If you’re subscribed to our YouTube channel, you’re probably familiar with the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. But in case you still don’t know about it, it’s a stamp we give for gadgets we really recommend.
A guarantee that the device we just reviewed is worth buying using your hard-earned money. This year, we’ve seen plenty of smartphones parading ‘groundbreaking’ features, but some of them can cost an arm and a leg.
Priding ourselves as a buyer’s guide, here are 12 smartphones we reviewed this year that are worth recommending after considering the phone’s price, features, technology, hardware, software, and more.
And of course, these smartphones are stamped with our Seal of Approval.
Samsung Galaxy S21
As the first major smartphone launched in 2021, Samsung has set the bar high with the Galaxy S21. It delivers where it matters and even better yet is more affordable. That’s a win-win. With its USD 800 asking price — it’s still a pricey phone. But it’s worth it, given all that it offers.
Between the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro, the former gets the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. The OnePlus 9 is a more well-rounded phone and offers better value for money.
It comes with a host of nifty improvements but is lacking in flair. Still, at USD 699, it’s a hundred less than the starting price of the Galaxy S21 — and so it has the potential to appeal to those who are open to cheaper options.
ASUS ROG Phone 5
If you’re looking for a gaming-specific smartphone, nothing comes close to the ROG Phone 5. Beyond the power and performance that ASUS consistently delivered through the years… this is one refined, well-thought-out device, that meets the demands of gamers.
vivo X60 Pro+
It’s got a unique style, offers headline features touted by its competitors, comes with a powerful processor, fast display, and super-fast charging, and in that all-important camera category — it rules!
Based on our camera tests, conservatively one might say it can keep up with the best. Or If we were to be more generous, we’d say in some cases, it does even better. And that’s a big thing to say.
ASUS Zenfone 8
A nondescript phone like the ASUS Zenfone 8 might not be appealing for someone whose job is to look at phones day in and day out. But the Zenfone 8 offers something different. In their pursuit of dyeing ordinary, ASUS set off to fit excellent features in a body of a phone that measured less than 70mm wide by less than 150mm tall.
Further, we respect a flagship phone that starts at 599 Euros. For that price, we can overlook the fact that the phone isn’t pretty. After all, it’s still a top-of-the-line phone but in a much smaller chassis.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is many things — a conversation starter, a cool and trendy gadget, a bite out of the future. It might not be perfect since the battery life needs some work and the cameras could be even better, but there’s something about the Flip3 that keeps us coming back for more. And that je ne sais quoi cannot be denied.
Google Pixel 5a 5G
No matter which way you look at it, there’s plenty of value in a budget Pixel phone like the Pixel 5a 5G. One, you can get Google’s top-notch camera software for less. Two, you get access to Pixel-exclusive software features. And three, you’re guaranteed at least three years of Android updates — more than what any other Android phone maker is willing to commit to.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 can be used for reading, navigation, note-taking, and as a computer. Three years in, this device is more high-tech than it originally set out to be. It’s also much more useful.
And with another price cut this year, we’re pretty sure, soon, it will be a phone that more people can actually afford.
iPhone 13 mini
There are lots to love about the iPhone 13 mini. It’s a small device that still packs a punch. And really, there’s nothing quite like it in the market today.
vivo X70 Pro+
I know, I know. There was just a vivo X60 Pro+ released early in 2021. Lately, that’s just how most Chinese smartphone companies are. But if you’re in the market for a high-end Android phone with all the bells and whistles, you should consider the X70 Pro+. It’s an excellent phone both on paper and in practice.
And in a world without Huawei, still suffering from the Google ban, and LG, which closed down its mobile phone business this year, we see vivo as the only other manufacturer that’s made a phone that can legitimately rival the best from Samsung.
The vivo X70 Pro+ is one of the best Android phones you can buy today. Period.
iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max
The iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are the perfect phones if you’re the type of person who upgrades only every five years or so. It has everything you want and/or need out of a smartphone, with over-the-top features that both techies, professionals, and average users can enjoy.
In this age, you’ll want a phone that can keep up with a fast-paced tech world, and the latest iPhones — whether it’s the Pro or Non-Pro models — can do so.
Google Pixel 6
The Google Pixel 6 is, hands-down, the best value-for-money Android phone you can get in 2021. It’s well-built and looks great, lasts long, has excellent cameras, is packed with useful and exclusive software features, all at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
Best of IFA 2023
Foldables, smart home, and more
IFA 2023 in Berlin, Germany has come and gone but we’re still pretty hyped about all the tech present during the show. It had everything from foldables, projectors, smart appliances, and more.
Below are some of our favorites and the ones we deemed are the Best of IFA 2023.
