So 2019 for me has been a year of the gradual improvement in tech, especially mobile, smartwatches and well AI Assistant smart speakers.
It’s been a year where I have seen the mid range devices begin to further step up and become the new battleground for smartphones. The mid range devices have been getting some great improvements specs and feature wise, and I honestly do believe this will certainly continue through to 2020 and I can’t wait to see what new mid range devices will come out with in the new year.
I also believe the budget end will also begin to hot up competition wise as components and features become cheaper to manufacturer meaning the budget end may also begin to get further competition in the new year.
Thought for 2019, there have been some standouts that I have both reviewed or tried out and its this list I have been debating on and trying to work out fully what where the best high end, mid range and budget smartphone devices along with smart speakers, IoT/Smart devices, smart watches and headphones for 2019 as it has been quite mixed.
So here are my picks for the best of 2019.
Best High End Smartphone
I have to say for me, it has to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. Whilst Samsung have certainly packaged a lot of features and services into the Note 10+.
There have been a couple of issues I found but overall, the Note 10+ offers some pretty good specs, memory that is like a mini PC in your hand and the camera’s that for me are close enough to a Pixel phone, this for me is the winner in the high end category.
The only thing I didn’t like was the dedicated Bibxy/Standby button and I wish for 2020, Samsung would ditch Bixby altogether and just run with the Google Assistant – but I doubt that will occur.
You can read the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ here.
Best Mid Range Smartphones:
I have a confession to make, as for me it’s really between Google’s Pixel 3a, Nokia’s 6.2 and Motorola’s One Vision.
I think these devices pack some pretty good specs for the mid tier range and offer a slew of features from NFC for those mobile on the go payments, to a dedicated Google Assistant button on the Nokia 6.2 along with vanilla Android One and guaranteed security and firmware updates for at least a minimum 2 years.
The Google Pixel 3a also offers the best camera in the bunch and is very close to the Pixel 3 camera which honestly, does stand out more than the others both from picture quality but also the features it packs.
I am interested to see what and if Google have in store for the Pixel 4a and what Nokia or its parent HMD along with Motorola/Lenovo have planned for 2020 and I believe these are three devices and companies to keep an eye out for the new year.
Best Budget End Device:
For me, whilst I did find this device to be lacking a lot of features like NFC or higher spec camera, for the budget conscious or someone who is new to smartphones, I believe the Nokia 2.2 is honestly the best in the bunch.
Having come with close to vanilla Android One and guaranteed firmware and security updates for a minimum 2 years, the Nokia 2.2 does offer some great specs at a very reasonable price and is worthy of consideration should you need a back up or a budget wallet friendly device.
Whilst yes the camera and performance where a little disappointing, the overall price, guaranteed firmware and security updates along with close enough Vanilla Android do make the Nokia 2.2 a worthy budget end contender for 2019. However I do like that you can replace the backing and battery easily should it need replacing quite easily.
You can read the full Nokia 2.2 review here.
Whilst I know others would probably disagree with me on this, I do honestly believe Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatches are the more reliable and more recommendable Android friendly smartwatches.
Having spent some time with a Galaxy Watch and then a Galaxy Watch Active2 smartwatch, I just find both the feel, the design and the overall experience more appealing and easier to use.
Whilst yes I know, they do run Samsung’s own Tizen software, they are, in my opinion, offer far more than Google’s WearOS, which for me is looking tired and in dire need of a complete refresh and overhaul that I beginning in doubt will happen next year.
Best IoT/Smart Device:
Ok, yes I know, the best IoT/ Smart Device is something that would only be used once a year but for me, having a disability and not always being able to bend over and turn on/off the Christmas tree lights, the Mirabella Christmas Mirabella Genio Wi-Fi 190 LED Coloured Tree Lights with Star that were available through Kmart nationally and online where the best Wi-Fi lights around.
The Mirabella Genio Wi-Fi 190 LED Coloured Tree Lights with Star where easy to set up through the Mirabella App and connecting to the Google Home and Google Assistant was also extremely easy and just overall made it that little bit easier this holiday season to turn on and off our Christmas Tree lights at home. Even the price was very much budget friendly – at $35 each, was an absolute bargain!
Best Smart Speakers:
2019 has been the ramp up of smart speakers and home automation. Thinking about this, I have to say that I have found the Lenovo Smart Clock a worthy consideration for smart speaker given the updates it has received over the last few months. The overall size is also neat along with the design and the clear screen, especially for my Father in-law and mum, means they don’t need to worry about having to use smaller clocks and tiring their eyes out trying to see the screen.
However, I would also easily also recommend the Google Nest Mini, which is great a secondary smart speaker in your house. This new little smart speaker is a great improvement over the previous model, the Google Home Minim and having grabbed a couple recently for my parents house, I have been impressed on the sound quality over the Home Mini.
2019 has been the year of Bluetooth headphones, with more and more products and company’s alike bringing more headphones to the market given demand will increase as smartphone manufacturers remove their audio jack’s from the devices slowly but I expect this to ramp up in 2020.
For me, the best headphones are the Beats PowerBeats Pro wireless headphones. Whilst I found a few issues, with the lack of an app or an actual notification for battery life (bar on an iPhone or iPad essentially) along with issues of being heard in loud spaces via telephone or video calls which are an issue, the clarity of the music is far more surperior and more in-depth bass makes the Beats PowerBeats Pro a worthy consideration.
You can read the review on the Beats PowerBeats Pro here.
What am I looking forward to in 2020?
With 2020 literally only a couple of days away and new devices set to be released within the first couple of months of the new year, I am intrigued to see what Samsung will announce with the Galaxy S11 or S20 – whatever the decide to call the new flagship high end along with the Note 11/Note11+ later on the in the new year.
I am also interested to see if the Note 10+lite does come out and get released here as I would like to compare it to my Note 10+ I have.
I am also looking forward to possibly Google bringing a Pixel Smartwatch. I know its something that has been rumoured now for well over a few years but if Google does get the approval to purchase and integrate FitBit into the WearOS, I would be interested to see what improvement the FitBit team can bring to WearOS but also hopefully a Pixel Watch. Also further interested in the follow up Pixel 4a and Pixel 5/Pixel 5 XL later next year also. Will be interesting to see what camera improvements the Pixel team will bring for those devices.
I also believe there will be further updates to the Google Assistant and more smart speakers hitting the market in 2020. Will be interested to see if more smart speakers with displays will be coming out.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the mid-tier and Budget tier/range and the company’s to lookout for devices in this space will be between ZTE, Xiaomi/Vivo/Realme, OnePlus, Motorola, Google, Samsung, Nokia and OPPO so will be interesting to see what they bring and how the competition between all 10 manufacturers will go.
Though in a somewhat sad note, I do believe 2020 will see the end of Sony and LG in the smartphone market. Granted Sony has already pulled out of the market here Whilst LG is just somewhat holding in there, but I can see both more consolidation and possible closure or sell off of these departments by both manufactures in next year so it will be interesting to see and watch what happens in this space.
So what are you looking forward to in 2020 and what are your thoughts on my best list for 2019. Would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
I would also like to take this moment to thank you, our dedicated readers, for supporting us in 2019 and would like to also wish you and your family a very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New year for 2020! Without you, Ausdroid would simply not be the same.