $150, and maybe, just maybe, the 9-hour promised autonomy, 5 and 2 MP cameras, and 16 GB ROM will justify the buy.

LG G Pad 10.1 – $199

Forget archaic OS builds, obscure processors, and questionable aesthetic choices. The 10-inch G Pad was released on 4.4 KitKat, then recently upgraded to 5.0 Lollipop, it’s fashionable and slender, and the quad-core chip under the hood is a speedy, respected Snapdragon 400.

LG G Pad 10.1

Even better, the 8,000 mAh cell is massive, the 5 MP rear cam above-average, given the price range, the stereo speakers loud and sharp, and proprietary LG software add-ons like Knock Code, dual window and Q pair 2.0 destined to enrich your user experience.

Lenovo Tab 2 A10 – $179

Lenovo Tab 2 A10

Want the best all-around cheap 10-inch tablet in the world? This is probably it, with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,200) IPS LCD screen in tow, 64-bit quad-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek MT8165 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, 10-hour battery, 8 and 5 MP snappers, immersive Dolby audio, 8.9 mm profile, 74 percent screen-to-body ratio, and a planned update to Android 5.0 Lollipop for the near future.

Discounted from its $200 MSRP, the Tab 2 A10 would likely be worth as much as $280, if tablet sales weren’t hurting so badly on a global scale.

Asus ZenPad 10 – $159

Asus ZenPad 10

The least pricey tab on our roster is clearly not the worst pick, since it also features 2 gigs of random-access memory, Lollipop goodies, a quad-core 64-bit Intel Atom CPU, sleek aluminum finish, lightweight 1.1 pound design, 16 GB local data hoarding room, microSD capabilities, and even 100 GB of free Google Drive cloud storage for your first two years of ZenPad ownership.

Any downsides to buying this ultra-low-cost 10 incher? A few: lousy 2 and 0.3 MP cameras, lackluster 800p panel, unremarkable sub-8-hour battery life.

ProductBrandNamePrice
LenovoLenovo Tab A10 10.1-Inch 16 GB Tablet (59413342) Midnight BlueBuy on Amazon|$399.88(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
AsusASUS Transformer Pad TF103C-A1-Bundle 10.1-Inch Tablet with Keyboard Bundle (Black)Buy on Amazon|$254.99(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
AmazonFire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa, 10.1" HD Display, 16 GB, Black - with Special Offers (Previous Generation - 5th)Check Price on Amazon
HPHP Slate S10-3500US 10-Inch Tablet with Beats Audio (Silk Grey)Check Price on Amazon
LGLG Electronics E10 LGV700 10.1-Inch TabletBuy on Amazon|$650(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
LenovoLenovo TAB2 A10 - 10.1" Tablet (ARM Cortex A53 Quad-Core, FHD IPS, 2GB SDRAM, 16GB SSD, Android 4.4 KitKat) ZA000001USBuy on Amazon|$89.95(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
AsusASUS ZenPad 10 Z300C-A1-BK 10.1" 16 GB Tablet (Black)Check Price on Amazon

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Top 10 Android-compatible wearables better than the Apple Watch

One can safely assume the decision to support iPhones on the Android Wear platform didn’t come easy for Google. Always an endorser of diversity and choice, the search giant would love it if its customers only had to pick between hardware products built by sanctioned brands.

Apple Watch vs Android Wear

But iPhones make the mobile world go round, and in order to stop the Apple Watch from rapidly rising to similar popularity levels, the Android architects made a major compromise, indirectly giving their blessing to the arch-rival’s main cash cow.

Cupertino likely accepted the “vote of confidence” without thinking twice, even if the Android Wear’s cross-platform support could soon prove a double-edged sword for Tim Cook & co. Will “iWatch” sales linger, while LG, Motorola, Asus, Huawei and Sony, plus Samsung, Pebble, Microsoft and Fitbit get to see their market share grow?

Android Wear devices

It’s possible, at least if we have a say in this, and you lose your flock instincts, going for the wearable device that objectively looks better, not the one the crowds are recommending. Namely, one of the ten following Android-compatible smartwatches and activity trackers superior to the Apple Watch:

LG Watch Urbane – $278 in silver; $299 pink gold

Until the 2015 Moto 360 and Huawei Watch become widely available stateside, this beaut remains the handsomest of its kind. It’s perfectly round, unlike the boxy, rectangular Apple Watch, breathes strength through every pore, yet also elegance and slimness, courtesy of a 10.9 mm profile, and 66.5 grams weight.

LG Watch Urbane

Water and dust resistant, the Watch Urbane may soon spawn a high-res sequel, though at 320 x 320 pixels, it’s already pretty sharp. And it lasts a while between charges, thanks to a 410 mAh battery.

Motorola Moto 360 (original) – starting at $147

Obviously eclipsed by its recently unveiled follow-up in style, autonomy and especially customization, the 2014 Moto 360 is cheap enough to stay in the limelight a few more months. Even in snazzy cognac leather, light metal and champagne gold metal versions, it sets you back around $150 a pop, which is peanuts compared to the “entry-level” $350 tag of the Apple Watch.

apple-watch-moto-360

Mind you, this is one of the first Android Wear pieces that will offer iPhone synchronization functions, although it should still work better pulling notifications from a Moto X Style or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

Motorola Moto 360 (second-gen)

Only up on pre-order from Lenovo’s daughter company, the polished men and women’s 360 starts at $300, which feels excessive. Next to the OG, that is, not the clearly inferior and still pricier Apple Watch.

Moto 360 2015

With a refined exterior, improved battery, a whole lot of size, case, bezel, band and face choice, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Android Wear single-handedly propelled to the mainstream by the “New” Moto 360.

Huawei Watch – $350 and up

Okay, so it’s not exactly affordable. It actually matches the “iWatch” in terms of retail costs, but with a big, fat fashion advantage. Oh, yes, the $350 flavor is a definite knockout, what with its circular body, robust stainless steel construction, and distinguished black suture leather strap.

Huawei Watch

What does the Apple Watch offer at $350? A fluoroelastomer (read good, old-fashioned, chintzy rubber) band, awkward squarish build, anodized aluminum (i.e. a material short of steel toughness), and let’s not even go into specifications like screen resolution, processing power, or non-iPhone-dependent productivity.

Asus ZenWatch – $150

We know you’re inclined to wait for the second-gen, but at $150, the original feels almost impossible to turn down. Fashionable in its own way, with a curved 2.5D display, fairly chunky bezels, and a rectangular build, the ZenWatch can do plenty of things sans relying on a phone’s brains.

Asus-ZenWatch-Apple-Watch

It counts steps, estimates calories burned, measures your heart rate, tracks your progress in different sporting activities, not to mention it’s water-protected, endowed with a microphone, stereo speakers, and 4GB internal storage space.

Pebble Time – $195

The newest plastic-made Pebble feels like one of our own, although it technically runs a proprietary operating system, backing both Android and iOS before multi-platform compatibility became the norm rather than the exception.

Pebble Time

The simplistic UI allows the Time to keep the lights on for up to seven days, with a fairly rudimentary 64-color e-paper display in tow. Rudimentary but always-on, and despite the lackluster design, you get Gorilla Glass protection, a curved, ergonomic profile, water endurance up to 30 meters, plus all the essential alerts and notifications brought to your wrist.

It’s definitely not for fashionistas, but people perennially on the move, looking to make their connected lives easier, will love it.

Samsung Gear S2

gear-s2-apple-watch

They say it’s going to cost $350 stateside in a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-limited configuration, or $400 with standalone 3G connectivity. Too rich for your blood? Too Tizen-y, maybe? Keep in mind it supports an entire slew of Android handhelds, not just Samsungs, it’s got a rotating bezel somewhat similar to Apple Watch’s “crown”, a vivid, circular display with minimal borders, and vows to run for at least two days on a single battery charge. It’s almost worth it, huh?

Samsung Gear S – $200 with AT&T contracts; $330 outright

Samsung Gear S

Let’s be honest, the oddly shaped Gear S is uglier, less functional, powerful and bulkier than its successor, only working in combination with a handful of Galaxy gadgets. On the plus side, it can run solo, it’s relatively inexpensive with carrier pacts, and the Super AMOLED panel still wipes the floor with the “Retina” on the Apple Watch, at 2 full inches and 480 x 360 pixels.

Microsoft Band – $138

We know exactly what you’re thinking. A primitive fitness band that trumps a progressive, extravagant smartwatch?! That’s crazy! Well, it is, and… it isn’t, as the primary use case for intelligent timepieces and activity trackers alike remains various fitness and health application.

Microsoft Band vs Apple Watch

So, if that’s what you’re looking for, why not purchase a contraption designed specifically for tracking your vitals, knowing when to push you, and how to convince you to live a better life. Plus, it’s got a screen, it can do messages and emails and notifications, and works smoothly with Androids, iPhones and Windows Phones for up to two days continuously. It’s pretty much the best of both worlds.

Fitbit Charge HR – $143

Fitbit Charge HR

If you’re willing to give up even more of your fancy wrist computer functions, and get a longer-lasting, simpler, super-reliable wireless activity tracking device, you can’t go wrong with a Fitbit. They’re the sales leaders of the market for a reason, unlike Apple, and the Charge HR deservedly rules supreme in Amazon fitness technology demand.

4.1 out of 5 stars based on 8,800+ customer reviews. Words are truly useless.

Best mobile Bluetooth keyboard accessories for your Android tablet

Let’s be frank, we were all a little wary of tablet PCs when they first emerged as “laptop replacements.” Clearly, they had nothing on traditional computers in terms of power and productivity, merely standing out with compact form factors and, iPads notwithstanding, affordability.

