It’s the eve of the new year, and I feel like this article should have gone live a few days ago. But now’s still fine, yeah? Anyway, this year has been quite eventful. From an unending pandemic, exciting Marvel movies and shows, significant leaps in technology and much much more.
This article focuses on tech I used and loved in 2021. There’s a lot more of things I didn’t use. Hopefully in the new year, my interaction with bigger/better things in tech will increase, and I will have more reviews for you guys.
Before we dive in to the list, I hope you’re all vaccinated. Please get vaccinated. If you’re in Kenya, there are many points you can get all the four major vaccines. Spare some few minutes and get the jabs.
And… here we go:
Sony XAV-AX5500 Head Unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay:
If your car doesn’t come with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support, you can replace the head unit. I did that and picked up the Sony XAV-AX5500 which has changed my whole driving experience. Going around Nairobi without Google Maps is impossible. Having Google Maps on a really nice display on your car’s head-unit is a life-changer.
I got my unit from bnt.co.ke and they came and installed it. It modernises the car tech experience, allows you to bring your smartphone experience to your car, and over all makes driving fun from the music options you now get, to direction instructions, and much more.
I was to write an article on how I find Apple CarPlay to be way better than Android Auto. I guess that’s one of the articles you can expect in the new year. For me, the main thing I love about Android Auto is talking to the Google Assistant. However, Apple CarPlay offers me so much more with widgets, and smart notifications.
With this head unit, you can – depending on which phone you use – experience either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Updates to these services come directly to your phone, so that means you’ll use the unit for years enjoying whatever tech updates that’ll be sent out. Sony also sends out firmware updates to the unit (though these are quite tough to install).
OPPO Reno6 5G:
This is one of the most beautiful phones of the year. Like seriously, look at the photos I took for its review article.
I’ve loved using it, despite the Android Auto issues – which are specific to this unit. I love the look, the cameras are good, the fast charging is incredible, the feel on the hand is great (not big, not heavy). I think anyone will love it.
In my impressions article, I tried to justify its pricing, and though many people will still feel like its quite expensive, the experience of having the phone as a daily driver is undefeated.
Redmi NOTE 10 Pro
Where the OPPO Reno6 5G fails for many is on price. This is where the amazing Redmi NOTE 10 Pro wins everyone’s hearts! Just read my full review.
If someone were to be reading out the specs of this phone, you’ll be like, “nice, yeah, wow, great…” This would be before you hear the price of the phone, and then your mid would be blown.
It’s not a perfect device to be honest, but those bugs – addressed in the review – don’t mean it isn’t a great phone to buy. Get it!
If you have an iPhone, or an iPad or a Mac, or if you have them all, these are a must-have accessory. Trust me. I love the sound quality though I realised I don’t even use them as much as I use my Sony WH1000XM3 from last year.
I mainly use my AirPods Pro when out cycling. This is because the transparency mode (glad that these features work even when using an Android device with the earbuds) is really good.
I have more than enjoyed using the buds when out and about and I am really looking forward to the tech additions Apple may have when they announce the second-gen AirPods Pros.
Sony SRS-XB43 Bluetooth Speaker
This is a bluetooth speaker I really believed I’d write a review article about during the year. I got it because I wanted something to use outdoors when going on a roadtrip or something similar. And it has more than delivered for me. I love it.
It looks quite tiny, yeah? Don’t let that fool you. It is really heavy and really loud. And very bass heavy even in places you don’t expect to feel the bass. Love it.
It is dust proof I believe. It is waterproof! It works with Google Assistant. It has NFC. It brings a pop-up screen on your phone to help you pair easily. If you switch to another device, Google Assistant will tell you that a device associated with your account is around to help you connect way faster.
It has a special effects app. It has LED lights all around it. These lights can be tuned to different colours, moods, to match the sound and much much more. Love it. Get it.
Infinix NOTE 10 Pro and Infinix NOTE 11 Pro:
If the Note 11 Pro hadn’t been announced yet, the NOTE 10 Pro would be the device I’d still be recommending for many people with a budget of around KES 25,000 to KES 29,000.
- Infinix shifted to faster UFS storage, with faster RAM, the phones feels smooth!
- The NOTE 10 Pro has a 90Hz display while the NOTE 11 Pro has a 120Hz display
- Infinix is using the Helio G95 and G96 processors which are powerful, and efficient.
- 33W fast charging
For Christmas holidays, the NOTE 11 Pro has been my main device alongside something else mentioned down below since I can trust the long lasting battery. And I can also fill it up in a few minutes thanks to the fast charger.
I like that Infinix has come a long way to now have devices that can compete not only in price, but also in specs and performance. I want them to now fix their issue with sending out updates.
TECNO CAMON 18 Premier and Infinix Zero X Pro:
While these are totally different phones, they have similar characteristics in many ways. I am listing them together because I got to review both at the same time. I love both. Get either of these if you want great battery life, a way to shoot pictures of the moon, and incredible fast charging.
The Camon 18 Premier looks really good. So does the Zero X Pro. Both have good cameras. Both need some fixing in video though the Camon 18 Premier is doing a great job with stabilisation.
The Zero X Pro is very light on the hand in a way that feels weird, but also really nice. I love that it comes with 45W fast charging. And that we are living in a world where tech has come a long way so much so that it sounds like a normal thing to just say, “Oh my phone takes less than an hour to charge and more than a day for battery to die”.
70mai Dash Cam:
I have a whole review of this gadget which I believe everyone looking for a dash cam should read. Get a dash cam by the way. Any dash cam. I’ve had two instances where the evidence from the dash cam has hastened things that’d take forever. Especially in a city with rogue matatu and bodaboda riders.
The dash cam records audio, has ADAS support, has both front and rear cameras, has built-in GPS and route tracking and much more. It has no online backup (good for privacy), and will loop over recordings incase storage fills up. However, it will save its recordings incase of an emergency thanks to its g-force sensor.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3:
This is the something mentioned below from the Infinix section. I didn’t expect to love this phone as much as I have. I didn’t expect to use it as much as I currently do. I expected it to be too fragile, it isn’t. Tech has come a long way that we can have folding phones with continuous displays and tiny glass embedded under plastic. Crazy!
I think in the new year we will be seeing a lot of foldable options from different companies. It’s just where we are in tech right now seeing even how Samsung priced the phone this time round. I love this phone, and if you’ve been thinking of getting it, I think you should go ahead.
M1 MacBook Pro
Yes, I had it on my list last year. And I will have it on my list this year. It is that good. I’ve loved using it, and I continue to recommend anyone getting a laptop to consider it, or the M1 MacBook Air. They’re good, they’re powerful, their batteries last a long long while. For example, I charged my M1 MBP on 23rd December. I am using it today 31st December without an extra charge and I’ve written a couple of articles on it over the week. That good!
Unlike last year, this time round we didn’t have TVs or laptop reviews. Hopefully in the coming year, we will cover more gadgets. You can leave recommendations of things you want to see on the site down below. Happy new year!