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A Year in Tech: 2023's Breakthroughs and Bottlenecks

Tops and Flops of 2023
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The year 2023 has almost come to an end and this year, the nextpit editorial team will once again reflect on the last 12 months: Which tech gadget made us wet our pants? Which development surprised and impressed us? Which company or product disappointed us? The entire editorial team is here to answer your questions!

Let's just skip the obligatory empty chatter today! Let's not talk about how the years seem to pass by faster than ever or the number of annual reviews in December. Instead, let's focus on what we like to report for you all year round and why we are all together in this space: Technology! Once again, we presented and reviewed a whole bunch of devices, examined, analyzed, praised, and criticized the many technologies that we encountered.

It is now high time for us—the entire nextpit editorial team—to share our thoughts. One by one, we will tell you what our highs and lows were and which smartphone or other consumer electronics device impressed us most in 2023. So let's not waste any time, here we go!

Antoine Engels tech highlight of 2023:

The iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is a legitimate handheld console
Is an iPhone 15 Pro really the best mobile gaming console? Antoine answers this with a resounding "Yes!" / © nextpit

I've never had so many ways to play video games as in 2023. I played Starfield in the office via cloud gaming on a Samsung tablet. I played Resident Evil Village natively on the iPhone 15 Pro while streaming it on Twitch on the same device. I also played Hogwarts Legacy on an iPhone via remote play in conjunction with my Xbox Series X, so I could just lie on my bed to do all those endless questing and collecting quests!

Now I just need to get my hands on a Steam Deck or a ROG Ally to play while sitting on my porcelain throne!

My tech disappointment of 2023:

I was at a Sony event in London to attend the launch of the Sony WF-1000XM5 (review). The device was great. I know that none of what I describe is Sony's fault at all, mad props for the invitation. However, this trip saw my bag stolen. That bag contained my wallet and a brand-new pair of Sony headphones. I missed my return flight because I had to apply for an emergency passport at the consulate. Followed by bad weather, my second flight was diverted to Poland, to the beautiful city of Szczecin, where I had to spend the night. I then took a cab with a crazy English girl back to Berlin, an experience which I could write an entire 2,000-word article about, but I won't.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

The "Backbone One" smartphone controller. This is one article will be far too long anyway, so check out my Backbone One review!

Benjamin Lucks tech highlight of 2023:

An innovation that whizzed past nextpit this year: the global shutter system! With the new Alpha 9 III, Sony introduced a sensor technology to system cameras that opened up a whole new world of possibilities. While the camera sector continues to suffer due to the presence of great smartphone cameras, we see something really unique here from Sony which lets you be creative in new ways. I'm excited to see how this develops over the next few years!

My tech disappointment of 2023:

I didn't like some of the developments at Apple this year. The new Macbooks with the M3 chip do not offer a good reason to buy one, even for most M1 users.

At the same time, Apple presented an exciting product in the form of the Vision Pro, but the entry threshold is way too high. The first iPhone and the first iPad were groundbreaking as many enthusiasts could afford them. In my opinion, Apple is making a mistake here with its smart glasses.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

I did not buy anything nor did I find anything to be outstanding. Instead, I would like to recommend buying an electric blanket. This is an absolute game-changer in the cold winter months. Unconditional warmth at the touch of a button, where else can you find that? My sentiments exactly, with an electric blanket! They're safe too. It is the best gadget of the 21st century!

Camila Rinaldi tech highlight of 2023:

The highlight of 2023 for me was the focus on health and fitness technology. I believe this area will continue to grow and mature. This year, I had the opportunity to use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and thoroughly review devices like the Peloton Tread and the Withings ScanWatch 2 (review). These products left a lasting impression on me and stood out as unconventional jewels in the tech world that we normally cover on nextpit.

The Withings ScanWatch 2 is an outstanding piece of technology.
The Withings ScanWatch 2 with its hybrid approach and extensive health features stood out from the crowd in 2023. / © nextpit

The concept of gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves through health data has made me think about our content from a broader perspective. That's why I'm particularly pleased that health and fitness became my top topic in 2023.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

The year 2022 ended with high expectations and excitement around Artificial Intelligence. Personally, ChatGPT has been a constant companion over the past twelve months. As a non-native English speaker, AI has significantly boosted my confidence at work and helped me with research that would normally take hours or even days.

However, as the AI industry continues to progress, companies are obviously struggling with its development. This includes the recent controversies surrounding OpenAI. Regulators are struggling to keep up with the rapid advances of AI. Bias exists in the industry, and certain media outlets, like an unfortunate New York Times article, continue to overlook the contributions of women and queer people in AI development.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

When it comes to the essence of what we do here at nextpit, I was particularly excited about two smartphone launches: the Google Pixel 7a (review) and the OnePlus Open (review). Reviewing the Pixel 7a was exciting because it packed great technology into an affordable package.I am also a firm believer that technology should be affordable. The OnePlus Open was the foldable butterfly I had been waiting for for years. OnePlus has focused on providing an excellent software experience and delivering a camera module that brings the device in line with its high price tag.

