As 2019 stumbles to its chaotic, divisive end, it’s good to know at least one thing remained consistent and dependable. Loads of brilliant gadgets were released right through the year.
We’ve reflected on the best smartphones, best games consoles, best headphones, laptops, cameras and more elsewhere. In this feature we’ll step back and pick out some of the stand-out pieces of tech from across the board.
Some of these devices dazzled us with their performance or design. Others undercut the opposition on price without compromising on quality. The one thing that unites them all is they delighted an awful lot of people in 2019.
Which of these gadgets was your favourite of the year? Have your say by voting below.
Best gadgets of 2019
1. Pixel 3a
Somewhat awkwardly for Google, the most interesting Pixel phone of 2019 wasn’t the flagship Pixel 4. It was the affordable spinoff of the previous year’s Pixel 3, the Pixel 3a. Here, after all, was a solidly built smartphone with one of the very best cameras on the market, all at a highly affordable £400 price. The success of this unique value proposition already has us looking beyond the Pixel 4 to what the Pixel 4a might offer in 2020.
2. OnePlus 7T
The OnePlus 7T was so good, it instantly made the more premium OnePlus 7T Pro (itself one of the finest phones launched in 2019) seem a little unnecessary. Here was a stylish, powerful smartphone with many of the same key components as the Pro - including a high refresh rate 90Hz AMOLED display and a triple camera set-up - for just £550. It suddenly made the prospect of spending double the money on a phone seem faintly foolish.
3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the finest high-end drone on the market. Not only is it small and lightweight, it also includes a truly excellent Hasselblad 4K camera. Together with a 5-mile transmitter range and 30 minute flight time, this could be the new first choice for professional drone operators - not to mention amateurs who aspire to the same level of aerial footage quality. Given the performance and specs, we can’t even quibble with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro’s meaty four-figure price tag.
4. Nest Wi-Fi
The Nest Wi-Fi is a top notch mesh router combined with a Google Home speaker. This means that as well as amplifying the range and stability of your home Wi-Fi connection, you get a smart speaker that will respond to your queries and play you music. All of this connected functionality is bundled into a genuinely good-looking design that practically begs to be displayed on a sideboard rather than tucked behind a TV cabinet.
5. Bose 700
Some really strong pretenders to the Bluetooth headphones throne have arrived in recent years, not least the Sony WH–1000XM3. But one simple fact remains: Bose is the master of active noise cancellation technology. That point was driven home in 2019 with the Bose 700, a remarkably refined set of noise cancelling headphones that look and sound great. Most importantly, they’re brilliant at keeping unwanted external sound out of your ears, and they’ll even clean up the quality of your phone calls while you’re out and about.
6. Samsung QE65Q900R
Many people are just about getting their heads around the jump to 4K resolutions, but the Samsung QE65Q900R shows what’s possible by doubling - or rather quadrupling - down on pixels. Not only does it provide support for the relatively tiny (but growing) amount of 8K content out there, but it also does a bang-up job of upscaling 4K and HD video. Essentially, any form of content you throw at the QE65Q900R (or its larger brothers) will look amazing, making it one of the most complete and future-proof TV lines on the market.
7. Sony WF–1000XM3
Apple’s AirPods Pro attracted a lot of attention towards the end of 2019, and justifiably so. If Android users weren’t turning green with envy, it was because they had received their own truly-wireless superstar just a few months prior. The Sony WF–1000XM3 earphones sound better, have superior noise cancellation, and cost less money than Apple’s (admittedly very clever) white buds. They also fit great and last a good while between charges. We found them to be the best true wireless earphones on the market for most people in our group test.
8. Roborock S6
The Roborock S6 doesn’t really offer anything we haven’t seen before in a premium-price robot vacuum cleaner. But that’s precisely the point - it isn’t a premium-price RVC, with an RRP several hundred pounds below its rivals. Despite this, the S6 doesn’t scrimp on features or performance, with competitive levels of speed, suction power, and smart mapping capabilities. It’ll even mop your hard floors for you, should you wish it to.
9. Ikea Symfonisk lamp
Ikea’s Symfonisk lamp represents the kind of inspired team-up that happens too rarely in tech. Together with home audio specialist Sonos, Ikea has produced an excellent compact speaker that just so happens to double as a stylish table lamp. The great thing is, the audio quality here is barely any worse than the dedicated Sonos One, yet it costs a good deal less money. And if you’re an existing Sonos user, the Symfonisk will slot seamlessly into your multi-room audio setup.