Best Bluetooth Keyboard

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
LogitechLogitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard163.92
LogitechLogitech diNovo Edge Keyboard695.98
1byone1byone Wireless Bluetooth Keyboardcheck price
OMOTONOMOTON? Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard13.99
EC TECHNOLOGYEC Technology Foldable Bluetooth Keyboardcheck price

Android keyboard

Only even the latter forte didn’t seem enough to make a stand against equally as cheap netbooks. Somehow, tabs took off nonetheless, bringing the demise of mini-notebooks and, for a few years, enjoying a swift popularity rise.

Now, the market is in a bit of a slump as conventional PCs show signs of resurgence, so it’s innovate or throw in the towel for OEMs like Samsung, LG, Asus, Lenovo, Amazon, Microsoft and even Apple. The struggling industry segment’s saving grace could well be keyboard accessories, given there’s virtually no way to further cut prices.

SONY DSC

With phablets on the upswing, tablets can keep matching wits with jumbo-sized smartphones… and lose, or narrow the productivity gap separating them of laptops and desktops… and hope for the best. Here are some of your top universal keyboard accessory choices available on Amazon, as well as a few notebook-transforming contraptions designed specifically for the most popular Android tabs out and about:

EC Technology backlit Bluetooth keyboard – $18.99

Our least expensive recommendation wirelessly connects to any Android tablet or even smartphone known to man, plus iPads (boo!) and Windows slates (no one cares). It’s not fancy, it doesn’t send a very premium vibe, and the keys only offer decent travel and responsiveness, with almost no spaces between them.

EC Technology backlit keyboard

Still, it pulls off the basics of a portable keyboard accessory, it’s 7-color backlit, impressively light (0.37 pounds) yet respectably sturdy, as well as long-lasting, courtesy of an 800 mAh built-in battery.

Hype Ultra-Slim Bluetooth 3.0 Wireless universal keyboard – $19.99

At just 0.23 inches thin, this baby is the textbook definition of convenience, it’s available in seven different coats of paint and it’s also a lot wider than the EC Technology product, coming really close to your standard 15-inch laptop keyboard.

Hype Ultra-Slim keyboard

Once again, the key quality isn’t ideal and you’ll need 2 AAA batteries to power on the Hype, which is both a disadvantage and a strong point. A strong point because you’ll not have to remember to juice the cell up every month or so.

Anker Ultra Compact Slim Profile Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard – $19.99

Back in the day up for grabs at a whopping 60 bucks, the Anker Ultra Compact is, well, tiny, taking up “two thirds the space of a traditional keyboard.” Again, both a forte and weakness, as cramped space limits functionality.

Anker keyboard

Meanwhile, the 18-month warranty is sure a nice touch, and the rechargeable 800 mAh lithium battery promises up to 6-month autonomy based on 2 hours of daily use. Not too shabby… for 20 clams.

AmazonBasics Bluetooth keyboard – $31.90

AmazonBasics keyboard

Big, clean, straightforward, quick and quiet, the all-black AmazonBasics peripheral works with all Android 3.0+ devices, not just Kindle Fires. The 30 foot range is impressive, and the glowing reviews praise the speedy connection, responsiveness, accuracy and convenience of the Bluetooth keyboard. Sounds like a must-buy, unless you can afford one of the following.

EC Technology Portable Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard Ultra-slim Mini – $36.99

It’s portable, it’s foldable, ergonomic and versatile, squeezing right into your trouser pocket if you need it to. Of course, it’s congested too, so professional typists should look elsewhere for their business travel requirements.

EC Technology foldable keyboard

What’s truly remarkable about the second EC Technology item on our list is the aircraft-grade aluminum construction, ensuring “superior rigidity” and stellar endurance despite the foldable design.

Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device K480 – $45.99

In the market for a handsome, vigorous “full-sized” keyboard you can easily pair with your desktop, smartphone and tablet? You can’t go wrong with Logitech’s Windows, Mac, Android and iOS-compatible K480.

Logitech K480

This thing lets you seamlessly switch between three simultaneously connected Bluetooth wireless gadgets, offers a “familiar” layout with all the shortcut keys you’ve grown accustomed to use, and doesn’t require a third-party stand to hold your tab at the perfect angle for typing and reading.

Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard – $62.99

Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard

It might feel weird to mate a Redmond concoction with an Android, but one look at this keyboard, and you’ll realize it’s the best in its class. It’s large but not bulky, ergonomic yet not flimsy, lasts up to six months on a single charge and provides a detachable multi-purpose cover/stand. It’s more than a peripheral, it’s a device-changing accessory.

Fire keyboard – $59.99

Fashioned for “seamless integration” with Amazon’s newest Fire HDX 8.9, it also supports the Fire HD 6 and 7 and “other Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets.” But that’s it. No full-scale Android compatibility here.

Fire keyboard

The ample touchpad, 4.8 mm wasp waist, various shortcut keys and 2-month “active use” battery are only some of this keyboard’s strong suits. If you really want to get the most of your Fire HDX 8.9 experience though, you’ll have to purchase the $70 leather origami case too.

Elegant, protective and stunningly versatile, the case and keyboard go together beautifully and transform your standard 8.9-inch tab in something that transcends mobile and desktop boundaries.

Samsung keyboard case for Galaxy Tab Pro/Note Pro 12.2 – $74.36

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro keyboard case

Yes, it’s costly, even after a substantial discount, but it’s surely worth it if you want to convert one of Sammy’s “professional” 12 inchers into a bona fide hybrid laptop. Rated at 4.5 stars by 72 mostly satisfied customers, the keyboard doubles as a shielding case and works like a charm for flawless on-the-go typing.

Samsung keyboard case for Galaxy Tab S 10.5 – starting at $81

Galaxy Tab S 10.5 keyboard

Possibly the best ever Samsung tablet deserved a matching premium 2-in-1 accessory, and that’s exactly what it got. There’s no trackpad here, so you won’t fool anyone into believing you own an actual notebook. But the keys are exquisitely well-spaced, quick to react, decently robust and the battery lasts for ages.

Logitech Type-S for Galaxy Tab S 10.5 – $76.40

Logitech Galaxy Tab S keyboard

Not content with Samsung’s proprietary Tab S 10.5 proposal for some reason? This 2-in-1 case/keyboard from Logitech used to cost $100, and for all the right reasons. It aims to guard your beautiful Super AMOLED gadget from accidental bumps, scratches and spills while offering “laptop-like typing” on a standard keyboard layout with Android shortcuts added in the equation. Tough call, huh?

Nexus 9 keyboard folio – $129.99

Hesitant to spend over a third of the top-notch Google tab’s price on a rudimentary “keyboard folio”? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. The multipurpose accessory is as versatile as these things come, not to mention stylish, light, slim and uber-productive in keyboard mode.

Nexus 9 keyboard

We know, we know, you’d have loved a touchpad, a little room between keys and, above all, a $30 or so price trim. But trust us when we tell you no universal keyboard will ever compliment the N9 as this does.

Top 10 Android selfie phones with front-facing LED flash cameras

It’s only been a little over a year since the first time we surrendered to the selfie trend, rounding up the Android handhelds with the best secondary cameras in tow back then, and already, we bring you a top ten list revised twice.  That’s right, the June roster is also obsolete, as we approach narcissistic smartphone enthusiasts slightly differently, and decide to neglect a front-facing snapper’s megapixel count in favor of a much more relevant tidbit.

Update (July 2017): Samsung Galaxy S8 was announced on March 29, 2017.  Galaxy S8 can now considered as the next best selfie phone.  It now comes with autofocus and wide angle shots for their front camera, although it appears that it still lacks the front facing LED flash light.

Best Overall Phone 2017 - Galaxy S8

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S8415

Best Selfie Phone (March 2017) – Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)

Our second favorite for best selfie phone behind the Galaxy S8 is the Galaxy J7, which comes with front facing LED flash light.  Think about it, the undisputed top Android phone currently is the Samsung Galaxy S8, so let’s compare a few specs that’s important for a selfie phone.

  • S8 does not have a front facing led flash light, while the J7 does.
  • J7 actually has a slightly better 13 megapixel camera compared to the 12 megapixel for the S8
  • Slightly bigger battery for the J7, therefore longer battery life
  • J7 has a sufficient 2GB ram and expandable up to 128 GB of storage with MicroSD card
  • biggest selling point is the price.  The S8 runs in the $700 range while the J7 only runs in the $200 for the unlocked versions.
  • What else do you need in a selfie phone with front facing led flash light?

Best Selfie Phone 2017 - Galaxy J7

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
SamsungSamsung Galaxy J7 LTE (2016)371.5

Think about it, when do you typically capture the vast majority of your self-portraits? Definitely not in the morning, given your face often feels like a work in progress after waking up. At your place of business or school? Sure, sometimes, if you’re really bored… or a teacher isn’t looking.
group-selfie

But nine out of ten selfies, according to our unfounded suspicions, are produced at night, while out in town, at a party, or in the club. Needless to highlight the surrounding conditions don’t always seem ideal and flattering, which is why a front-firing LED flash is a must-have.

Selfie girls

What does that do exactly? Simple – it illuminates a dark scene by providing a “flash” of artificial light, and makes you glow even in a pitch dark room or outdoor space. Here are therefore ten of the very best Androids available today with this super-convenient feature onboard:

Best Selfie Phones

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
HuaweiHonor 7 Octa Core Dual Sim474
SamsungGalaxy J7 Dual Sim301.36
HTCDesire EYE 4G LTE GSM279.01
SonySony Xperia XA Ultra271.5
SamsungGalaxy J5 SM-J500 GSM189.99

Sony Xperia XA Ultra – $329.99

Released in July of 2016, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra is the latest and greatest of all selfie phones with front facing LED flash light.  The 16 megapixel front facing camera is the same camera as the primary camera on the Samsung Galaxy S6!  You know this is a phone made for selfies when Sony decided to feature the optical image stabilization function on the FRONT facing camera, that is almost unheard of.  Of course, how can you have a selfie camera without the LED flash light that comes with this phone.  Additionally, it has an above average 3GB of RAM to power your multitasking habits.  The 2700mAh battery should be more than enough to last you through the day.

