2016 was a great year for gadgets and smartphones, with new and innovative products hitting the market.
Google launched its Pixel smartphone and VR headset, Apple unveiled its highly-anticipated iPhone 7, and Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4 Pro.
MyBroadband asked four of South Africa’s top tech experts to share their views on the best gadgets and smartphones of the year.
Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx MD and Gadget editor-in-chief, selected the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
He said the S7’s camera still has the edge over anything else on the market and the phone’s design makes it aesthetically pleasing.
Goldstuck’s top gadget was the Insta-Share Projector mod for the Moto Z smartphone.
“This is one of my dream gadgets come true. It represents an elegant solution to modular phone design, along with the other Moto Mods, which include JBL speakers and a Hasselblad camera.”
Goldstuck said the Leica dual-lens camera in the Huawei P9 and Mate 9 deserve a mention for best new technology in a phone.
Jannie van Zyl, Vodacom’s head of innovation, said the S7 Edge is the best smartphone of the year.
He said the device offers the most complete Android and accessory eco-system and has an excellent camera.
Van Zyl’s top gadget is the Freestyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitor, which allows you to monitor blood glucose levels in real time via your smartphone.
“It is the first affordable medical sensor that can be worn 24/7,” said van Zyl.
“I’ve been wearing it and not only does it show where Medical IoT is going – and is a godsend for diabetics – but I use it as a fuel gauge to optimise my training.”
He said the most promising new consumer technology is the Sony Xperia Projector with interactive display, as it “points to a future of display-driven devices rather than screen-driven”.
Aki Anastasiou, host of Radio 702’s Technobyte and Tech Busters on CNBC Africa, picked the Amazon Echo as his top gadget.
“Although not available in South Africa yet, the Amazon Echo is an amazing device that takes a personal assistant to a new level,” said Anastasiou.
“Amazon has set a benchmark in what is possible in combining entertainment, voice commands, and IoT into one assistant.”
Anastasiou’s smartphone of the year is the iPhone 7 Plus. “This was very close between the Samsung S7 and Apple’s flagship device.”
“The iPhone 7 Plus has an amazing camera and superb battery life that fit into my lifestyle. Another factor is the ecosystem. I still find iOS to be more refined than Android and more stable with apps.”
MyBroadband’s Jan Vermeulen said three smartphones stood out for him in 2016: The Galaxy S7, the Moto Z, and Google Pixel.
Vermeulen’s favourite gadget this year was The Z: an advanced gaming mouse. “It is the only thing I Kickstarted this year and I can’t wait to get it next year,” he said.