Save or splurge: Should you buy the newest generation of these popular electronics?

Last Updated November 2019

Gifting gadgets can be a challenge — it can feel like trying to hit a moving target, as upgrades are constantly being announced and new generations are constantly being released, especially in the months preceding the holidays.

Whether you should pay more for the newest generation or stick with a prior version depends on the device. Here’s our breakdown on some of the fastest-evolving tech around so you know what to gift this holiday season. 

iPhone

The new iPhone 11 Pro is the successor to the iPhone XS (which, despite the name, is not extra-small). Both share a similar form factor and boast cutting-edge features like FaceID.

Our verdict: Splurge. The camera on the iPhone 11 Pro is a major upgrade and worth the cost. Also, the iPhone XS is around the same price, so if you’re already planning on spending this much, go with the newer generation.

Smartwatch

The Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch on the market, especially among those who already have an iPhone. The Apple Watch Series 5 is a new model in time for the holidays.

Our verdict: Save. The only new features are an always-on screen functionality and a compass app; beyond that, the Series 4 and 5 look and perform exactly the same.

Xbox

Currently, you can get the Xbox One S bundled with a game for around $230, or you can get the more powerful Xbox One X with a game for about $400. They both play the same games, but the Xbox One X has significantly more horsepower.

Our verdict: User’s choice. If you’re buying for a casual gamer or someone who just wants a streaming box with a built-in Blu-ray player, save and go for the Xbox One S. If you’re buying for a hardcore gamer, splurge on the Xbox One X.

Amazon Echo

The newest Alexa-enabled assistants include the third-generation Echo ($99.99), the Echo Plus (which includes a built-in hub for smart home devices for $149.99), and the upcoming Echo Studio ($199.99).

Our verdict: Splurge. Each time Amazon releases a new device with Alexa, they improve the audio quality, and the speakers on the Echo Studio are their finest yet. 

Tablet

The all-new Fire HD 10 was released at the end of October, and it offers a large, high resolution screen and Dolby Atmos audio, as well as faster processing than the prior model. It’s the same size as the previous Fire HD 10 tablet. 

Our verdict: Splurge. At $150 the new Fire HD costs less than the previous generation did at its release. It has built-in Alexa for the first time, it’s notably faster, and it’s a great tablet to gift because it’s a solid piece of tech for far less than an iPad.

AirPods

The latest and perhaps greatest model of AirPods released late October. These popular wireless earbuds adorn the ears of many for good reason: they are comfortable, simple, and deliver great sound. These new Pros also have noise canceling technology. 

Our verdict: Splurge if you’ll be wearing them a lot, indoors and out. These are worth it for their customizable fit and sweat/water resistance.