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Best smartphones to gift to friends and family this holiday season

A new iPhone 12, a Google Pixel 5 or a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 are gifts that many would like to find in their stocking. Here are some of the top smartphones to gift this season.

The smartphone market had a tough year with overall sales down 1.3% year over year, but it's on a rebound with a strong holiday sales expected to grow 2.4% year over year in Q4 according to the International Data Corporation. This is led in part by new 5G devices released from Apple and Samsung. 

This means that it's a great time to shop for smartphones for holiday gifts. Manufacturers are anxious to sell their phones, and so there's a plethora of deals to be had. Here are some of the best new phones from 2020 to buy for the family and friends on your gift list.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

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Image: Samsung

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was unveiled in August and it is a 5G phone that is the 10th generation of the stylus smartphone from Samsung. It replaces the Galaxy Note 10+. It has an extra-large display of 6.9 inches and a 4,500mAh battery, the largest yet in a Samsung phone. It has ultra-wideband (UWB) technology with directional and spatial awareness. Files can be shared by pointing the smartphone at another UWB device. It comes with either 12 GB RAM and 128 GB of internal storage or 512 GB of internal storage and up to 512 GB of external storage available through a microSD. There is a library of more than 100 Xbox games to stream from the cloud through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This includes Minecraft Dungeons, Forza Horizon Four and Gears of War Five Ultimate Edition. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White.

$1,300 at Samsung

Samsung Note 20

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Image: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is a 5G phone that debuted in August and it's a stylus phone that comes with an S Pen. It has a 6.7 inch screen, so it's slightly smaller than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It has a 4,300mAh battery, and UWB technology. Samsung's Galaxy Note 20 has 8 GB RAM with 128 GB of internal storage. The phone is designed for gamers, with a library of more than 100 Xbox games and on-device optimizations for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The camera is upgraded and features an updated pro video mode to capture 8K videos at 24 frames per second, with a 21 x 9 aspect ratio. There's also a 30x zoom on the camera. The phone comes in Mystic Gray, Mystic Green and Mystic Bronze.

$1,000 at Samsung

Google Pixel 4a

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Image: Google

The Google Pixel 4a is an affordable priced Android phone to consider. It's a solid device at an affordable cost. It's a smartphone with a 60Hz, 5.8 inch display. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack for those who miss that option. The battery lasts all day, too, which is an improvement over it's predecessor. There's a 5G option for people who want to up the price to $499. It's available in two colors, Barely Blue or Just Black, and the 5G version comes in white as well.

$349 at Google

iPhone 12

Apple iPhone 12
Image: Apple

The iPhone 12 is Apple's latest and greatest, at least according to the company. The iPhone 12 has a 6.1 inch display and comes in white, black, blue, green or red. It's a 5G phone that supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave networks. It usees the new A14 Bionic processor and sports an OLED screen with Apple's Super Retina XDR display and High Dynamic Range (HDR). It has ceramic in it's front glass display, which Apple calls Ceramic Shield. As for cameras, it has two 12-megapixel rear cameras and a front-facing 12-megapixel camera. It has storage options of 64GB, 128GB or 256GB. 

$799 at Apple

iPhone 12 mini

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The iPhone 12 mini comes in five color choices.
Image: Apple

The iPhone 12 mini is the smaller sibling, so to speak, of the iPhone 12. With a 5.4 inch screen, it easily fits into a pocket and yet it still offers 5G technology and the cool features of the larger iPhone 12 devices. It has an A14 Bionic processor, Ceramic Shield on the front with a glass back and an aluminum design. It has storage options of 64GB, 128GB or 256GB. It uses a dual-camera system in the rear and it comes in black, red, white, blue or green.

$699 at Apple

Google Pixel 5

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Image: Verizon

The Google Pixel 5 is a top-notch phone at a reasonable price. It offers 5G connectivity, it's water resistant with an IPX8 rating, has wireless charging and a 6-inch display so it's small enough to fit into the front pocket of a pair of jeans. The dual rear cameras are 12 MP and 16 MP, and it has a 4,080mAH battery.

$699 at Verizon

By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a former Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included wri...