Huawei Honor 7 – $483

Bet you weren’t expecting our priciest proposition to come from Huawei of all device manufacturers. Unfortunately, the Amazon tariff isn’t quite in line with Honor 7’s specs on the whole, though the two cameras look positively dreamy, with 20 megapixels and a dual-LED, dual-tone rear flash, as well as an 8 MP sensor and single LED flash around the front.

Huawei-Honor-7

Yes, we’d certainly love it if the Honor 7 were priced closer to 400 bucks, since it only accommodates 16 gigs of data internally, and sports a Full HD 5.2-inch display.

Motorola Moto X Pure Edition – $399.99

Now that’s what we like to call irresistible bang for buck! The stock Android-running 5.7-inch giant is the perfect sub-$400 phone, what with its Quad HD panel, stereo sound, hexa-core Snapdragon 808 chip, 3 GB RAM, microSD support, Lollipop software goodies, and 3,000 mAh battery with TurboPower charging.

Moto X Pure Edition

And how can we forget about the wholesome 21 MP dual-LED flash main photographic unit, or the respectable secondary 5 MP LED shooter?

HTC Desire Eye – $380

One of the few devices that manages to retain its place in the spotlight nearly one year after its debut and fend off the invasion of newcomers, this overall mid-range 5.2 incher was always a selfie flagship.

HTC Desire Eye

There’s absolutely no performance gap between the rear and front cams, with a total of four (!!!) LED endowments, speedy autofocus either way, and double HDR. And yet the Desire Eye has shaven a cool $35 off its June valuation. Not too shabby!

Sony Xperia C4 – $379

It’s kinda costly for what it brings to the table, and it has stubbornly stayed perfectly still at $379 for many months now. It runs a relatively old Android version too, 5.0 Lollipop, and the octa-core MT6752 SoC is hardly a Snapdragon 810 alternative.

Xperia C4

Nonetheless, it’s thin and large, stylish and robust, and above all, equipped with a 5 MP Exmor RS and LED flash-toting selfie cam.

Sony Xperia C5 Ultra – $375

Oh, the irony! As the name suggests, the slightly cheaper C5 Ultra is a jumbo-sized, evolved variant of the C4, bumped up to 6 inches, and a phenomenal pair of identical 13 megapixel cams, featuring everything from Exmor RS sensors to autofocus, wide-angle lenses, superior auto modes, HDR technique, and SteadyShot video optimizations.

Xperia C5 Ultra

As Sony inspiredly puts it, “the main camera is on the front… and the back”, and the former not only lights up your mug, but does so “naturally”, automatically adjusting to the “ideal settings for your lighting conditions.” Translation – “the light’s always perfect.”

Asus ZenFone Selfie – $295

asus-zenfone-selfie

Okay, so the name is tacky, the pink paint job a tad childish, and both the power button and volume rocker positioned awkwardly. But the ZenFone Selfie offers a lot for not that much money, including a 5.5-inch 1,080p screen, octa-core Snapdragon 615 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and a duo of PixelMaster cameras with 13 MP and dual-LED flash in tow each.

That’s two flash installations on the back, and two on the face, just to be clear.

Samsung Galaxy J7 – $265

Samsung-Galaxy-J7

It’s odd, but in a Galaxy consisting of tens and tens of stars, the first two specifically targeted at selfie addicts only started shining a couple of months ago. And to be frank, they’re not shining very brightly. The 5 MP LED flash front cam is almost mundane compared to some of its opponents on this inventory, hiding no software tricks up its sleeve, wide angles, or proprietary enhancements of any sort.

It simply beams radiation in need, helping you snap better selfies than the average non-selfie-centric phone. It’s also decidedly meh as far as other specs go, with a 5.5-inch 720p Super AMOLED panel on deck, as well as 1.5 GB RAM, and a 3,000 mAh cell.

Sony Xperia C3 – $235

Xperia C3

The mid-2014-unveiled 5.5 incher is getting rather long in the tooth, albeit it’s inexpensive enough to stay in the public’s eye throughout the looming holiday season. It’s considerably cheaper than its C-series follow-ups, the design is clean and straightforward, Android 5.1 is close-by, and the 5 MP secondary cam furnished with a soft LED flash, smile detection, Superior Auto functions, and 25 mm wide-angle lens at 80 degrees.

Samsung Galaxy J5 – $219

Galaxy_J5

The J7’s smaller brother unsurprisingly feels even less remarkable, looks crappy on the outside, and lets you store a measly 8 GB data before you realize you absolutely have to get an external microSD card. On the bright side, the quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor under the hood is 64-bit-enabled, the pre-installed Android 5.1 OS likewise, and the 13 MP autofocus/LED flash rear shooter decent for the sub-$220 price.

The selfie camera? Well, you know, it’s one of those less-than-stellar 5 MP units with the same old LED flash as everyone else.

BLU Selfie – $177

BLU-Selfie

Our affordability champion doesn’t have a lot of cards to play in the high-stakes US mobile poker game, but the ace it’s not afraid to show off whenever it gets the chance should keep it in the tournament long enough to secure a reasonable paycheck.

We mean, of course, the astounding 13 MP LED flash front camera, even if the rear 13 MP dual-LED flash apparatus is itself pretty great. Oh, and you get octa-core power and 2 gigs of memory at the price of a refurb fourth-gen iPod Touch. Yes, we did go there.

What’s The Best International SIM Card in 2019 for Travelling in Europe?

Overseas travel is unfortunately often associated with excessive charges and high roaming rates. This is especially true in Europe, where you encounter a large number of different carriers as you travel across individual states.  This is where an international SIM card will help you immensely, especially when used with the best dual SIM phones.  Below you will find 3 of the top sim cards for Europe.

ProductBrandNamePrice
MobalEurope Plus SIM by Mobal. 1GB of Fast 4G Data Included. Great Calling Rates. Excellent Coverage Throughout Europe – The Best European SIM Card Available. Great for Italy, France, Germany, UK etcBuy on Amazon|$59(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
GlocalMeGlocalMe G3 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot, [Upgraded Version] Worldwide High Speed WiFi Hotspot with 1GB Global Initial Data, No SIM Card Roaming Charges International Pocket WiFi Hotspot MIFI Device (Gold)Buy on Amazon|$164.99(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)

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Update: These SIM cards no longer offer unlimited data as they did last year, the plans have been changed to 1GB free and unlimited incoming calls and texts.

The high prices of roaming originate from the inefficient way operators pass down charges to individual customers. Since you have no easy way of determining which local carrier will facilitate your connection and what the costs are, your operator simply charges you with the highest possible rate to avoid losing any money.

Get 1GB Roaming Data and Unlimited Incoming Calls & Texts Covering Most of Europe

Purchasing a local SIM card may be a good solution for certain cases, but certainly not for travelling across Europe. You will quickly get tired of constantly changing your SIM card, and the people you try to stay in contact with will have to play a guessing game when determining which number they should use to contact you.

A much better alternative is to purchase an international SIM card that you can use in all countries you will be visiting, thus keeping the same number and never worrying about extra charges. Even though there are many international SIM card providers, one stands out as the best choice for travelling in Europe. We are talking, of course, about Mobal and their new Global Unlimited SIM.

Global Unlimited SIM

Founded in 1989, Mobal is one of the world’s longest running cell phone providers and a provider of the bestselling international phone in America. Their fair approach to customer support already convinced thousands of international travelers, who appreciate that they never have to worry about hidden fees and surprising data caps. These travelers know how great it is to be able to easily connect with friends and family from any place they visit.

Mobal Global Unlimited SIM service comes with 1GB of free data and unrestricted tethering. You can use your international Internet connection to connect online with your laptop or tablet. All you need to do is create a portable hotspot and you are all set.

Unlike with roaming, there’s absolutely no reason to worry about accepting incoming phone calls because they are completely free in over 130 countries. The same is also true for text messages that you send to your loved ones and business partners.

Outgoing call rates cannot rival local providers, but 30¢ per minute in all countries beats roaming and the added convenience tips the scale in Mobal’s favor. After all, how else could you keep a single US phone number?

The service itself doesn’t require you to sign any contract. You simply pay $50 for every month you want to use the service and stop paying when you don’t need it anymore. The SIM card itself works with all devices and mobile operating systems.

International Cell Phones

Most unlocked GSM phones will work with international sim cards.  The top tiered phones such as the newer generation iPhones and unlocked Samsung Galaxy phones will work.   T-Mobile phones generally are also unlocked, and if for some reason your T-Mobile phone is locked, simply ask them to unlock it for you, it will be done without question.

Unless you have an iPhone, CDMA phones do not work well with international sim cards, so if you have a phone from Verizon Wireless, your best bet is to try to get Verizon to unlock the phone for you, or try one of these cheap global gsm phones below.

Best Dual Sim Smartphone (2017)

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S8 - Dual Sim417.85
SamsungSamsung Galaxy J7 LTE (2016)371.5
OnePlusOnePlus 5364.99
LGLG G6 - Dual Sim289.99
MotorolaMotorola Moto G5 Dual Sim169.99

How to Get Started

When you order your international SIM card, you have to wait 2-5 days before you receive it in your mail. Alternatively, you can pay $25-35 for a priority shipping option and have it in your mailbox next business day by 10:30 am.

All that remains to do is to activate the SIM card via the included activation link and leave for your European adventure.

Each month of use is billed individually, which means that you never pay for something that you won’t use.

