If you live on a normal person’s budget, a phone that costs $1000, a pair of easy-to-lose headphones, or a speaker you can take to the beach might seem completely out of the question. But you don’t have to pay as much money as you think for the tech you love. All you have to do is separate fashion and marketing from specs and features and buy the technology you really want, not the name brand you think you want. Honestly? You don’t even have to do that because I did it for you.
If you’re hankering for AirPods, a new smartphone, smartwatch, or smarter-home, I totally get it. Money is tight, but we still all want all the things. And there is a secret in the gadget world that I’m about to share with you. None of this gear is as expensive as you have been led to believe.
Smartphone with an incredible camera:
Everyone assumes that if a terrific photo was taken with a phone, it’s because that phone was a $1000 iPhone. But people with iPhones are always amazed by the photos that my OnePlus 8 Pro ($700 on Amazon) gets with its incredible 48-megapixel camera. This phone has amazing specs — wireless charging, fluid screen, Snapdragon 85 processor, IP68 waterproof — and much more. It’s also beautiful and costs much less than a comparable iPhone or high-end Samsung smartphone.
Still, more than you have for a phone?
If that’s still just too much money for your tiny budget, let me introduce you to the Nord Line from OnePlus. The Nord N10 5G is a perfectly serviceable and beautiful phone capable of 5G and rapid charge that’s just $279. Still too rich for you? Check out the OnePlus N100. The specs are scaled back, but it’s a lovely phone for $180.
This smartwatch costs less than that dinner at Olive Garden:
Everyone is sporting an expensive smartwatch, and you feel left out. Instead of drowning your troubles in breadsticks, eat ramen at home — once! — and get yourself a smartwatch. At least you don’t have to drop $300 on that! The Virmee VT3 is a fitness tracker, heart-rate monitor, sleep tracker, and watch that sends phone notifications to your wrist. It’s cute and petite, and you can change the watch face whenever you want. The battery life is terrific. Best part? $35.99 on Amazon. You can find out if you want a smartwatch before committing a pile of cash to the concept. Or go with this one because it might be everything you need in a smarter-watch.
Inexpensive wireless earbuds:
The world of marketing might be trying to convince you that you need to spend $200 to get a pair of wireless earbuds, come with a case that doubles as a slick charging battery, and are waterproof, touch-controlled, and sound terrific. That’s crazy. The Mpow M12 Bluetooth earbuds are all that, and they don’t look like you stuck a toothbrush in your ear. In fact, they are almost invisible, and they come in four colors, none of them white. Oh, did I mention that they are $30? I give them as gifts.
Build your smart home on the cheap:
Creating a smart home that lets you turn lights on with your voice, automatically make your coffee in the morning, or shout, “Alexa, play some Queen!” when you want to party — might seem like a costly endeavor. It’s not. If you already have an Amazon Echo or Google Home, all you need is this set of four Gosund smart plugs, and you’re well on your way. They don’t require any hub, are easy to set up, and fit neatly into their own half of the outlet. Best part? A set of four is just $28.
A wireless speaker you can take anywhere:
Once upon a time, acquiring a wireless, waterproof speaker that could power your groove in the home office and then go with you in your beach bag meant parting with some serious coin. Then the OontZ Angle 3 from Cambridge Soundworks was born, and more than a hundred thousand people on Amazon said, “Yes! Give me that!” This is a terrific speaker, holds its own against larger, more precious, and much more expensive speakers, has a 14-hour battery, is adorable, and comes in many colors. At $25.99, what’s not to love?
A cheap, fast, and easy security camera:
You want to be able to keep an eye on the porch so you can track down that porch pirate and seek revenge, but you don’t want to drop a lot of money on a security system to keep your frivolous Amazon shopping spree. Welcome to 2021. We are all in that boat. And here’s your solution. This Wyze Cam 1080p works with Alexa, has motion-triggered recording, free cloud storage, HD live streaming, and night vision. It’s just $26.