Stuff Gadget Awards 2017: These are the 23 best gadgets of the year
We've spent a whole year testing every gadget you can buy. And the 2017 winners are…
Welcome, one and all, to the Stuff Gadget Awards 2017.
Yes, it’s time for us to once more host the gadget equivalent of the Oscars, dishing out prizes for 2017’s finest phones, most creative computers, flashiest cameras and much more.
We’ve tested well over 400 gadgets, games and apps in the past 12 months as part of our constant quest to help you spend your money wisely. So we should know what we’re talking about.
Time to put your tux on…
Smartphone of the Year 2017: Samsung Galaxy S8
Let’s hear it for the champ. Such is the Galaxy S8’s brilliance, every other phone this year has been playing catch-up with it. Even now, nothing quite compares to this gorgeous mesh of glass and metal.
What makes the S8 such a stunner? It’s staring you right in the face. That 5.8in Infinity Display is just a gorgeous way to Instagram, flit across your inbox, and indulge in Amazon Prime Video’s latest and greatest.
Add to this an awesome point-and-shoot camera, all the speed you’ll ever need and an all-round design that’s tempted many an iPhone owner over to the Android side, and you’ve got a bona fide phone of the year. The only problem for Samsung: How will it ever top this beauty?
Budget Smartphone of the Year 2017: Honor 9
It’s long been true that you don’t have to lay down top dollar to own an awesome phone. The only flaw in this master plan? That same blower is almost guaranteed to resemble a knock-off iPhone. Personality comes at a price, you see. Or at least it did before we laid eyes on the Honor 9.
An all-glass thing of marvel, this sub-£400 wonder ranks alongside Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and the iPhone X as one of the most striking phones to be released this year. Its curved, laser-cut back really is an awesome thing to behold. Add to this a fab dual-lens camera, a super-powerful processor and a slick take on Android, and you’ve got yourself a bargain that’s well worth flaunting.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Honor 9 review
App of the Year 2017: Affinity Photo
Photoshop on your iPad. That’s all you need to know about the audacious Affinity Photo. And although not literally Photoshop (it is, after all, by Serif rather than Adobe), it has everything you need, bringing properly professional image-editing to mobile.
Although the screen’s dotted with icons and toolbars, this is an approachable app, and it feels transformative whether you’re making subtle adjustments to photos or working up digital paintings from scratch.
Dials are twiddled and live effects fired from your fingertips. Anyone wedded to one-tap filters might be flummoxed; but for anyone who’s done with being chained to a Mac or PC to improve their pics, it’s just about perfect.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Affinity Photo review
Mobile Game of the Year 2017: Euclidean Lands
This beautiful puzzler wears its influences on its twisted sleeve. The minimal aesthetic evokes Monument Valley, and the turn-based mechanics are reminiscent of Hitman GO‘s challenges. But in combining the two, wrapping everything around floating Rubik’s Cubes, and adding plenty of stabby violence, Euclidean Lands becomes a modern mobile classic.
In each level, the aim is simple: kill the enemies and reach the exit. But with the landscape constantly evolving, foes moving of their own accord, and bosses able to twist the cube how they see fit, this is anything but easy. Occasionally it does get a bit too brain-smashy, but the game’s so terrific that every defeat only makes you more determined.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Euclidean Lands review
Readers’ Smartphone of the Year 2017: Samsung Galaxy S8
Did we really think this category would be won by anything other than the Galaxy S8? No, we didn’t. But we went ahead and held a vote anyway, which duly saw you lot vote in your droves for Samsung’s curvy wonder.
It was never even a close-run thing, with nearly 45% of voters naming it their phone of the year, way way way ahead of the iPhone 8 Plus in second. With the iPhone X about to hit shops and Google’s Pixel line now looking like proper contenders, next year might be harder to call. But right now, the S8 reigns supreme.
Games Console of the Year 2017: Nintendo Switch
In hindsight, it’s easy to see how the Switch was going to be an all-conquering success, but we’re not about to claim we saw this one coming.