Get 1GB Roaming Data and Texts For over 130 Countries Worldwide 

An International Sim Card Versus Roaming

To remain at least somewhat relevant, carriers have implemented more palatable pricing structures and removed some of many outdated restrictions placed on their customers.

Sadly, even with these welcomed changes, international roaming still isn’t a viable option for most people. Those who are travelling to just a single country are much better off purchasing a local SIM card, and others can save lots of money by paying for a proper international SIM.

AT&T

The least friendly of the bunch is AT$T with their 25-15 cents overage charges and high costs of data. The basic package starts at $30 and includes 120MB of data and $1 per minute calls. Things get a little better with the $120 option. It includes 800MB of data and 35 cents per minute calls.

T-Mobile

On the other hand, T-Mobile leverages their international network by offering customers free international data roaming in over 140 countries. The only problem is that the free plan is limited to 2G speeds.

The cheapest plan with faster speeds costs $15 for 100MB of data to use for one day. When customers download more than the allocated amount, speeds become limited to 128 Kbps.

Sprint

Sprint closely mimics T-Mobile’s model by offering free 2G data roaming in 60 countries around the world. Extra connection speed costs the same as with T-Mobile.

Verizon

Last but not least, is Verizon with their improved TravelPass service. Customers pay a one-time fee each time they want to connect to a foreign network. Voice and data usage is then billed as normally. This costs $10 per day, with the exception of Canada and Mexico, where it costs just $2.

Things to Consider Before Traveling

Modern technology isn’t always travel-friendly. Different countries and regions use different standards and your particular phone may not work outside the country you brought it in. Furthermore, operators like to lock their customers to their own network to keep them from leaving for a competing provider.

Is Your Phone Unlocked?

You may have heard that about the concept of carrier locks, but there’s a good chance that you are unsure about what it really means. When you purchase a phone from a carrier, there’s a good chance that the phone will be configured to work only their network to prevent you from using a rival carrier’s plan.

Some smartphones are sold specifically as “unlocked” (often for a premium price), which means that you are free to use the phone on any network. These days, most carriers offer at least some way how customers can unlock their phones. It’s often not very straightforward, and it sometimes even costs money.

Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure that your phone is unlocked before you begin your travels. One of the simplest ways to do that is to head over to IMEI.info and input your IMEI number in the search field. You can get this number by dialing *#06# on your device.

Does Your Phone Support GSM Networks?

Mobile phones operate on two basic technologies: CDMA and GSM. Both CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobiles) are methods used by various radio communication technologies to facilitate wireless communication.

In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM networks, while Sprint and Verizon Wireless use CDMA. This rather complicates things because the rest of the world uses GSM.

If that wasn’t enough, GSM has 4 different frequencies, each used in a particular region. Europe operates on GSM-900 and GSM-1800, but North America uses 850 MHz and 1900 MHz communication bands.

Your phone has to support the particular frequency of a local carrier to work properly. Some phones come with a so-called quadband support, which means that they can be used anywhere in the world.

You need to consult manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that your phone is fully compatible.

Conclusion

It’s very unlikely that roaming prices would reach acceptable levels in the foreseeable future. Operators simply don’t have enough incentive to change their flawed business models and customers have to deal with the consequences.

Fortunately, international SIM cards, such as Global Unlimited SIM from Mobal, provide an excellent, cost-effective alternative for savvy travelers. We highly recommend you check just how much you could save and imagine what it would be like to travel without worrying about paying absurd sums of money.

ProductBrandNamePrice
MobalEurope Plus SIM by Mobal. 1GB of Fast 4G Data Included. Great Calling Rates. Excellent Coverage Throughout Europe – The Best European SIM Card Available. Great for Italy, France, Germany, UK etcBuy on Amazon|$59(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)
GlocalMeGlocalMe G3 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot, [Upgraded Version] Worldwide High Speed WiFi Hotspot with 1GB Global Initial Data, No SIM Card Roaming Charges International Pocket WiFi Hotspot MIFI Device (Gold)Buy on Amazon|$164.99(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:32 ET)

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Best refurbished Android smartphones available today

Not everyone can afford the newest, hottest, speediest gadgets on offer today. Especially when manufacturers put so much pressure on the everyday consumer to upgrade yearly, sometimes even more than once within 12 months.

ProductBrandNamePrice
MotorolaMotorola MOTO X 2nd GEN XT1096 16GB Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone - Black (Certified Refurbished)Check Price on Amazon
HuaweiHUAWEI Ascend Mate2 16GB Factory Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Android Smartphone w/ 13MP CameraCheck Price on Amazon
MotorolaMotorola Moto G (XT1028) - Android Smartphone - Verizon No-Contract (Certified Refurbished)Check Price on Amazon
SamsungSamsung Note 2 I317 16GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Smartphone w/ 8MP CameraCheck Price on Amazon
MotorolaMotorola Droid Turbo - 32GB Android SmartphoneCheck Price on Amazon

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Updated May 2017 – FYI info below may be outdated… table above was updated May 2017

verizon-refurbished-phone-box

We say it’s okay to own yesteryear’s Android flagships, and going refurbished is often a wise choice if you can’t or won’t spend north of $600, $700, even $800 on the “next big thing.” No, on-contract phones aren’t an option, and if you feel this inherent reluctance towards pre-owned gear, that’s because you don’t know their full story.

What does refurbished mean?

First of all, it doesn’t mean broken, damaged, defective or cosmetically impaired. A refurb product should show limited or no wear, and while it’s been in the hands of at least another proprietor before you, you can rest assured they didn’t meddle with its internals, dropped it, or harmed it in any significant way.

phone repair

If something like that did happen, it’s actually the best possible news, as the OEM then probably replaced components affected by the injuries. In a nutshell, we’re talking devices that look, feel and function “like-new” here, returned to the seller for one of a number of reasons, and professionally restored to fully working, mint condition.

Most retailers also offer warranties and advantageous return terms, so if you’re not getting what’s advertised, there’s nothing to lose, only to gain. One final note. Just because someone “tested” a phone, and decided to ask their money back, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with the gizmo. Maybe the buyer had unrealistic expectations. Maybe he ordered it by mistake, realized too late, and thought he’d play with it for a while anyway.

It’s possible the merchant and/or courier mishandled the refurbished item as well, which brings you a nice discount at minimal risks.

Best place to buy used phones

Amazon warehouse boxes

Lesson number one – don’t conduct business on eBay unless you absolutely have to, or the deals are too attractive, and you trust the seller. Brick and mortar stores will rarely seem a good idea, considering their limited inventory in such cases.

Ergo, the best places to buy used cell phones are generally online. And the best sites to buy used phones are chiefly Amazon and Best Buy. Currently, the official Best Buy refurbished phones roster merely includes ten Android models, the most compelling of which you’ll find a $265 HTC One M8 and $330 Samsung Galaxy S5 to be.

A $329 Samsung Galaxy Note 3, $249 Galaxy S4 and $90 Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD are other semi-appealing Best Buy used phones up for grabs at the time of this writing.

Best refurbished smartphones on Amazon

Moto X second gen

Ah, the Mecca of all things mobile, all things cheap, all things electronics. And of course, the home of the best refurbished cell phones stateside. Look for the portal’s “certified refurbished” section first and foremost, choose the “cell phones” category, and make sure you’re always covered by a standard 90-day warranty.

One of the best refurbished phones you should probably think about scoring this holiday season, for yourself or a loved one, is the $230 second-gen Motorola Moto X. The 5.2 incher works on Verizon, plus competing GSM carriers, and in brand new, untouched form, it costs 300 bucks.

Galaxy Note 4

What do you reckon a rehabilitated Sony Xperia Z3v with 32 GB internal storage space and unlocked GSM support is worth? If you guessed $340, you are correct, and the prize is, well, a $340 Full HD, water-resistant and Snapdragon 801-packing Z3v.

Don’t mind spending a little extra on one of the world’s best phablets, and the second best S Pen-capable product to this day? Then the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can be yours, in exchange for $430, in black or white, accompanied by your typical 3-month quality guarantee, with a beautiful 5.7-inch Quad HD display in tow, octa-core Exynos 5433 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM, 3,220 mAh battery, 16 MP rear camera, Android 5.0 software goodies, fingerprint sensor, and faux leather backplate.

Huawei Ascend Mate 2

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a certified refurbished no-contract Verizon Moto G is only $40, an LG Lucid 3 goes for $95, the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 costs $210, and an oldie but goldie Samsung Galaxy Note 2 still commands a pre-owned price of $250.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the Verizon unlocked Motorola Droid Turbo, at least in passing, with the 2014 battery powerhouse once sold for over $500 off-contract, and now available at just $310 in refurb condition, coated in snazzy blue, orange and purple, and ready to keep the lights on for two whole days between charges, despite sporting a super-sharp 5.2-inch 1,440p Super AMOLED panel.

Droid Turbo

Now that’s what we like to call a must-buy! Quite possibly the best refurbished phone money can buy before, during and after the Thanksgiving – Black Friday – Cyber Monday 2015 festivities.

ProductBrandNamePrice
MotorolaMotorola MOTO X 2nd GEN XT1096 16GB Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone - Black (Certified Refurbished)Check Price on Amazon
HuaweiHUAWEI Ascend Mate2 16GB Factory Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Android Smartphone w/ 13MP CameraCheck Price on Amazon
MotorolaMotorola Moto G (XT1028) - Android Smartphone - Verizon No-Contract (Certified Refurbished)Check Price on Amazon
SamsungSamsung Note 2 I317 16GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Smartphone w/ 8MP CameraCheck Price on Amazon
MotorolaMotorola Droid Turbo - 32GB Android SmartphoneCheck Price on Amazon

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Best small Android smartphones available today

Update: Here’s our new list of best small phones in 2018

ProductBrandNamePrice
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S5 Mini G800F 16GB Unlocked Cellphone - International Version (Black)Buy on Amazon|$450.49(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)

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Bigger doesn’t necessarily equal better. It’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it. We mean the phone, you perverted oddballs! You may find it hard to score a half-decent small Android handheld these days, but despite the undeniable mainstream rise of phablets, there’s still demand for devices you can easily slide in and out of your standard-issue trouser pocket.

