Stuff Gadget Awards 2021

Think of it as Oscars but better.

It's that time of the year again when we give out awards to the best smartphones, flashiest gadgets and celebrate the best tech products all around.

Time to put your tux on. This is the Stuff Gadget Awards 2021 and the list is long this time. We’ve got new and old categories that made our lives better during the pandemic and some even reprised their position since last year with new and improved tech upgrades.

Smartphone of the Year: Vivo X70 Pro+

Let’s hear it for the champ. Vivo hasn’t bothered with any S or T variants, and instead just made the best smartphone of the year with all the photography smarts in the world. It’s also got a premium design, a gorgeous screen for your Netflix and chill sessions, and enough power to handle any graphics-intensive game without breaking a sweat. In short, everything you’d expect from a 2021 flagship smartphone and that too without costing upwards of a lakh. The icing on the cake is that super-versatile camera on the back, which manages to capture an astounding level of detail, dynamic range. Take a bow Vivo!

Best of the rest: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra ● Apple iPhone 13 Pro ● OnePlus 9 Pro ● Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra


Budget smartphone of the Year: OnePlus Nord 2

OnePlus has yet again proved that you don’t need to shell out top dollar to own an awesome phone. The first Nord was a success, and the Nord 2 just betters it in every possible way. Stellar hardware and a stable software experience is what you want from a phone, and OnePlus' smartphone delivers on both accounts. This all-rounder-like performance is why the Nord 2 tops our list of the best budget phones of the year. As the year comes to an end, OnePlus has launched the Nord 2 Pac-Man Edition. For just ₨3,000 more, you get a variant with a tweaked design, and tons of software enhancements and easter eggs that will take you back to the good ol' days. If you're into retro, you won't be able to keep your hands off this one.

Best of the rest: Oppo Reno 6 Pro ● Samsung Galaxy A52 ● Nokia 5.3 ● Poco F3 GT

App of the Year: Docon

It all works out in the end. And as we seem to be nearing the end of this battle with the virus, we can't forget the beginning which had us cooped up at home and made it impossible to get the necessities, much less, access to a doctor. Online consultations seemed to be the only safe way to reach one and Docon was and still is at the helm of it all. The app has one of the best user interface we've seen compared to others in the category and apart from the regular video consultations with specific doctors of your choice, it also allows free follow-ups on chat that really helps with any complications that may arise at a later stage of treatment. It also allows you to download valid prescriptions with a QR scanner and manage your records too for ease of access.

Best of the rest: MoodAgent ● Unacademy ● Groww

Mobile Game of the Year: Pokemon Unite

Taking inspiration from the globally accepted League of Legends and DOTA 2 games, Pokemon Unite takes the fun, strategic and often addictive formula of these juggernauts and infuses it with much-needed Pokemon love. This is an online battle arena game where you take control of a Pokemon and team up with four other folks in a 5v5. The objective is to push two lanes and capture the enemy base by scoring points. What makes it the best of the lot is that no one anticipated how well this type of gameplay would work with Pokemons. If you're rocking a fine tablet, phone or a Nintendo Switch, it's free and with crossplay enabled. And if you have a knack to dress Pikachu in cutesy outfits, this is it!

Best of the rest: PUBG: New State ● Fantasian ● Rush Rally Origins

TV of the Year: LG C1

Historically, middle children don’t have it easy but LG’s C-series of OLED TVs have bucked that trend. The go-to OLED television for first-timers and videophiles alike, the C1 is the perfect showcase for LGs commitment to OLED without draining your provident fund. Thanks to the gen-4 A9 processor, even its smart functionality gets a thumbs up but it’s the jaw-dropping image quality that really steals the show here. With sharpness and clarity that are even better than real life, the C1 makes it an immersive experience even on a relatively plebeian 55in screen size! If there is one TV you should be saving up for this year, make it the LG C1 OLED.

Best of the rest: Sony X90J ● OnePlus U1S ● Sony A8H

Home-Theatre Gadget of the Year: BenQ V7050i

Possibly the hottest new segment to go mainstream in 2021, Laser TV is a fancy moniker for something as clumsy as a projector and a screen. But, the BenQ V7050i shows us how it can all be packaged in a sleek and desirable box, and, also add a few surprises to the mix! The soundbar is surprisingly good and not a bonus feature in what is predominantly a video product. And video is BenQ’s forte, with rich HDR colours and a bundle Android TV stick that gives you all the apps without any additional boxes. Available with two screen sizes, HT gets an instant upgrade!