Best Foldable Phone: Honor Magic V2
The HONOR V Purse may have been the brand’s head turner, but that’s just a concept for now. The real star is the HONOR Magic V2 that has been confirmed to launch globally. The Magic V2, as of writing, still holds the title of being the world’s thinnest foldable. It’s absurdly thin but without compromising on the display quality and battery capacity.
This term gets thrown around too often but the Magic V2 is truly an engineering marvel. Jury’s out on how its software will blend with the magnificent hardware. But there’s plenty to be excited about this absolutely stunning foldable smartphone.
Best Projector: XGIMI Horizon Ultra
Movie nights at home are always a good idea, don’t you think? The XGIMI HORIZON Ultra is a great option that won’t break the bank. At US$ 1699 you get a flagship home projector that offers so much value.
It has dual light engine, built-in Harman Kardon speakers, and optics that rival those of high end professional projectors. There’s also intelligent screen adaptation and Android TV. It’s an all-in-one smart home cinema that you’ll enjoy for the years to come.
Best Handheld Vacuum: Roborock Dyad Pro Combo
If you prefer cleaning manually, Roborock has the new Dyad Pro Combo. Acting as a two-in-one device, the vacuum can switch uses with four additional attachments. These accessories allow the vacuum to clean up both dry and wet messes.
The Dyad Pro Combo sucks up messes at 17,000Pa of suction power. It also has intelligent features such as the ability to adapt cleaning power, water flow, and dispensing cleaning solution. For maintenance, the vacuum automatically cleans the roller brushes and dries them with 50°C of hot air.
Best Washer-Dryer: Roborock Zeo One
Roborock is also in the washing machine market. The Zeo One is an all-in-one machine that can accomplish both washing and drying. With a quieter engine, the machine can wash 10kg and dry 6kg of fabric.
The machine’s cycle can soak up to 288,000m2 of moisture. The LintClear Self-Cleaning System can also automatically clean the lint filter by itself.
Finally, the Zeo One is controllable with an app on your phone.
Best Mobility Tech: NIU KQi AirX
The NIU KQI AirX made from an advanced frame crafted entirely from a single piece of carbon fiber. This makes it three times stronger than aluminum but at just 25.8lbs (11.7kg), it’s also lighter than most of the competition.
Its max speed is listed 20mph / 32km/h (subject to local regulations) and can cover about 50km (31mi) on a single charge.
Best Smartphone Accessory: CASETiFY Ultra Bounce Case
One look at the new CASETiFY Ultra Bounce Case is enough to tell you that it means business. The case can reportedly survive over 260 drops on all angles. It can also survive drops from up to 10 meters (or 32 feet) high.
Sporting 10X Military Grade Standard, the case has a 6-Layered Rugged Protection System. The chunky Ultra Bounce Corners have compression ribs with air cavities which minimize drops on the smartphone’s corners.
Despite how rugged the case looks, users can have their case customized with text, patterns, and colors. It is currently available only for iPhone models. However, CASETiFY might release Android versions in the future.
Best Portable Display: LG StanbyME Go
LG keeps thinking outside the box… or more appropriately, outside the home with their lifestyle TVs. The LG StanbyME Go is a 27-inch touch display that features a 20W four-channel speaker system, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. These are all integrated into a military grade standard case. It lets users enjoy memorable entertainment experiences wherever.
The display is ideal for watching movies, playing games, and more, thanks to its versatile adjustability range. The screen can be rotated 90 degrees from landscape to portrait and back, while its height can be adjusted up to 18 centimeters.
The StanbyME Go can be put in Table mode. Here the screen lies flat so users can play digital board games.
Best ANC Headphones: soundcore Space One
The soundcore Space One Noise Cancelling Headphones are perfect for turning down the noise at the lounge and on the plane. It promises to reduce noise by up to 98%* with adaptive noise cancelling (ANC).
It’s also equipped with 40mm dynamic drivers for that dynamic, round, and crispy sound that we all love to enjoy. And whatever music you’re into, you can enjoy it for a while as the headphones promises up to 40 hours of use with ANC turned on.
Best Fitness Wearable: Withings ScanWatch 2
Need a health tracker but don’t fancy the smartwatches out today? Pickings used to be slim in this department, but entering the fray is the Withings ScanWatch 2. It’s a hybrid smartwatch geared towards keeping you healthy.
Unlike most smartwatches, this doesn’t constant plugging. It promises to last for 30 days all while tracking your heart rate, steps, workouts, and more. All your data is synced into accompanying app so you know to take action where needed.
Best of MWC 2023
From concepts to market-ready tech!
After two to three years and a global pandemic, Mobile World Congress came back with a bang. MWC in Barcelona, Spain is home to the best of what mobile technology has to offer and the 2023 conference did not disappoint.
