The story of technology in the 2010s is the story of gadgets going from the corners of our lives to everywhere all the time. The tools to create and consume culture are omnipresent now, offering us incredible new capabilities but also demanding that we care for them more than any consumer products in history. We mind their temperamental batteries, we twist in space to improve their wireless signals, we ask them to listen to us — but not too much.
Gadgets in the 2010s were shaped first by the furious race to win the smartphone wars and then a furious race to create new kinds of hardware once it was clear that Apple, Google, and Samsung would dominate phones. And that hardware was tied to software and services like never before — every light bulb the endpoint of a cloud service, every speaker imbued with the voice of the data center’s soul.
USB-C was inflicted upon an unsuspecting public; our headphone jacks were taken away.
My favorite thing about gadgets is that they are intensely revealing: each one is a semipermanent encapsulation of a company’s trade-offs and priorities, and once they’re shipped, there’s no more PR spin or influencer marketing to hide behind. The processors are fast or they’re slow. The keyboards are reliable or they break. The battery lasts a long time or it dies.
Sometimes, the batteries explode.
And when gadgets work — when they really work — people do fantastic and unexpected things with them. So many of the gadgets on our list are important not because of what their creators wanted to accomplish, but because of what people accomplished with them. That’s always been the story of technology, and the 2010s were no different.
Gadgets are back, now and forever.
—Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief
100. Google Glass (2013)
Google’s face computer launched with a big splash with executives literally skydiving into an arena to announce it. It led to an even bigger backlash and a new word: “Glasshole.” Though the product itself didn’t have a huge impact on the still-nascent augmented reality category, it was a big deal. It was a high-profile whiff and an early sign that Big Tech wasn’t just ambitious; it was also sometimes full of hubris. But Glass did lead to one important innovation: it was Google’s first serious attempt at computational photography in a product, which later led to a huge change in smartphone cameras. —Dieter Bohn
99. Amazon Fire Phone (2014)
The Amazon Fire Phone is probably the biggest smartphone failure of the last decade. There have been bad phones, there have been phones that haven’t sold well, but the Fire Phone is unique in its failure because it came from Amazon.
Amazon bet too much on its wacky “Dynamic Perspective” camera system, which tracked your head to let you see around the corners of icons, and bet too little on replacements for absent Google apps, which were missing alongside the entire Play Store. The hardware was lackluster, the software was bad; the only thing it was really good at was selling customers stuff on Amazon.
It’s a failure that haunts Amazon to this day: the company has never made another smartphone despite its other hardware successes in tablets, streaming devices, and e-readers. There is a silver lining, though — the Fire Phone’s failure paved the way for Amazon to scrap everything and create what would end up being its biggest technological success: Alexa and the Echo smart speaker. —Chaim Gartenberg
98. Juicero Press (2016)
Given Silicon Valley’s propensity to spend lots of money on wellness, selling a $699 Wi-Fi-connected juicer isn’t actually that bizarre of an idea. But Juicero was doomed from the start. Its product didn’t actually juice produce, for one. It required pre-packaged produce packs. Then, there’s the price. Juicero tested the very limits of what tech elites were willing to spend on their physiques, and it wasn’t $699. The company slashed its pricing to $399 within a year after launching. But the real kicker came when Bloomberg discovered you didn’t actually need the expensive juicer to squeeze the packets; you could just do it by hand. With that, Juicero became the poster child for unnecessarily complex technovations and overpriced, overhyped wellness products. —Zoe Schiffer
97. HP TouchPad (2011)
Hi. Dieter Bohn here, writing the entry explaining why the webOS-powered HP TouchPad deserves to be on a list of the gadgets of the decade. I am not 100 percent certain it belongs here, but I’ll make the case: when webOS finally died at HP as a result of corporate mismanagement alongside market failure, there was a huge firesale of these tablets for $99. Many smartphone platforms were killed off by Android and the iPhone, but few of them went down in a blaze of firesale glory. It was a fitting end and an iconic example of how even a company as big as HP wasn’t big enough to compete in the smartphone world. —Dieter Bohn
96. Magic Leap One (2018)
When Magic Leap first made the news in 2014, following a big Google investment, its lofty dreams around augmented reality were obvious — but few people knew what it was actually making. Real information trickled out slowly: its headset could supposedly project remarkably realistic holograms using groundbreaking photonics technology, and its talent included creative powerhouses like Neal Stephenson. These inflated expectations arguably weren’t good for Magic Leap’s first headset, the Magic Leap One, which was an intriguing step toward the future of AR, but faced serious technical limitations. For years, though, the semi-mythical “Magic Leap goggles” bolstered people’s confidence in the entire medium of mixed reality. —Adi Robertson
95. Lipstick battery pack
We use our devices for so much more now — work and play, recreation and procreation — and our devices are always powered on and transmitting. That means they’re constantly dying. It takes juice to sustain the two-way transmission of data over a cellular connection that enables something like this article to load.
