As 2018 slips in 2019, take a look back at the best, cutest and shiniest tech developments of the year. I’ve included links to the products I’ve liked most. As always, these have been independently chosen and there are no affiliate links in any of them.
The last 12 months have seen genuine innovations, striking design improvements and, most numerous of all, items best filed under “more of the same”.
Alongside the most expensive smartphones yet (assuming you don’t count gold-plated iPhones or products from the luxury brand Vertu) were more modest new items. Beside the sumptuous Apple Watch Series 4 there were keenly priced trackers and watches from the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei.
Chinese brands took center stage for good reasons (Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus had blockbuster products) and bad (Huawei was collectively spurned by governments eager to keep the company out of national infrastructure projects).
So, what were the tech standouts, and should you buy them, or will 2019 provide improvements you should wait for instead?
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The Apple Watch Series 4 was the standout here, by a long way. You can read my full review here.
Its spiffy new design and bigger screen with charmingly curved display corners were a significant upgrade to an already appealing product. And it planted a flag in the sand more clearly than ever that the Apple Watch is a health gadget, designed to make our lives better. Activity monitoring was already pretty great and the latest software, which works with all versions of Apple Watch apart from the very first, was a big step forward, too. Like some other trackers, watchOS 5 now auto-recognizes when you’re going for an outdoor walk, for instance and politely asks you after a few minutes if you’d like the whole walk recorded.
But the real advances came in the Series 4 hardware with improved heart rate monitoring. The big new feature is the capability to take an ECG reading, which is live now, in the U.S. only.
But there’s also fall detection to spot when you’ve taken a tumble. Both these features may have saved lives by the time the year is up.
Rivals worth note from 2018 were the Fitbit Versa, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Withings Steel HR Sport.
For 2019, Withings may be the name to focus on: newly resurgent since it split from its brief time as a Nokia division, it feels like the brand that could surprise us all.