TIME Smartphones

15 Tricks For Getting Way Better Smartphone Battery Life

There's no reason your charge should run out before bedtime again

In theory, modern smartphones can last hundreds of hours on a single charge.

Hundreds of hours, that is, until you actually start using the things. In practice, today’s top phones will squeeze out about 20 hours at best. In the chart below, note the more realistic estimates for battery life in popular phones.

While “Talk Time” traditionally means “number of hours you can chat on your phone on a single charge,” the figure doubles as a rough approximation for “any active use,” such as texting and web browsing.

But even these numbers are inflated. Manufacturers love to use pristine laboratory conditions in order to advertise great numbers, most of which won’t match real-world use. This is why your brand new Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6 might still be running low an hour or two before dinner.

With that in mind, we rounded up research across the web and tested both Android and iOS phones to pin down battery saving tricks that actually work. Along the way, we’ll point out a few myths about smartphone batteries, from ideal charging cycles to the truth about closing apps.

Notes: this list will cover battery saving techniques for both iOS and Android (sorry, Windows Phone). In a few cases, we’ll mark a tip as specific to either iOS and Android, but most apply on both platforms.

This guide is current as of Android Lollipop and iOS 8. If you’re using a previous version of either OS, the menus and options may be a bit different.

1. Start by deleting apps you haven’t used in months

Closing apps

Closing apps on iOS and Android

As we’ll see later on this list, pesky apps that run in the background, track your location or send you push notifications can end up being a big drain on your battery. Each of those problems can be addressed individually, but why not just delete those dozen apps you used once in 2013 and haven’t touched since? It’ll save you a lot of trouble as we move along this list.

On Android, go to Settings —>Apps. Select the app you want to disable, and tap Uninstall.

On iOS, tap and hold any app, then tap the X in the top left corner. (Note that you can’t delete several of the standard, Apple-made apps in iOS.)

2. Disable background app data for all non-essential apps

Background data settings

Background data settings for Android and iOS

Many apps run in the background, even when you’re not using them. This makes sense for things like email and social media, where you might want to know the minute you get a new message or comment, but do you really need your games, notes, and music players gobbling up battery resources 24/7?

With iOS, you can turn off background data on an app-by-app basis. Go to Settings—>General—>Background App Refresh, and select apps to turn off.

With Android, you can “restrict background data” for each app. Go to Settings—>Data usage. Tap on your app of choice, then scroll to the bottom to restrict background data on cellular networks. (Note that this setting can also save you from accidentally going over your data plan threshold.)

3. Don’t obsessively close apps

Don't close apps

Closing apps on Android and iOS

For years, “close all your apps” was the most popular battery saving tip in the world of smartphones. Ironically, it can actually make your battery life worse. When you leave an app open in the background, then access it a little later, your phone is smart enough to let you pick up where you left off, with minimal harm to battery life. However, if you keep closing and re-opening the same apps all day, you end up taxing your phone a whole lot more than necessary. It’s a little like turning off and starting up your car every time you hit a stoplight.

In theory, quitting an app you use only once per week can save you a very small amount of battery. For the dozen apps you use on a near-daily basis, however, you’re only hurting yourself. So don’t worry about it. Your phone will worry about it for you.

4. Disable notifications for most apps

App notifications

Disabling notifications on iOS and Android

Many apps will automatically send you “push notifications,” so-called because the app will notify you of things throughout the day, unsolicited.

It’s time to stop the madness. On iOS, visit Settings—>Notifications, and turn off notifications for all but your most important apps. Sure, you want your text messages to come through on your lock screen, but do you really need every MLB score from across the league? You can even customize your notifications down to where they appear, from banners to sound alerts to the lock screen. The fewer, the better.

On Android, go to Settings—>Sound & notification—>App notifications. From here you can block notifications for individual apps entirely, or set priority filters for receiving fewer notifications overall. Add it all up, and you’ll get more battery life with fewer disturbances.

5. Tell your phone to check for new email less frequently (iOS)

Email fetching on iOS

Email fetching on iOS

One big battery life offender could be email. In the past, email was a real drain, when your phone would have to check to see if you had new mail constantly throughout the day. Fortunately, most modern email clients push messages to your phone, meaning that your device must only expend power when you actually get a new message.

That said, if your email is blowing up throughout the day, or if you’re using a non-standard email service that doesn’t support push email, your phone could still be losing power to a barrage of incoming messages.

The first solution is to tell your phone to check email less frequently—say, only once every 30 minutes. The second solution is to go full manual, only allowing your phone to check for new mail when you manually open the app. Either option can be accessed within the same menu.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Mail, Contacts, Calendars—>Fetch New Data. Turn off “Push” and select your preferred frequency at the bottom of the menu. (Remember, if you don’t get that much email as it stands, it’s probably best just to leave “Push” on.)

6. Turn off location services / reporting

Location services

Location settings on Android and iOS

Like background data and push notifications, location services can be a quiet killer, draining your smartphone battery behind the scenes. You’ve probably already realized that GPS navigation sucks the juice right out of your device, but this makes sense: after all, your phone is working constantly to track your spot on the map.

Less obvious are location services in apps like Facebook and Instagram. These social media apps keep your exact position in mind so they can tag every post, status or photo with the corresponding city or neighborhood. If you value battery life more than geo-tagged posts (or better yet, if you find geo-tagged posts a little creepy), turn off location services.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Privacy—>Location Services. You can either turn them all off at once, or turn them off individually. For instance, you might only leave location services on for utility apps like Maps, Passbook and Weather.

On Android, go to Settings—>General–>Location. Then use the big switch to turn location reporting off. (Just keep in mind that Maps will have to ask you permission to temporarily turn Location Reporting back on whenever you use navigation features.)

7. Turn off auto brightness and dim the screen

Brightness settings

Brightness settings on Android and iOS

If the first six steps haven’t solved your battery issue, it’s time to get a little more serious. You might like to view your 5.5-inch, multi-million-pixel display at full brightness, but that’s a guaranteed recipe for draining your battery fast. Even your phone’s auto-brightness feature will sometimes overdo it on luminance, meaning you could be losing precious hours of battery life.

Try dimming your display just a bit and living with the change for an hour. You’ll be surprised how quickly your eyes adjust.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Display & Brightness. Turn off Auto-Brightness, and then dim the display using the slider.

On Android, go to Setting—>Display, and turn off Adaptive Brightness. Then tap on Brightness level and adjust to your preference.

8. Turn off vibrations

Vibration settings

Vibration settings on Android and iOS

We tend to think of a vibrating phone as a low-key alternative to a noisy ring, but when it comes to battery life, ringing is a lot less taxing than rumbling. If you want to squeeze out a bit more battery life, consider turning off vibrations entirely.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Sounds, and then switch off the two vibrate toggles at the top of the menu.