Best of the rest: Sonos Beam ● Samsung LSP-9T ● Naim MuSo Bentley edition

Streaming Service of the Year: Apple Music

Whether you’re an Apple user or an Android user, it is hard to ignore Apple Music. While 2021 saw every service add scores of new content, Apple included, the Cupertino-based giant went a step further. It added support for lossless audio and spatial audio, and crucially without charging anything extra. With this launch, the service’s 75 million plus catalogue is available in CD quality at 16-bit/44.1kHz, and for true audiophiles in high-res lossless quality at 24-bit/192kHz. With the announcement, Apple said that users will now “hear the exact same thing that the artists created in the studio”. skip that one. No problem.

Best of the rest: Netflix ● Spotify ● MX Player ● Prime Video

Computer of the Year: Apple MacBook Pro

New Apple silicon, new display, new design, and all the ports we’ve been asking for: The latest 16in MacBook Pro is the best Pro ever. Every year, Apple shows the world how hardware and software should live and work together like a marriage made in heaven, and this year’s no different. The Pro-grade hardware and the latest macOS extract max performance from the components while delivering excellent battery life. The new mini-LED high-res display is among the best we have seen on a laptop, but that notch will take a bit of getting used to. All the ports are also back, so you can put your plans to buy a dock on the back burner. Not surprisingly, all this comes at a cost, and a huge one at that. But if you want the best, this one’s it.

Best of the rest: Asus Zenbook Duo 14 ● Dell XPS 17 ● Xiaomi Mi Notebook Ultra ● Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i

Fitness Gadget of the Year: Hyperice Hypervolt Go

New fitness trackers come every year and the affordable ones of the lot are more than we can count but this year something really useful popped on the Indian shores. Hyperice is making their move to serve much-needed muscle therapy after exercise. The most versatile of the lot is the Hypervolt Go which can sit nicely into your gym bag and offer muscle relief through percussion. The device also comes with a dedicated app that will offer step-by-step video tutorials to use the device based on your Apple Health activity or a muscle group of your choice. Even if you’re sitting on your desk all day, there’s a method to cool off that stiffness before pouring a stiff one!

Best of the rest: OnePlus Band ● Amazfit GTR 3 ● Redmi Watch

Smartwatch of the Year: Apple Watch Series 7

Is it even a surprise that topping our list for the best smartwatch of 2021 is an Apple Watch? On paper, it may just be an iterative update, but just like its predecessors, the Series 7 continues to be a great smartwatch/fitness coach/iOS ecosystem extender/music player/emergency phone on wrist/ camera viewfinder/waiting room gaming device... and more. The “slightly” bigger and “slightly” brighter display makes a huge difference in useability. The SWYPE functionality makes typing on the Watch slightly better, and as with every upgrade, the dualcore S7 chipset under the hood makes everything a slightly snappier than before. It may all sound like slight upgrades, but everything comes together really well for a well-rounded experience that no other Android wearable device can come close to.

Best of the rest: OnePlus Watch ● Fossil Gen 6 ● Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Headphone of the Year: Apple Airpods 3

The buds that started it all. AirPods are Apple’s most profitable products and for good reason. The new generation of AirPods squeezes that audio goodness into a familiar shape of the AirPods Pro. It’s without the silicon tips but the audio quality has been re-worked to include Spatial Audio features to use with the vast Apple Music library and Apple TV. The improved audio is much better than the Pro with deeper bass, more open soundstage and even more treble clarity. You also get MagSafe charging and a whopping six hours of battery life on one charge. That’s all the making of a good headphone, and with Apple’s magic sauce of ecosystem compatibility, you’ve got a legacy-holding champion.

Best of the rest: Nothing Ear (1) ● OnePlus Buds Pro ● Oppo Enco X ● Google Pixel Buds

Speaker of the Year: Sonos Move

It may have taken quite some time, but Sonos finally made its move! The Move as the name suggests is the portable offering from the company that seems to have aced connected audio in the home. Loud, punchy and never sounding weedy or lost, the Sonos Move easily bags this one up. But its audio prowess isn’t the only thing going for it. A big part of Sonos’s ubiquity is down to the straightforward excellence of its control app, and the ability to incorporate your favourite streaming services, to specify Google or Amazon voice control, or to access the world’s radio stations via TuneIn, without very much effort at all.

Best of the rest: Sonos Roam ● Sony SRS RA-3000 ● JBL Charge 5


Action camera/Drone of the Year: GoPro Hero10 Black

GoPros continue to be the gold standard for shooting crazy-ass action videos that will make the folks at Red Bull proud. The Hero10 Black carries that legacy, and it cranks everything up to a new level with fresh new innards and increased performance. The party trick is the all-new GP2 processor under the hood that makes everything better. The compact cam is now also able to shoot videos at an eye-popping 5.3K at 60fps, which is quite impressive, and so is the 240 slo-mo at 2.7K resolution. GoPro continues to eradicate the shakes in your videos with its HyperSmooth tech, which makes your videos as smooth as MJ’s MoonWalk.

