20 best gadgets of 2021 | Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 £1,599, £799

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: ‘Smooth, sleek and even’.

State-of-the-art technology is often ultra-expensive, difficult to use, and less than slick. Not so for Samsung’s latest folding screen phone. The Z Fold 3 tablet-phone hybrid and the Z Flip 3 flip-phone reinvention are sleek, slick and even water-resistant, packing a large screen into a compact body. The Fold may still be super-expensive, but the Flip 3 costs about the same as a regular top smartphone, but is far more interesting. Samuel Gibbs

Fairphone 4 £499

fairphone 4
Fairphone 4: Ethically Built.

State-of-the-art in a different way, the Fairphone 4 is proof that a good phone can be ethically made, built and repaired at home with just a tiny screwdriver. This Android handset is a bit smaller than the iPhone or Samsung, but has its own standout design, with a user-replaceable battery and pop-in modules for things like the screen and camera. It now also has 5G. sg

MacBook Air M1 £999

Apple MacBook Air M1
Apple MacBook Air M1: Silent powerhouse.

Unlike the first iteration, it wasn’t pulled out of a manila envelope on stage, but dropping Intel for Apple’s first custom-designed M1 chip in the MacBook Air was no less game-changing. It turned the original “Ultrabook” into a slim, light, and silent powerhouse, with battery life practically double that of everything else. Best consumer laptop by country mile. sg

Sonos ROM £179

Plenty of Party Tricks: Sonos Rome.
Plenty of Party Tricks: Sonos Rome.

Sonos’ first truly portable speaker showed that Bluetooth speakers don’t have to suck. The good-looking ROM has Bluetooth, WiFi at home, a mic for Alexa or Google Assistant, 10-hour battery, supports practically every music service under the sun and has plenty of party tricks. The best bit is the sound, which blows away anything of this size or weight so it won’t collect dust in a drawer. sg

Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony WF-1000XM4: Sparkling sound.

They still have a terrible name, but Sony capitalized on it with its fourth generation of true wireless earbuds. They tick almost every box: top-class noise-canceling, sparkling sound, long battery life, rock-solid Bluetooth, a much more compact case, and finally, a tiny, really comfortable-to-wear design. Like most earbuds they sadly aren’t repairable and you can’t replace the battery, so there’s some work to be done. sg

Nothing Ear (1) Earbuds £99

nothing ears (1)
Nothing Ears (1): A comfortable fit.

If you’ve been weighing in on buying a pair of true wireless earbuds but can’t seem to beat the price of Apple’s AirPods Pro (£239), the Nothing Ear (1) might fit the bill. At £99, they’re on the more affordable end of the spectrum, complete with advanced noise-canceling technology and a comfortable fit. Their transparent design also sets them apart from the crowd of generic headphones. Rhiannon Williams

Apple iPad Mini £479

apple ipad mini
Apple iPad Mini: A Sharper, Brighter Screen

Apple’s latest iPad mini takes the best parts of the high-end iPad Pro and makes them more compact in an 8.3-inch design, including a faster A15 chip, Apple Pencil compatibility, and a more powerful front-facing camera. Small enough to slip into a coat pocket, it also sports better-rounded audio, thanks to its redesigned speaker, as well as a sharper, brighter screen. rw

Nintendo Switch OLED £310

Nintendo Switch OLED
Nintendo Switch OLED: Guaranteed to delight fans.

Provided you can get your hands on one, Nintendo’s Switch is guaranteed to delight OLED fans who are hoping for an upgrade to the popular video game console. The new model has a larger 7-inch screen (compared to the previous version’s 6.2-inch display) and a vastly improved protective kickstand that allows you to tilt it backwards to play at an angle. rw

Google Pixel 6 £599

google pixel 6
Google Pixel 6: A great all-rounder phone.

If you fancy a smartphone that’s a little different than the standard fares from Apple and Samsung, Google is making extremely capable and well-priced handsets at a fraction of the price of its rivals. The Pixel 6 is an excellent all-rounder phone that brings out the best of its Android operating system, a sleek design and, most importantly, an excellent camera for the price. rw

Dyson Supersonic Flyaway Attachment £30

Dyson Supersonic Flyaway Attachment
Dyson Supersonic Flyaway Attachment: Smooth faux flyaway hair.

This magnetic attachment with Dyson’s hugely popular supersonic hairdryer promises the sleek, mirror-like shine that’s traditionally difficult to achieve at home without professional help. The hooked end of the device uses a hairdryer’s powerful airflow to smooth accidentally blow-dry hairs without resorting to high temperatures that are more likely to damage them and also doubles as a styling tool go. rw

Fitbit Lux £130

Charming Tracker: Fitbit Lux.
Charming Tracker: Fitbit Lux.