After the Wii U proved about as good an idea as a snap General Election, the omens were particularly foreboding for this hybrid console. Then came Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and soon enough you couldn’t find the blasted thing in stores for love nor money. It was almost as if Nintendo knew what it was doing all along.
With Super Mario Odyssey now here too and Wolfenstein II and Metroid Prime 4 set to appear on Switch in the not too distant future, who cares whether this console became a smash hit by design, accident or a little bit of both?
Game of the Year 2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
There was no squabbling over the Game of the Year award – we left this one to you, the readers, and you voted as we would’ve done: for the latest The Legend of Zelda game.
Scrapping the traditional linear adventure, Nintendo created a massive open-world Hyrule for us to play within. With majestic sights to see, piggish grunts to slay and an incredible quest that would raise goosebumps under our armour, 2017 was definitely best spent playing Breath of the Wild rather than fretting over Trump and Kim Jong-un’s apocalyptic squabbles.
But it’s the subtle things that have made this game such a success, including the transcendent soundtrack and Link’s amusing humming as he cooks up a tasty treat. Simply wonderful.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review
TV Gadget of the Year 2017: Sky Q
It’s been a big year for Sky Q. Both Virgin’s V6 and BT’s YouView+ Ultra HD have come along aiming to oust it as the one and only box sitting under your television. But, be it through lack of content or confusing menu systems, neither quite managed to cut the mustard.
Just in case anyone thought this was a close-run contest, Sky Q decided to further cement its top-dog status by adding voice search and support for Dolby Atmos sound systems. So whether you’re watching Game of Thrones, one of the many blockbusters on Sky Cinema or Liverpool’s defence embarrassing itself yet again, Sky Q is the telly gadget for the job.
We can’t wait to see how it gets even better in 2018.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Sky Q review
TV of the Year 2017: Sony KD-55A1 OLED
Usually when a product arrives with an incredible gimmick, it’s a distraction from many other shortcomings. So when we heard Sony’s first ever OLED would have no in-built speakers, and saw its stunning picture-frame design, we weren’t holding out a lot of hope for its picture quality. You know, the actually important thing about a telly.
And yet… after we tested the A1, it shot straight to the top of our Top Ten and has retained that place ever since. Not only is this the finest 4K HDR TV you can get your hands on – it also has a load of awesome tricks up its sleeve to boot. Basically it’s a gadget wizard, and that’s more than alright by us.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Sony KD-55A1 OLED review
Streaming Service of the Year 2017: Netflix
Compared to last year, when both Tidal and Apple Music flung out exclusive after exclusive, 2017 has not been the most revelatory time for streaming services. Still, if you’re wondering which subscription gives the most entertainment per pound, the answer is unquestionably Netflix.
Spotify arguably does a smarter job with recommendations, but it’s Netflix’s roster of exclusive shows and movies such as Okja, Stranger Things and Ozark that makes it essential. Plus, the way that almost every TV, phone and console supports its app means you have absolutely no excuse for missing any of them. Except for Sense 8, of course. Trust us, you can happily skip that one. No problem.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Netflix review
Computer of the Year 2017: Microsoft Surface Studio
You’ve never seen a PC quite like the Surface Studio. More so than even Apple’s iMac, the Studio is an all-in-one that’s been purpose-built for creative so-and-sos. That astounding zero-gravity hinge and Surface Dial combo implore you to reach out and get arty with its glorious 4K display.
Granted, Windows 10 isn’t quite as refined as Apple’s High Sierra OS, but we’ve crowned the Studio the new king of computers for its sheer awe-inspiring gumption – it dares to be different in an era where the new MacBook Pro is essentially the old one with a better screen and a Technicolor strip.
So long as you can learn to love its rough edges, Microsoft’s Surface Studio is a PC that you’ll truly adore.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Microsoft Surface Studio review
Fitness Tracker of the Year 2017: Fitbit Alta HR
Let’s face it, most people who buy a fitness band do so with the intention of taking it off as soon as humanly possible. Partly because chips and burgers are delicious; mainly because they were never that into exercise in the first place. But with heart-rate tracking alongside week-long battery life and the ability to discern what kind of exercise you’re doing, Fitbit’s Alta HR is the perfect motivator for layabouts with an inferiority complex.