On Android, use the volume toggle to turn down the ringer, and you’ll see a menu pop up at the top of your screen. Here, you can either turn off all notifications for a custom period of time, or only receive “priority notifications,” based on your personal preferences. Either one will end up having a positive effect on battery.

9. Turn down sleep / auto-lock duration

Sleep settings

Sleep and auto-lock settings on Android and iOS

Your phone’s single biggest battery drain is the display. Ideally, you want your display off whenever you’re not looking at the screen. The problem is that we often leave our phones’ displays on accidentally, in little moments throughout the day, even when we’re done using them. No matter how conscientious we are with your sleep/wake button, we’re going to forget from time to time.

The solution is a low screen timeout. Set your device to turn off its display after just one minute (or on Android, 30 seconds) and you can save a whole hour of wasted screen time per day.

On iOS, go to Settings—>General—>Auto-Lock.

On Android, go to Settings—>Display—>Sleep.

10. Turn off Bluetooth

Bluetooth settings

Bluetooth settings on Android and iOS

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that allows your smartphone to connect with other devices. It’s great for quickly sending files (ex: Apple’s AirDrop), connecting to your car’s sound system, or other close-range applications (ex: using your smartphone as a remote for a TV). While Bluetooth isn’t quite the battery hog today that it was two years ago, it’s still a drain on juice.

If you’re not using your smartphone for sending files, connecting to your car, or interacting with other devices, consider flipping Bluetooth off. There’s a good chance you’re hardly ever using it anyway.

On iOS, swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the Bluetooth icon in the middle.

On Android, go to Settings—>Bluetooth and toggle it off.

11. Use dark backgrounds on Samsung or Motorola phones (Android)

If your phone has an AMOLED display, using primarily black backgrounds can save you a solid hour of battery life per day. Instead of rendering black pixels, AMOLED displays are smart enough to simply leave black pixels off altogether, meaning that your phone’s display must power fewer pixels throughout a day of use.

Most of Samsung and Motorola’s most popular phones use AMOLED displays, while most other manufacturers do not.

12. Don’t worry so much about fully charging and fully depleting your battery

Empty battery

Empty battery symbol

You’ve probably heard the classic advice about charging batteries: let your battery drain all the way, then charge to 100%, and repeat. The idea is that you are teaching your battery to ‘remember’ its full charge capacity, rather than confusing it with periodic, inconsistent charges.

There was some truth to this…in 2007. In 2015, most smartphone battery technology is advanced enough not to need special treatment. So instead of running out the door with 50% juice, consider plugging in for 15 minutes before you leave. We promise your battery won’t forget what a full charge is.

13. Pay attention to signal strength

Signal strength

iPhone searching for a signal

When you have a strong LTE connection or (especially) a great Wi-Fi connection, your phone will cruise along as it was intended to—without straining the battery. On the other hand, if you’ve got a single bar, weak 4G and no Wi-Fi in range, your phone will expend tons of juice simply trying to connect with a weak signal.

So if you notice your phone is barely holding on, consider moving (physically) to get closer to a source, or if nothing else, just turn on Airplane Mode. Give your phone a break.

14. Use battery saver (Android)

Battery saver

Battery saver on Android

Most of the recent Android flagship phones—like the Galaxy S6, Nexus 6 and HTC One M9—have battery saving modes that can extend the life of your device by another dozen hours, even if you’re already under 20%.

Go to Settings—>Battery and click on the three dots in the upper right corner.

Battery saver performs several of the earlier tips on this list all at once, by limiting vibrations, location services and background data. Email and other apps will also sync less frequently.

Airplane mode

Airplane Mode on Android and iOS

15. Airplane mode

If all else fails, there’s still good old Airplane Mode. It might render all your phone’s best features useless, but it’s guaranteed to stop the bleeding. After all, a smartphone gone dumb is still better than a smartphone gone dead.

Read next: 3 Things You Really Should Know About Mobile Payments

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TIME Crowdfunding

The Most Successful Kickstarter Campaigns of All Time

Pebble Pebble Time

From smartwatches to exploding kittens

Crowdfunding the next great business, product or project is often a thankless endeavor. There have been over 200,000 Kickstarter campaigns to date; over 100,000 failed to reach their funding goal. Another 20,000 were canceled or suspended, regardless of whether they were able to raise money. Many projects barely reach their funding goals, only to fail later anyway, when the creators realized the money simply wouldn’t go far enough.

On the flip side, a select few projects have gone on to raise tens of millions of dollars, blowing away early funding goals and turning modest ideas into worldwide phenomenons—in some cases, literally overnight.

So with Exploding Kittens (a card game) recently blowing by OUYA (a micro video game console) in the overall Kickstarter rankings, it’s time to take stock of the all-time record holders. Using our database of Kickstarter campaign data, we ranked the 15 most insanely successful projects to date. In each case, we’ll break down the total backers, the percent funded and a brief history of how things played out. Without further ado…

Double Fine Adventure

Campaign ended: March 13th, 2012

What it is: A point-and-click adventure video game, paired with a documentary that catalogues the development process.

How it turned out: The game was released in January 2014 under the title Broken Age, receiving generally positive critical reviews. The documentary series continues to this day, as the developers work on the game’s second installment.

The Dash – Wireless Smart in Ear Headphones

Campaign ended: March 31st, 2014

What it is: Smart, wireless earphones that track fitness and play music, all without wires.

How it turned out: Though the product has faced a series of delays, it’s scheduled for release later this summer.

The Micro: The First Truly Consumer 3D Printer

Campaign ended: May 7th, 2014

What it is: A 3D printer at a price point friendly to consumers (~$500)

How it turned out: Some models have shipped to early backers, while later backers and the general public are still waiting.

Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution of Gaming Miniatures

Campaign ended: August 25th, 2012

What it is: A line of affordable, intricately designed gaming miniatures, ready to paint out of the box.

How it turned out: The first Bones campaign was so successful that Reaper ran a second campaign just one year later, which again raised over $3 million.

Mighty No. 9

Campaign ended: October 1st, 2013

What it is: A 2D, side-scrolling video game, considered the spiritual successor to the classic Mega Man series.

How it turned out: The project reached its funding goal in just two days. The final version of the game is expected within the next month or two.

Project Eternity

Campaign ended: October 16th, 2012

What it is: A party-based role-playing game with an isometric (pseudo-3D) perspective.

How it turned out: The game was released under the name Pillars of Eternity on March 26, 2015, and received nearly universal acclaim.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Campaign ended: April 5th, 2013

What it is: A fantasy role-playing game and spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, a popular role-playing game from 1999.

How it turned out: Originally scheduled for a December 2014 release, Tides of Numenera is now set for late 2015.

Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere!

Campaign ended: July 2nd, 2014

What it is: A campaign to bring classic Reading Rainbow materials to more classrooms and modern platforms, like web and mobile.

