Stuff Middle East Gadget Awards: These are the 22 best gadgets of the year

We’ve spent a whole year testing every gadget you can buy. And the winners are…

04 February 2018
by Stuff Staff

Welcome, one and all, to the Stuff Middle East Gadget Awards.

Yes, it’s time for us to once more host the gadget equivalent of the Oscars, dishing out prizes for the year’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…


If we had held the Gadget Awards a couple of month earlier we would have had a much tougher time picking a winner in this hotly-contested category. The Samsung Galaxy S8 stamped its mark on the way a phone should look in 2017 and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro gave us the best of everything in one tidy package. Heck, even HTC’s U11 taught us that it was still ok to love bezels late into the year. But then along came the iPhone X, redefining everything that Apple had built over the last decade, and blew everyone else out of the water. From its gorgeous, bezel-free AMOLED screen to its Face ID wizardry, the tenth iPhone is clearly the company’s bold stab at what the future of smartphones will bring, and it has got us very excited.

Runner-up: Huawei Mate 10 Pro
The clear king of the Android pack in our book, the Mate 10 Pro combined 2017’s best flagship features – an edge-to-edge screen, top notch cameras and a positively massive battery – with a price tag that easily undercut the competition.

Nominees: Samsung Galaxy Note 8, HTC U11, Sony Xperia XZ1


2017 was all about banishing bezels and doubling up on cameras, but with those advances came a pretty drastic compromise – price. Apple famously veered off into uncharted territory, slapping a $1000 price tag on the iPhone X. And while Samsung’s Note 8 didn’t get that high, it was pretty close. Even Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro eked in at just over $800, which for many people is just too much to stomach. Enter the Honor 7X – a smartphone with 5.93in screen (complete with a du jour 18:9 aspect ratio) and a 16MP+2MP depth-sensing camera all housed in a sleek blue aluminium frame. The price? A paltry $270, unequivocally making the Honor 7X the most bang for your buck smartphone out there.

Runner-up: Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
The XA1 Ultra is an unapologetically big phone and that’s why we love it. It boasts a massive 6in screen and bezels to match and makes a hard play for big-screen fans who don’t want to pay flagship prices.

Nominees: Motorola Moto Z2 Play, Nokia 3, Oppo F5


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 sticking your finger in a toaster 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, Wolfenstein II adding to the pack and Metroid Prime 4 set to appear on the 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?

Runner-up: Microsoft Xbox One X
There’s no doubting the credentials of the world’s most powerful console. It’s a behemoth of a machine, and with a few more games to really take advantage of its power it could have snatched the title.

Nominees: PlayStation 4 Pro, HTC Vive, SNES Classic Mini


Gaming laptops have evolved over the years from the bulky behemoths of yesteryear, slimming down to resemble the shape and size of other (albeit less powerful) notebooks on the market. None more so has achieved this amazing transformation than Asus’ Zephyrus. At a mere 16.9mm thick, it still manages to cram in an uber-powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card and an 7th Gen Intel Core processor running 2.8Ghz. All this lets you play the latest triple-A games with the sliders all the way up, and thanks to the ROG-exclusive Active Aerodynamic System keeping it icy cool, it doesn’t even begin to break a sweat, no matter what you throw at it.

Runner-up: MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro
We’re a sucker for a slim gaming laptop, and this beauty from MSI is no slouch. It weighs just 1.9kg, which is bonkers considering it boasts a 15in HDR display with 120Hz refresh rate and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 to boot.

Nominees: HP Omen X, Alienware 13, Acer Predator 15


There was no squabbling over the Game of the Year award – the Stuff team unanimously agreed that Zelda: Breath of the Wild deserved top honours. 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 slat 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.

Runner-up: Forza Motorsport 7
With a garage filled with 700 of the most iconic cars ever driven, and an all-new dynamic weather system this year’s Forza was a technical marvel. Plus, it looks more beautiful than the Mona Lisa in motion running in 4K on an Xbox One X.

Nominees: Horizon: Zero Dawn, Destiny 2, PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds


Compared to last year, when both Tidal and Apple Music flung out exclusive after exclusive, 2017 was not the most revelatory time for streaming services. Still, if you’re wondering which subscription gives you the most entertainment for your money, the answer is unquestionably Netflix. Apple Music arguably does a smarter job with recommendations, but it’s Netflix’s roster of exclusive shows and movies such as Okja, Stranger Things and The Crown that mates 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.

Runner-up: Starz Play
If you don’t care about Netflix’s original shows and have a hankering for the best English, Indian and Arabic content then Starz Play offers up everything from Homeland to Ae Dil Hai Mushkil as a solid alternative.