A compact form factor, proper one-hand maneuverability and sensible design will always go a long way with certain mobile consumers, especially if they’re linked to affordability, a high-res screen, and generally respectable hardware specifications.

Before setting out on a quest to find the best small Android phone in the world prior to the 2015 holiday season, let’s land on a display diagonal range. Can we all agree 4.7 to 5.2-inch handhelds are “normal” nowadays, 5.5 inchers start feeling a bit uncomfortable, and anything beyond 6 inches is excessive, unless your job is to make a dozen slam dunks a few times a week in NBA games?

phone size evolution

Good, then we can probably also agree 4 to 4.5 inchers are “small” by today’s high-end standards, yet remain crowd pleasers for those who like to effortlessly manage mobile business with one normally-sized hand. That said, here are the top ten contenders to the title of best small smartphone, ordered as usual from cheapest to costliest:

LG Leon – $78 for MetroPCS; $83 for T-Mobile

LG-Leon

It’s perhaps not fair to compare unlocked and carrier-restricted prices, but at the end of the day, CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint rarely support gadgets not specifically made for them, so the only important thing that’s lacking at the Leon is AT&T compatibility.

Outside of the connectivity spectrum, the elegant, slim-bezeled 4.5 incher also disappoints with 854 x 480 screen resolution, though the quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 410 CPU isn’t half bad… for a lot less than 100 bucks. Oh, and you get Lollipop goodies pre-installed as well.

Motorola Moto E (second-gen) – $90

Moto E 2015

Possibly the most appealing sub-$100 proposition, the E2 can be had in US and global GSM configurations, including with 4G LTE speeds, and the 4.5-inch panel is slightly sharper than that of the LG Leon, at 960 x 540 pixels.

Too bad the 2015 Moto E is only around 64 percent screen, massive bezels occupying the rest of the space, and making it a tad cumbersome, with 129.9 x 66.8 mm height/width measurements. On the plus side, the ultra-low-cost Android soldier already runs 5.1 Lollipop, and should be further upgraded to 6.0 Marshmallow sometime next year.

Motorola Moto G (1st generation) – starting at $92

Moto G

It’s old, not very attractive from a design standpoint, lacks microSD storage expansion possibilities, provides a measly 8 GB ROM in an entry-level variation, and tips the scales at a fairly chunky 143 grams while sizing up at 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm.

But it’s super-affordable, offers close to stock Android 5.1 user experience, and above all, it sports a beautiful 4.5-inch 720p IPS LCD screen.

Huawei Ascend P7 Mini – $144

huawei_ascend_p7_mini

Don’t hold your breath for a Marshmallow makeover in the near future, as even Lollipop is yet to land on the China-imported qHD 4.5 incher. Be happy the P7 Mini is phenomenally skinny (7.8 mm and 115 grams), and pretty gifted in the selfie-taking department, thanks to a 5 MP front-facing camera.

Also, the 2,000 mAh battery is decently spacious, all things considered, and the quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip takes good care of your basic web browsing, multimedia and even gaming needs.

Samsung Galaxy S4 mini – $192

Galaxy S4 mini

The tiny Super AMOLED 4.3 incher has turned two a few months back, which amounts to 50 or 60 in human years, yet a timeless design, hefty 1.5 GB RAM, satisfactory 8 MP LED flash main cam, and appropriate 1,900 mAh cell keep it in the spotlight for fans of pocket-sized gizmos.

The screen borders aren’t exactly unnoticeable, but the diminutive sibling of Samsung’s 2013 flagship measures just 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.9 mm, and weighs 107 grams.

Samsung Galaxy A3 – $201

Galaxy-A3

Unusually inexpensive for an all-metal device, especially one manufactured by a profit-hungry company, the A3 falls short of impressive aesthetics, with a mediocre 65 percent screen-to-body ratio, and also settles for a so-so 960 x 540 Super AMOLED 4.5-inch display.

Then again, 1.5 gigs of memory, 16 GB on-board hoarding room, Snapdragon 410 muscle, 8 and 5 MP photographic equipment, and Android 5.0 software all feel like the absolute cream of the $200 crop.

HTC One Mini 2 – $239

HTC-One-mini-2

Why on earth didn’t HTC renew this aging thing to try to squeeze M9’s magic in a smaller package? Granted, the latest hero and the One M8 the Mini 2 is based on are extremely similar, but a One Mini 3 could have brought SD410 power, 1.5 or even 2 GB RAM, and a refined exterior to the table.

Nonetheless, the 4.5 incher on tap offers a lot for a reasonable price tag, starting with 13 and 5 MP cameras, and of course, a premium aluminum unibody build.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – $250

Xperia Z1 Compact

Sony made the sequel, confusingly named Z3 Compact, a bit too large to be considered here, and the Z5 Compact will also go on sale soon with a 4.6-inch display in tow. It’s all for the best however, as it allows us to remember this oldie but goldie 4.3-inch HD slab, capable of great things to this day.

Silky smooth multitasking? The 2 GB RAM have you covered. Overall system speed? There’s a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor inside. Shutterbug satisfaction? And then some, as the 20.7 MP shooter is simply amazing. And let’s not forget 2,300 mAh battery juice, 16 GB local storage, microSD support, as well as water and dust protection.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini – $267

Samsung_Galaxy_S5_mini

It seems Sammy inexplicably took a page from HTC’s undependable playbook, and decided to skip or greatly delay the Galaxy S6 Mini. Is last year’s Liliputian flagship still worth around 270 clams in this context?

Yes and no, given we very much dig the 4.5-inch 1,280 x 720 AMOLED panel, 1.5 GB RAM, quad-core Exynos SoC, 8 MP LED flash rear cam, microSD card slot, fingerprint sensor, and IP67 certification for water and dust resistance, but we’re not fans of the cheap plasticky construction or Android 4.4 KitKat flavor.

Kyocera DuraForce – $0 down with AT&T financing; $419 outright

Kyocera DuraForce

This expensive (off-contract), muscular 4.5 incher has a crystal clear target audience – people that constantly drop and damage their phones. By no means a featherweight, at a whopping 200 grams, the DuraForce withstands shocks of different nature, and produces HD images, driven by a Snapdragon 400 chip, and backed for stellar endurance by a colossal 3,100 mAh battery.

ProductBrandNamePrice
SamsungSamsung Galaxy S5 Mini G800F 16GB Unlocked Cellphone - International Version (Black)Buy on Amazon|$450.49(Price as of 02/22/2019 02:31 ET)

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Best Bluetooth earbuds available today

It’s only been five months since we last rounded up your top Bluetooth cell phone headset options on the market, and while mobile accessories don’t look as flashy and prone to frequent upgrades as smartphones or smartwatches, a lot has changed between April and today.

Best Bluetooth earbuds

Bluetooth headphones

To make sure you don’t go for a pair of outdated earbuds therefore, we’ve decided to already refresh the list of best Amazon picks. But this time, we’re ruling out mono, single-ear headsets primarily meant for initiating and answering voice calls hands-free.

We’re also not focusing on high-end, pricey, audiophile-centric over-the-ear headphones like the Beats Studio or Bose QuietComfort 25… just yet. A separate inventory of those will be coming soon, but for now, let’s see what your five-star, budget-friendly in-ear stereo Bluetooth headset choices for September 2015 are.

Wireless earbuds

Some of these excellent earbuds have rolled out very recently, others are treated to massive discounts that make them absolute bargains, while a few simply eluded us back in April. Why should you buy one of the following models and not a larger, arguably better-sounding counterpart? Well, they’re clearly more portable, compact and inconspicuous, and at the end of the day, they’re the wise pick for both traveling and athletic purposes.

Jabra Sport Pulse – $176

As the name suggests, these premium wireless earbuds are designed specifically for your most extreme workouts, with sweat, drop, dirt, temperature and humidity protection, plus, believe it or not, built-in heart rate monitoring functions.

Jabra Pulse

No other accessories needed, just fit the headset in your ears, blast the music, and simultaneously get coached on whether to accelerate or pace yourself, based on your heartbeat. Granted, battery life isn’t exactly stellar due to the advanced technology integrated in an otherwise typical-looking package, and crisp audio. But 4.5 hours is still long enough to last you a couple of extended running sessions.

JayBird BlueBuds X – $150

JayBird BlueBuds X

Let’s face it, the price here feels a little on the steep side, sans HR features or anything along those lines. But the BlueBuds X should be capable of “remarkable” sound, with a snazzy yet fairly low-profile design, 13.8 grams (!!!) weight, “lifetime warranty against sweat”, and 8, yes, 8 hours of continuous run time between charges. Worth the Benjamin and a half all in all, don’t you think?

Beats Powerbeats 2 – $144

Everybody knows that Beats purchases give you status, bragging rights over other brands, and a unique sense of style. That said, the Powerbeats 2 certainly stand out a little more than they maybe should from an aesthetical standpoint, and connect up to 30 feet away from your Bluetooth-enabled Android phone.

Beats Powerbeats 2

Their key selling points also include quick charging support, with an hour of non-stop playback provided by 15 minutes of power-up activity, as well as a six-hour normal endurance rating, water resistance, and dual-driver acoustics for booming sound.

LG Tone Infinim – $80

As we enter ultra-low-cost territory, it’s best to lower the expectation bar when it comes to features like heart rate monitors or swanky designs. Then again, as long as you’re not peeved by stiff neckbands, the Tone Infinim contraption is quite the looker, and it offers both ergonomics and versatility.

