Can you believe that 2022 has come and gone? It felt like it was just yesterday when we were talking about our excitement for CES 2022, followed by all the big product announcements in the fall such as Samsung Unpacked 2022, Apple’s ‘Far Out’ event, and Amazon’s fall hardware event. Well, it all ends here as we take a look back and present the best tech gadgets of 2022.
Throughout the year, we’ve seen gadgets teased, announced, and subsequently on sale for the masses to buy and check out for themselves. We’ve written in-depth reviews on some of the coolest gadgets around, but we’ve also produced pieces on how they’ve had a profound effect on our lives. Just look at our recent SPY Smart Home Awards 2022, which showcased smart home gadgets that make the home better and even more functional.
While many familiar brands from our 2021 year in review continue to appear in this year’s awards, there were a few unfamiliar brands and first timers that surprised us enough to make our list. In the end, we selected the 23 best tech products of the year.
How We Chose the Winners of the SPY Best of 2022 Awards
Personal experiences and our in-depth product testing were two of the biggest factors that led us to picking out the winners for our best tech gadgets of 2022 awards. This year, we invested heavily on product testing from a number of product experts in all tech verticals. All of the gadgets featured in these awards were tested extensively by SPY editors, with our top winners being tested over a period of six months or more.
In addition to subjectively grading tech gadgets, we also used other testing devices to help us really determine a device’s performance. For example, we used LUX meters to determine peak brightness outputs on smartphone displays and TVs. Alternatively, we used decibel meters to see how loud a speaker could get — so we could definitely say which one was loudest.
Beyond these new subjective and objective testing protocols we’ve implemented with our revamped reviews process, we also chose our winners according to some of our own intimate experiences using them. For example, we were reminded why you shouldn’t dismiss cheap TVs, and why Bluetooth sunglasses make us feel like we’re living in the future.
We’ve even included devices that were released outside of 2022, since they proved to us that despite the new entrants in the space, they were still outclassing the competition.
Apple Watch Series 8
Coolest Feature: Instant communication with the Apple Watch’s Walkie-Talkie feature.
SPY Review: New Apple Watch Series 8 Comes With a New Design and Improved Specs
Even though it was an iterative update, bringing aboard crash detection and a skin temperature sensor, the Apple Watch Series 8 still managed to reign supreme in the smartwatch space.
There’s so much to love about the Apple Watch Series 8. For starters, no other smartwatch comes close to matching its functionality, diverse apps, and features. Most notably, Apple added crash detection to this year’s model to help users get help in the event of a serious crash. Furthermore, the addition of the temperature sensor allows it to track your body’s temperature while you sleep — as well as improved menstrual cycle tracking for females.
And of course, it’s the ultimate smartwatch because of the vast amount of accessories that are available to it.
Runner-Up: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Coolest Feature: No other phone matched its 100x space zoom camera that got us closer to our subjects without being close to them.
SPY Review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Is the Flagship To Beat — For Now
Samsung really did set the bar early on in 2022 when it launched its flagship phone in the Galaxy S22 Ultra back in February. Every inch of this phone is a sight to behold, but at the end of the day, no other could match its features, specs, and performance — earning top honors as our best smartphone of 2022.
It goes beyond what the average smartphone offers with its quadruple camera system, which got us closer to subjects than any other phone. We also had a professional photographer take it for a spin to show how awesome it is for capturing photos.
Beyond the cameras, it’s also an incredibly powerful computing device. Think of it like a desktop PC in your pocket. We loved how we connected it to a mouse, keyboard, and monitor when we were at work, since its Samsung DeX experience replicates the traditional look and feel of a standard desktop operating system.
Runner-Up: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
LG C2 OLED TV
Coolest Feature: We were in instant awe the moment our eyes feasted on the rich and vibrant colors of its OLED panel. Once you go OLED, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
SPY Review: Is the LG C2 Series OLED TV Worth It?
Not only was it the best OLED TV of 2022, but the LG C2 OLED TV fended off the competition in our testing of the best TVs this year as well. Seeing is believing, which is exactly what we experienced when we reviewed this magnificent smart TV from LG.