Familiar brands, especially those to smartphone news followers, like HONOR, OnePlus, and OPPO led the way. But their partners Qualcomm and MediaTek showed out too, showcasing promising tech that more of us can experience in the near future.
Here are our picks on what MWC 2023 had to offer.
OnePlus Active CryoFlux Concept
Showcased through the OnePlus 11 Concept, Active CryoFlux is an experiment in smartphone cooling.
While most smartphones today use graphene to dissipate heat, OnePlus’ concept mimics the pipeline system used in today’s gaming PCs. In concept, the smartphone will use the pipelines to circulate its own cooling liquid composed of water, oil, and mica powder.
OPPO Find N2 Flip
Launched globally in London, the OPPO Find N2 Flip is easily the top contender against Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip series. Both are clamshell-type foldables but OPPO one-ups Samsung by adding a much-larger cover screen.
Naturally, there’s more to the Find N2 Flip than just that. If you’re looking for one that’s globally-ready and is NOT as pricey as the Galaxy Z Flip4, then the Find N2 Flip might just be your GadgetMatch.
HONOR Magic Vs
While we’re on the topic of foldables, why don’t we take a look at HONOR’s first one to make it to the global market – the HONOR Magic Vs. The hardware does a lot in making this a device one could reasonably use for a while. The software needs work but isn’t a total dealbreaker.
What HONOR has with the Magic Vs is a challenger-in-the-making. They only need to stay the course and work out the software issues in order to truly stand against the reigning champion of foldables.
realme 240W SuperVOOC Charging
Zero to 100 in nine (9) minutes and 30 seconds. realme puts the “Super” in SuperVOOC with this ultra-fast charging technology. In case you’re unable to wrap your head around 240W – that’s a lot of power.
Laptop chargers ship with 65W, 96W, and 180W chargers. The amount of power needed to power a gaming laptop can now charge a smartphone? That’s how big of a deal this is! Watch our Charge Test to see how it works.
Xiaomi 13 Pro’s 1-inch sensor
Xiaomi is going all-in on mobile photography even more by equipping their latest flagship with a 1-inch ultra-large sensor. And they double that down by emphasizing how their partnership with Leica goes deep both in hardware and software.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro might just be the company’s best smartphone for mobile photography to date. The company worked closely with its camera brand partner Leica to achieve what they call the “Leica Authentic” look for their photos.
Got rizz? Moto, apparently has. motorola has a Rollable Concept Phone and they’re calling it the “RIZR”. This phone has one long flexible display that wraps around its backside
In its compact form it’s a 5.1 inch smartphone that’s more squarish than tall. The magic happens when you double press the power button. The screen expands into a 6.5 inch phone.
In this orientation the phone feels and operates just like any other Android phone. And because the display rolls instead of folds. It doesn’t have a crease.
Lenovo Rollable Laptop
From a rollable smartphone, we’re moving on to a rollable laptop. Lenovo continues to experiment when it comes to form factors. And this one is pretty awesome. At first glance, it looks like any other laptop. But flipping a switch on the right side of the laptop rolls up the display.
It goes from a 12.7-inch display with a 4:3 aspect ratio to a 15.3-inch display with an 8:9 aspect ratio. The rolling process takes a while but it’s usable in both modes so you don’t always have to roll up the screen.
Qualcomm Stable Diffusion
This one is a little too technical and is tough to explain. But if you’re familiar with the Lensa AI app, what the Qualcomm Stable Diffusion does is “kind of” similar. Big emphasis on kind of.
Essentially, after a few prompts, the phone should be able to produce the image. But unlike Lensa, all the AI things are happening just on the device.
Image generation is just one of the applications. Qualcomm says it can be used for image editing, style transfer, super resolution, and more.
MediaTek Satellite Connectivity
Mediatek will put out 3GP Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) technology. It will allow users to communicate with others (especially authorities) during emergency situations in hard-to-reach areas. Brought by Bullitt, MediaTek’s MT6825 chipsets will grace two motorola devices first: the motorola defy 2 and the motorola defy satellite link. It will also come with the Cat S75.
In the coming years, the company hopes to move on to 5G New Radio NTN technologies. Unlike the current zeitgeist, NR-NTN technology will open up communications to allow bigger media transfers and video calls
Huawei Watch GT Cyber
The Watch GT Cyber is an offering that allows users to choose from different cases which serve as both the watch’s housing and wristband. The device comes in both the Urban Edition and slightly lighter Sport Edition.
There are three “quick-to-change” cases to choose from: Space Grey, Golden Black, and Midnight Black. Users will only have to hold the case and press to remove, while Smart Movement shows dynamic effects while changing cases.
Best of 2022: Lifestyle Favorites
Which one matches your lifestyle?