That is why portable batteries — specifically, the svelte ones that look a little like a tube of lipstick — are some of the best products you can spend money on. You can just throw them in a bag, a jacket, whatever. I’m not the boss of you.
The important thing is that having an extra charge on you means you can live (slightly) more dangerously. Stay over at that new person’s place, maybe. Or be less neurotic about your charging habits. You’re free now! You’ve unshackled yourself, however briefly, from the tyranny of The Grid… even as you carry it with you. —Bijan Stephen
94. Fake RAM with glowing lights (2018)
It’s easy to forget PC gaming was once defined by indistinguishable beige boxes designed for corporate America because over the past decade, manufacturers of practically every single PC gaming component and peripheral have imbued their parts with the ability to glow in every color of the rainbow. You can buy and program your mouse, keyboard, headset, case fans, CPU cooler, GPU cooler, motherboard, power supply, cables, and even memory modules to match your mood, thanks to embedded RGB LEDs. But the ultimate realization of the trend didn’t arrive until mid-2018: fake RAM sticks with all that RGB goodness, but none of the pesky memory. Because it just wouldn’t do to have empty motherboard slots when you can fill them with glowing diodes, too. —Sean Hollister
93. Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch (2011)
The name that launched a thousand memes, the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch was the Sprint variant of Samsung’s Galaxy S II. It marked the height of the era’s absurd Android branding, which came as part of a demand for ever-so-slightly different carrier-exclusive devices in the early days of smartphones.
Despite the ridiculous name, the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch was a watershed device. It proved that Samsung’s success with the original Galaxy S wasn’t a fluke, established the Korean company as a force to be reckoned with in the smartphone world, and paved the way for the Galaxy S line of phones to become the de facto Android flagships going forward. Fortunately, phone names are a lot simpler now. Have you heard about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G? —Chaim Gartenberg
92. Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013)
Nokia’s Lumia 1020 arrived in 2013 with its 41-megapixel camera at a pivotal time for both Nokia and Microsoft. Nokia had adopted Windows Phone as its primary smartphone operating system, and the Lumia 1020 had a spectacular camera that was supposed to help make Windows Phone shine. Nokia did its job on the hardware side, allowing Lumia 1020 owners to shoot amazing photos, but there were no Instagram or Snapchat apps on which to share them. It highlighted Nokia’s risky mistake of opting for Windows Phone over Android, and perfectly captured Windows Phone’s lack of a software ecosystem. Months after the Lumia 1020, Microsoft acquired Nokia’s phone business, and the rest is history. —Tom Warren
91. Dyson Supersonic (2016)
A hair dryer never felt like a gadget until Dyson made one that looked more like a piece of sci-fi machinery than a home appliance. Even with a lofty price tag of $400, the Supersonic became one of the most-loved hair dryers on the market. People with all hair textures and types raved about the device, which is known for drying hair in less time than a traditional dryer, thanks to its powerful yet relatively quiet motor. It also keeps hair smooth and free of damage, thanks to a built-in heat sensor.