How it turned out: The campaign was a success overnight, raising $1 million in just 24 hours. Celebrity Seth MacFarlane also chipped in a full million on his own.

The Veronica Mars Movie Project

Campaign ended: April 12th, 2013

What it is: A Veronica Mars movie developed after the TV series was canceled.

How it turned out: Starring Kristen Bell, the film debuted to mixed reviews and became a box office flop.

Pono Music – Where Your Soul Rediscovers Music

Campaign ended: April 15, 2014

What it is: A music playing device that delivers uncompressed audio, such that it will sound much more like real life and less like a recording.

How it turned out: The PonoPlayer launched in early 2015 to mixed reviews, where technology writers questioned just how much better the PonoPlayer actually sounded, compared to standard MP3s.

OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console

Campaign ended: August 8th, 2012

What it is: A little cube that lets you control Android-based games with a gamepad and play them on your TV.

How it turned out: The OUYA launched in mid 2013 to mediocre reviews and low sales. Today, most gamers consider the product a flop.

Exploding Kittens

Campaign ended: February 19th, 2015

What it is: An irreverent, social card game designed by Matthew Inman (creator of the popular cartoon and comic site, The Oatmeal).

How it turned out: The cards will ship to backers over the course of the summer, but there are no plans yet for a wide, retail release to the general public.

Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android

Campaign ended: May 18th, 2012

What it is: One of the first smartwatches to ever hit the market, designed by a small, independent developer.

How it turned out: Pebble went on to sell over a million smartwatches by 2015, an impressive figure given how young the market is.

COOLEST COOLER: 21st Century Cooler that’s Actually Cooler

Campaign ended: August 29th, 2014

What it is: A multi-purpose cooler that can charge your phone, blend cocktails, play music, and much more.

How it turned out: Creator Ryan Grepper originally promised to ship the cooler by February 2015, but due to manufacturing constraints, the release date has been pushed back to sometime in the summer.

Pebble Time – Awesome Smartwatch, No Compromises

Campaign ended: March 27th, 2015

What it is: Pebble’s third edition of its popular smartwatch, complete with a new color e-paper design and timeline interface.

How it turned out: The watch will be shipped to Kickstarter backers in May, but the company will face its biggest test yet as it goes up against the Apple Watch.

TIME Smartphones

The 13 Best Free Smartphones You Can Buy

Motorola Mobility Portfolio Launch Event
Daniel Boczarski—2014 Getty Images Motorola announced the new Moto X and G, Moto Hint and Moto 360 by opening its headquarters for media to meet the engineers and designers committed to offering people more choice, control and accessibility in their personal technology.

$0 down can actually go a long way

Walk into any AT&T or Verizon store, and you’ll see a shelf full of $0 phones, complete with cheap knock-offs, devices that can’t connect to the Internet, and old handsets from 2012. Make no mistake: when it comes to free phones, you usually get what you pay for.

Here and there, however, you can find a great phone for $0 down. Some companies will offer discounts on devices in a less popular size, while others will drop prices significantly a year after release. Even some of the best flagship models from top brands—like Apple, Samsung, HTC and LG—will eventually drop their prices to $0, as long as you know where and when to look.

With this in mind, we set out to find the best free phones on the market today. Each of the devices on this list will cost you $0 from at least one carrier, as long as you’re starting a new contract.

How did we pick and rank the list? We started with a list of phones that can be purchased for $0 with a new contract. We then looked at specs, features and expert reviews to calculate a Smart Rating for each device. Finally, we ranked our list by the overall ratings, using release date to break ties (the newer the device, the better).

We’ll start with number 13 and work our way to the best free phone of all.

LG Enact

Smart Rating: 79/100
Release: August 2013

For customers who miss physical keyboards, the LG Enact hides a full QWERTY set-up right underneath its full 4-inch display. It’s the sort of design you’d have to pay half a grand for in 2007. Today? You can snap one up for $0 with a contract.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Smart Rating: 84/100
Release: May 2013

Samsung fans hoping to save should give a hard look at the $0 Galaxy S4 Mini, a phone with signature Samsung quality, but costing hundreds of dollars less than the newest models.

Motorola Moto G

Smart Rating: 84/100
Release: November 2013

Praised for its pure Android experience (no needless frills or odd augmentations), the 2013 Moto G remains a smart, sensible buy for people who live on Google services like Gmail, YouTube and Maps.

BlackBerry Z10

Smart Rating: 88/100
Release: January 2013

The Z10 was BlackBerry’s best attempt to produce a modern-style smartphone—complete with the familiar grid of app icons and no physical keyboard. To this day, it’s still a great option for BlackBerry fans who like the way iOS looks but don’t care for Apple’s ecosystem. And best yet, it doesn’t cost a penny.

Motorola DROID Mini

Smart Rating: 89/100
Release: August 2013

Generally speaking, bigger phones tend to have larger—and thus longer lasting—batteries. Take the iPhone 6 versus the 6 Plus: the 5.5-inch Plus boasts over 70% more battery than its smaller cousin. The $0 DROID Mini defies this trend—a 4.3-inch phone with a whopping 28 hours of battery. It’s a rare combination at an unbeatable price.

LG Lucid 3

Smart Rating: 89/100
Release: April 2014

The LG Lucid 3 was made specifically for the tasteful budget phone shopper—someone who wants smooth operation and clean hardware design for next to no cost. The device is also a nice, compact alternative to LG’s parade of big-screen, 5.2- to 6-inch phones.

Motorola DROID MAXX

Smart Rating: 90/100
Release: August 2013

The Motorola DROID MAXX still offers one of the best batteries on the market, capable of going two full days on a single charge. Sure, the performance doesn’t match the latest flagship phones, but if you simply need something reliable, cheap and long-lasting, this is your handset.

iPhone 5C

Smart Rating: 90/100
Release: September 2013

Apple’s pricing structure is steady and predictable: the newest models start at $200, the year-old model at $100, the two-year-old model at $0. This time around, however, the free model (the iPhone 5C) is noticeably different than its more expensive cousins. The newer models feature bigger screens and metal bodies; the 5C sports a plastic shell and compact screen. For some customers, the 5C will be exactly what they want anyway—and they won’t be able to beat the $0 price tag.

LG G Flex

Smart Rating: 90
Release: January 2014

The LG G Flex has a novel, curved display—the sort of unique hardware design you’d normally have to pay extra to enjoy. By now, however, enough time has passed—and a new model has surfaced—to make the original G Flex free with a 2-year contract. The curved display isn’t for everyone, but if you’re intrigued, you can try it for free.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Smart Rating: 90/100
Release: September 2014

Samsung’s small-screen Galaxy Alpha has a premium feel and solid performance. It’s the ideal phone for Samsung fans who never joined the big-screen revolution. With the impending Galaxy S6 launch, Samsung has slashed the price on the Alpha, making this an excellent time to buy.

