2023 was a rather slow year for gadgets. For the first time in decades, there was more chatter about artificial intelligence taking over the limelight from the everyday gadgets we use, especially smartphones. This was reflected in product launch cycles and the devices that eventually hit the retail shelves. That being said, there were still plenty of gadgets that were not only impressive but also bold in their messaging. From smartphones and laptops to headphones, here are some of our favourite gizmos from the past year.
iPhone 15 Pro Max: Despite complaints that Apple once again did not push the envelope enough, the fact remains that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best phone one can buy with unparalleled processing power, camera capabilities and sheer dependability. With Apple pushing towards its own silicon, iPhones are now way ahead of the competition in terms of what a phone can do on its own when it comes to processing power.
Google Pixel 8 Pro: Giving us a glimpse of what smartphones of the future could do, the Pixel flagship continues to bring in a lot of software capability that relies heavily on Google’s expertise in AI. Pixel phones might appear a bit below par for a lot of users exposed to Apple and Samsung flagships, but the fact remains that they can still create some magic with the camera and software in general. It will only get better with new AI models rolling out.
OnePlus Open: OnePlus has reaped the slow mover advantage by surprising everyone with how compact its first foldable, the Open, was. The OnePlus Open also stands out for offering a full-size smartphone as the cover screen which means those buying this premium device don’t have to compromise in any way when it comes to using the phone. The Open has taken the competition to Samsung which has to now think of how it will make the Fold better.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: The Flip 5 is still the best flip phone we have seen despite the Oppo Find N3 Flip’s different take on the cover screen. The Flip 5 has become the more practical and affordable option over the years and this year’s version makes it a new perfect model thanks to the new seamless crease and the addition of apps on the home screen. This is the best way to get your phone to fold into your pocket.
Steam Deck OLED: PC gaming fans were introduced to Valve’s Steam Deck a few years back, and they loved the handheld console. After all, it brought the portability of the Nintendo Switch with the power of a PC in a handheld form factor, and that formula worked wonders. This gave Valve the confidence to improve on the hardware, and in 2023, the new OLED model was launched—this time with a bigger and better screen. It also boasted a longer-lasting battery, more storage, and louder speakers. It’s good to see handheld consoles getting the love they deserve.
Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (M3 Max): Although we wouldn’t call it a giant leap from its predecessor, the M3 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro is a pure demonstration of Apple’s silicon engineering. Not much has changed on the outside, but what’s inside is significantly beefed up, and for good reason. The extra performance that Apple has managed to deliver on the 16-inch model shows how the company has advanced its Apple silicon. In real-world use, it means the 16-inch M3 Max MacBook Pro delivers the crazy performance needed in areas like designing, graphics, and AI-related tasks. For a change, though, the notebook is capable of running high-end games. What else do you expect from a professional-grade machine?
Sony WF-C700N: For all the people who say they just want a decent pair of truly wireless earbuds that fit great, offer good audio quality, decent noise cancellation, and won’t break the bank, Sony’s WF-C700N are exactly what they need. The fact that the WF-C700N are very competitively priced make them even more appealing. They offer practically everything you could ever want from truly wireless earbuds. There isn’t anything necessarily “budget” about the WF-C700N. They’re just damn good earbuds.
Sony Walkman NW-A306: Sony’s latest Walkman music player takes the design of a smartphone and squishes it down into a more compact 3.6-inch touch screen combined with physical button controls and the ability to play hi-res audio. Small enough to slip into a coat pocket, it also features better-rounded audio, improved DSEE Ultimate upscaling tech, and Android OS support. Maybe you question Sony’s decision to revive a Walkman in 2023. Well, the answer is, that icons never die.
Sonodyne Malhar: For an Indian company to come up with a Hi-Fi speaker that impresses music lovers across the world is a big deal. The Malhar, packed inside a wooden cabinet, does exactly that, without any gimmicks or flourishes. This is a pure sound that hits the soul, just the way the creators intended.
AudioSonic ATH-WP900: The most impressive headphones of the year were also the most expensive we tried out during the period. But then the ATH-WP900 is an investment for those who like their music to be pure and unfettered. The robust headphones come with ear cups covered with a flame maple layer and feel like bean bags for the ears. Audio bliss has a price tag.