We have seen all sorts of tech products being announced this year and it has been a great year for technology. There is usually this good feeling you get when you use something that just works and these products do just that.
Note, some of the products mentioned were not released in 2019 but I ended up using them this year. These were my favourite tech products that I was lucky enough to try and I highly recommend everyone to get them (if you are able)
This phone was released in December 2018 and I still regard it as my favourite phone of the year. This phone hit all the markings of a great phone.
It runs on Android 10, the Snapdragon 710 was powerful enough, the 1080p is amazing, the battery life is excellent, the build quality is great and the camera..oh the camera.
The camera is the crown jewel on this phone. The phone has the same sensor as the Pixel 3, has a high quality Zeiss lens and optical image stablization. The default camera app was okay but to fully unlock the main camera, you had to sideload the Google Camera app. This took the camera from a B to an A expeditiously.
You got all of this for roughly Kshs 37,000 at the time and this for a baby Pixel was insane. Google later on released the 3A which had the same camera but had worse specs than the Nokia 8.1 on all fronts.
Its biggest flaw was RAM. Although it had 4GB of RAM, it is somehow now enough and it is crazy to think that 4GB of RAM is not enough in 2019. If it had 6GB of RAM, that would have been perfect.
This takes the crown as my favourite phone of the year.
Samsung Galaxy S10
This was one of the flagship smartphones from Samsung this year and it was almost a homerun.
The build quality is incredible, the notchless displays are best in class, performance is top tier thanks to 8GB of RAM, fast storage and the processors, the cameras are incredible and IT HAS A HEADPHONE JACK.
This phone would have taken first place but it had one big flaw: The horrendous battery life. Although it had a bigger 3400mAh compaed to its sibling, the Galaxy S9, the battery life was still mediocre. However, I found out that you could eke out more battery life if you set your power plan to medium power savings and that gave me 5 hours of screen on time easy compared to 3 when it was running on the ‘optimized’ plan.
Despite the battery life, this was an excellent phone by Samsung and I thoroughly enjoyed using it. There is a reason why good things are expensive and the Galaxy S10 deserves its price. This will be an excellent deal next year when the Galaxy S11 drops since the price will come down and I’d recommend anyone to get it.
Huawei Y9 Prime 2019
Huawei launched the Y9 Prime 2019 in July this year and lowkey this was their best phone for this year.
The reason for it is because it managed to bring all the features from more expensive phones and manage to cram them to a sub Kshs 25,000 price point.
It had a notchlesss 1080p screen with tiny bezels which looks amazing. The selfie camera is on a motorized platform which at the time was starting to trickle to cheaper phones. The 4000mAh battery gave it excellent battery life. It has USB type C and a wide angle camera. Huawei also promised Android 10 for the phone which sweetened the deal further. Add to the fact that it has 4GB of RAM, a whopping 128GB of internal storage and a speedy Kirin 710 processor, you can understand why I absolutely love this phone.
This phone is currently retailing for under KES 23,000 in sites like Jumia and for a phone of its specs, this is one hell of a deal.
Huawei Y7 Prime 2019
The Y7 Prime 2019 was announced in January this year and it is probably my favourite budget phone of the year.
It runs on the Snapdragon 450 processor which is quite capable, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Nothing too special. The screen is a 720p display and not a bad 720p by all counts. The battery was bumped to a 4000mAh one up from its predecessor’s 3000mAh and the battery life is excellent, better than the Y9 Prime 2019.
The cameras are also not too special since it is a budget phone but thanks to Adobe Lightroom, I can shoot in RAW and the result is I can take pretty decent photos.
Huawei has been updating the phone with Google security updates almost monthly and it is currently running on the November patch, which is pretty good for a budget smartphone
This is the one phone I’d recommend to anyone who wants a reliable phone that does not break the bank. I’d also recommend this specifically to drivers on ride hailing platforms due to its excellent battery life and great GPS connectivity.
I use earphones almost constantly to listen to music or podcasts or videos on my laptop or phone. It is essential that I have good in-ear earphones for their sound isolation and bass.
Well, back in August, I discovered the JBL T110 and they were exactly what I was looking for.
First, they are incredibly ergonomic. The drivers are designed for a particular ear and you’d know, which is a huge point for great design.
They also have spaghetti wires which make them tangle free, which is a nuisance with other earphone brands.
The mic quality is also pretty good and this is an underrated feature since a lot of earphones out there have pretty bad microphones. You can also use the button to skip tracks or pause them which is handy when you’re listening to music on your phone.
The sound is also pretty decent for the money. They excel when it comes to bass heavy tracks, which I am a fan of. Also, if you watch movies with a lot of DTS sound, the bass will give you a theatre like experience, well that is if you tweak your equalizer settings appropriately.
For KES 1,500, you’re getting pretty good earphones for the price and I always recommend them to anyone looking for decent earphones. I’ve probably convinced like 8 people or so to buy them, they are that good.
Sony WH-1000 XM3
Headphones with active noise cancellation are one of my favourite tech products and the Sony WH-1000-XM3s are top dog.
I have used the Bose QC35s and the Bose 700s and yet I still miss using the XM3s because Sony’s active noise cancellation game is currently top tier.
The XM3s combine things that are rare in this category of earphones: Great sound quality, great battery life and amazing noise cancellation.
The biggest problem with noise cancellation is the fact that it causes a loss in pressure sensation which is uncomfortable. Sony managed to get rid of that while still offering class leading noise cancellation, which is mind boggling to be honest. I used them while in a bus and I couldn’t hear a thing.
The battery life is also excellent for headphones. With noise cancellation on, I could get 30 hours easy, which is amazing since you could extend it further with noise cancellation off. They are also pretty comfortable and you could go on a long flight with them.
However, the trickiest part of using the XM3s were the touchpads. It uses gestures to control playback and volume and it can be quite finicky. This is not a deal breaker, per se, but I’d highly recommend anyone to buy it if you can afford it. You can get it in Nairobi for as low as Kshs 30,000.
Asus Zenbook Pro UX480
This is my favourite laptop of the year and I used the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo and it is due to a number of reasons.
The UX480 combined a lot of things I’d want in a laptop: Portablility, looks, power and great battery life.
We reviewed it early this year and the unit that I had the opportunity to use had the quad core 15W Core i7 8565U, a pretty decent NVIDIA GTX 1050, 16GB of RAM and a great 1080p display that was Pantone certified. The 70Whr battery gave me over 10 hours of battery life due to its frugal CPU.
The combination of factors made it my favourite laptop of the year, but it is quite pricy.