Dyson’s entry into hair care would become a cult favorite of beauty fanatics and bloggers across the internet and a status symbol among salons. The company later slapped 23.75-karat gold on the Supersonic. Then it followed the hair dryer up with the Airwrap styling tool, a $500 hair curler, which would influence competitors like Revlon’s One Step Volumizer. Dyson may not have been the originator of these ideas, but it made them extremely desirable in ways hair dryers never were before. Plus, it’s the only hair tool I know of that can cook a chicken. —Natt Garun
90. Microsoft Kinect (2010)
Microsoft’s Kinect ushered in a wave of games like Just Dance and Dance Central and, for a hot minute, it made controller-free games seem like the future. They weren’t. The Kinect’s inclusion and cost played a role in the Xbox One taking second place to the PlayStation 4 this decade, and Microsoft soon left the whole thing behind. In 2017, it stopped manufacturing the Kinect for Xbox entirely, and Microsoft’s sights are now set on a more traditional console launch for 2020. Despite its failure, the Kinect is proof that console makers are still willing to take chances on new gaming technologies. Taking the controller out of players’ hands was one hell of a jump. —Julia Alexander
89. Snap Spectacles (2016)
Selling people cameras for their faces brings with it two immediate problems. One, they create significant privacy risks. Two, they probably look terrible. Snap had a fascinating answer for both when Spectacles premiered in 2016. By making them sunglasses, Snap encouraged people to use them mostly outdoors, where people have fewer expectations of privacy. And by giving them an unusual shape and plastic frames, Snap made them feel like a toy. Granted, the initial buzz around Spectacles wore off quickly, and Snap wrote down millions in unsold devices. But Spectacles are still in development, and they pointed the way forward for augmented-reality computing like almost nothing else has since. —Casey Newton
88. Sphero BB-8 (2015)
Sphero’s little BB-8 robot toy reminded us that gadgets can be whimsical and bring us joy. Controlled by an app on your phone, the little ball rolled about at high speeds, cocked its head emotively, spun around in circles, and inevitably careened into your wall, popping its head right off. Whirr, whirr, thunk. Its antics delighted adults and cats as much as children. But like most toy fads, the BB-8’s popularity peaked and then waned; mine has been in a box under my bed since 2017. Sphero discontinued production of Disney toys last year. —Helen Havlak
87. Fidget spinner (2017)
When I arrived at my younger sister’s college graduation, she was sitting in her room, surrounded by some unstable-looking piles of cardboard boxes, and playing with a fidget spinner. I had heard of fidget spinners, but never actually seen one in the wild.
A fidget spinner generally looks like a modified triple spoke wrench, but with little circular weights at the end of each lobe instead of anything useful. They can be made out of just about anything that’s rigid enough: plastic, brass, stainless steel, an iPhone 7. Users hold on at the center, which has a ball bearing component, then spin the lobes. This is oddly satisfying in a tactile way that is really difficult to explain. Maybe that’s why everyone freaked out.
In 2017, a lot of writers decided to briefly panic about whether fidget spinners were corrupting the youth. (At least in my sister’s case, she was playing with one rather than packing. In her defense, however, packing sucks.) Fidget spinners were “the perfect material metaphor for everyday life in early 2017, for good and for ill,” The Atlantic breathlessly declared. “Are fidget spinners helpful or harmful?” Live Science asked. Even the Catholic Church got in on the controversy: could a fidget spinner serve as a representation of God?
Eventually, everyone moved on. My sister put her fidget spinner down and packed the rest of her room. The Catholic Church’s fidget spinner scandal was forgotten as more child abuse cases were reported. So maybe The Atlantic was almost right: the fidget spinner was very 2017, and after 2017, few of us thought about it again. —Elizabeth Lopatto
86. Coolest Cooler (2014)
The Coolest Cooler took everyone’s crowdfunding dreams and crushed them. The campaign brought in more than $13 million on Kickstarter, sold units to the public to raise extra money before crowdfunding orders had been fulfilled, and ultimately closed shop five years later without shipping to tens of thousands of backers. At one point, the project’s creators were doxxed and threatened. It’s a nasty story, and one that signaled a shift in crowdfunding: yes, creators could raise millions and get an idea off the ground, but the model also puts backers at risk. Countless other Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects have gone awry, but the Coolest Cooler represents one of the biggest mishaps. It’s still the second most-funded project on Kickstarter. —Ashley Carman
85. Beats Pill (2012)
To this day, Beats is synonymous with big, over-ear headphones. But Bluetooth speakers? Not so much, despite its best efforts. In 2012, the most popular Bluetooth speaker around was the Jawbone (RIP) Jambox, and Beats’ initial attempt at making a splash was with the hulking Beatbox Portable that ran on six D-cell batteries. Later that year, Beats put out the Pill, a smaller, more refined speaker that actually stood a chance to cast a similar level of influence over the industry. The Pill didn’t exactly set the world alight, but the power of Beats helped to establish the then-fledgling portable Bluetooth speaker market, one that companies like Ultimate Ears would end up dominating. —Cameron Faulkner
84. Fujifilm X100 (2011)
In 2009, the ‘60s-styled Olympus E-P1 signaled a new era of camera design, where large sensors could be crammed into small bodies that looked good hanging from your neck. That camera just missed the cutoff point for this decade, though, so here I’m listing Fujifilm’s X100 — a genuine design classic that went all-in on retro operation and aesthetic.