This year, the GadgetMatch team found another set of gizmos that fit perfectly in our lifestyle. These lifestyle favorites proved that technology, when done right, can elevate the way you live.
Travel accessory: instax mini Link 2
The instax mini Link 2 may be a rehash of an already modernized novelty, but it still tops our favorite gizmos that we love to have in our lives.
It can print your favorite moments using your smartphone and even personalize all the film prints. Turn your memories into something tangible!
True wireless earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro
The Galaxy Buds2 Pro exhibited an already excellent product refined to be better. It’s now a pair of true wireless earbuds celebrated by fitness enthusiasts, audiophiles, and the everyday consumer.
Styling device: Dyson Airwrap 308c
The Dyson Airwrap has got to be one of the most talked-about hairstyling tools in the market, probably because it can give you quick, pro-blow-out at home and an efficient way to look stylish any way you want it, wherever you are.
Device feature: Apple’s iOS 16 Visual Look Up
Visual Look Up has just got a new trick on its sleeves this year, and we’re certainly lovin’ how useful the feature has been. With iOS 16, the feature lets you select a subject on a photo, cutting it out as if it was done in Photoshop or Canva.
You can copy, share, or save the image, and even make stickers out of it. The possibilities are endless!
Disney changed the streaming game when it unveiled Disney+ across more countries, allowing access to hundreds of films and TV series from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, and more.
It certainly created a buzz, captivating the youth and young-at-hearts as they bonded among classics, modern adaptations, and unique shows.
Gaming accessory: JBL Quantum Stream
There’s a reason why JBL bagged an award for the Quantum Stream, a dual-condenser microphone with a reversible 360-degree stand.
With its proprietary technology that helps bridge crystal-clear communication among callers along with its features that make everything simple and easy, it’s undoubtedly an excellent pick for anyone looking for a microphone.
Form factor: Huawei Mate Xs 2
The Huawei Mate Xs 2, for what it’s worth, showcased how elegantly refined a foldable can be. Thanks to the marriage of engineering, technology, and design, Huawei was able to put up an innovative marvel that isn’t just pleasing to look at, but comfortable enough to use, too.
Home appliance: Dyson V15
Dyson has been a champ when it comes to cordless vacuums. With the V15 Detect Absolute, Dyson delved into making the best cordless vacuums into something even better that got a lot of vacuum owners smitten.
It’s complete with technology, ergonomic design, and the right attachments that make cleaning easier.
TV: Samsung The Premiere
You never know if you want a high-end projector until you got one. Samsung’s The Premiere may come with an exorbitant price tag, but the technology it packs makes it one of the best ultra-short-throw projectors you can get in the market right now.
Imagine building your home theater dream. Yes, Samsung The Premiere can make it happen.
Smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch5
The Galaxy Watch5 proves to be the best Android smartwatch yet. It has a better battery life that accompanies athletes, and even fitness enthusiasts, in their quest to improve their bodies and performance.
Add to that is a holistic set of health and fitness features that sync exceptionally within the Samsung ecosystem.
Wellness device: Arcwave Voy
Arcwave Voy offers men a unique technology and mechanism that elevates pleasure using a toy. With an adjustment system that works seamlessly to fit all kinds of penis, an ergonomic design to make it easy to grip and hold, and a compact design that allows it to be stored just anywhere, Arcwave Voy may be the toy to help take care of your sexual health and wellness wherever you go.
Vehicle: Ford Territory
The Ford Territory delivers the right power you’ll need for your short and long drives. It’s filled with creature comforts that keep all riders entertained throughout a trip.
It’s like a gift of adventure to anyone who’ll handle this vehicle as a daily driver.
Speaker: JBL PartyBox Encore Essential
The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential made every occasion memorable. With a 100-watt speaker, a compact design, and seamless connectivity — it’s not difficult not to love and make the device a part of every moment in your life. Through highs or lows, it’s a worthy companion.
Tablet: HONOR Pad 8
The HONOR Pad 8 is an affordable gateway for students and young professionals looking for a well-rounded tablet that caters to productivity and entertainment. It’s a supersized device packed with multimedia excellence, all at a price tag that won’t break the bank.
Smartphone case: Mujjo
Mujjo continued to top as our favorite smartphone case, thanks to its elegant cases that get refined each year. The Dutch label retains all the best things from its last line of cases while adding nifty improvements to adapt to the latest iPhone design.
It’s simply an accessory that looks and feels gorgeous and lasts enough to accompany your iPhone before your next upgrade.
2021 was all about the different shades of Green, and 2022 is all about all shades of Purple. With Samsung taking on the posh color as part of its signature shade across all its smartphones and other bespoke devices, we found ourselves falling in love with Bora Purple.
It’s adorable, and majestic, and offers the right amount of sophistication that you can be proud to wear.
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