Best of the rest: DJI FPV ● Insta 360 Go 2 v DJI Action 2

Projector of the Year: ViewSonic CPB-701 4K

Always a category with stiff competition and close margins, the Projector Of The Year Award is often bagged by a product that not only is innovative when it comes to the visual aspect, but also offers up plenty elsewhere at a relatively reasonable price. The Viewsonic CPB - 701 4K wins it this time because it’s a bit of an all-rounder. Not only does it do True 4K with HDR well with its 3500 lumens of brightness, it’s a proper snatch for a gaming enthusiast. It comes replete with a 4.2ms UltraFast Input and 240Hz high refresh rate which had us hooked to games for hours on end. And since we are on the topic of hours, Viewsonic promises a lamp life of over 20,000 hours on one of its Super Eco Modes. It’s a steal at this price.

Best of the rest: Optoma UHD33 ● BenQ V7050i ● Samsung LSP-9T ● BenQ V6000

Gaming Monitor of the Year: BenQ Mobiuz EX3210R

To the human eye, curves have always appealed better than flat surfaces. It’s not a fact, but we think it should be when choosing the right gaming partner… We’re talking about this monitor just to clear any fetishes you might have gathered in your head. And what a gaming partner this is! The curved monitor has all the ingredients to satiate your gaming appetite, and given BenQ’s history with rich colour and deep contrast, this thing is an absolute beast for PC or console gaming. There’s a proper speaker set and an OSD calibration that can be controlled with a remote nicely. It’s one of those products we would keep for good but there’s more to the Mobiuz than just good colour.

Best of the rest: LG 27GN850 ● ViewSonic Elite XG270Q ● Samsung Odyssey G7

Gadget of the Year: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

All the incremental changes we wished for in an iPhone were granted by the Gods of Cupertino. The iPhone 13 Pro models retained the best bits of the design we loved from 2020, but added dollops of Android-inspired bragging rights, only fully baked. Cinematic video for one, has already changed how our cat videos look forever. The Night Mode got a huge bump too, thanks to the lethal combination of a wider aperture and a larger sensor and together ensured that the iPhone 13 Pro Max climbs straight to the top of the low-light charts. On the other hand, if you’re looking for brighter scenes, the 120Hz ProMotion display is also capable of a retina-scorching 1000nits! Being able to shoot, edit and playback in Dolby Vision HDR is still a feat not many smartphones can pull off so effortlessly. The A15 Bionic packs in enough horsepower to use even the most GPU intensive apps on the move without sucking the battery dry. It may look similar to the 2020 iPhone, but the 13 Pro is a vastly more accomplished beast, worthy of this title!

Best of the rest: Amazon Echo Show 10 ● Dyson Lightcycle Morph ● Apple iMac 24 (M1)

Hi-Tech car of the Year: Audi e-Tron 55 Quattro

Saving the world turned out to be an expensive affair this year. Almost every EV launched in the last one year has been a luxury one and not all have been practical enough for daily (or long distance) use. But Audi hit a home run with the e-Tron 55 which promised a 350km plus range and lived up to it! We used it for a week around the city without ever having to plug in the charging cable and still returned it to Audi with 27% charge left in the batteries. The eTron is fun to drive, luxurious to ride in, beautifully made and above all, doesn’t look like a compromise in any way compared to a similarly priced ICE-powered SUV. It never once scraped its belly full of batteries on even the biggest of speed breakers or the nastiest of potholes. The ride on 20in wheels and ground clearance doing a sublime dance that will transport you from point A to B like a monorail from Blade Runner.

Best of the rest: BMW 3 Series Gran Limo ● Hyundai i20 N-Line ● Jaguar i-Pace ● Mercedes GLA-Class


Console of the Year: Sony PlayStation 5

If you told us this was supposed to go last year, we’d forgive you for not remembering that the PS5 launched in February of this year in India and although the limited number of units are arriving in hot batches, the PlayStation 5 is still the undisputed champion. Graphical oomph goes toe-to-toe with Xbox Series X but the fantastic PS5 controller haptics is what sets new heights for immersive gaming experiences. Heck, they even managed to on-board Apple Music this time. As a home console, this just keeps getting better and as a gaming console, well, the exclusives speak for themselves.