Of course, our eyes were smitten by the stunning brightness and vibrant colors tones put out by this OLED TV. Distortion is almost non-existent, even at wide angles where it’s most noticeable. We were also impressed by its upscaling performance, the kind that took standard HD content and brought it up to 4K quality — courtesy of the magic with its a9 Gen5 AI processor.
Quite simply, it’s a marvel for the visual sensory system.
Runner-Up: Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series
Coolest Feature: It can actually stop whatever music you’re listening to whenever you speak with its speak-to-chat feature.
SPY Review: Are Sony’s XM5 Noise-Canceling Headphones Still Top Dog?
Sony continued to stave off the competition in 2022, but only by a single thread. The Sony WH-1000XM5 brought on a controversial new design that ditched the foldable design of its predecessor, opting instead for a sleeker, more minimalist fixed design.
Despite that, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is the best headphones of 2022 because of its incredible audio performance, custom EQ options, and superb noise cancellation. We’ve tested out other top contenders, but Sony’s offering truly did expose us to the sound of silence.
Additionally, we loved all the other minor features that Sony managed to pack into it — like its speak-to-chat feature and on-board Amazon Alexa integration. Even though there’s a premium attached to this pair of headphones, it’s worth every penny.
Runner-Up: Apple AirPods Max
Coolest Feature: You literally can hold up your iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock the Level Lock+.
First Look: With This Smart Lock, Your iPhone And Apple Watch Become Your Keys
Smart locks have evolved in the last several years, but Level has continually fashioned models that are functional and discreet. The Level Lock+ is the latest one, and while it continues to be one the best designed smart locks, we absolutely love its simplicity to operate.
That’s because it has support for Apple Home Keys, allowing us to lock or unlock it by simply holding our iPhone or Apple Watch next to it. We’ve experienced how Bluetooth proximity has been a hit or miss thing with other smart locks (Level included), but this implementation is a sure fire way of initiating the process.
Beyond its simplicity, the Level Lock+ still looks exactly like an ordinary lock you might already have on your door. You’d be hard pressed to realize it’s even a smart lock due to its minimalist design.
Runner-Up: Lockly Vision Elite
Apple MacBook Pro with M2 chip
Coolest Feature: Apple’s M2 chip is so incredibly powerful, it handled everything we threw at it with ease.
First Look: Apple’s New M2 MacBooks Are Coming Soon To Put Other Laptops To Shame
When it comes to a manageable laptop that you could make your daily driver, there’s nothing more complete and satisfying as the M2-powered version of the MacBook Pro. Seriously, when it comes to getting stuff done, this laptop is more than capable.
For starters, we love how the new Apple M2 chip flexes its muscles with the MacBook Pro (2022). We found it incredibly snappy at handling processor intensive tasks, such as editing 4K video footage with barely any slowdown. If that’s not enough, it’s accompanied by a gorgeous 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina Display — perfect for watching our favorite movies.
Hands down, it’s the pound for pound best laptop you can get.
Runner-Up: Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
Coolest Feature: Seeing pinpoints on a map where someone has been spotted on your property.
Full Review: Comparing the 5 Best Ring Video Doorbells Available in 2022
Technically, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 was released in 2021, but it still managed to reign supreme as the best video doorbell of 2022. Ring’s top of the line video doorbell still packs innovations we’ve yet to see in other models.
Leveraging 3D Motion Detection radar technology, we loved how the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 was able to pinpoint and trace the path of where someone was on our property. Like really, you’re able to see on a map their exact movements. On top of this, it offered excellent image quality courtesy of its 1536p video recording — with fantastic dynamic range to balance out the shadows and highlights.
Runner-Up: Google Nest Doorbell (battery)
Apple 10.9-inch iPad (10th Generation)
Coolest Feature: The newest, entry-level iPad finally gained support for the Apple Pencil.