Amazon Fire Phone

Smart Rating: 93/100
Release: July 2014

Yes, the Amazon Fire Phone flopped hard. Sure, the 3D effects were nothing more than a gimmick, and the internals weren’t anything special. A year later, however, the Amazon Fire Phone might actually be underrated. For the Prime subscriber and Amazon shopping addict, there’s still no better phone for optimizing your retail experience. And you can get the whole experience for $0 on day one—a happy consequence of all the bad press.

LG G2

Smart Rating: 94/100
Release: September 2013

You might worry that the LG G2 is a little too old to warrant a purchase, as it was first released in fall 2013. Consider, however, that the LG G2’s performance was at least six months ahead of its time, and that the phone served as the prequel to our Editors’ Choice for Best Smartphone of 2014 (the LG G3). A $0 price tag? On that device? Crazy.

And it’s the best Android phone on this list.

HTC One (M8) for Windows

Smart Rating: 95/100
Release: August 2014

Normally, you have to sacrifice quality to get a free phone, but the HTC One M8 for Windows is both free and one of the best handsets on the market. Why? It all stems from popularity. Most people are on either iOS or Android, so HTC sells the Windows version at a discount. What’s more, HTC still isn’t as popular as Apple or Samsung, so the company is willing to cut costs to compete. Add it up, and the HTC One M8 is the best free phone you can get. If you haven’t tried Windows on a phone before, this is the perfect place to start.

TIME Smartphones

The State of the Smartphone War in 8 Charts

Apple And Samsung Agree To End Legal Disputes Outside The US
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images A Samsung and Apple smartphone are displayed on August 6, 2014 in London, England.

Ranking Apple, Samsung and others on weight, screen size and more

We keep a close eye on smartphone trends at FindTheBest, from changing screen sizes to dropping prices. Over the last few years, the smartphone landscape has shifted significantly, so we set out to rank the most popular manufacturers on key metrics like weight, battery life and expert review scores.

This is a trickier task than you might think, given that hundreds of phones are released each year, though only a handful of them truly end up selling in huge numbers and shaping the future of the industry.

With this in mind, we’re going to make two caveats up front. First, the trends we identify will only be based on modern phones—for our purposes, anything released since January 1st, 2014. Second, we’re focusing only on phones that were widely reviewed by the tech press.

You can find the full list of phones that qualified in the table below:

With our list in place, let’s rank each manufacturer in eight key categories:

Weight

Lightest: Motorola
Heaviest: BlackBerry

Motorola turned in the lightest 2014, at least among their widely-reviewed phones. Critically, the company did not release a giant-screen clunker, which contributed to its sub-150-gram average.*

*For the record, we’re not counting the Nexus 6 in this analysis, which is marketed more as a Google device, even if it is constructed by Motorola.

Thanks to the beefy iPhone 6 Plus, Apple is no longer the lightest manufacturer of the bunch, but it still came close.

On the other end of the spectrum, BlackBerry edged HTC for the heaviest phone maker, despite the BlackBerry Passport’s diminutive 4.5-inch screen. Blame the physical keyboard.

Thinness

Thinnest: Apple
Thickest: Motorola

Apple has been obsessed with thinness for years, and the latest data bears out that trend. As usual, iPhones are the thinnest handsets on the market, and it’s not close.

On the thicker side, we see that feather-light manufacturer Motorola counterintuitively also makes the thickest devices. This is likely yet another consequence of releasing more small-screen phones, on average, than competitors. A smaller display often means less room to squeeze in a battery, and as a result, the need for thicker internals.

Screen Size

Biggest: LG
Smallest: BlackBerry

Here, we see that LG—not Samsung—now releases the largest phones on average, at least among the most widely reviewed devices. On the smaller side, we see Motorola (as expected), Amazon (which lacks a big-screen, flagship phone), and BlackBerry (where the Passport’s physical keyboard takes up significant phone real estate).

Perhaps the more notable screen size trend is simply how big the average flagship phone has become—now at least five inches for eight top manufacturers.

Talk Time (battery life)

Longest: Samsung
Shortest: Motorola

Battery life is a notoriously misleading statistic, as manufacturers can manipulate their in-house tests to produce better numbers. Even so, the above chart is likely still helpful as a general guide, with popular brands like Samsung and HTC leading the pack, and brands like Nokia and Motorola lagging well behind.

Pixel Density

Most crisp: BlackBerry
Least crisp: Huawei

A glamor stat among tech geeks, pixel density describes the number of pixels per diagonal inch of screen size, or more simply, how crisp the phone’s display will appear. BlackBerry wins this round, but it’s mostly due to the Passport’s tiny, 4.5-inch screen. It’s easier to achieve a high pixel density with a smaller screen.

Instead, the most impressive manufacturer might be runner-up Samsung, who packs millions upon millions of pixels across a variety of five- to six-inch phones—technically speaking, a much more difficult feat.

On the flip side, we see that budget manufacturers like ZTE and Huawei trail the pack, but keep in mind that each brand had only one phone widely reviewed in America last year, and that neither of these are officially available in the U.S.

Megapixels (in rear camera)

Most: Sony
Least: HTC

The megapixel march has subsided in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped Sony and Samsung from releasing a handful of smartphones with high-resolution cameras. In 2014, the average flagship Sony and Samsung phone clocked in at over 15 megapixels.

Meanwhile, Apple and HTC sit (predictably) at the opposite end of the chart, two premium brands known for disregarding megapixel counts. Instead, they focus on sensor size, image stability, and low-light effects. We can’t really declare a winner here (who’s to say what the right approach is?), but we can speculate that consumers are no longer falling for megapixel marketing, leading most manufacturers to focus on different specs.

Price (w/contract)

Least expensive: Amazon
Most expensive: Apple

Note: The above chart shows only the eight brands where we have enough pricing data to calculate an overall average.

Unsurprisingly, average price tracks popularity very closely. Amazon is now practically giving away its poorly reviewed Fire Phone. And routinely overlooked phone brands like Sony and Motorola are offering bargain prices to convert sales. Meanwhile, Samsung and Apple can get away with charging top-shelf prices for their popular, flagship phones. In the end, it’s all about supply and demand.

Smart Rating

Best: Samsung
Worst: Motorola

Finally, we get to arguably the most important number of all. FindTheBest’s Smart Rating combines benchmark performance, specifications and expert reviews for each phone to form one score out of 100, meant to give users a general indication of the phone’s overall quality.

Given the fact that Samsung only topped one other category (talk time), it might come as a surprise that the manufacturer has the best-rated phones of the bunch. The secret is that Samsung phones do very well across most metrics, even if they don’t win many outright. Apple finishes second overall, largely on the strength of glowing reviews from the experts.