Carsten Drees tech highlight of 2023:

The Apple Watch Series 9 actually cares for the environment.
The Apple Watch 9 is the first CO2-neutral product from Cupertino. Sustainability is one of Casi's top trends in 2023. / © nextpit

I was particularly impressed by two trends in 2023:

  1. AI! We are no longer just talking about ChatGPT, but also about Gemini, Dall-E, and many more services. It is incredibly exciting how much has happened in this industry and the impact it has had on us all. This trend will undoubtedly continue in 2024.
  2. Sustainability in the tech world. I found it remarkable how much time Apple devoted to the topic of sustainability during its keynote at the launch of the iPhone 15 series. Longer software warranty periods at Google and Fairphone, Samsung's improvements in repairability, something good is happening, and it goes far beyond mere "greenwashing".

My tech disappointment of 2023:

The worst thing the tech world faced in 2023? What Elon Musk did to the Twitter/X platform. The platform was run down even worse than anyone could have imagined after the takeover.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

Google, Apple, and Samsung all delivered with aplomb this year with their new flagship smartphones. However, I was impressed by an outsider: the Fairphone 5 (review)! Not because it's the best phone, far from it. However, it is another foot in the sustainability door, a usable smartphone, and proof that we can take it down a different path if we'd like to. Hopefully, there will be more imitators in 2024 jumping aboard the bandwagon.

Dustin Porth tech highlight of 2023:

Check out one of the best gaming monitors of the year, the KTC G27P6.
Dustin's highlight of the year: The KTC G27P6 gaming monitor! / © nextpit

There were many ups and downs in 2023. As an expert in deals, I could of course list numerous offers that accompanied us throughout the year. However, these are not actual highlights. Instead, I'm dedicating my Best of 2023 to the incredible boom in balcony power plants. Whether the reason is sustainability or independence, balcony power plants were one of the hot topics for the year.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

In 2023, my negative highlight in the tech world boiled down to one culprit: Google's pricing policy. While Apple even lowered its release prices compared to 2022, Google hit them so hard that even I had to rub my eyes. Apart from that, the demise of E3 remains an absolute pain point for me as a gamer. There was also the scandal ad Deye for those living in Europe...the year offered some really negative examples.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

Limiting myself to just one device of the year is almost impossible. While smartphone manufacturers conquered the market with their usual improvements, the KTC G27P6 gaming monitor was a clear highlight for me. It's an OLED gaming monitor that leaves nothing to be desired and doesn't burn a hole in your wallet.

Edwin Kee tech highlight of 2023:

The Xiaomi Note 12 Pro+ is a prime example of a smartphone with an outstanding price-performance ratio.
The Xiaomi Note 12 Pro+ is a prime example of a smartphone with an outstanding price-performance ratio. / © nextpit

Consumers are more enlightened in their purchases, and many of them are now looking for better value for money instead of constantly chasing status symbols or flagship models. This is good for the industry, as it forces manufacturers to focus more on value rather than always packing the latest and greatest hardware into devices, no matter how much added value they offer.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

Trends like NFT. The economic fundamentals are basically non-existent, but due to the pandemic and an economic crunch, people in financial distress want to make a quick buck, and by diving into NFTs, many have lost their life savings. I wish the tech world would be more responsible and not push nonsensical projects like NFTs.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

Electric cars! Many countries are pushing the adoption of electric cars, and having a bunch of companies like BYD from China challenging Tesla is always a welcome change. It's great to see an uptick in electric car adoption, but there is still a lot of work to be done to have the right infrastructure in place. I think Big Pharma would make phenomenal sales if they had a pill for range anxiety ...haha! On a more serious note, more affordable electric cars will surely be a game changer soon. 

Florian Philon tech highlight of 2023:

The Motorola Razr 40 is affordable and well-designed.
The Motorola Razr 40: Inexpensive despite its eye-catching form factor. / © nextpit

For me, the top buzz of 2023 is the rise of foldable flip phones. It was manufacturers apart from Samsung, such as Motorola, who recognized how important it is to drive this form factor forward. With the right technical specifications, the right design, and, above all, the right price, this smartphone category has what it takes to establish itself in the long term.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

What I remember as particularly bad in 2023 is mainly the fact that foldable smartphones in a book format are still not suitable for the masses. The price continues to be a deterring factor and I have a feeling we won't see affordable foldable smartphones in this form factor anytime soon.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

For me, the best tech gadget of 2023 is the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Jade Bryan tech highlight of 2023:

Ray-Ban and Meta unveiled the next generation of smart glasses in 2023.
Ray-Ban and Meta unveiled the next generation of smart glasses in 2023. / © nextpit

With conversational and generative AI already a hot topic since last year (thanks to the popularity of ChatGPT), 2023 saw AI develop further in smartphones and wearables. We have to commend Google for pioneering the Pixel 8 Pro with on-device AI capabilities and also Meta for its Ray-Ban Meta Smart Sunglasses (hands-on) with multimodal AI capabilities. We can safely say that this year will be remembered as a pivotal moment for AI on mobile devices and it set a precedent for what we can expect in 2024.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

The year 2023 did not bode well for electric cars. Not only did manufacturers have to significantly lower their sales forecasts for electric cars, but word of mouth for the sector was overshadowed by complaints from users about expensive maintenance and repairs in addition to poor charging infrastructure. Perhaps this will change next year; at the very least, electric car manufacturers will have the chance to make up for the shortcomings of 2023 in the new year.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

The new Ray-Ban Smart Glasses from Meta are an evolution of the original Ray-Ban Smart Glasses. These improvements are so far ahead the new glasses are my top gadget for 2023. The AI features that debuted with the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses make these wearables stand out for me this year.