LG Tone Infinim

The actual earbuds are retractable, you have easily accessible call and music controls to your left and right, and above all, LG joins forces with Harman Kardon for “premium audio quality.” Wait, then why are these so cheap? Well, they’re currently reduced from $150, and it’d be a pity if you didn’t take advantage of the deal before it eventually expires.

Jabra ROX – $79.80

Jabra Rox

Also heavily discounted, from $130 to under $80, the ROX ensemble is super-small, lightweight, and keeps the lights on for around 5.5 hours on a single charge. There’s NFC compatibility for easy handheld pairing, HD Voice support, advanced noise cancellation for phone calls, multimedia stream capabilities, plus rain, dust and shock resistance. Not too shabby!

Plantronics BackBeat Fit – $78

BackBeat FIT

Sure, these earbuds look odd, but they’re among the best reviewed of their kind on Amazon, with a 4.3-star average based on over 1,700 user opinions. That’s primarily because they’re flexible and remain wrapped around your head no matter what, sweat-proof, and endowed with DeepSleep functionality for hibernation when not in use, and consequent autonomy expansion. Speaking of, they can run for 8 hours on end while you run for 8 hours on end. Protip – take a break before the BackBeat Fit.

RevJams Active Sport – $33

RevJams Active Sport

They’re active, you’re active, they’re sporty, you’re sporty, they’re comfortable in their skin and promise “superb sound with no wires”, you… would very much like that at the uber-economical price point. Win-win situation, y’all!

Mpow Cheetah – $28

Mpow Cheetah

Bendy, sneaky, light as a feather yet handsome and stylish, the compact, comfortable and secure earbuds let you skip tracks, control your volume and take calls without ever coming near your phone. It’ll be easy to forget the Cheetah is even synched to a separate device, after 8 hours of talk or music time, or 180 (!!!) in standby. And yes, the audio quality is fine, courtesy of aptX technology.

G-Cord – $27

We know you like to go unnoticed when out for a jog, but this black-and-red gizmo is just too darn classy to turn it down. And no, the all-black model isn’t an option, trust us. Funnily enough, the manufacturer forgot to give the headset a proper name, so we’ll simply call it the 2-Link Soundblaster.

G-Cord

That’s right, you can connect two Bluetooth phones at the same time and “free switch”, and endurance is rated at a solid 8 hours of calling, or 6 hours of music. Or 160 hours of standby. The assorted neckband isn’t too rigid, and the design is both ergonomics-focused and rugged, with durability a key G-Cord objective.

TaoTronics – $25.99

Another technically unnamed set of earbuds, another ridiculously low price tag, another comfortable and secure construction, not to forget “CD-like high quality sound” (as if anyone listens to CDs nowadays), 5-hour autonomy, and built-in HD microphone.

TaoTronics

Okay, we’ll be honest with you. This isn’t the greatest or prettiest headset around. But it’s the cheapest wireless design, and it fulfills its basic duties honorably.

MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6 – $17.99

MEE Audio Sport

Yes, this thing is wired, which may prove a major inconvenience for some. And if you want a mic, you have to pay 5 bucks extra. But once again, affordability rules, and cash-strapped consumers drool… over the noise isolating, “energetic sound”-capable, enhanced bass-producing M6. Which repels water, by the by, and comes bundled with a handy shirt clip and half a dozen sets of eartips ensuring the perfect fit for everyone.

Best Android-compatible fitness trackers money can buy: December 2015

Whether you prefer to call them fitness trackers, activity trackers, fitness bands or perhaps smart bands, these poor men’s smartwatches are spreading like wildfire. According to the International Data Corporation, three of the four wearable industry-leading manufacturers in Q3 2015 were specialized in such basic, low-cost gadgets, with Fitbits somehow managing to even beat the trendy Apple Watch.

Fitness-tracker-wrist

Down the line, analysts expect “iWatches”, Samsung Gears, Moto 360s, Pebbles et al to prevail over Mi Bands, Jawbones, Misfits, Vivofits and so on, but by the looks of things, there should be enough room under the sun for both similar yet radically distinct product categories.

It’s practically impossible to predict the long-term evolution of a market so far from maturity, but at least for the foreseeable future, some folks will want to spend chump change on minimalistic devices capable of reliably monitoring their active life and little else. Bottom line, you need to make a choice between the following, just like a separate audience had to pick a stylish, futuristic Apple Watch alternative.

Xiaomi Mi Band – $19.90

Xiaomi Mi Band

Our least expensive recommendation is obviously the most rudimentary gizmo of the bunch, and adding insult to injury, it’s also listed as out of stock at the Chinese OEM’s US Mi store. There’s reasonable doubt the item sold on Amazon may not be legit, but rather an even cheaper knockoff, so all in all, it’s probably wiser to avoid this one, and instead wait for the Pulse sequel to reach America.

That’s too bad, really, since you got plenty for your 20 bucks – month-long battery life, step counter, calories burned indicator, automatic sleep monitor (though not very reliable), vibrations for call alerts, and IP67 water resistance.

Misfit Flash – $19.99

Misfit Flash

Compatible with both Android and iOS, much like all its rivals indexed today, the Flash is an oldie, having also made our magnificent seven list from exactly a year ago, but doesn’t show its advanced age, featuring a winning sporty design, up to 6 months (!!!) autonomy, and up to 30 meter water protection.

It’s perfect for running, walking, cycling, as well as playing tennis, basketball or soccer, and it can be worn anywhere, from your wrist to the waist, sleeve, pocket, shoe, socks, lapel, shirt or key chain with a convenient clip-on mechanism. Okay, maybe “perfect” is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s decent and super-affordable.

Garmin Vivofit 2 – $70

Garmin Vivofit 2

That’s a pretty big price gap someone might want to cover, though the Vivofit 2 very much justifies it. The always-on backlit LCD screen alone is worth your $50 premium, not to mention a battery rated at one full year of endurance, and automatic synchronization to one of the best fitness apps around, Garmin Connect.

Now, you may find this a tad annoying, but the smart band tells you when it’s “time to move” in addition to the actual time, and proposes personalized daily goals to help you get the most out of every workout session. Talk about an intuitive UI, huh?

Fitbit Charge and Charge HR – $90 and $120 respectively

Fitbit Charge

If you can afford it, definitely buy the model with a built-in heart rate monitor. It’s a literal life-saver for people who may look to push themselves too far. The sub-$100, non-HR configuration ain’t half bad either, despite a somewhat awkward aesthetic sense and tiny OLED display.

Compared to the Vivofit 2, the Charge isn’t quite a battery powerhouse, lasting however north of a week before requiring extra juice, which is an unattainable feat for the likes of the Apple Watch. “Real progress in real time” is one of the activity tracker’s main claims to fame, alongside wirelessly stat synching across 120+ “leading smartphones” and your PC. Nothing special, you say? Over 20,000 happy Amazon customers beg to differ.

Withings Activite Pop – $120 and up

Withings Activite Pop

This one is sure an odd duck, not just because of its fancy name, but first and foremost as it touts a “timeless look” and yet focuses on the wearable basics rather than putting a smartphone on your wrist. It’s by far the world’s most fashionable fitness tracker, in a retro, always in vogue way, but amazingly keeps the lights on for more than eight months without needing a recharge or cell swap.

That’s obviously due to the screen not really being a power-hogging screen and showing anything else besides the time and an “analog feedback loop.” Quite the ingenious hybrid construction, and best of all, you don’t have to worry if you leave it on while swimming.

Jawbone Up3 – starting at $125

Jawbone Up3

When it comes to dependable bands capable of a little more than counting steps, Jawbone remains Fitbit’s primary rival. The Up3 builds on the success of its two predecessors, once again skipping the display, going instead for a low-profile design path, and an abundance of useful sensors meant to capture both your Resting Heart Rate and Passive Heart Rate for a “holistic view of your heart.”

Marketing mumbo-jumbo aside, this stands out with tailor-made workouts and custom Smart Coach guidance, as well as “advanced” automatic sleep auditing with detection of REM, Light and Deep stages.

Garmin Vivoactive – $170

Garmin Vivoactive

Another smartwatch lookalike, this time copying the first wave of Android Wear devices, the rectangular Vivoactive is GPS-enabled, and that says it all. Why is GPS important for sports nuts? Because the wearable piece knows at all times exactly where you are and what you do, even when away from your Android phone, showing you precious, detailed data like speed and cadence during an indoor run.

Garmin’s always stellar proprietary software also helps distinguish between run, bike, swim, walk and golf efforts, providing you with one of the most in-depth looks at your health money can buy. Oh, and even with the GPS continuously on, the Vivoactive lasts up to ten hours on a charge. 3 weeks when the feature is turned off.

Fitbit Surge – $200 and up

Fitbit Surge

The “fitness superwatch” is not a smartwatch per se either, looking, well, kind of ugly and cumbersome, though it’s not actually very heavy, at 80 grams or so. Superficial fashion characteristics aside, what’s truly relevant is the Surge packs GPS, a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, digital compass, optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, ambient light sensor, and vibration motor.

Translation – it knows exactly what you’re up to, where and to what end, and it’s pretty decent for call and text notification displaying purposes too. It’s essentially the best of both worlds, and yes, it offers week-long battery stamina.

Microsoft Band 2 – $250

Microsoft Band 2

It feels odd to wrap up a roundup of Google-friendly devices with one produced by the “enemy”, but if Redmond forgot about petty arguments, why wouldn’t we follow suit? Especially given the Band 2 embraces Windows Phone, Android and iOS, greatly refining the clumsy build of its forefather, and further enriching the sensor slate.

Believe it or not, you can do better than the Fitbit Surge, with accelerometer and gyro, GPS and a barometer, ambient light and skin temperature, plus galvanic skin response, UV, a capacitive sensor, microphone, and haptic vibration motor. Have no idea what half of those do? Cool things, we assure you, equaling fit with fun.

