In the third instalment of our Techgoondu 2023 Gift Guide, we share ideas for the go-getting young professional for this holiday season.
He or she must balance commitments to work and friends, is probably renting a place (cue mental wellness), and making just enough as their careers (and incomes) are at the cusp of taking off in a big way.
This individual needs a good mobile phone that keep up with professional commitments, with enough gas in the tank for games and YouTube in the after-hours.
A good pair of earbuds are a must, for the many teleconference calls while working away from office. A busy person living alone, he or she will probably appreciate some home automation too.
Folding screen smartphones
Samsung is among the earliest to launch mobile phones with folding displays. With a longer runway to mature than competitors, Samsung’s folding screen smartphones are refined, reliable phones that take up less space in your bag. They offer a pocketable tablet-sized display on the go.
The “clamshell”-style Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (S$1,498) has a more useful 3.4-inch external display than the Galaxy Z Flip 4 from a year ago. It is much roomier than the 1.9-inch before and is good enough to draft a short reply on a larger keyboard.
Flip the phone open, and the screen within is a 6.7-inch Full HD AMOLED display not too different from candy bar-style flagships today. The new Samsung phone also packs competitive 12-megapixel ultrawide and wide cameras.
At half the size of a typical candy bar smartphone (85.1mm tall when folded up), the Flip fits easily into a clutch or small bag. That’s good for stylish professionals with a busy lifestyle and a lot to bring around.
For the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 (S$2,398), the screen size has remained relatively constant with its predecessor a year ago (a longish 6.2-inch cover display, a near-squarish 7.6-inch inner display). The folding mechanism, however, is a lot more durable and closes completely flat, which means less risk of dust damage.
The inner screen is the size of a small tablet, one of very few smartphones that allows you to comfortably edit spreadsheets and slides on the go (yes, it supports, and can stow an S Pen stylus). During lunch, the Z Fold 5 can be folded to stand, while showing a YouTube video or Teams call as your favourite road warrior wolfs down a meal.
The flagship-grade triple-camera array – one more than the Galaxy Z Flip – and IPX8 water ingress protection should seal the deal.
If you are not looking to break the bank while shopping, the mid-range smartphone offerings from Google and Apple offer great value without losing too much oomph.
The Google Pixel 7a has a 64-megapixel primary and 13-megapixel ultrawide shooter (The Pixel 6a has a single 12.2-megapixel shooter used since the Pixel 3) in line with the big boys, but routinely sells for about S$650 or less at Singapore online retailers.
Though it may seem overshadowed by the newer Pixel 8 now, the Pixel 7a offers great value. It still has the same Google Tensor G2 processor found in the full-fat Pixel 7 and 7 Pro flagships, as well as a high refresh rate (90Hz), 6.1-inch OLED display.
iDevice aficionados looking to save can consider the Apple iPhone 13. Its base 128GB model may cost S$979, but offers a modern experience with an edge-to-edge 6.1-inch OLED display, and a wide-ultrawide flagship camera system.
The iPhone SE (2022) has a 4.7-inch LCD screen, and a single, inferior 12-megapixel camera. There is also limited benefit with the smaller display – its frame is only minimally shorter than iPhone 13 (138mm vs 146mm tall) due to its physical home button, even if it weighs less (144g vs 173g).
The iPhone SE (2022) starts from S$699, but with a measly 64GB of storage. The 128GB costs S$779, or S$200 less than the iPhone 13 with a fair bit of compromise.
An iPhone 12 with 128GB of storage can be had for about S$850, but does not benefit from the much brighter camera lens and appreciably better battery life on the iPhone 13.
True wireless earbuds
Sony has been building and refining its true wireless, noise-cancelling earbuds series for a long time, and the latest Sony WF-1000XM5 are another winner.
The current iteration is 25 per cent smaller than the XM4 variant, despite packing larger drivers. The audio quality remains premium – clear, dynamic and warm – so our giftee can enjoy listening to the favourite tunes that make up his or her Spotify Wrapped list.
Active Noise Cancellation has been further improved, for even better performance when both speaking in, and listening, to important Teams calls.
If the S$369 price is steep, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 we reviewed last year can be had at a good discount from online retailers, It offers an equally (or even more) premium listening experience as the Sony, but fares a little less strongly for calls.
If budget and good quality calls are both important, the S$199 Nothing Ear (2) is platform (iOS/Android) agnostic, while still offering a decent listening experience, based on a scan of reviews.
With a packed work and social calendar, our young professional may also be too occupied to clean his or her own place as regularly as he or she would like.
The robot vacuum category has matured quickly in recent years, and basic models will navigate around most obstacles around your place without needing to keep unnecessarily many furniture off the ground.
The current gold standard is the Dreame L20 Ultra (S$1,699, excludes top-up for water hook-up module). It has a dock able to accommodate multiple dust compartment disposals before a change.
More impressively, it can be linked up to water mains and the waste stack, so it can clean the mop pads, change out dirty mop water, then top it up with fresh water mixed with detergent.
If you are okay to lose the water hook-up, the Roborock S8 MaxV Ultra and Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni are also able to automatically clean mop pads and top up fluids via roomy dock tanks.
Those not prepared to spend mid-thousands on a gift may consider mid-range options from Dreame (W and D series), Ecovacs (T and N series), and Roborock (Q series). We recently reviewed a relatively basic Roborock Q8 Max, and it does a pretty good job of vacuuming.