Knowing this, Fitbit’s app is attuned to make you feel good about being healthy, with easy-to-grasp achievements and reminders to ensure you get back to it after a day or so of slacking. However long the Alta HR stays on your wrist, it’ll make for a welcome companion.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Fitbit Alta HR review
Smartwatch of the Year 2017: Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS)
Yes, we picked the one that can’t make phone calls. Why? Because you probably don’t need a smartwatch that’s capable of such a thing. In all likelihood, the standard-issue Watch Series 3 will do you just fine – and that’s an understatement.
With Apple’s new S3 chip powering it, plus the GPS and waterproofing skills of its predecessor, this Watch does pretty much everything you’d want it to without asking you to sign up to a brand new ‘phone’ contract.
Most importantly, it’s a truly great fitness buddy that provides accurate workout stats however you prefer to exercise. Add to this near-seamless integration with your iPhone and you’ve got the best smartwatch going by far.
Smart Home Gadget of the Year: Ikea Tradfri
Let’s face it, it’s hard to get particularly excited about a lightbulb. So imagine just how incredible Ikea’s Tradfri bulbs must be for us to go all out in awarding them Smart Home Gadget of the Year. Yes, they are quite special indeed, and all for one major reason: they’re cheaper than Philips’ Hue bulbs and basically do the same stuff.
And what kind of home are you living in if you can’t orchestrate your lighting to automated flights of fancy? That means being able to have your lights switch on automatically as soon as you’ve stumbled back home from the pub, or ask Alexa to switch them off in the morning after you’ve awoken with a particularly brutal hangover.
And since these bulbs are relatively affordable, kitting your place out with them won’t cripple your personal finances. Huzzah!
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Ikea Tradfri review
Car of the Year 2017: Tesla Model X
Before they were co-opted for the middle-class school run and their planet-bothering emissions became troublesome, 4x4s used to be cool. They were the cars you could drive anywhere. Then Janet and Gothrey from Flat 6 got one, and their mystique was eradicated. That is, until Tesla’s Model X came along.
Aside from doing wonders for your sense of moral superiority, this all-electric 4×4 has the je ne sais quoi its petrol-powered brethren have been missing for years – be that through its gorgeous glassy build, its assorted autopilot skills or those gurn-inducing gullwing doors. This thing is as happy in the Outer Hebrides as it is honking at Gothrey for parking across your bay. The dullard.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Tesla Model X review
Tech Toy of the Year 2017: Lego Boost Creative Toolbox
Usually, presenting your sprog with an educational toy at Christmas is a sure-fire way to let them know Santa isn’t real. No rosy-cheeked giant would be so cruel, even to those at the top of his scally list. And yet the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox stands as an example that miracles do happen. Reindeer can have bright red noses, and a kit of bricks designed to teach kids coding can be a right old hoot.
Given its makers, we probably shouldn’t be too taken aback by the Creative Toolbox’s genius – Lego’s been making brick-based masterpieces for decades now. Plus, anything that can transform into a robot, a car, a guitar, a cat and a robot-maker is fine by us. Even when it is trying to learn us some.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Lego Boost Creative Toolbox review
Headphones of the Year 2017: Sony WF-1000X
Look, we saw that Apple AirPods advert too, and it was slick enough to make us forget quite how ridiculous they look on anyone who isn’t astoundingly handsome.
Thankfully, Sony’s wireless WF-1000X earbuds are a perfect fit for us normal-looking folk as well. In essence, this means they plug straight into your lugs, don’t have any weird dangly bits and actually sound the business.
A huge step up from the AirPods – largely thanks to slick noise-cancelling tech – the WF-1000Xs are the best of their kind that we’ve tried, and the first such pair to deliver on their wireless promise without making any obvious compromises.
Hi-Fi Gadget of the Year 2017: UE Wonderboom
Some snobs will disagree, but ‘Hi-Fi’ in our books can basically be summarised as stuff that sounds good. You probably wouldn’t expect that of a Bluetooth speaker that’s seemingly been made to resemble a grenade; but, taking its design cues from the opening days of the 2003 Iraq War, Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom delivers ‘shock and awe’ in a brilliant and mercifully non-violent manner.
