In 2019, Jony Ive, the lead designer of the iMac, iPod and iPhone, left Apple to start its own creative firm, LoveFrom. It was a year when manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola showed their versions of a foldable smartphone, possibly the next big thing in smartphone technology. But bringing foldable smartphones to the market has proven to be a challenge with the first generation devices being anything but perfect. The year also brought us some concrete information on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, two of the hotly anticipated next-generation game consoles due to launch in late 2020.
In the end, 2019 closes with a lot of excitement. Before we usher in the new year, I look at the gadgets that impressed and impacted me the most. Here is my list of the best gadgets of 2019.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
For Apple, 2019 was the year of correction rather than reinvention. The company had been questioned in the past for the lack of smartphone innovation to which has replied with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. While the design was familiar, Apple brought in a triple camera system with superb details, a fantastic ultra-wide lens and impressive Night Mode. For big-screen phone users, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is hailed as the holy grail of smartphones. Although priced on the higher side, the iPhone 11 Pro Max still offers great performance, excellent battery life, and a better camera made for pro users. Read our review of Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max here.
Amazon Echo Studio
If there was a smart speaker that impressed me most this year, it was the Echo Studio. Squarely aimed at the Apple HomePod, Amazon’s Echo Studio does exactly what it was supposed to do: delivering the best sound experience possible. Similar to the HomePod and Sonos One, the Echo Studio uses far-field microphones to map out the room to deliver immersive 3D sound experience. To some extent, Amazon did manage to create a smart speaker at the top-end users might be interested to buy. If you really want a premium sounding smart speaker, seek out the Alexa-powered Echo Studio. Read our review of Amazon Echo Studio here.
DJI Mavic Mini
DJI’s new Mavic Mini convinces you to try a drone that’s so tiny it can easily fit into the palm of your hand. And it is something of an achievement. It weighs only 259 grams, which is under the Federal Aviation Administration’s limit that requires you to register for a drone to fly. Although tiny, the Mavic Mini can fly for up to 30 minutes and has 4K HD video recording. I don’t know whether you agree or not, but I am intrigued by the DJI Mavic Mini. I think a lot of photographers, travel Vloggers, and even regular users might be interested in picking up the Mavic Mini. The $399 price for DJI Mavic Mini seems fair enough for a tiny, ultra-light drone.
Apple AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pro wireless earbuds are my favorite headphones of the year. They cost Rs 24,900, which is on the higher side, but the headphones come with a new design and boast features like active noise cancellation. I know a lot of people wanting to get a pair of truly wireless earbuds that deliver not only exceptional sound but noise-cancellation, which is great for blocking out background noise on airplanes or strolling around in the city. No wonder the demand is so high for the AirPods Pro that customers finding it hard to get their hands on a pair of AirPods Pro before Christmas. With the AirPods Pro, I think Apple has truly created the hassle-free wireless earbuds the world needs. Read our review of Apple AirPods Pro here.
Nintendo Switch Lite
When the Switch Lite was introduced earlier this year, everyone thought it’s a smaller and cheaper version of the Switch console. Yes, it’s portable and doesn’t let you connect to your television like the regular model but only costs $199. To me, the Switch Lite is a better handheld console than the original Switch. The idea here is not to plug the console to the TV; instead, Nintendo is aiming to make a new handheld console that lets you play every game you enjoyed playing on the Switch. Who would not like to play “Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” or “Overwatch” on the go?
A lot of high-end phones were launched throughout the year, but no one had the impact of the OnePlus 7T. The OnePlus 7T is genuinely an impressive smartphone. It offers just about everything you expect from a flagship smartphone along with a smooth experience. The design feels natural, although the camera bump does feel a little large. The performance is exceptional, the triple-lens camera is great, the 90Hz display is buttery smooth, battery charges in minutes, and it looks solid too. The only question is: are you willing to pay Rs 35,000 for the OnePlus 7T? Read our review of OnePlus 7T here.
The Motorola Razr has changed what the world expects from a foldable phone. Yes, it is a super expensive device (it launches in January for $1499) and many can’t even dream of owning the Razr, but the flip-style foldable phone is too hard to be ignored. It’s a technical achievement to see a phone that folds in half like the clamshell phones of the 2000s. It looks cool, and the design is somewhat different from Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. I think Motorola did a fabulous job with a foldable phone that looks like a regular smartphone when it’s open, and it’s smaller and more pocketable when closed. And let’s not forget the Razr is perfectly flat when folded and it has no gap. Sure, it misses on specifications, but the Motorola Razr isn’t about the internal hardware. I can’t wait to hold the new Razr when it launches in India in the coming months.
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