Read More: The New iPad Boasts Better Specs And a Snazzier Look
While the iPad Pro is hands down a juggernaut of a tablet, you’ll be forking over a premium to buy one. In contrast, the Apple iPad (10th Gen) doesn’t cost a fortune and has the features to make it the best tablet of 2022.
On top of bringing out a totally new design, the iPad (10th Gen) is one versatile device for work and pleasure. We loved how it’s been given support for the Apple Pencil, which makes it a handy notebook you can take around to jot down notes and draw sketches.
If that’s not enough, it’s still a powerhouse at getting work done with the pairing of the A14 Bionic chip’s processing power and iPadOS 16’s productivity tools.
Runner-Up: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+
DJI Mini 3 Pro (with DJI RC)
Coolest Feature: The camera can pan up to deliver a new vantage point we haven’t been able to access on previous drones.
SPY Review: The Entry-Level Drone Finally Grows Up
The DJI Mini series has always catered to beginner drone pilots, but the DJI Mini 3 Pro goes the opposite direction. While it still is one of the best small drones around, this third generation model was crafted to tailor to the needs of professionals and enthusiasts.
We’ve flown the DJI Mini 3 Pro dozens of times since it was released, but we’re still in awe of its compact design — one that’s able to fly under the FAA radar because of its 246 gram weight. There are also obstacle avoidance around the drone, so you can fly confidently whether it’s your first flight or one of many.
Even though it may seem minor, the ability to pan the camera upwards is a brand new addition we haven’t seen in other drones — which opens up yet even more creative shots for flyers. And lastly, you technically don’t need a phone to use it because you can just use the new DJI RC-N1 controller.
Runner-Up: Autel Robotics EVO Nano+
Coolest Feature: You get that cool depth of field look from a camera with a fixed lens.
First Look: Sony’s New Vlogging Camera Made Me a Believer in Point and Shoot Cameras Again
Sure, it’s a compact point and shoot camera, but the Sony ZV-1F is a camera rich in features. We could argue that despite its small size, it’s quite powerful with its set of tools for content creators.
We really love how this camera features a microphone jack and a cold shoe to mount an external camera. This combination makes it the perfect vlogging camera, especially when its 20.1-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor has a fixed lens. Somehow, it’s able to soften the background with its defocus mode — which is something you can get with higher end cameras.
For TikTokers, YouTubers, and anyone into content creation, it’s a fantastic all-around compact camera that gets the job done.
Runner-Up: Panasonic Lumix S5
Coolest Feature: It can project cool animations onto walls to add a bit of flare to your parties.
SPY Review: Meet the Swiss Army Knife of Digital Smart Projectors
Introduced at CES 2022, the Samsung Freestyle got our attention the moment it was announced at the big show. The compact sized 1080p digital projector checked off everything in our review, including access to the best streaming services around.
More than just a projector, we loved how the Samsung Freestyle doubled both as a smart speaker and smart light. In fact, it offers Amazon Alexa on top of Samsung’s Bixby as the voice assistant to use. However, we absolutely loved how it could also project animations onto walls — as well as putting on the cap as a source of ambient lighting.
We bet you didn’t know a projector could do all of this!
Runner-Up: Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K
Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD)
Coolest Feature: Being able to quickly and easily mirror our smartphone to the TV.
First Look: Google’s New Chromecast Is Its Cheapest Yet
We often wonder how long streaming devices will be a thing, especially in the age of smart TVs, but the Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD) stood out from the pack with its practical use and affordable price.
Like seriously, it’s a budget offering that does everything you’d want a streaming device to do — like launching your favorite streaming services, mirroring your phone to your TV, and even having access to your smart home gadgets. We can’t tell you the countless times we’ve relied on it to stream the footage from the Google Nest Doorbell (battery) whenever it was rung.
Runner-Up: Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen)
iRobot Roomba Combo j7+
Coolest Feature: It will actually move its mopping pad out of the way whenever it detects carpets.
First Look: iRobot Perfects the 2-in-1 Vacuum and Mop Design
What a year it’s been for robot vacuums. We saw several models that offered self-cleaning base stations that scrubbed down robots after each clean, but veteran robot maker iRobot had the best offering with its Roomba Combo j7+.