With a separate shutter speed dial and aperture ring, along with a unique hybrid digital / optical viewfinder, the X100 propelled Fujifilm back to relevance in the digital photography world and set the stage for its successful X-series mirrorless cameras. Never mind that the original had the slight flaw of unusably bad autofocus — the idea was good enough that the latest, more functional models still have a near-identical design. —Sam Byford
83. Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Nintendo has always been the number one handheld company. The original Nintendo DS was the bestselling portable console of all time, and in 2011, the company decided to piggyback off the device’s success and create a more powerful handheld featuring a barely usable gimmick. Unless you were playing something like Zelda: A Link Between Worlds where the effect helped you navigate dungeons, the 3D option was useless, and in some cases nauseating, while playing games. But it still led to memorable titles like Animal Crossing: New Leaf and a handful of new Pokémon games that you could play on the train or on a road trip, which is really the number one reason why you’d purchase a 3DS in the first place. —Makena Kelly
82. Citi Bike (2013)
Even if you’ve never used a bike-share system, you’ve probably seen them in every city you’ve visited. New York’s Citi Bike, Philadelphia’s Indego, Los Angeles’ Metro Bike Share, and many other bike-share platforms prompted a big change in transportation this decade, turning biking into a convenient transit option for even more people. The idea was kind of revolutionary: you don’t need to take care of or even own your own bike, let alone worry about chaining it to a fence and wondering if it’ll get stolen — just ride where you want to go, then make sure you dock it before time runs out. —Aliya Chaudhry
81. Starkey Livio AI (2018)
At the end of 2019, walking around with dongles sticking out of your ears is the norm, and manipulating the sound around you — with noise cancellation or equalization features — is routine. As consumer devices and traditional hearing aid tech increasingly cross paths, Starkey’s Livio AI hearing aid is the one device clearly pointing the way forward.
In addition to being a hearing aid, the Livio AI is a fully modern consumer gadget: it tracks your steps, detects falls, streams music, and has a built-in assistant. “The Livio kind of represents a merging of hearing aids and hearable tech and how that will probably look in the future,” says Geoff Cooling, a qualified hearing aid dispenser who also writes about hearing aids at Hearing Aid Know.
Opinions differ on whether Starkey’s vision is the true future for hearing tech. David Owen, who writes about the evolution of hearing aids in the book Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World, sees expensive hearing aid tech making its way into cheaper consumer gadgets. “What’s coming, I think, is kind of a break in the hold that the small number of traditional major hearing aid manufacturers have on hearing improvement,” Owen says. Either way, in-ear tech is an increasingly big deal, and the future looks something like what Starkey has sketched out. —Jacob Kastrenakes
80. Backup camera (2018)
Rearview cameras, or backup cameras, have been an optional feature in some cars for over a decade. (My 2010 Subaru Outback has one.) But a 2018 federal law requires all new passenger vehicles, trucks, and vans to have rearview monitoring technology, which means backup cameras are here to stay. While rearview mirrors have been around for over a century, they don’t help you see what’s directly behind your car below the level of the rear window, and they don’t provide a wide-angle view. This blind spot can be dangerous, even deadly: there are 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries every year resulting from backover collisions with light vehicles, a third of them involving children under five years old. Backup cameras don’t just help with your parallel parking — they can actually save lives. —Andrew J. Hawkins
79. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 (2017)
Nostalgia reigned supreme this decade, which meant the tech of our past came back in a big way — most notably in the form of instant cameras. As smartphone users agonized over which old-timey, film-esque Instagram filter to add to their photos, people also opted to buy hand-held cameras that could instantly print, just like Polaroids of old. Fujifilm undoubtedly capitalized the most on this trend, with the Instax Mini 9 as the sovereign. This colorful square camera dominated every random house party, warehouse wedding, and casual friend hang in the park. —Loren Grush
78. Google Nexus 5 (2013)
Although Google didn’t release its first Pixel phone until 2016, the Nexus 5 was where the true promise of a Google-made stock Android phone started coming true. Designed in partnership with LG, it was the first Nexus device not based on a manufacturing partner’s prior or existing design. The Nexus 5 was also a whole lot cheaper than the competition, at a starting price of $349, when it launched in the fall of 2013. It would lay the groundwork for Google’s expanding hardware efforts and, ultimately, its best-in-class camera, despite the Nexus 5’s early photography woes. —Nick Statt
77. RED DSMC2 (2016)