Nominees: OSN Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple Music


Usually when a product arrives with an incredible gimmick, it’s a distraction from many other shortcomings. So when we heard LG’s ‘wallpaper’ OLED was so thin it had to be hung on a wall like so much, well, wallpaper, we weren’t holding our breath for its picture quality. You know, the actually important thing about a telly. And yet… after we tested the W7 it blew us away like nothing we’d ever seen before. 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.

Runner-up: Sony KD-55A1 OLED
This year’s TV race was close, solely because Sony’s first OLED outing was a true redesign of what a telly should be. A gorgeous A-frame design and speakers built right into the panel, too bad that the ‘other guy’ put out a wallpaper TV.

Nominees: Samsung Frame TV, Samsung QA65Q7F, LG OLED 65B7V


Microsoft’s game-changing hybrid underwent some under-the-hood tinkering in 2017 to deliver a superior 13.5 hours of battery life, 4G wireless capabilities and a natty new 165-degree hinge. Sure, if you put it side by side with a Surface Pro 4 you’d struggle to spot the difference, but then again there’s little point in changing perfection. The best bit? Microsoft managed to keep it all at under 0.80kg, making it the lightest Surface Pro ever. We also love that it comes with a faster Surface Pen, a refreshed processor for a significant speed bump and a lovely big 12.3in PixelSense display. No wonder then, that it nabbed the honour as our favourite computer of the year.

Runner-up: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Dell’s taken its XPS 13 ultrabook and bent it in half – but don’t worry, it was all part of the plan. Scooping up the best bits of the old XPS 13 and then proceeding to cram them into a hybrid shell that rotates was an inspired move on their part.

Nominees: Apple iPad Pro 10.5, Asus Zenbook 3, Lenovo Yoga Book (Android)


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. Party because chips and burgers are delicious; mainly because they were never that into exercising 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.

Runner-up: Jabra Elite Sport
Why bother with a wrist-hugging fitness tracker when you can kill two birds with one stone and pump your preferred workout playlist and monitor your heart rate all via one device? Well played, Jabra.

Nominees: Garmin Vivosmart 3, Samsung Gear Fit2, Misfit Shine 2


The version of the latest Apple Watch has yet to make it to our shores, but honestly, you probably don’t need a smartwatch that’s capable of such a thing anyway. 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 do 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.

Runner-up: Fitbit Ionic
Fitbit’s first go at a smartwatch left us suitably impressed. The Ionic is light and packed with fitness tracking goodness, and while it doesn’t do the ’smart’ bit as well as Apple, it’s the perfect choice for the health conscious gadgeteer.

Nominees: Huawei Watch 2, Samsung Gear S3 Classic, Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45


Before they were co-opted for the middle-class school run and their planet-bothering emissions became troublesome, 4×4’s used to be cool. They were the cars you could drive anywhere. Then Ahmed and Dana from the Springs 2 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.

Runner-up: Jaguar XE
A compact sports saloon by any other name, when you stick a Jaguar badge its elevated to the next level. The XE comes complete with in-car Wi-Fi, dedicated car-specific apps and a massive 10.2in touchscreen. Vroom.

Nominees: Renault Zoe, Audi A8, Volkswagen Golf GTE


Usually, presenting your sprig with an educational toy at Christmas is a surefire 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 scaly list. Ant yet, the LEGO Creative Boost 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 taken too 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 make us learn some.

Runner-up: Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges
We caught Star Wars fever bad this year, and Lenovo’s AR headset and lightsabre accessory combo went a long way to helping feed that addiction. Plus, a couple rounds of Holochess to cool down really helped too.

Nominees: Anki Overdrive, Sphero R2-D2, Littlebits Cloud Bit Starter Kit


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 Apple’s 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.

Runner-up: B&O Play E8
Taking the superb design aesthetics that B&O are known for and distilling them down to a tiny form factor is no easy feat. The E8’s not only look and feel great, but sound exceptional for their size.

Nominees: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless, Sol Republic Amps Air, MetersMusic OV-01


On the high-end of Yamaha’s home cinema offerings you can expect a big, powerful sound and this flagship receiver delivers that in spades. It’s equally at home powering the low-end rumble of war drums in Mad Max: Fury Road, as it is with more subtle wildlife documentaries such as BBC’s Planet Earth II. That’s thanks, in part, to the bonkers number of specs the RX-A3070 boasts – including eight HDMI inputs, all of which can handle not only UHD 4K and HDR content, but also support Dolby Vision HDR and Hybrid Log formats. Combine that with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X chops and you have enough grunt under the hood to rival any megaplex.