Much like its equally excellent UE brethren, the Wonderboom gives you plenty of power to the pound while retaining clarity and detail for when you’re not in an ’80s rock anthems kind of mood. Better yet, it’s waterproof so you can have a blast with the thing wherever you damned well please.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › UE Wonderboom review
System Camera of the Year 2017: Fujifilm X-T20
Honestly, we did consider not picking a Fuji camera for this prize – even though they’ve been hogging the No1 spot in our Top Ten for what feels like an age. But then we thought about things and decided to give the glorious X-T20 the gong anyway.
Why? Pound for pound you can’t get a better system camera right now, and that seemed like a good enough reason for us. With the same 24.3MP APS-C sensor and processor as the much pricier X-T2, plus a touchscreen, you just feel Fuji has gone all out here to make a great camera.
With well laid-out controls, a huge viewfinder, excellent autofocus, a top-class sensor and access to some superb lenses, the X-T20’s many, many charms cannot be denied.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Fujifilm X-T20 review
Compact Camera of the Year 2017: Sony CyberShot DSC-RX100 V
If you’re going to get a compact camera, then you shouldn’t settle for anything besides the absolute best. In truth, Sony’s fifth RX100 isn’t all that different to last year’s model, but that just goes to show how far ahead of the competition this consummate all-rounder is.
Its combination of a Zeiss lens, wide aperture and 1in sensor in a lightweight, pocket-sized body is perfectly judged for even the most demanding point-and-shoot scenarios. Now with added Fast Hybrid tech for improved autofocus and 960fps full HD video recording at high frame-rates, the RX100 V bundles in a whole lot of tech to justify its £1000 price tag.
Hey, we didn’t say the best came cheap.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › Sony CyberShot DSC-RX100 V review
Action Cam or Drone of the Year 2017: DJI Spark
We need to make this very clear: a drone is not a toy. That’s despite it being your very own personal flying machine, that will magically stop if you try to speed it into a brick wall, and that dogs love chasing around the park like some kind of autonomous tennis ball.
No, drones are for serious filmic sorts with cash to burn and no pups to entertain… unless you’re talking about the DJI Spark, of course.
Sure, it’s masquerading as an affordable auteur’s delight with HD recording and 50km/h top speed, but it can also snap an aerial selfie by spotting your hand gesture. Try doing that and not cracking a Cheshire cat smile afterwards. The Tracy Island playset ain’t got nothing on this bad boy.
READ THE FULL REVIEW › DJI spark review
Readers’ Gadget of the Year 2017: Nintendo Switch
Every year we ask you, our readers, to vote for your Gadget of the Year. And sometimes you surprise us, going completely mad and voting for something different from us. But not this year. This year, you did exactly what we expected, and what we ourselves did, and named the Nintendo Switch your Gadget of the Year. Well done you.
Not that it was a foregone conclusion: the Switch garnered 27% of the vote, but the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Tesla Model X (both 18%) were hot on its heels until quite late on. But whether it was the growing excitement over the arrival of Super Mario Odyssey or the fact that you can actually buy the thing now, the Switch ultimately won out. And nobody saw that coming this time last year…
Gadget of the Year 2017: Nintendo Switch
This one was a close call. We could have gone for the near-bezel-less Galaxy S8 that won over so many hardened iPhone owners, or the DJI Spark and its dazzling feats of aerial wonder that will help you become the next JJ Abrams. And yet the Switch emerged doubly victorious, getting the nod from us as well as winning the reader vote.
Why? It’s just so much fun. From impromptu Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tournaments in the office to exploring Hyrule while stuck in a metal tube somewhere over the Atlantic, the Switch has entertained us at nary a moment’s notice.
This is a proper gadget, one you really have to pick up and play with to see what all the fuss is about – and there are many more exciting games in the pipeline.
So, for daring to do something different and getting it so joyously right, Nintendo’s Switch is our Gadget of the Year.
More like this: Apple in 2017: desktop Macs, the death of Lightning, and ‘small not thin’