For some, the year 2019 was an exciting year, while others found it rather boring to disappointing. We in the editorial team also have different views and want to summarize here what surprised us in 2019, and what we were bitterly disappointed by. Of course, always viewed through our tech-eyes.
Shu - My tech highlight of the year: Motorola RAZR
Foldable smartphones had a difficult year in 2019. Samsung's Galaxy Fold struggled with quality problems and Huawei as a whole was caught up in the trade war between China and the USA. Although both manufacturers have now been able to launch their two foldable smartphones in small series on the market, they are both staying away from mass production due to the high price of more than $2,000.
From a personal point of view, I find the approach of turning a large phone into a tablet by unfolding it is not an ideal solution and field of application for the foldable display technology. Motorola's approach to the RAZR is much smarter and more intelligent. Here, the foldable display is used to make increasingly larger smartphones smaller for transport.
Even the folding mechanism has been designed very intelligently. With small metal wings under the display, the fold is reduced so that you get a less prominent "dent" in the display. Of course, Motorola still has to prove in the long run that this solution is also durable and less prone to errors. But after a first hands-on with the RAZR, the smartphone was definitely convincing.
But not only the ingenious folding mechanism and the right format, in my opinion, convinces me about the Motorola Razr, but also that it relies on eSim. The fumbling around with plastic SIM cards has long been a thing of the past, but neither the network operators nor the smartphone manufacturers have had the courage to abolish the SIM card to date, and for all these reasons, the RAZR is my tech highlight of 2019.
Shu - My biggest disappointment of the year: leaks, leaks, and even more leaks
In the disappointment of 2019, we, the ones who care about technology gadgets have to take a look at ourselves. There is talk of leaks about products that have not yet appeared. While it's nice and also drives up the number of visitors from time to time on the SEO side, leaks also have their downsides. An obvious one is that not all leaks are actually well-founded leaks that come from insider sources. All too often leaks are invented so that it becomes a mammoth task to filter out the probably correct information from the multitude of products.
Not only does it require constant updating of articles and spec sheets, it also takes the charm and surprise out of each product launch and presentation. Far too often we and most likely you too sit in front of the live stream and get bored, because the presentation suddenly turns into a repetition of all the previously read information. Secretly, we hope that Samsung, Huawei, Apple, and Co. will pull a "one more thing" out of the hat as a surprise. But honestly, with these abnormal product cycles and masses of new products every year, how can manufacturers still conjure up surprises? In 2020, we as editors and also as readers should focus less on leaks.
Jessy - my favorite thing from 2019
True wireless headphones
2019 was the year when true wireless headphones became a real trend. Several brands have decided to enter this market and offer more or less similar solutions at different prices. Apple has once again become the inspiration for other brands with its AirPods, which this year became sparked other brands into action thanks to the introduction of ANC and the optimization of sound quality.
Apple headphones cost a lot but are currently the most complete and best-made solution, but on the market, you can now find alternatives at different prices thanks to Sony, Huawei, Realme, Razer, SoundCore, Cambridge Audio and so on. These types of headphones are the perfect solution for those who want to disconnect from cables and manage music and calls on the go, while playing sports or traveling around town. The cases, which vary in shape depending on the model, but are all quite compact, allow not only for storing the earphones but also for charging them.
Jessy - my disappointment of 2019
The strategy of smartphone manufacturers
Yes, what disappointed me was the smartphone brands that in 2019 crowded the market with devices that were in different price ranges but not so different from each other. From Samsung to Huawei, via Nokia and Xiaomi: do you really have a clear idea of which smartphone of this brand is best bought when you look at the price and feature package? Personally, I don't think it's that easy, even if you look at smartphones of the same brand.
There is no longer a clear dividing line between the Galaxy S line and Samsung's Note line and the same is true for Huawei's P and Mate series. Both should consider working on a single flagship and making the most of a series that really focuses on innovation, such as the foldable. But in this case, it would be nice to see a new device every two or three years and not every 12 months. To be truly innovative, you need to take some time to design, experiment and test before releasing an ad hoc device that is mature on the hardware and software side. Not to mention Xiaomi, with the Redmi series, and Nokia, which makes things even more difficult with an unclear nomenclature.
David - My highlight of the year: electric mobility is finally sexy
The past twelve months have been fantastic for electric mobility. Not just in terms of technological advancements - we have known that these were coming for years - but in the other major hurdle that fully electric transport has to overcome if it is to go truly mainstream, its image.
Tesla has always been a hip brand for the tech-heads of Silicon Valley, but in 2019 with the launch of the Cybertruck, Elon Musk and his band of inventors did something truly remarkable. They went after a market that was, to everyone else’s eyes, impossible to crack. Truck owners in the U.S. are loyal to brands like Ford which have served them well for decades and they don’t care about the eco-friendly side of the sales pitch. What’s worse, some truck drivers actively despise the Tesla brand, blocking Superchargers in a stunt known as ‘ICE-ing’.
And yet, somehow, you can just tell the Cybertruck is going to change the market. I will take those pre-order numbers with a pinch of salt, given it’s only $100 to get your hands on a cool screenshot to share on social media and there’s no obligation to actually spend the other $39,800. But the Cybertruck could spark a whole new generation of truck owners, and that’s a $100 billion market that should be worried.
Then I look at what Harley-Davidson is doing for two-wheeled petrol heads. I sat on the LiveWire earlier this year - although its wheels would turn I was doomed to stay on the spot - and the sensation was electric in both senses of the word.
As we enter a new decade, electric mobility is finally sexy. We’ve come a long way from the days of the Toyota Prius. A future where consumers buy EVs for speed, excitement, and seduction over an urge to be greener is just around the corner.
David - My Flop of the Year: the Internet is getting meaner and meaner
My disappointment for 2019 is not really something that started and ended in the last twelve months, but something that has been growing and growing for some time now. Yet, there were a couple of incidents this year that brought to light just how insidious and nasty online communities have gotten.
I should preface this comment by saying that not everywhere online is a cesspit of trolls and abusive behavior. Close communities can blossom, and it’s always the small number of angry voices that ultimately shout the loudest. My worry is that the number of abusive voices is not really small anymore, especially on the biggest platform such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
When the English Premier League launched its Rainbow Laces campaign to support LGBT people towards the end of 2019, part of a three-year partnership with Stonewall, an organization dedicated to anti-LGBT abuse in sport, many took to social media to flood club accounts with vile, homophobic abuse.
Then there’s the treatment of Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist has been in the public eye a lot this year, and whatever you think of her message, I think we can all agree that she should not be subject to the snide tweets of 73-year-old presidents and 59-year-old TV presenters, and all the abuse that follows as a result. It’s depressing.
I really hope we can all just be a bit nicer to each other in the next decade. Is that really too much to ask?