10. Fujifilm X-T30
The Fujifilm X-T30 takes 2018’s highly esteemed Fujifilm X-T3 and whittles it down, both in terms of price and size. Precious little has been lost in the process, so you get the same 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and zippy processor, as well as a sackful of features and shooting modes, all in a compact and robust body. Add in impressive 425-point phase-detect autofocus and a three figure price tag, and you’re looking at one of the best pound-for-pound cameras on the market.
11. Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch lit up 2017 with its unique hybrid games console proposition. So when the Switch Lite was announced with its handheld-only form, many were a little puzzled. Get one in your hands, however, and it all makes sense. This is the latest in a long line of brilliant handheld consoles from Nintendo dating back to the original Game Boy. It’s both more portable and sturdier than the Switch, and considerably cheaper to boot.
12. Mophie 3-in–1 Wireless Charging Pad
Apple is clearly inching towards a totally wire-free future. Rumours abound that the next iPhone will have no ports whatsoever. Wireless charging is already present in all of Apple’s Watch, AirPods, and iPhone products. Having scrapped its own AirPower project, however, there’s a big gap in a market for a device that can charge all three simultaneously. The Mophie 3-in–1 Wireless Charging Pad is comfortably the tidiest solution yet, with a thoughtful layout and reliable charging.
13. MacBook Pro 16-inch
Apple’s once imperious MacBook Pro range has been in the doldrums over recent years, but the MacBook Pro 16-inch saw the classy laptop leap back to the top of the pile. The new larger 16-inch display was arguably the least interesting addition to the revised Pro, with a brilliant new keyboard (complete with dedicated escape key), improved thermals, scorching performance and some of the best laptop speakers ever all vying for top billing.
14. Amazon Echo Show 5
The original Echo Show was an interesting product, marrying an Echo speaker and Alexa smart assistant with a handy display. But it was simply too ugly and ungainly to be the convenient utility screen we wanted it to be. The Amazon Echo Show 5 is what we really wanted, with an unobtrusive design and a just-right 5.5-inch display serving most of our needs. Add in a more appealing price and you have the best mass appeal smart display on the market.
15. Google Pixelbook Go
Google’s great-looking new Chromebook weighs just 2lbs, is only 13mm thick, and boasts up to 12 hours of battery life. It is, in short, the perfect laptop for students - or anyone else who needs a highly portable machine for light web-based tasks and word processing. It’s not the cheapest Chromebook on the market, but the extra money (which still isn’t much in laptop terms) gets you one of the best keyboards around, as well as a 1080p webcam that puts Apple’s pricey new MacBook Pro to shame.
16. Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
As we enter the final stretch for the current console generation (new Xbox and PlayStation machines are due within a year), Microsoft chose 2019 to launch its cheapest and most stripped-back Xbox One yet. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition does away with the disc drive, saving both space and money. With physical media rapidly going the way of the dodo, this was a smart way to drag a few more gamers over to the green team before we all move on to bigger and brighter things.
17. iPhone 11
Apple released two ‘Pro’ phones in 2019, and they were priced accordingly. But it was the plain iPhone 11 that really caught people’s attention. Here was the rarest of Apple products, one actually cheaper than its immediate predecessor, the iPhone XR, despite offering several meaningful upgrades. The standout among these is a truly brilliant dual camera system, which restores Apple to the top of the photographic tree after a couple of years on the back foot.
18. Apple Watch Series 5
With each successive generation of the Apple Watch, Apple gradually refines the smartwatch format. The Series 5 gives us an always-on display that will never leave you shaking your wrist just to see your notifications. At last, you can sneakily peek at the time while you’re in a meeting without employing a give-away arm movement. More storage, a compass, and a bigger screen further enhance the Apple Watch’s reputation as the best smartwatch out there.
19. AirPods Pro
Apple’s first generation AirPods proved a smash hit, but the convenience and form of these truly wireless earphones pasted over mediocre (at best) audio performance. The AirPods Pro are a startlingly accomplished second attempt, with excellent noise cancellation, bolstered audio performance, and a proper ear canal seal. They’re not cheap, and there are rivals that sound much better, but Apple’s many quality-of-life improvements make the AirPods Pro the ultimate choice for iPhone users.