Like it or not, this was the camera that started a bunch of digital capture trends. Early on in the decade, the DSMC2 family of RED’s cameras focused on high-resolution RAW image capture with a solid range of compression ratios. This camera was everywhere, used by Michael Bay and Steven Soderbergh, on music video sets with Kendrick Lamar, and in the hands of YouTubers who came to adore its look. And that last part is key because it got a group of creators to ask a question that would change up the camera market: “Does it shoot 4K?” —Brennan King
76. Square Reader (2010)
This decade, the world became more cashless than ever with the debut of mobile wallets, banking apps, and peer-to-peer payment networks. The physical embodiment of this cultural shift is perhaps best defined by the Square Reader, which found its way into nearly every small business, from pop-up craft markets to fast-food restaurants. Square made it easy for shoppers to buy without carrying cash around and for business owners to accept credit card payments without huge terminal setups and blocky card processors by pairing directly with a smartphone. The tiny card reader would eventually change the whole point-of-service system, with companies now opting for the more sleek, ergonomic design found on the counter of nearly every coffee shop across the US. —Natt Garun
75. Boston Dynamics Spot (2019)
No robot made as much of a cultural impact this decade or better encapsulated our society’s hopes and fears about the forward march of the machines than Spot. The four-legged robot is the first commercially available machine from viral YouTubers (and sometimes engineering firm) Boston Dynamics. As the culmination of decades of research, Spot is mobile, robust, easy to use, and modular. It’s also the best example of a new breed of quadrupedal robots that are currently being deployed in industries like construction, energy, and law enforcement (with this last use case attracting some well-deserved skepticism and scrutiny). —James Vincent
74. Instant Pot (2010)
The Instant Pot is truly a success story for our modern times. The multifunction pressure cooker was created by computer scientist Robert Wang with $350,000 of his own savings, and went viral with the help of Amazon, food bloggers, and word-of-mouth hype. On Facebook, the Instant Pot community page has more than 2 million members, with enthusiastic owners fervently praising its ability to make everything from Indian butter chicken and perfectly hard-boiled eggs to cheesecakes and yogurt. Above all, the best thing about the Instant Pot is convenience: you can dump all the ingredients in one pot, set the timer, walk away to do other stuff, and come back to a fully cooked meal. Instant Pot’s maker merged with Corelle this year, a sign that the millennial-friendly gadget is on its way to becoming a legacy brand. —Dami Lee
73. MakerBot Replicator (2012)
How many Star Trek replicator references did people make about 3D printers? The name of the iconic MakerBot Replicator should give you a hint. The Replicator was born during a boom in cheap consumer 3D printing, following the expiration of key printing patents in 2009. It was a deceptively simple-looking open-sided box with a nozzle for extruding fine threads of plastic — over the course of minutes or hours, those threads would be painstakingly layered to form an object. Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t terribly practical for home use, and 3D printing has lost much of the hype that was behind it in the early days of this decade. But the Replicator survived long enough to find a niche in education and rapid industrial prototyping. —Adi Robertson
72. Swagtron hoverboard (2016)
The name may have been dumb — there was obviously no “hovering” going on — and yes, technically a bunch of them caught fire and burned a few houses down, but there is no doubt that hoverboards were a phenomenally successful gadget. People got really excited about them starting in 2015. Wiz Khalifa was arrested for riding one at the airport. J.R. Smith started using them after games. Jamie Foxx brought one on The Tonight Show. Swagtron’s Bluetooth-enabled hoverboard was the holiday gift of 2016. But alas, it didn’t last. All the government warnings and recalls caught up with the industry. The cultural zeitgeist has since moved on to electric scooters (or perhaps even electric skates?), but hoverboards will always remain a quirky footnote in the decade. Sorry, self-balancing scooter. —Andrew J. Hawkins
71. Motorola Moto G (2013)
If you wanted a good-looking phone with decent specs back in 2013, you’d have to pay a lot for it, and you might still get something loaded with bloatware. Motorola’s Moto G went against the grain with something that hadn’t been seen before in the industry: it prioritized being affordable, while still maintaining impressive design, reliable performance, and clean, unobtrusive software. It’s safe to say that this device kick-started the popularity of midrange phones, a market in which Motorola and the Moto G remain a dominant player. —Cameron Faulkner
70. Webcam cover
That’s right — one of the biggest gadgets of the ‘10s exists entirely to cancel out one of the biggest gadgets of the ‘00s. Webcams becoming ubiquitous on laptops was a big deal for live-streaming and chatting on video services like Skype. But it opened up a lot of creepy possibilities, including hackers remotely activating your cameras to take pictures of you on the sly. And the most reliable solution was the most low-tech one: add a lens cover.