The bottom third of the rankings includes a couple of budget Chinese phone makers—Xiaomi and Huawei—whose low prices more than justify their low review scores and middling performance benchmarks. Instead, it’s Amazon and Motorola whose performances are most disappointing. Time will tell whether the two companies are able to bounce back.

TIME Gadgets

5 Reasons Why Most People Don’t Want a Fitness Tracker

Toshiba President Hisao Tanaka News Conference On Health Care Business
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Docomo Healthcare Inc.'s Moveband, a wearable technology device for easy recording and tracking of health data, manufactured by Toshiba Corp., are displayed during a news conference in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.

Staying fit just shouldn't be this complicated

Fitness trackers are the darling of the tech press, but the data say consumers don’t care. Sales are sluggish. A recent Robert W. Baird & Co. survey found that 85% of Americans have “no plans” to buy a fitness band. But if the technology is there, and the press loves the product, what’s the overriding problem?

Here are the five most likely issues:

1. Fitness isn’t this complicated

When it comes to staying fit, there are two basic approaches.

The first method: Buy a fitness tracker. Perform a week of workouts. Sync the data to your smartphone or computer. Review over two dozen categories of results, from steps taken to calories burned. Plot your performance in a scatterplot. Chart your progress over time. Set new fitness goals across seven metrics, then fiddle with your charts and analyze your exercise trajectory in search of firm conclusions. Recharge your device.

The second method: Eat healthy and do something active a few times a week.

It’s really that simple. Knowing that we took 1,017 steps on Monday isn’t going to undo two pizzas and a six-pack of beer.

2. Fitness isn’t fun

Basketball is fun. Snowboarding is fun. Fitness is not fun. To date, the fitness tracker is great for measuring everyone’s least favorite activities (running and stair-stepping), and worthless for measuring fun, meaningful things, like the quality of a jump shot or the fluidity of a golf swing.

A few people will still buy the things in a half-baked attempt to feel good about themselves. The rest of us will spend the money on a round of golf.

3. Fitness isn’t comfortable

Consider that most hit consumer tech products of the last 20 years have only made things more comfortable and convenient. The mp3 player let us listen to anything without getting up. Online streaming services (ex: Netflix) made the movie rental process easier and lazier. The smartphone allowed us to play games and YouTube videos from bed. Steve Jobs even spent the entire iPad announcement sitting on a couch and browsing the web.

As humans, we’re lazy by default, which presents a problem for the fitness tracker. The smartphone, mp3 player and tablet embraced this fact; the fitness tracker is trying to fight it.

4. Fitness isn’t fashion

Today’s fitness trackers range from “gaudy” to “understated,” but there’s nothing so far that qualifies as “fashionable.” (Nice try, Swarovski.) Logistically, this is terrible news for the fitness tracker, which wants to measure everything you do, but only works when you’ve got the thing strapped, stuck, or wrapped on your body. Until the fitness tracker can convince us to keep the thing on, we won’t be experiencing the product’s full potential.

5. Fitness shouldn’t be creepy

We already know that fitness trackers make things unnecessarily complicated. But isn’t all that data collection also a little bit…creepy? Simple goals (“I’d like to run three miles today”) are fine, but why do we need exact step counts, numerical ratings for sleep quality, and automated data transfers to the company’s servers?

Add in the new patch-style trackers (which will just sit on your abdomen and track you all day), and we’ve moved from “tracking” to “stalking.”

At a certain point, enough is enough. We don’t need a fitness tracker to tell us that.

TIME Music

Why Taylor Swift Drama Is The Real Story of Katy Perry’s Halftime Show

Katy Perry attends the 'Fashion Los Angeles Awards' Show on Jan. 22, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.
Charley Gallay—Getty Images/2015 Charley Gallay Katy Perry attends the 'Fashion Los Angeles Awards' Show on Jan. 22, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.

The public isn't focusing on her singing

The media has been abuzz with excitement for Super Bowl Sunday, and, more specifically, the halftime show.

This year, pop singer Katy Perry has snagged the coveted halftime performance slot, which, if the game sets another viewership record, will equate to playing for an audience of more than 112 million people. Rumors are flying back and forth about Perry and the upcoming show, as is to be expected with such a high-profile performance–but with one important difference.

Instead of focusing on her singing, the public is focusing on who she might sing about.

Ever since country-turned-pop star Taylor Swift revealed the inspiration of her new song “Bad Blood,” which describes a feud between her and a fellow female artist who she refused to name, speculation was thrown in all directions about the woman in question. Swift accused her of “sabotaging her area tour” and stealing dancers out from under her.

“She did something so horrible,” Swift told Rolling Stone. “I was like, ‘Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies.’”

Soon after, Perry tweeted, “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing,” which confirmed the public’s suspicion that Perry and Swift were the women with “bad blood” between them.

Now that Perry will have America’s attention for 12 solid minutes, the media is expecting a rebuttal. And besides a headline here or there about her many costume changes and special guests, that’s all anyone can talk about. HollywoodLife.com writes, “Now that Taylor has taken over the music scene with huge success from1989, Katy wants to ‘show she is the biggest female act,’ while performing at the 2015 Super Bowl.” “Katy Perry Wants To Get Back At Taylor Swift During The Super Bowl,” reads a Refinery29 headline.

The problem isn’t so much that they’re fighting in the first place, but rather that the public is feeding into this notion that women can’t revel in each others successes–they have to compete against each other. From rappers Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim to directors Jane Campion and Kathryn Bigelow, we constantly pit powerful women against each other, which encourages a culture in which women are made to feel like they can’t be allies.

This internalized female competitiveness is socially driven, not biologically. As Sarah MacDonald of Feminspire puts it, “Why are little girls told that if a girl is mean to them, they should avoid her, but if a boy is mean to her, it means he likes her?” And as the girl grows up, she’s surrounded by shows such as “The Real Housewives of….” and “Bad Girls Club,” which completely revolve around watching women fight.

According to Julie Frechette of Worcester State University, “this pattern of pitting women against each other for their personal and professional choices exemplifies the feminine-feminist conflict at the core of media stories about women’s identity and search for fulfillment in the realms of work, sex, and motherhood.” As women consider being prized by others (especially men) as their ultimate goal, they feel as though they need to compete against each other in order to win.

In terms of the media’s coverage of this year’s Super Bowl, this sexism is apparent when compared to the coverage of a male artist . If you look at the headlines surrounding Bruno Mars’ halftime performance last year, they are devoid of gossip or talk about Mars’ personal life. Instead, they have to do with his career.

“Bruno Mars Isn’t a Superstar Like Other Super Bowl Alumni, and That’s Why He’s the Perfect Choice,” said Adweek, praising his talent and ‘70s influences later in the article.

“Bruno Mars Super Bowl Music: What Songs Will The Artist Perform?” wrote Examiner.com. The only thing approaching scandal seemed to be Bruno Mars’ fear of the New Jersey cold.