Fitness trackers are great, prompting you to take the stairs instead of the elevator, go to bed a little earlier and even drop in an extra helping of sweets, but they’re often sinfully ugly. The Luxe is so attractive that wearing it doesn’t hurt, even when it bothers you to walk 10,000 steps before sleeping. kat ellis

Garmin Forerunner 55 £180

Forerunner 55: Full of ideas.
Forerunner 55: Full of ideas.

Like the idea of ​​running, but always find yourself running the same route and not really accelerating? The Forerunner 55 is the watch for you. Not only does it track your runs and measure your pace, it also tells you how much time to rest between sessions and suggests different workouts to help you mix up your training so that you’re one Don’t get stuck in the rut. CE

Incus Nova (disambiguation)sport wearable) RRP £300

The Incas Nova: Like 'Glowing Aliens'.
The Incas Nova: Like ‘Glowing Aliens’.

The Incus Nova is a tiny device resembling a glowing alien parasite that sits on your back and tracks your form while you’re running and swimming. Unlike a watch, it can monitor the movement of your entire body and give you advice on how to optimize your technique so that you can move more efficiently and don’t injure yourself. It will soon be able to monitor cycling, making it ideal for triathletes. CE

amazfit zenbiUDS £119

amazfit zenbuds
Amazfit ZenBuds: Soothing sounds that help you sleep.

These tiny earplugs are specifically designed to be worn at night and will play a variety of soothing sounds to help you fall asleep. Options include thumping rain, the cry of a whale, crashing waves and even snoring kittens. Once you nod, they’ll track your heart rate and tempo and present you with a detailed report of your morning sleep. CE

Oral-B IO Series 6 £100

'Surprisingly inspiring': The Oral-B IO Toothbrush.
‘Surprisingly inspiring’: The Oral-B IO Toothbrush. Photograph: Joan Krauss/Shutterstock

Do Your Toothbrushes Really Need Bluetooth? OK, no, but it doesn’t hurt. The iO Series 6 connects to the Oral-B app on your smartphone and gives you real-time guidance to make sure you never miss a spot. The brush also gives you feedback in the form of emoji on the handle, which is surprisingly inspiring. No one wants to be ticked off by their toothbrush. CE

meet blender 252

Meet Blender: 'Sci-Fi Super-Chopper'.
Meet Blender: ‘Sci-Fi Super-Chopper’.

Milo is a 500W (12,800rpm) sci-fi super-chopper that uses the same magnetic power system as your electric toothbrush. Not only is it twice as efficient as a standard blender, but it’s also four times quieter. What’s more, the companion app has presets for smoothies and the like and once the wireless base is charged, you can blitz away by moving the cable-free Milo around your home or garden. Jeremy White

Cowboy 4 E-Bike £2,290

Cowboy 4
Cowboy 4 E-Bike: No complicated frills, just pedals and power.

This 18.9kg aluminum-framed e-bike has 43 miles of supporting power, but what really sells the Cowboy 4 is its simplicity: no unnecessarily complicated frills, just pedals and power. Even the lights are already integrated and your phone docks to the handlebar to help with directions and happily charges while riding. JW

LG OLED65G16LA TV £2,200

LG OLED65A16LA TV: Perfect for gaming or watching Netflix.

Choosing a television is tough—there are just so many variables. LG’s great G1 television will look perfect on virtually any view you get, but it’s particularly good at gaming. You get an all-black 65-inch OLED 4K screen and a lightning-quick 120Hz refresh rate with VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), a key feature for getting smooth, clean, artifact-free pictures while playing. And if you don’t like gaming, just enjoy the bright, vivid pictures the set can easily pump up while watching Netflix. JW

Allen Voyager Folding All-Mountain Skis £1,260

alan voyager skis
Allen Voyager Folding All-Mountain Skis: Award Winning Design.

These award-winning new Voyager skis, based on a design originally developed for the military, fold up using a four-axis mechanism and then reinforced with a carbon plate that swings into place. Amazingly, you end up with a ski with the same stiffness as “normal” skis. I’ve tried them and, on ice, I defy you to notice the difference. The Luxe Package includes skis, bindings, and collapsible poles—all in a custom travel bag. JW

Urbanista Los Angeles Solar-Powered Headphones RRP £169

Urbanista Los Angeles Solar Powered Headphones
Urbanista Los Angeles Solar-Powered Headphones: Taking away the battery worry for wireless fans.

Los Angeles’ over-ears convert all types of light — outdoor and indoor — into energy. And they also include active noise-canceling. This means wireless fans are free from battery worries forever. An hour spent outside on a sunny day generates three hours of play time. If it’s cloudy, you’ll get two more hours in 60 minutes. They also charge in ambient indoor light. If that wasn’t enough, the Los Angeles has 50 hours of battery life from the on-board 750 mAh (milliampere-hour) power pack. We’ve tested these – the solar technology works, they look great and you even get a carrying case. JW

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