The simplest webcam covers are carefully placed stickers or tape strips, as favored by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. If you don’t want adhesive gunk on your camera, and you’re sick of buying temporary stickers, you can get a more complex stick-on cover with a sliding panel. And if you’re lucky, you might find a laptop or other device with a built-in cover — like the sadly departed Asus Eee PC 1018P or the much newer Facebook Portal videophone. Given how simple and useful webcam covers are, it’s disappointing that more electronics don’t incorporate them, especially as companies put ever more camera-studded devices near your person. —Adi Robertson
69. Ikea LED light bulb (2012)
In 2012, Ikea announced that it would move entirely to LED bulbs by 2016. “Building on our belief that everyone should be able to afford to live more sustainably at home, we will make sure our LED prices are the lowest on the market,” said Ikea’s Steve Howard at the time. The aggressive move was met with ridicule by competitors and cheers by environmentalists. LEDs consume up to 85 percent less energy than the incandescent bulbs they were replacing and last for more than 20 years. In 2012, the cheapest LED bulbs cost between $10 and $15, while incandescents were less than $1. Ikea reached its goal in 2015 while bringing the price of an LED two-pack down to $4.50. Today, Ikea’s scale has helped bring the price down to $1 per LED bulb or $8.99 for the company’s smart LEDs, which cost $12 at launch two years ago. —Thomas Ricker
68. Boosted Board (2014)
YouTubers love it, and so do tech bros. The first Boosted Board showed that rideables were going to be a big deal, with an electric longboard that was easy and fun to ride. Since launching through Kickstarter, Boosted has introduced multiple boards and its own scooter. The next decade will likely usher in a wave of rideables, from new boards to electric bikes (and hopefully more bike lanes, too). Boosted isn’t the only name around, but it’s a sizable force and one of the industry’s pioneers. —Ashley Carman
67. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2016)
The fourth-generation MacBook Pro, released in 2016 after a four-year golden age for Apple’s venerated high-end laptop, marked a sharp change in direction. It included the widely despised butterfly keyboard — itself a travesty of design that led to countless repairs — a dearth of ports, and the replacement of the function row with the OLED Touch Bar. It arguably has not succeeded, and Apple has spent the years since on a course correction in response to growing complaints from pros. Last month, Apple finally introduced a MacBook Pro with a new keyboard. Although Apple is still holding out hope for the Touch Bar, this one at least has a physical Escape key. —Nick Statt
66. Blue Yeti Nano (2018)
Blue introduced its popular USB-connected Yeti microphone in 2009, right before the decade started. Bummer. But in 2018, it shrunk the Yeti into a smaller form factor called the Yeti Nano, which arrived just as the podcasting business skyrocketed. This year, Spotify aggressively entered the podcasting space with acquisitions and new shows, while already established networks continued to build their rosters with big names. Even Apple is rumored to be looking for original shows. The Blue Yeti and the Blue Snowball have become the go-to podcast microphones, and as the industry expands, so will Blue’s dominance in the space. —Ashley Carman
65. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (2016)
The Galaxy Note helped blow up the market for big phones, but that’s not the only reason its legacy is explosive. Samsung’s volatile Galaxy Note 7 had one of the most disastrous gadget launches of all time. Defective Note 7 models smoked, ignited, or even exploded, leading to an unprecedented global panic over smartphones. The device was banned from airlines, and news reports showed night-vision videos of smartphones catching fire in people’s homes. When Samsung’s replacement units also began scorching their owners’ pockets, it was time to call it quits. Samsung canceled the phone, issued a global recall, and apologized. —T.C. Sottek
64. Motorola Moto X (2013)
The original Moto X was a breath of fresh air in a mobile world of sameness. Under Google’s ownership, Motorola allowed customers to personalize their phones in ways that were unheard of at the time. You could choose from seemingly endless color options for the back casing, buttons, and other parts of the Moto X, all assembled in the United States. With the second-gen model, you could even pick from different materials like leather or wood. The phone ran a clean, near-stock version of Android and quickly received software updates. But despite a swell of early buzz, the Moto X never became a hit. Google ultimately off-loaded Motorola to Lenovo, and Moto found a new specialty: midrange Android smartphones. —Chris Welch
63. Qi wireless chargers
We used to dream of a day we wouldn’t need to plug in our gadgets to charge. This is the decade it became a reality; a coil in the back of your phone lets it wirelessly receive power from a charging pad, stand, or even a car cradle. Technically, it began with the Palm Pre and its proprietary Touchstone back in 2009, but it took until 2017 for Qi wireless charging to become universal for flagship phones — when Apple followed Samsung’s lead by adopting it for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Now, you can even buy wireless earbuds with Qi-compatible charging cases. —Sean Hollister
62. OnePlus One (2014)
Most Western readers will remember the OnePlus One as the first in a line of Android phones with great performance, stripped-down software, and low prices from a small company with rebellious marketing. At the time, it was an easy sell for under $300 — if you got an invite to buy one, that is.