Matthias Zellmer tech highlight of 2023:

The Movano Evie Smart Ring might just spark a revolution in the year ahead.
Will smart rings like the Movano Evie Smart Ring continue to gain momentum in 2024? / © Movano Inc | edit by nextpit

I read my colleagues' contributions and find myself nodding my head senilely. AI in all its various forms (text, images, music, and video) and, of course, e-cars, e-bikes, and balcony power plants with their solar panels. However, two additional things come to mind: The Huawei comeback, which looks set to take off in 2024, and smart rings. I have also ordered one and will report my experience shortly.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

I would like to quote Casi here, who dedicates this category to Elon Musk. I used to be a big fan of this brilliant man, but after his arrogance on Twitter, this feeling of admiration is fading. I also want to classify the Apple Vision Pro as a flop for 2023. Nobody has had anything to do with it this year. I doubt that regular consumers will be able to bring themselves to enter virtual and mixed Apple realities at these prices in 2024.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

I'm still sticking with the foldables. Sure, the wow factor surrounding this device form factor has around for some time, but foldable smartphones still continue to grow as a market. The foldable is slowly but surely becoming socially acceptable.

Rubens Eishima tech highlight of 2023:

Expect up to a whopping 7 years of software support for the Pixel 8 Pro!
The Pixel 8 Pro promises an outstanding seven years of software support. / © nextpit

There are some improvements in terms of sustainability and repairability for companies that have traditionally been very averse to these issues.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

Some market standards have yet to prove their potential, such as Matter.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

The USB-C cable. The humble cable offers faster data transfers and higher charging performance (ok, both were available in 2022 already) and finally put an end to the Lightning cable this year.

Stefan Möllenhoff tech highlight of 2023:

Solar panels and power stations continue to gain popularity in 2023.
The combination of power station + solar panel, such as the Bluetti EB55 shown here, became much more popular in 2023. / © nextpit

Over in Germany, the energy transition revolution has really taken off. The market for mini PV systems, for instance, has virtually exploded in this part of the world and a paradigm shift among consumers is noticeable. I suspect that other markets, such as the USA or France, will follow suit.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

What was already foreshadowed with the bumpy takeover in 2022 became a real ongoing shitshow in 2023: Elon Musk and Twitter. Even worse: despite all that has happened, no real alternative managed to establish itself.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

The iPhone 15 Pro (review) also made a huge leap towards becoming a real mature phone with its USB-C port. The computing power in the small format is simply not to be sniffed at, even Antoine is convinced of the console capabilities of the Pro iPhones!

Thomas Kern tech highlight of 2023:

For me, 2023 was the year of balcony power plants and AI. I had the opportunity to attend the InterSolar trade fair in Munich and IFA in Berlin and experienced the huge boom in energy and balcony power plants in particular first hand.

I find the whole topic of AI incredibly exciting, but at the same time, it's also scary to see what's already possible. I'd be lying if I wasn't still curious to find out what else will be possible with artificial intelligence in the future.

My tech disappointment of 2023:

I'll keep this short and sweet: Elon Musk and Twitter.

Best smartphone/gadget in 2023:

Many of us at nextpit found the iPhone 15 Pro to be the best device for 2023.
The Apple iPhone 15 Pro is the smartphone of the year for several of us in the nextpit editorial team. / © nextpit

For me, the Gadget of the Year 2023 is the iPhone 15 Pro. I can already hear all the Apple haters screaming in the background, BUT: thanks to the USB-C port, I'm finally able to rid of the Lightning cable. Have I caught myself wanting to call the $999 phone my own as soon as possible? Yes!

Here ends the overview of what we in the nextpit editorial team celebrated in 2023 and which products and developments we struggled with. Now, it's your turn. Please tell us how things are going for you: What is your clear highlight of the year? Are they the usual suspects, i.e. an iPhone or one of the new foldables from Samsung? Or is it a Chinese smartphone, a smart home product, or an entirely different product category?

Please let us know in the comments, and you are welcome to moan about which product or company failed to impress you in 2023.

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Carsten Drees

Carsten Drees
Senior Editor

I started blogging in 2008 and have written for Mobilegeeks, Stadt Bremerhaven, Basic Thinking and Dr. Windows. I've been at NextPit since 2021, where I also discovered my passion for podcasts. I have been particularly interested in Android phones for many years now, and would like to get involved with the highly exciting smart home market. LEt's see, did I miss anything else? Oh yes, I love Depeche Mode and suffer with Schalke 04.

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