Best Bluetooth cell phone headsets available today (Updated for 2019)

Admit it, you don’t often think of accessories whenever in the market for a new smartphone or tablet. But if you’re wise, you remember to save a couple hundred bucks for a decent power bank, nice external speaker and especially a Bluetooth headset.

Best Bluetooth Headsets

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
PlantronicsPlantronics Voyager Focus179.44
Sennheiser Enterprise SolutionSennheiser Bluetooth Headset133.99
JabraJabra Stealth Bluetooth Headset94.5
PlantronicsPlantronics Voyager Legend Wireless Bluetooth Headset62
SamsungSamsung Level U Pro Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones54.98

bluetooth-headset

You don’t want to be pulled over and get a ticket just because you “forgot” to tell the wife you’re going fishing with the guys. Besides, talking on the phone while driving with only one hand on the wheel can be extremely dangerous.

Then there are those times when your multitasking abilities are pushed to the limit, and you simply cannot afford to occupy one hand with a device that can niftily sit in your trouser pocket. Finally, while you’re at it, why not grab a stereo headset capable of doubling as a crisp music listening contraption? That way, you’ll save on expensive headphones and kill two birds with one stone.

Bluetooth headset

Bottom line, everybody needs a Bluetooth headset, be it mono, stereo, ultra-cheap and simplistic or slightly pricier and adept at more than one task. And here we have the best options available on Amazon today, ordered from the costliest to the most affordable:

Motorola Moto Hint – $104

We could go on and on about this little guy’s controversial quality-price ratio, but at the end of the day, the equation is simple. If you own a Moto X phone, the Hint is a must-buy. If not, don’t bother. When paired with any other Bluetooth-enabled handheld, it’s “beautifully out of sight”, aka really tiny, but sketchy as far as call quality is concerned.

Moto Hint

When used with an X, it’s a lot more than a wireless earbud, delivering notifications directly to your ear, and sending text messages via voice.

Plantronics Voyager Legend – $69.99

The name is fitting, as this long-lasting, ergonomic, retro-looking, water-resistant appliance achieved legendary status and racked up a cool four-star review average from 3,000+ Amazon customers.

Plantronics Voyager Legend

Granted, it’s nowhere near as subtle as the Moto Hint, but triple mic tech can separate the user’s voice from 80 dBs of background noise, ensuring the cleanest conversations you’ve ever heard.

Jawbone Era – $69 and up

The masters of low-cost activity trackers ironically charge more for their “smallest, lightest headset” yet. But Era’s design is a winner, its range above-average (33 feet), and battery life respectable (up to 4 hours of talk time).

Jawbone Era

Obviously, it’s not meant for stereo music playing functions, however what it does it does exquisitely, eliminating background noise courtesy of NoiseAssassin 4.0 technology.

Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 – $59.99

Plantronics again? You betcha, and this time, they have a relatively inexpensive pair of wireless Hi-Fi earbud headphones for you, which you can hook up to literally any Android through thin air. The Go 2 is comfortable, compact, fairly stylish and, above all, a waterproof bluetooth headphone.

Plantronics BackBeat Go 2

It goes without saying you won’t get Beats Studio-matching audio excellence at 60 bucks, yet Go 2’s versatility makes it an uber-smart purchase.

Jawbone Icon HD+ The Nerd – $59.97

No, the name isn’t particularly inspired, but the part Bluetooth headset, part USB audio adapter stands out with killer noise reduction abilities, HD sound, solid battery life you can easily keep tabs on via your phone, plus seven different earbuds guaranteeing perfect placement in your ear.

Jawbone Icon HD+ The Nerd

BlueAnt Q2 – $50.89

It’s perhaps not as resourceful and convenient as the Moto Hint, but the Q2 also relies on voice control for a slew of basic operations. Just wirelessly connect it to your phone, slip it in your ear and, whenever a voice call comes through, you can say the magic words “answer” or “ignore”, and the headset will oblige.

BlueAnt Q2

Of course, if you don’t know who’s ringing, voice commands are useless, so that’s where the integrated Text to Speech engine comes in. If the number reaching you is stored in your phonebook, the Q2 shall announce the name before letting you decide if you’re too “busy”. Quite nifty, don’t you think?

LG Tone Pro – $44.89 and up

LG Tone Pro

Here’s another stereo headset that aims to help you not just by diverting calls away from your phone. It’s good for casual audiophiles too, and it can go on for up to 15 hours in continuous use while looking swanky and sophisticated. It’s (almost) the best of both worlds.

Motorola H720 – $39.99

Motorola H720

The H720 may strike you as old-fashioned at a first glance (and not in a good way), and it’s certainly not a Moto Hint rival. Still, it provides up to eight hours of uninterrupted conversation, as per the manufacturer’s claims, it boasts noise reduction and echo cancellation, and works with Samsungs, LGs, HTCs and even iPhones, not only Motorolas.

Jabra Clipper – starting at $32.65

Jabra Clipper

Probably the cheapest half-decent Bluetooth stereo headset these days used to cost $150, and that tells you everything you need to know about Clipper’s premium features. This bad boy can automatically switch between calls and music mode, it’s rain and shock-resistant, it alerts you of incoming caller and mobile distance, and even facilitates remote music control.

The accompanying earbuds are, according to a fair share of customer reviews, “dreadful”, but on the bright side, they’re very easy to replace.

Plantronics M50 Bluetooth Headset – $29.99

Plantronics M50

This is basically the poor man’s Voyager Legend, looking far less glamorous, renouncing water protection and easing up on the advanced noise cancelling technologies. Then again, the low price, 11-hour battery and 33 feet range have helped it cross the 6,000 customer review mark on Amazon and still keep a near-spotless four-star track record.

Mpow Swift – $29.99 and up

Wait a minute, it seems you can actually find an even cheaper pair of stereo headphones than the Jabra Clipper. Alas, the Swift isn’t extremely “complex”, plus it’s a little awkward from an aesthetical standpoint.

Mpow Swift

It’s ergonomic, comfortable and “stable” nonetheless, delivers an appropriate signal… for its price range, and lasts up to five hours of talk/playing time. Overall, it’s not the best, it’s not the worst product in the world.

Kinivo BTH240 – $24.99

Oh, come on, a 25 bucks set of large, sleek, foldable stereo headphones?!? What’s the catch? Incredibly enough, we can’t find one, other than the BTH240 isn’t waterproof, which isn’t surprising looking at the design.

Kinivo BTH240

Call and sound quality is reported as average at worst, the battery runs for a whopping 10 hours even in music playing, and you also get a built-in noise canceling microphone. No wonder 3,350 buyers gave Kinivo’s stellar item a weighted 4.2 star evaluation.

No-name black wireless Bluetooth 4.0 universal headset – $7.94

Forget big industry names like Motorola, LG, Jawbone or Plantronics. Amazon’s number one best seller in Bluetooth cell phone headsets is a product assembled by an obscure Chinese company probably headquartered in Shenzhen.

No-name Bluetooth headset

Worried for the possible shoddy quality of this thing? Then why not buy a couple? Half a dozen. A full dozen. At 8 bucks a pop, you can afford to replace them every other month. Funnily enough, you’re even promised “noise reduction”, “echo cancellation” and the design ain’t as bad as you’d expect. The final choice is entirely yours. 

Best Bluetooth Headsets

ImgAmazon.com LinkBrandProductAmazon.com LinkPrice on Amazon.com
PlantronicsPlantronics Voyager Focus179.44
Sennheiser Enterprise SolutionSennheiser Bluetooth Headset133.99
JabraJabra Stealth Bluetooth Headset94.5
PlantronicsPlantronics Voyager Legend Wireless Bluetooth Headset62
SamsungSamsung Level U Pro Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones54.98

Best Android smartphones with a removable battery and microSD slot

Times are changing, tides are shifting, trends are passing and drifting and priorities are rearranging. The thing is the way device manufacturers set their priorities straight doesn’t always align with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of mobile consumers.

Android batteries

Take smartphone battery capacity. Literally everyone who’s ever owned a half-decent Android with web access, a semi-sharp display and the ability to run games and various juice-consuming apps knows autonomy is a pain.

Yet except for Motorola and maybe Lenovo, OEMs refuse to do the right and simple thing and increase cell size at the risk of also beefing up bulk. Recently, a separate but just as disturbing market direction has begun to dictate to gadget producers user-removable batteries and microSD card slots are out of style.

Taking a page from Apple’s ill-advised book, Samsung outed the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with sealed pacemakers and no external storage expansion possibility. Meanwhile, the HTC One M9 and Sony Xperia Z3 let you slip in a microSD card for extra hoarding room, but block entry to the old juicers.

Android microSD

Needless to stress why some find microSD support and replaceable cells greatly convenient, so without further ado, here are a few of the remaining Mohicans to offer both features:

LG G3 – starting at $369 factory unlocked; $0.01 with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint contracts

  • Up to 128 GB microSD capabilities; 3,000 mAh battery

Not only can you see, touch and substitute the out-the-box cell in need (and for a really small price), but this also delivers plenty of energy, sufficient in fact to comfortably last you through the typical work day. Then again, what’s not to like about the G3?

LG G3 battery

It’s almost as speedy as its successor, it’s over 75 percent screen with ultra-narrow bezels, a multitasking champion, runs on Lollipop sans a glitch and sports top-of-the-line Quad HD display resolution. Plus, it’s roughly twice as cheap as a Galaxy S6 and, presumably, a G4.