Runner-up: Astell&Kern AK70
The iPod may be dead but its legacy lives on in the likes of this fantastic hi-res audio player from Astell & Kern. It sounds leagues better than Apple’s old music brick, stores up to 256GB worth of songs and has a 3.3in LCD touchscreen.

Nominees: Pro-Ject Essential III, Sonos One, B&O BeoSound Shape


There’s a lot of audio kit out there in the wilds of tech-land, which is why we’ve split the category in two: one focusing on the aspirational, money-no-object stuff that you save up to afford and this category, which is for the more sensible lovers of sound. You probably wouldn’t expect that we’d hand the prize to a Bluetooth speaker that’s seemingly made to resemble a grenade, but Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom delivers ‘shock and awe’ in a brilliant and mercifully non-violent manner. The Wonderboom gives you plenty of power 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 please.

Runner-up: Bose Soundlink Revolve+
The plus-sized Soundlink Revolve delivers uniform, 360-degree sound with a minimum of fuss and distortion. It’s also built for going places thanks to a handy handle, massive battery and weather-proofing skills.

Nominees: LG PJ9, Yamaha Relit LSX-170, B&O Play Beolit 17


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 strop if you try to speed it into a brick wall, and that dogs love change 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.

Runner-up: GoPro Hero6 Black
GoPro’s had a rocky start to 2018, but there’s no denying that their action cam game is still on point. The Hero6 Black bumped everything up to 4K thanks a new GoPro-built processor and was all the better for it.

Nominees: Snapchat Spectacles, DJI Mavic Pro, GoPro Karma


Honestly, we did consider not picking a Fuji camera for this prize – even though they’ve been hogging the No 1 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? Dollar for dollar you can’t get a better system camera right now, and that seemed like a good enough reason to 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.

Runner-up: Nikon D850
This powerful snapper combined intuitive button placement and a brilliant weather-sealed body with a whopping 45.7MP sensor to nab our second place award. And rightfully so.

Nominees: Sony A6500, Fujifilm GFX 50S, Panasonic GH5


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 lofty price tag. Hey, we didn’t day the best came cheap.

Runner-up: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
We love the G7 X Mark II’s chunky feel, but what nabbed it the number two spot has to be its superb picture quality. You can pretty much leave the thing in ‘auto’ mode and, thanks to super sharp focusing, still be served up a fantastic shot, even in low-light.

Nominees: Fujifilm FinePix, Canon EOS M100, Lomo’Instant Automat


This one was a close call. In a year filled with superb smartphones, game-changing games consoles and an electric car plucked straight out of the future there were any number of worthy candidates poised to nab top honours as our Gadget of the Year. But, of course, there can only be one and we are pleased to triumphantly bestow that title upon LG’s mind-blowing Signature W7 Wallpaper television. I mean look at the thing – its gorgeous 77in OLED panel is a mere 2.57mm thin (that’s barely thicker than an After Eight mint!) and it uses freaking magnets to cling to your wall. If that’s not like looking into the future then we’ll happily eat our smartwatch. Add to the fact that LG backed up this 4K HDR-ready screen with a sleek cable box that doubles as a Dolby Atmos soundbar and you’ve got a bonafide Gadget Awards winner. Sure, its price tag puts it out of reach of us mere mortals, but there’s not one other gadget in 2017 that we lusted after more and for that it deserves the title of Gadget of the Year above all others.

Nominees: Apple iPhone X, DJI Spark, LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox, Nintendo Switch, Tesla Model X


We opened up the voting on three key categories to you this year and you sent in thousands of votes telling us what tech deserved top honours. Here are YOUR picks for our Reader’s Choice winners:


Activision’s long-awaited return to form since it strayed its tentpole FPS series towards more sci-fi tinged affairs was always a bit of a gamble. But clearly it lived up to the hype as you crowned its boots-on-the-ground action the top way to spend your downtime of the last 12 months.


Watch our Apple and Samsung, it looks like Huawei pulled enough new tricks out of the bag this year to impress Stuff’s savvy readers. The Mate 10 Pro is an elegant powerhouse of a smartphone with its all-glass design, AI snapper and workhorse battery, and clearly you all agree.


Is a car even a gadget? Well, according to you, dear readers, it definitely is, and we’re not going to argue. The Model X with its gullwing doors silently zoomed onto the streets of the UAE last year and clearly stole your hearts just as much as it did ours and with good reason – it’s brilliant.



Subscribe to the Magazine