The fact that Perry’s feud with Swift seems to be more important than her performance shows a fundamental lack of respect for Perry’s work and achievements as an artist. But the fact that the two singers have taken whatever disagreements they may or may not have to social media and interviews certainly doesn’t help. As women in positions of power, they both have a unique opportunity to change the conversation and be models of female empowerment. Hopefully, Perry will take the high road on Sunday and show those 112 million people that she is more than a gossip column.

This article originally appeared on FindTheBest.

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TIME Tablets

Here’s How to Pick the Best Tablet For You

Apple Unveils New Versions Of Popular iPad
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee looks at the new iPad Air during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

What to look for—and what to avoid

Five years ago, no one knew quite what to make of the tablet. Was it the future of the laptop? Was it made for creation or consumption? And in the end, was it just a bigger version of the smartphone? For the next several years, we saw almost every device you could imagine, from a 2.8-inch micro-tablet (the Archos 28) to a 27-inch beast (the Planar Helium). A few new ideas stuck. Most flopped.

Jump ahead to 2015, and the market has largely settled. Customers seem to want one of three kinds of tablets, and the best devices almost all fit neatly into one of these categories.

In that spirit, we’ve broken down these three tablet groups, then picked a handful of products we would recommend for each. We’ll let you know what to look for—and what to avoid—depending on your preferences. Finally, we’ll highlight a few trailblazing tablets that don’t belong in any of these categories.

1. The General-Purpose Tablet

Pros: Can do a little of everything
Cons: No obvious strengths
Typical screen size: 9-11”
Typical starting price: $400-500

The most popular category for tablets, these models are jack-of-all-trade devices, designed to do a little bit of everything. Want to snap family photos? Each of these models comes with a decent camera. Need to give an off-site presentation to a client? You’re getting a nice mix of lightness and screen size. Just want to share status updates and YouTube comments? Post away.

The only problem: none of these tablets truly excel at any one thing. Products in this category tend to be just a bit too big for a purse or coat pocket, but a little too small for completing serious work.

So grab a general-purpose tablet if you plan to use it for all sorts of tasks, but consider another category if you have one or two particular uses in mind.

(Read more: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review)

2. The Mini Tablet

Pros: Extremely portable, great for reading
Cons: Underpowered and bad at productivity
Typical screen size: 7-8.5”
Typical starting price: $200-400

The mini tablet is the ultimate travel and leisure device. Pop it in your backpack, slide it out for some poolside browsing, or place it on your nightstand for some bedtime reading. They’re so light you’ll forget you’re holding a tablet, and thin enough to squeeze in almost any nook, pocket, closet or cranny.

Better yet, they’re the cheapest tablets on the market. The iPad Mini 3 is Apple’s least expensive new tablet, while Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 7 has a price tag under $150.

But you also get what you pay for. Miniature tablets tend to be the least powerful models, less capable of running high-end mobile games with a smooth, consistent experience. And forget about productivity. Trying to update a spreadsheet or compose a presentation on a mini tablet is frustrating and time-consuming.

Finally, consider that smartphones are getting bigger every year. Do you really need a 7-inch tablet if you plan to buy a 6-inch phone next year? The biggest phones and smallest tablets are practically becoming the same device, and you certainly don’t need both.

So consider a mini tablet if you want something leisurely and affordable, but make sure that’s all you want — or else you’ll wish you purchased something bigger and more capable.

(Read more: Hands-on with Apple’s new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3)

3. The Productivity Tablet

Pros: Gets work done
Cons: Expensive and bulky
Typical screen size: More than 11”
Typical starting price: $600-1,000

The answer to the mini tablet is the productivity tablet—a device built for getting work done. Typically equipped with massive screens and sold with optional accessories (ex: keyboard and stylus), tablets in this category are designed to replace your laptop.

The best customer for these tablets is the on-the-go professional. You can work up a client presentation at your desk, slide the tablet into your briefcase, then travel to an off-site presentation, all with just a couple pounds of technology in tow.

On the flip side, are these devices really good enough to replace a laptop? Sure, they might be the most productive tablets available, but most laptops still do the same tasks just a bit better, making the productivity tablet a hard sell for seasoned business people.

And then consider leisure activities. Even if you don’t plan to use your tablet for fun very often, those few moments will quickly become obnoxious as you attempt to hold up a 900-gram device through all 58 minutes of Game of Thrones.

So buy a productivity tablet if you’re serious about getting work done (and don’t need or want a laptop), but save the fun and games for another device.

Bonus: The Trail Blazers

Pros: Creative, outside-the-box
Cons: Unproven

Microsoft Surface Hub
Nvidia Shield Tablet

You might say the tablet market has matured, but Microsoft and Nvidia aren’t convinced. Microsoft’s freshly announced Surface Hub comes in two massive sizes—55- and 84-inches—an office touchscreen designed to reinvent brainstorms, conference calls and collaborative meetings. We’ve never seen anything quite like it, complete with Skype integration and stylus compatibility. The device is set for release sometime later this year.

Meanwhile, Nvidia isn’t satisfied with angry birds and crushed candy: the company’s Shield Tablet wants to bring the power of expensive, modern gaming to a tablet device. As such, the tablet comes packed with a 2.2 GHz, quad core processor—the sort of internals you’d normally expect only on a laptop. While it’ll be tough to lure PC and console gamers from their keyboards and Dualshock controllers, Nvidia is committed to the cause.

It’s entirely possible that both Microsoft’s and Nvidia’s pioneering devices will flop. But if either hits, we’ll be looking not at three, but four tablet categories in 2016.

This article originally appeared on FindTheBest.

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TIME ces 2015

The 15 Best Props at CES 2015

A model displays the LG G Watch R during the 2015 International CES on Jan. 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker—Getty Images A model displays the LG G Watch R during the 2015 International CES on Jan. 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

#1 will surprise you

No CES booth is complete without props—people or things companies use to grab your attention, whether it’s a giant puppet, celebrity guest, or larger-than-life cardboard blow-up of the product itself.

We stomped around CES for a full day in order to crown a winner. Which booth would feature the most awesome, crafty, or ridiculous visual aide? Before we run down the list, a few rules:

1) Props are props, not products. If your company sells cars, and the car is parked at your booth, that’s cool, but that’s not a prop.

2) Props that say something important about the product or brand beat out products that simply caught our attention. Smarter is better.

With that out of the way, here are the best props we found at CES 2015, from number 15 to the very best.

15. Samsung’s SUHDTV Helix

Samsung’s SUHDTV is the company’s new flagship TV, and it’s got a bizarre, DNA-like helix right behind the displays. We still don’t know what the “S” stands for, and we’re clueless about what the helix means, but we can’t deny we’re intrigued.