But it was also an early PR flex for BBK Electronics, the Chinese supply chain behemoth that’s also behind companies like Oppo, Vivo, and Realme, which now has a huge combined share of the global smartphone market. These days, innovative features like pop-up selfie cameras and in-display fingerprint sensors often appear first on BBK brands in China and India before showing up on more expensive OnePlus phones in the West. Whether you’re getting a deal from OnePlus or Realme, though, BBK’s influence on the smartphone industry can’t be understated. —Sam Byford
61. Microsoft Xbox One (2013)
The Xbox One had a rough start. It was overpriced and underpowered, and Microsoft overestimated interest in the motion-sensing Kinect, before killing it outright. But the console has slowly found its footing as Microsoft released new iterations, invested in game studios, and introduced features like the Xbox Game Pass — Microsoft’s play at Netflix, but with video games. Since 2017, subscribers have gotten access to a catalog of games for a monthly fee. Combined with backwards compatibility, Xbox’s offerings (especially its exclusives) have never been easier to play. —Megan Farokhmanesh
60. Mophie Juice Pack
Mophie’s Juice Pack was, and still is, an extraordinarily good idea: a phone case that charges your phone, too. While the Juice Pack has existed since the first iPhone, it became a constant in this decade, easing the eternal anxiety about our phones’ dwindling batteries that has only increased as we’ve become more and more reliant on them. Mophie pioneered this case, but many other companies followed, and even Apple decided to give it a go. Mophie went on to make multiple versions of this case for different kinds of phones, including models that can be charged wirelessly — an even better idea. —Aliya Chaudhry
59. VanMoof Electrified S (2016)
In 2016, Amsterdam-based VanMoof launched its first electric bike, the Electrified S. The $2,298 pedal-assisted e-bike with anti-theft tracking and recovery measures felt like riding the future. Founded by brothers Ties and Taco Carlier in 2009, VanMoof’s goal was to create the best city bike in the world by focusing on the experience of buying, repairing, and recovering a stolen bicycle. At the end of the decade, e-bikes are now commonplace in European cities, outselling even regular bikes in bike-friendly countries like the Netherlands. E-bikes are practically a commodity now, with good electrics costing less than $1,000. But the VanMoof Electrified series continues to be the gold standard. —Thomas Ricker
58. Selfie stick (2014)
“Selfie” was Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 Word of the Year, and shortly after came the boom of the selfie stick. Useful for taking wide-angle shots without having to give your phone to someone else, the selfie stick became popular with vloggers and tourists alike. In New York City, the most visited city in America, you couldn’t walk through Times Square without having to dodge oblivious tourists’ floating phones. The selfie stick was even featured in Allure’s tips on how to take better nudes. But by 2015, careless injuries and even deaths while using selfie sticks caused their ban at some museums, music festivals, and Disney World. The selfie stick trend has waned since then, and with increasingly wide-angle smartphone cameras, it’s probably a gadget that’s best left in the past. —Adia Watts
57. 3.5mm headphone adapter (2016)
For better or worse, the 3.5mm headphone adapter has increasingly become a necessity with headphone jacks disappearing from phones. “Hand me the aux cord” is now “hand me the aux cord and dongle” as many of us now need some tiny, easily lost intermediary to plug into our daily devices. The headphone jack is far from being outmoded on headphones, but that didn’t stop Apple from no longer including headphone dongles with new iPhones in 2018, requiring a separate purchase. The adapter is here to stay: there’s a reason it’s called #donglelife. —Dani Deahl
56. Sonos Play:1 (2013)
At the time Sonos debuted the Play:1, traditional stereo sales were falling, but wireless speakers were on the rise. The problem was that many of those wireless speakers were expensive, large, and more than what many needed in their homes. The Play:1’s compact footprint and affordable $199 price tag made it incredibly appealing. It also offered high-quality sound, integration with other Sonos products (like a sub), and supported a large number of streaming apps upon debut. Simply put, Sonos pivoted the wireless speaker market with a good product that had good sound at a good price point. —Dani Deahl
55. Generic USB-C hub (2015)
Ideally, gadgets give you the power to do something new, but this one’s more about keeping pace with what you used to be able to do. Since 2015, Apple has been committed to the idea that your laptop should only have USB-C ports. It’s a beautiful dream, but as soon as you start to actually use the computer, you see the problem. Only half of the peripherals you actually need have USB-C ports, so if you want to plug in an Ethernet cable, SD card, monitor, or just about anything you didn’t buy at an Apple Store, you’re going to need one of these. They’ve become essential gear for anyone with a modern MacBook — and the inherent kludginess says a lot about the state of personal computing in 2019. This is backward compatibility incarnate and a reminder of how ugly Jobsian perfectionism can get when it runs into the real world. —Russell Brandom
