Year in review: Laptops to smartwatches, top premium gadgets of 2021

If Covid-19 battered the sales, the return of normalcy has spurred revenge shopping of sorts. And with manufacturers offering year-end deals, consumers have a lot of options at decent discounts. Although the market did not witness as many launches in the low and in mid-price segment, the high-end segment was replete with launches. Here are the top premium gadgets for 2021. 

Premium smartphone

Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max

Apple’s offerings are always the year’s much-awaited announcements. The company this time around launched two iterations of its premium products. Both have a three-camera setup and come equipped with the best the company has to offer in terms of screen, camera performance and battery life.

Priced at Rs 1,19,000, the pro has a 6.1-inch display, whereas the pro max, for Rs 10,000 more has the 6.7 inch display. Max, for the extra price, is a better choice. The storage option still starts from 128GB—Apple could have cranked it up to 256GB for both the models. The phone performs very well with its ProMotion display technology. The step up in pro versions was better than the 13 base model.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Discontinuing the Note series was a big step for Samsung, given the popularity the phones enjoyed. But this was the year the Fold came of age. After two iterations, Samsung launched its near perfect foldable phone much to other smartphone makers envy. Although the use cases are still limited, the Z Fold 3 at Rs 1,49,999 is a fully-functional device with minimum 256GB space.

The phone is more durable and supports the S-Pen now. Note users have a new device they can rely on. The next iterations are going to be incremental, unless Samsung decides to upend the universe again.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

A good competition to the iPhones in the Android segment, Flip still has a long way to go. While Samsung has been able to add more durability, the top of line features are still missing from the segment. The device is better known for its style than functionality and that needs to change. However, for Rs 84,999, it can be a good competitor to regular sized iPhone 13.


Apple Macbook Pro

Apple’s focus this year was to create a laptop for the professionals. While the M1 Macs released last year did revolutionise the laptop industry, they were not the ideal devices for professional users. This year, Apple launched its pro and max version of Macbook in 14-inch and 16-inch.

The company has made some compromises on the battery life vis-à-vis its M1 chips, but the new devices are more powerful, have more ports and can handle complex tasks easily. Starting at Rs 1,94,900, they are also priced higher than the rest of the market. The port selection, at a high price, is also limited.

Dell XPS

If you have until now avoided the lure of the Apple ecosystem, then the best in class Windows experience is available with Dell’s XPS series. The laptops, in the 13-inch screen, start at Rs 1,13,990. The laptops feel premium and the keyboard has an excellent design. At the higher end even performance is good, but battery life remains an issue. If you can wait for a few months, then the new XPS line-up with the 12th generation Intel chips may offer better performance and battery life.

HP Spectre x360

Giving competition to Dell laptops in the premium range is the HP Spectre x360. Priced at Rs 1,19,999 for the i5 version, the laptops offer a 360-degree swivel design with better design than the XPS. Although I found the Dell performing better in terms of keyboard, HP had a better trackpad. Performance was not much different between the two.


Apple Watch Series 6/7

Although it is always better to go for the newest iteration, in this case there is not much difference between the two. The battery life is good, screen is bright and health tracking is one of the best in the industry.

Samsung also revamped its series 4 this year. However, battery issues remain. All eyes will be on Google’s gambit in this space. Till then Apple is the best on offer. The Series 7 starts at Rs 41,900 for the base model. If you want something more swanky, the titanium version, priced at Rs 83,900, is a treat to look at.


Apple iPad Pro 11 or 12.9 or Samsung Galaxy S7+

Apple’s iPad pro’s had got an upgrade earlier this year with the M1 chips. If the chips were fast enough to handle laptops, imagine what they can do on tablets. They are as good as computing devices and with the USB-C ports there are no computability issues as well. The ProMotion display is a plus and puts the pad in competition with Samsung in terms of screen. The 11-inch version starts at Rs 71,900 for the 128GB, wifi model. In the android universe, there is no one better than Samsung. The tab was not updated this year, but the last year version is just as good. It doesn’t come anywhere closer to Apple in performance, but the screen is certainly better with bright and vivid colours. The S7+ also starts at Rs 71,999.


Bose 700/ Sony WH-1000XM4/ AirPods Pro Max

Bose has been the leader in headphones space and the 700 series are good for long-term wear. Besides, with USB-C charging, the headphones are more convenient to charge than the QuietComfort 35- II series. The noise cancellation is good too, but Sony scores better in this regard.

Priced Rs 9,000 lower at Rs 26,900, they have a comfortable fit with a better audio support. However, if you can shell out more than double, then Apple is the product to buy. They are stylish of the lot and connect better with the Apple ecosystem. The earcups are interchangeable.

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