14. ZTE’s Basketball Trampoline Setup

Basketball hoops are pretty common at CES, so ZTE loses a few originality points, but give them credit for the ball rack, runway, and trampoline, an ambitious setup that beats out every other ball-related CES exhibit.

13. Qualcomm’s Wheeled Dragon Robot

Semiconductor-maker Qualcomm couldn’t be more important to the industry, even if most casual consumers have never heard of them. So what better way to capture that unique combination of obscurity and importance than in a dragon robot with wheels? We can’t explain it, but we love it.

12. Panasonic’s Giant Headphones

Panasonic has all kinds of things going on at this year’s CES, from scooters to Blu-ray players to connected homes. But their biggest prop of all is a giant pair of headphones, which provides an appropriate nod to the company’s classic products.

11. LG’s Massive G Watch R

With the explosion of smartwatches, gadget displays are getting smaller, but LG wants to remind us that they’re excited about wearable tech. Really excited. And so we get a massive blow-up of the new LG G Watch R.

10. Ecovacs Robotics’ Solar Panel Cleaner

Robo-vaccuum displays tend to be small and understated, featuring simple household devices a few unimposing dust bunnies. Not so for Ecovacs. The robotics company plopped a full-sized solar panel in the middle of the show floor, complete with an always-running Raybot cleaner. Bold but effective.

9. 3D Systems’ Drum Set and Warrior

3D printing companies tend to make small products, like necklaces, keychain fobs, and display shelf trinkets. 3D Systems goes the other way, featuring a massive 3D alien warrior and a slickly designed guitar-drum set combo.

8. Sony’s Train Set

It’s easy to dismiss Sony’s train set at a glance, but the prop—located near the middle of Sony’s show floor—is smart for several reasons. For tinkerers and gadget enthusiasts, the set might spark a bit of train set nostalgia, the sort of toy you might have built in your basement or garage. What’s more, the prop helps illustrate how Sony’s cameras can capture the passage of time. It’s a neat display that works even better the longer you spend with it.

7. Mo-Fi Headphones’ Microphones

While many of Mo-Fi’s competitors are focusing on the modern-day (think hip hop and celebrities), Mo-Fi looks back. Their classy display of old-school microphones sets the tone for a booth that oozes retro jazz and classic radio.

6. Sage’s Magician

It may not match the product perfectly, but when you’ve got a real-life magician shuffling a deck of cards in Vegas, what more can you ask for? Bonus points for his uncanny ability to slip Sage talking points between shuffles.

5. WowWee’s Fighting Ring

Most robotics and drone companies simply feature a large playpen for flying, fighting, and driving around their products. WowWee presents a fighting ring, with robotic dragons and a game balls to spar over. The added narrative helps sell the robots’ best features.

4. A Treadmill in a Fitbit

While Fitbit’s overall booth was a bit underwhelming, their central prop was spot-on, a treadmill housed inside an oversized Fitbit device. Fitbit is becoming the face of the industry, and reinforcing their iconic design with an eye-catching prop was a smart move.

3. DisplayPort’s Iron Throne

DisplayPort offers the very definition of a prop: their cable-constructed throne sits apart from the rest of their products, but it tells the company’s whole story in a single glance. Well done. (Though we do feel they are conflating Game of Throne’s Iron Throne and Lord of the Ring’s familiar slogan, which is a bit odd.)

2. Onkyo’s Iron Maiden Action Figure

The Japanese consumer electronics maker takes the CES prop a step further by centering their entire exhibit around it. Featuring an enormous action figure inspired by the British rock band Iron Maiden, the company encourages guests to take a snapshot and share the results. It’s a prop, product, and marketing play, all in one.

1. Canon’s Baller

Canon’s exhibit would still have worked without it, but their basketball-spinning baller ties the whole booth together. With this dynamic, human prop, Canon can show their image quality, motion capture, PC connectivity, and even printing capabilities, all in one seamless process. It’s visually arresting and it demonstrates multiple Canon products, earning Canon the honor of CES 2015 Best Prop.

This article originally appeared on FindTheBest.

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TIME ces 2015

The 20 Most Eye-Catching Booths at CES 2015

Attendees take a break at the 2015 International CES on Jan. 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller—Getty Images Attendees take a break at the 2015 International CES on Jan. 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

We looked at the big-picture vibe, not any one feature or prop

Standing out at CES is a nightmare. With over 3,500 separate exhibitors and two million net square feet of presentation space, you need much more than a big sign and friendly representatives.

With this in mind, we set out to highlight the most eye-catching booths across all of CES. In order to pick—and rank—the final 20, we walked a combined five miles, snapped hundreds of photos and took between 12 and 15 water breaks.

In order to prevent the big guns from snapping up all the awards, we had a few basic rules.

1) Cleverness is more important than size. Just because you purchased tens of thousands of square feet doesn’t mean you earned a spot on this list.

2) The product or brand should come through. Bright lights and loud music are only good ideas if they match the personality of the company. No easy outs here.

3) We’re looking at the big-picture vibe, not any one feature or prop. How does the whole booth come together?

We’ll start with number 20 and count all the way down to the most eye-catching of all.

20. Vievu

Sure, they might be a wearable camera company for law enforcement and private professionals, but that didn’t stop Vievu from committing to a theme. The checkered green golf attire contrasts pleasantly with the boring gray and black found throughout the show, while the putting green provides the perfect final touch.

19. Objecto

Objecto’s nifty air humidifiers sit quietly near the louder, larger displays from Samsung and Monster, but the tricolor simplicity proves a visual winner. Clever. Plus, it’s nice to get a break from that stuffy Las Vegas convention air.

18. Makerbot

The 3D printing section of CES 2015 is technically impressive in miniature, but predictably, visually underwhelming from a distance. The lone exception this year is Makerbot, whose sleek, backlit display cases make their printers seem more like Louis Vuitton handbags than geeky niche products.

17. Blisslights

Blisslights provides nightclub-esque lighting effects for the home. We’re not sure we’re sold on every use case (they showcase a family Christmas with red twinkles dancing around the room), but they sure have a sense of spectacle.

16. United States Postal Service

What? The United States Postal Service at CES? We were surprised too. But perhaps the biggest shock is the booth’s tasteful, boxy design, which perfectly captures the essence of packaging and shipping. No one can accuse the USPS of mailing it in.

15. 808

A Voxx headphone brand, 808 tries to recreate the modern nightclub, with mood lighting, pumping bass, and yes, go-go dancers. Three for three.

14. Glide

Glide is a mobile video messaging app, and so, naturally, they featured a DJ and beatboxer (he’s a dead-ringer at impersonating Michael Jackson, incidentally). Okay, so it’s not a perfect product-theme match, but Glide knows its target demographic, and they sure know how to create a scene.