LG G3 S – $205 and up unlocked

  • Up to 64 GB microSD expansion; 2,540 mAh battery

Not digging the gargantuan footprint of the 5.5-inch G3 or perhaps feel $370 is too much to pay for a slab of silicon, no matter how cool of a discount Amazon pitches? The “diminutive” G3 S might be the answer to all your prayers, albeit it’s not as small or affordable as you’d probably expect.

LG G3 S battery

It’s 5 inches in diagonal, 137.7 mm in height, nearly 70 mm wide and it’s just $165 cheaper than the “full-sized” G3 with lower resolution, less processing power, an inferior RAM count, camera sensor, everything. Not to mention it barely accommodates 8 gigs of internal data, limiting your microSD inflation as well.

Samsung Galaxy S5 – $390 factory unlocked; $0.01 with AT&T pacts, $1 at Verizon, $30 for Sprint

  • Up to 128 GB microSD; 2,800 mAh battery

Last year’s “next big thing” is by no means better than LG’s 2014 spearhead, yet it’s still slightly steeper. What’s up with that, Sammy, Amazon and especially Sprint? Granted, you do get water resistance and fingerprint recognition here, only at the end of the day, the FHD Samsung is clearly no match for the QHD LG.

Galaxy S5 battery

Not in ppi, RAM muscle, build quality or overall design style. Perhaps in cell endurance, thanks to Galaxy S5’s more frugal screen.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $547 factory unlocked; $230 on-contract at Verizon, $300 and up with Sprint

  • 128 GB microSD; 3,220 mAh battery

Look, we get it, the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED 2K phablet is a powerhouse, with Snapdragon 805 inside, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB native storage space, up to 20-hour 3G continuous battery life, fast charging technology, heart rate monitoring, fingerprint authentication and S Pen support.

Galaxy Note 4 microSD

It’s handsome as well, with its premium metallic frame, soft-textured back cover and 8.5 mm wasp waist. But $300 with a 24-month carrier obligation?!? That sounds extreme. Even $230 is preposterous. For crying out loud, the newer, better-looking, more robust albeit smaller Galaxy S6 starts at $200.

Samsung Galaxy S4 – $291 factory unlocked; $0.01 with Verizon or Sprint pacts

  • 64 GB microSD; 2,600 mAh battery

It may feel hard to argue with a sub-$300 SIM-free valuation of a Lollipop-ready device packing quad-core Snapdragon 600 or octa Exynos 5 punch, plus 2 GB RAM. Yet if the LG G2 can go for $220 in a 32 GB configuration, so should the 16 GB GS4 model Amazon shamelessly charges almost three Benjamins for.

Galaxy S4 microSD

True, G2’s battery is bolted down. Otherwise though, the 2013 high-enders are matched in screen res and camera performance, and the G2 likely prevails as far as autonomy and processing speed are concerned.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 – $310 factory unlocked; $100 with AT&T contracts

  • 64 GB microSD; 2,800 mAh battery

Bet you forgot all about this unusually timid mid-end 6 incher. So did AT&T, we presume, or else they’d lack the gumption of asking 100 clams for such an unimpressive phablet on-contract.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 2

It’s really not worth it, since the battery is teeny-tiny, the display 720p, the cameras mediocre and, given the nonexistent marketing, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Mega 2 were stuck on KitKat for a long, long time.

HTC Desire 510 – $65 with Sprint prepaid plans; $66 at Boost Mobile; $70 on Virgin Mobile

  • 128 GB microSD; 2,100 mAh battery

HTC-Desire-510

Before you even think it, we had to include an ultra-low-cost no-contract trooper in our roundup of the rare removable battery/storage expansion birds. We just had to. And yes, we agree the Desire 510 looks pretty chintzy and its specs are, well, a full-on crapfest.

But it’s 65 lousy bucks, lets you add all the memory required to deposit half of Netflix’s library and, thanks to an FWVGA panel blessing in disguise, promises to last around 17 hours between charges.

Best 4G LTE-capable Android tablets available today stateside

If you’ve been following our website lately, chances are you’ve already purchased a tab… or ten. You’re only human after all, and probably couldn’t resist the temptation of a stellar bargain, the best 7 inch+ gamers around, the 2015 endurance champions or ultra-high-res media streamers.

4G LTE

But there’s one market segment we haven’t tackled in a while. And even back when we did, in October 2014, the budget was restricted, so technically, you never got a list of the top 4G LTE-enabled Android pads. Just the finest low-cost soldiers.

Now, it goes without saying not everyone can afford to cough up $600 or $700 for a high-speed, always connected laptop replacement. Nor does everybody want to pay that much with the large-screen Google “ecosystem” deeply flawed and app support lowly at best.

man-using-tablet

So, instead of narrowing our search to a predefined price range, we’ve decided to bring together the low-enders and high-enders, the budget contenders and no-nonsense flagships. Here they all are, with advanced connectivity options their sole feature in common:

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 – starting at $650 for Verizon

Going after Microsoft Surface Pros and Apple iPad Airs with comparable price tags never felt like Sammy’s smartest strategic move. And indeed, the Note Pro is a decidedly nichey product, which could never appeal to the masses.

Galaxy Note Pro

But boy, is it colossal, literally and figuratively, with a 2,560 x 1,600 pix res 12.2-inch screen in tow, S Pen functionality, Snapdragon 800 muscle, 3 GB RAM and 9,500 mAh battery juice. Just think of how sharp the high-def YouTube vids will play on the move.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – $500 and $650 respectively on and off-contract at Verizon

The name may send an old-fashioned vibe, yet the 10.1-inch Z2 is very much “contemporary”, what with its 1,920 x 1,200 display, S801 chip, Android 5.0 Lollipop software, 3 GB RAM and 8.1 MP rear camera.

Xperia Z2 Tablet

Plus, for a large 10 incher, it’s extremely easy to transport, thanks to a 6.4 mm waist and 439-gram “heft”, not to mention it’s dust and water-resistant, ergo ready for whatever nature throws at it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 – $500 and up with Verizon

Oh, come on, another Verizon exclusive? Technically, no, but Big Red does cut you the best Tab S deal at the moment, and Amazon always endorses steals. Well, steal might be a bit of a stretch, at five full Benjamins.

Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Let’s call the bang for buck factor… adequate. Enticing. Almost unrefusable if you’re in the market for a super-slim 10 incher with fingerprint recognition, LTE speeds, Snapdragon 800 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 7,900 mAh cell capacity… and only 16 GB internal storage.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 – $529 and up for AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon

Fire HDX 8.9

Finally, something you can activate on your network of choice. As long as it’s not Sprint. Too bad the HDX is a little steep for what it offers – forked Android (an archaic iteration, no less), 2 gigs of RAM, bland design, somewhat awkward albeit ultra-sharp screen, and “sponsored screensavers” to begin with.

Luckily, $15 rids you of pesky ads, and $50 bumps up the storage from 32 to 64 GB. Remember, there’s no microSD card slot.

Google/HTC Nexus 9 – $469 unlocked with 32 GB storage

Nexus 9

Ah, a purist’s wet dream, now at an all-time low tariff. What can be sweeter than that? Perhaps a smidge of extra battery serum or CDMA carrier compatibility, but beggars tablet buyers on a tight budget can’t be choosers.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 – starting at $380 for AT&T; $350 GSM unlocked

How is this any different from the Tab S, you wonder? Well, actually, their specs couldn’t be further apart. The Tab 4 is almost ridiculously low-end, and ultimately, it’s not worth the $350 and up Amazon charges for it. With or without operator agreements.

Galaxy Tab 4 10.1

Yes, it’s compact, fairly handsome (in a non-standout way), and equipped with 1.5 GB RAM, which isn’t that bad. But the 1,280 x 800 panel is pretty crappy, and the same goes for the quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU, 6,800 mAh ticker and especially 3.15/1.3 MP cams.

LG G Pad 10.1 – $150 with Verizon pacts; $380 sans obligations

LG G Pad 10.1

All in all not much better than the 10.1-inch Tab 4, the G Pad 10.1 is at least cheaper on-contract. And it’s upgradeable to Lollipop, slightly prettier, courtesy of narrower bezels, plus longer-lasting, with an 8,000 mAh pacemaker. And in case you’re one of those weirdos that takes photos with a big-ass slate, there’s a respectable 5 MP autofocus shooter around the back.

LG G Pad 8.3 – $130 on-contract at Verizon; $350 outright

LG G Pad 8.3

Sometimes, it pays to wait. And oftentimes, smaller and cheaper doesn’t equal weaker and lower-end. Case in point, the almost two year-old 8.3 incher under the microscope here, which features 1,920 x 1,200 screen resolution, Snapdragon 600 power and 2 GB memory in addition to LTE capabilities. At $130, that’s a positively dreamy inventory of hardware components.

Oh, and as far as software goes, Android 5.0 is reportedly nigh.

Verizon Ellipsis 8 – $49.99 on-contract, $299.99 off

We’ll give it to you straight, as usual. If you can do better, ignore the Ellipsis. Don’t buy it outright either, it’s a waste of money. The only wise ploy would be to score it at 50 clams, even if that means pledging a two-year allegiance to the Big Red flag.

verizon_ellipsis_8

Not quite a disaster, the inexpensive 8 incher is probably stuck on KitKat for good, and it provides a lousy gig of RAM. Translation – it’s slow as hell, and opening more than a couple of browser tabs while on 4G may freeze the system instantaneously.

LG G Pad 7.0 – $150 GSM unlocked; $100 with AT&T contracts

LG-G-Pad-7.0

It’s petite, it’s good-looking (all things considered), soon-to-run-Lollipop, quad-core, can work as a universal remote for TVs, sound systems, DVD or Blu-ray players, and “optimized” to last up to 10 hours between charges.

Of course, it’s not high-res (1,280 x 800 pixels), a multitasking beast (1 GB RAM), or photography champ (3.15 and 1.3 megapixels). But it’ll do if $100 is all you have lying around.