Best of the rest: Nintendo Switch OLED ● Xbox Series X ● Xbox Series S

Game of the Year: It Takes Two

Finding multiplayer games in 2021 is easy. Simply start by running a vote within your friend circle and all of you will end up either on Valorant, Fortnite or Call of Duty. Among Us and PUBG Mobile can scurry up the said list too. Although like the games we mentioned, coordination and teamwork don’t really matter much. You can just about get through any co-op game with a random buddy than you would with games that come from Hazelight Studios. And that’s what makes It Takes Two special. For the most part, as the name suggests, the game literally takes two. You cannot play it solo. It really brings a smile to your face when you’re co-ordinating with friends or family to complete tasks and objectives in the game.

Best of the rest: Forza Horizon 5 ● Deathloop ● Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy ● Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Home Gadget of the Year: Amazon Echo Show 10

A narcissist’s dream, this year’s Echo Show 10 is two devices in one. The Echo Show 10 uses a combination of computer vision and echolocation to keep track of where you are. All the processing is done locally on the device and then deleted after the interaction, Amazon says, so nothing visual gets sent to the cloud such as voice commands. And it works really well; smooth, totally silent and rarely unable to locate you (a message pops up on the screen if you move out of the motion zone). The Amazon Echo Show is the best Echo Show yet, mainly due to its genuinely useful rotating ability. It makes apps that actually require you to look at the screen instantly more appealing, as they’re always in front of you when you look up. Unlike your partner, the Echo Show 10 will always be attentive and that’s why it wins the award.

Best of the rest: Dyson Omniglide ● Ooni Koda 12 ● Coffeeza Lattisso

Music Gadget of the Year: Lotto Paw S1

High-resolution music is the only sane way to listen to your tunes - we’ve been saying this since inception. Now that they’ve become more mainstream and easily accessible thanks to Apple Music and some other more premium services like Tidal, it makes sense to get the best experience out there by upgrading your hardware. And if you use a decent pair of headphones, it makes even more sense especially when it costs just that much. For the money, you get an AKM4377 audio chip DAC that decodes up to 32bit 384kHz, DSD128 natively and a standalone AMP chip OPA1622 rated at 120MW@32Ω which is more than enough to power your gear. It also has MQA support and has both 4.4 and 3.5mm outputs. Hi-Fi at this price? Win!

Best of the rest: B&O A9 ● Nanoleaf Lines ● Sonos Roam ● B&O BeoSound Explore


Geek Gadget of the Year: BenQ GV 30

Portable projectors, like music resolution, have come a long way since inception. They’re no more a geeky toy experiment and there are some serious options available out there for those looking for their travelentertainment fix. Leading that list is the beautifully designed BenQ GV30. You can easily mistake it for a Bluetooth speaker, although it does double up as one, but in reality it will keep you entertained on-the-go like no other at this price. It supports upto 4K input and puts out a crisp HD picture that you can easily stretch to about a 100 inches. It’s very easy to set up and the auto keystone and focus wizardry means you’ll be up and running in no time. But here’s where it starts getting impressive. It comes with built in Android TV which means streaming apps are on board by default and to match the visuals, there’s proper 2.1-channel audio with Extra Bass. It takes camping to a whole new level.

Best of the rest: DJI FPV ● Robosen Optimus Prime ● Oral -B iO8

Innovation of the Year: Canon Dual Fish Eye Lens

Flagship smartphones might be sprouting lenses left, right and centre, but one thing we didn’t expect to see in 2021 was a two-eyed camera lens from Canon. Sporting a design that Wall-E would be proud of, the Dual Fisheye Lens is for owners of Canon’s EOS R5 to capture 3D VR content in 180 degrees and super sharp 8K. The best thing is that you don’t need to align two cameras, the footage is captured directly on a single camera. And because the openings are spaced precisely 60mm apart, the resulting footage has a natural stereoscopic depth that’s perfect for use with a VR headset. So budding VR videographers can step into the scene they just shot for real, no niche tech necessary. The accompanying software also makes editing and parallax corrections a breeze.

Best of the rest: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold ● Samsung Airdresser ● Robosen Optimus Prime ● Steam Deck

Tablet of the Year: Apple iPad Mini

It’s Apple’s world, we’re just living in it. Or at least when it comes to the tablet market. There are many Android tablets that go around but none can come close to what you can achieve with an iPad. The versatility of iPadOS and the form factor usually attracts folks like designers, audiophiles and office nerds. That is till the iPad Mini (2021) showed up and completely dazed us with its dinky size and powerful innards. The Mini’s small size is not a compromise for the quality and performance of the tablet. In fact, it’s faster than most iPads around its price. The dinky size also makes an excellent gaming companion or a hi-fi audio controller. The Apple iPad Mini has the power to spoil you in ways that would be not possible with a bigger screen. Just ignore the 64GB and grab the 256GB variant.