13. Go Groove

For most booths at CES, you can avoid a smiley sales rep if you give the stall a 10-foot berth. Not Go Groove. The company’s chatty employees will find you in the crowd, reel you in, and enter you for a free pair of earbuds before you can say “marketing gimmick.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s working.

12. LG

Massive, shimmering, and beautiful, LG’s space (the word “booth” doesn’t do it justice) is a study in contrast: deep blacks next to bright, gorgeous displays. The only reason they’re not higher is because we thought they could have done just a bit more with all that space.

11. ooVoo

The intelligent video chat company sports the most fascinating display at the show, a giant wall made up of tiny flaps, black on one side, white on the other. The whole thing looks and sounds just like the old school flight displays at the airport, but can change images in an instant. A visual marvel.

10. Lowe’s

Of the dozen or so Smart Home mock-ups, the Lowe’s Iris Smart Home felt the most alive, a full, multi-room house plopped right in the middle of Tech West. Props for the chimney logo.

9. Samsung

We’re docking Samsung just slightly for their space’s boring exterior (just a big white wall), but the interior is as colorful and vibrant as you would expect from the Korean electronics manufacturer. Bonus points for the visual allusion to old-school slide projectors.

8. Monster

Monster’s marketing strategy is timeless: take a product, then throw celebrities and popular music at it until it becomes cool. Even if you tend to roll your eyes at modern music videos, the space works. We felt more hip just walking by.

7. iFit

At CES 2015, the only thing more popular than fitness is athlete-models doing fitness. For hours. In hopes of catching the attention of out-of-shape geeks walking by. Among the 30 or so versions of this we saw, iFit made the strongest commitment, featuring an elevated stage and a dozen happy (hapless?) participants running, biking, and weight-lifting.

6. Snail

Snail’s gaming booth—filled with couches, controllers, and gaming demos—has a pitch-perfect green glow that seems emanate from the space and the walls of the center, hundreds of feet away. One of the best mood-setting booths at the show.

5. Sleep Number

By far the most economical display we saw at CES, Sleep Number keeps things simple, but tremendously effective. The hanging mobile of numbers captures the companies brand of precise adjustment, while the simple statement below (“Too Hot? Too Cool?”) tells all the story we need. Smart, clean, efficient.

4. Parrot

We saw nearly a dozen different drone demo areas, each surrounded with netting, most commanding a small crowd of curious onlookers. But no one put on as good a show as Parrot. With a countdown timer, red curtain, and circus-like presentation, Parrot puts on a 10-drone show several times per hour, with a combination of flying, driving, and bouncing robots.

3. Oculus

The most impressive part about Oculus’ booth? You don’t even have to try their virtual reality product to appreciate their CES display. Multi-storied, polygonal, and tastefully shaded, the booth is a design achievement, recalling old-school video games and classic Calvin & Hobbes cartoons. When the architecture is this good, the booth doesn’t have to be flashy.

2. Polaroid

Polaroid nails a combination of modern technology and nostalgic design better than anyone at CES. With walls of classic Polaroids, bright displays with modern photography, and product models hanging from the ceiling, the Polaroid space is a visual treat. Just like a good photograph, Polaroid’s space draws your attention from display to display, intentionally leaving a gap here, a space there. Superb.

1. Intel

Only one space in all of CES is both foreign and inviting, like a time capsule from the future that instantly feels right at home. Intel’s chic space sets the mood with soft blue lighting, then throws in comfortable seats, a pillow-like carpet, and so much open space that for once, you won’t feel crowded. To walk through Intel’s corner is to experience the very best version of the show—the most eye-catching booth at CES.

This article originally appeared on FindTheBest.

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TIME headphones

These Are the 4 Best Headphones for the Holidays

ATH-M50x
Audio-Technica Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are the best under $200

Few gifts are safer than a pair of headphones. Unless you’re shopping for DJs or recording artists, chances are your recipient is still limping along with two-year-old Apple earbuds. Just about any pair will provide some improvement.

And then there’s you. Once you’ve given up on your new fitness tracker, why not trade it in for a decent pair of headphones? You may not lose any weight, but your ears will thank you.

With this in mind, we set out to pick a handful of headphones with a good mix of price and quality. We compiled expert reviews from across the industry, gathered specifications for each pair, and tracked customer reviews. We ended up with four final pairs, each best for a particular kind of shopper. Yes, you can break headphones into a dozen more categories, but in our experience, most consumers just want one of these four types.

The Dirt Cheap Pick

Koss KSC75 ($15)

Officially, we advise against picking something dirt cheap (aka under $30), but if you must—and based on our user behavior, many people must—the Koss KSC75 are a pretty reasonable pair. With decent lows and crisp highs, the KSC75 headphones sound like they should cost $100, not $15.

Before you buy, keep in mind that these are clip-on style headphones, so while they’re good for running or biking, they’re not as sleek looking or as comfortable as a pair of (worse-sounding) Beats. The KSC75 also use an open-air operating principle, which is a fancy way of saying that music will sound more natural (like you’re at a concert) but that a bit of sound will leak—making them less ideal for a study session at the library.

The Sporty Pick

Sony XBA-S65 ($90)

Already a solid pair of headphones, the Sony XBA-S65’s design helped cement its spot. Light but secure, simple-looking but sweatproof, these in-ear headphones the perfect choice for a runner, cyclist or gym rat.

Sound-wise, the XBA-S65 are solid across the board, with good detail and a clear, pleasant mid-range. They do show some restraint with the bass, but we like how this keeps the listening experience balanced. If you need a pounding, aggressive low-end to drive your workout, you may want to look elsewhere. For everyone else, grab this pair and head to the gym.

The ‘Affordable Luxury’ Pick

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x ($169)

The most popular model at our office, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x sound like $300 but clock in at nearly the half the price. The headphones have a balanced, accurate sound overall, with a classy kick in the bass that’s sharp but not overpowering.

The pair is also notable for its design, with detachable cords, cans that can swivel and some of the comfier earcups on the market.

If there’s one thing to criticize, it’s the bulk. Even for an over-ear pair, all the design frills make for a hefty product, particularly for anyone who’s spent time with a light pair, like the Bose Quietcomfort 15s.

The Premium Pick

Sennheiser HD 650 ($396)

It’s not the newest pair on the market, but in this case, it doesn’t matter: the Sennheiser HD 650s are still among the finest headphones you can buy, even eight years since their release. They pull off the rare feat of combining accurate, detailed audio with a warm overall ambience, making them a gratifying listen for both audiophiles and casual listeners alike.

Like our dirt cheap pick, the Sennheiser HD 650s have an open-air operating principle, so some sound will leak to classmates or coworkers. The only other problem, of course, is the price. If you’re simply squeezing in half a podcast in the evenings, you won’t notice what all that extra money is getting you. If, however, you want a transcendent audio experience, the Sennheiser HD 650s are an excellent choice.

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