Making improvements on its previous model, the Roomba Combo j7+ is the first ever 2-in-1 robot vacuum from the company. Not only did it vacuum and sweep floors efficiently with the help of its superb obstacle avoidance, but iRobot took the next step and added an innovative mopping pad system to mop floors.
What makes iRobot’s offering different from the competition was that it didn’t just rely on water to clean hard floors — it actually used a specialty solution. Furthermore, it featured a mechanical system that moved the mopping pad whenever it detected carpet.
Runner-Up: Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni
Coolest Feature: Powerful sound in such a small package.
SPY Review: The Perfect Portable Speaker
When we were determining the best Bluetooth speaker of 2022, it was hard to overlook the complete package with the Sonos Roam. It’s portable, offers incredible sound performance, and even has an IP67 waterproof construction.
It’s the kind of speaker we found perfect for outdoor usage, whether it was near a pool or simply in the backyard for a party. We were certainly surprised by the audio that came out of this portable speaker, especially when it roared with a heavy punch with the bass.
Beyond just a speaker for playing music, we loved how it easily paired with other Sonos speakers on Wi-Fi — in addition to having the option to use it as a standard Bluetooth speaker.
Runner-Up: Bose Portable Smart Speaker
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Coolest Feature: Spatial audio experience truly gives you that 360-degree feel while watching videos.
SPY Review: Are the Apple AirPods Pro 2 Enough of an Upgrade?
The Apple AirPods Pro were already a good pair of headphones, but the second generation of them has elevated them into the stratosphere. The audio quality is nigh-on unmatched across other flagship earbuds, but for us, it’s the options that put them at the top as the best wireless earbuds around.
The new H2 chip allows for better processing than before, which means that the noise cancelling is the best it’s every been, but it also means that the spatial audio is absolutely incredible. The battery life is pretty good despite all of that going on too, which is why these earbuds as the best you can get.
Runner-Up: Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Nest Cam (battery)
Coolest Feature: You get up to 3-hours of free video event history and it continues working during power and internet outages.
SPY Review: The Indoor/Outdoor Google Nest Cam Is Our Pick
The Google Nest Cam (battery) is an incredible home security camera. Aside form being usable both indoors or outdoors, this camera is also battery-powered instead of wired, which makes it almost too easy to install.
It’s not just the physical aspect of the camera that’s good though; it’s also the tech inside of it. Aside from offering a live feed, you can also customize the area the Nest is looking at to make sure it’s only looking where you want it. That means you can tell it to specifically check for movement around your car, door, or windows, instead of on the street if it happens to have a view of it.
Runner-Up: Arlo Essential Indoor Camera
Amazon Echo Show 15
Coolest Feature: The dynamic widgets that can be arranged to offer informative pieces of information for everyone to see.
SPY Review: The New Amazon Echo Show 15 Is So Much More Than a Smart Display
Smart displays can do a lot of different things, but they can often look a little clunky. The Amazon Echo Show 15 does away with the almost CRT vibe of previous models in favor of a look that manages to feel at home no matter where you decide to put it. It also feels a bit retro-futuristic, which is nice if you’re over the age of 25.
The 15.6-inch screen isn’t just good as a way to keep an eye on your calendars, or see sticky notes and to-do lists, but can also easily be used as a little TV to keep you entertained as cook, or when you’re in the bath. It can even be used as a photo frame too.
Runner-Up: Google Nest Hub Max
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)
Coolest Feature: It doubles as an Eero Wi-Fi access point extender to fill in any dead zones you may have at home.
SPY Review: Amazon’s New Echo Dot Expands Your Wi-Fi, Respects Your Privacy
The Amazon Echo Dot has been a fairly cool bit of tech ever since its inception. While there are other top performing smart speakers, most people view the Echo Dot as the most ubiquitous option, and it’s largely thanks to how easy it is to use, and the fact that, thanks to Alexa, it pairs with just about every bit of smart home tech in existence.
Well, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen), while not in possession of the most innovative name, does update the device nicely with a better speaker to enjoy music and podcasts on in addition to all of the usual features. It also has a clock, which really doesn’t sound like much, but it means it has a use even if you’re not asking Alexa what order the planets are in.
Best of all, it doubles as an Eero Wi-Fi access point. Meaning, it can help fill in any Wi-Fi dead zones that prevent devices in far away rooms in your home from maintaining internet connectivity.
Runner-Up: Google Nest Audio
Dell XPS Desktop 8950
Coolest Feature: The perfect balance of cost and performance
Read More: The Best Dell Deals Around
The Dell XPS Desktop 8950 is, to put it simply, the ultimate jack of all trades. It doesn’t have the best graphics or the best processing power, but it has more than enough of basically everything for the vast majority of people, and manages to do so without breaking the bank.
Of course, you can always choose to put a little bit more money in for higher-end specs, but even at a base level the Dell XPS Desktop has solid performance in most areas, has a sleek design, if a little unexciting for fans of RGB, and it’s a wonderfully compact desktop computer too, which is always a boon if you’re working from home.
Runner-Up: Microsoft Surface Studio 2+
Sony PlayStation 5
Coolest Feature: The sheer speed of this console and its next-gen graphics processing.
Read More: The Best Places to Hopefully Buy a PS5
While it may feel as though we’re still early in the new generation of gaming consoles, we’ve actually just passed the two-year mark. It probably feels like less time has passed because nobody could actually buy a PS5 to begin with, and that says a lot about how popular the device is.
The console offers something of a revolution over the PlayStation 4 thanks to it’s custom SSD, which allows for faster loading times than ever before, a feature that many of the first-party titles make the most out of. You only have to play the likes of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart to see that the new-gen trounces the old one by leaps and bounds, and while the Xbox Series X and S are both good, the PS5 just has better first-party games, at least for now.
Runner-Up: Nintendo Switch OLED
Insta360 ONE RS
Coolest Feature: You can shoot now and worry later with its 360-degree mod.
Read More: The Best Sports Action Cameras Are as Fearless as You Are
There are a lot of truly incredible action cameras around now, but for our money, the Insta360 One RS beats them all because of its flexibility. While other cameras can do what it does, they can’t shift as efficiently, and the ability to just snap on different lenses and have a whole new camera is wild.
Along with being sturdy and having some truly impressive stabilization, the Insta360 One RS is also a lot easier to deal with than previous iterations. This means you’ll spend a lot less time fiddling with individual images and spend more time in the action where both you and the camera belong.
Runner-Up: DJI Osmo Action 3
Fitbit Sense 2
Coolest Feature: The six-day battery life is better than what most smartwatches can offer.
First Look: What We Love About the Fitbit Sense 2
Fitness trackers are getting more and more complex and can increasingly do things we’d never have thought were possible. The Fitbit Sense 2 can track not only your heart rate but the rhythm itself to make sure there are no issues, can help you out with mindfulness content, and give you a daily stress score.
Not only that, but it can give you feedback on how to sleep better, and has over 40 exercise modes to boot. It’s so full of features that you’d expect it to need charging every half an hour, and yet the battery life can comfortably last up to six days, which gives you more than enough time to get a lot of data on your every day health.
Runner-Up: Oura Ring Gen 3
Coolest Feature: The ability to create pixel art as you want.
First Look: Twinkly Squares Creates Gorgeous Pixel Artwork for Your Walls
Twinkly Squares have all of the standard features you’d want from a smart light. They have more colors than you could ever hope to see, they’re easy to use thanks to a special app, and you can even control them with your voice if you’ve got any of the more common smart assistants.
What makes them really special though, is that you can go beyond just the normal functions and into what could easily, and accurately, be described as art. The unique design of the Twinkly Sqaures allows you to display incredible pieces of pixel art with ease, or you can draw your finger along the app to change lighting as you go. It makes them a proper feature of your home or setup, and we love the extra bit of flair.
Runner-Up: Philips Hue Festavia
Editor’s note: Jason Coles also contributed to this article.