54. GoPro Hero 8 Black (2019)
GoPro’s Hero cameras have always been great at filming without getting in the way of the action. But they’ve lacked an easy way to attach them to all the things you might want to attach them to, which is why my personal favorite gadget of the decade is the Hero 8 Black — or, more specifically, the two stowable prongs that are attached to the bottom of the Hero 8. Those metal bunny ears of perfection free the previously captive GoPro Hero from the plastic housing hell it has been locked in for 15 years. Gone are the days of duct taping my GoPro to helmets, chests, and cars because I forgot the housing at home. Fly free, GoPro Hero 8. —Becca Farsace
53. Anker PowerPort 4 (2015)
As the number of gadgets we use daily has grown, so has our need for outlets to charge said gadgets. If there was ever a scenario in which you needed to simultaneously charge multiple laptops, phones, tablets, wireless headphones, and anything with a USB port, Anker’s four-port charging brick had you covered. It’s compact and efficient enough to replace unsightly power strips, and perfectly portable for travel. —Dami Lee
52. Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry is your parents’ car: boring and reliable, durable and mundane. It is the Miller High Life of cars. You see various Toyota models everywhere because of Toyota’s totally understated achievement: making a car that’s actually worth keeping.
To people who drive a lot, a Camry is a friend you can rely on to get jobs done. That’s why a lot of ride-share drivers have them. If your job is to drive people around, you want to be able to remove all of the distractions that come with cars that are, technically speaking, more exciting. Fragility is not a virtue here.
The Camry is a hit with Uber and Lyft drivers, according to The Wall Street Journal, representing nearly 4 out of 10 non-luxury ride-hail vehicles in New York, with similarly high numbers in Chicago. (Although that may be because Toyota has a long-standing partnership with Uber.) It makes sense: if you want to get people where they’re going, you need to choose the right tool for the job. —Bijan Stephen
51. Oculus Rift (2016)
In 2012, home virtual reality was a novelty or a sci-fi dream. But a startup called Oculus was about to change that. Oculus built a cheap, but sophisticated headset out of sensors and screens designed for smartphones and raised more than $2 million on Kickstarter. The prototype wowed pretty much anybody who tried it, using a combination of head tracking and stereoscopic 3D to let people immerse themselves in a spaceship’s interior or a sunny day in Tuscany. Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the Rift as one of the next big social platforms — although that hasn’t exactly panned out so far.
The Oculus Rift’s boxy first development kit proved that VR experiences could be awesome, creating space for Valve, HTC, Sony, and other companies to introduce their own headsets. And the first-generation consumer Rift headset was a visually striking and thoughtfully designed foray into nearly unexplored territory: a black, textured pair of goggles with gleaming lenses and tracking cameras that made VR feel truly immersive. The Oculus Touch remotes, bundled with it later, helped establish a default layout for motion controllers. Even today, the original Rift is one of the best-looking and most comfortable VR systems ever created. —Adi Robertson
50. Google Pixel (2016)
Google’s original Pixel phone was a cohesive, impressive device that served as a sign that Android’s creator was taking hardware much more seriously than it ever had before — both in terms of creating and supporting it post-launch. Google was no stranger to making powerful, unique Nexus phones. But the Pixel had something that its previous products lacked: staying power and focus. Google’s Pixel didn’t do everything, but what it did, it did very well. And more than three years later, the original Pixel is a showcase for Google’s commitment to hardware. It runs the latest Android software without a fuss, and it still takes beautiful pictures. —Cameron Faulkner
49. Apple iPad (2010)
“Is there room for a third category of device in the middle, something that’s between a laptop and a smartphone?” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs asked when he unveiled the iPad in 2010.
There certainly was. Apple’s tablet computer successfully launched a new category of devices that sit between laptops and smartphones, and Android tablet makers have tried and failed to make a true competitor ever since. The first model was chunky, simple, and derided as a blown-up iPhone, but in the end, users loved the large touchscreen experience, pointing the way toward the tablet becoming more capable and laptop-like in the future. We still don’t know exactly where the iPad will head in the next decade, nor perhaps who its ideal customer is, but Apple has laid claim to the tablet throne with the iPad alone. —Tom Warren
48. Eero (2016)
Home routers looked and worked pretty much the same since their inception — then Eero came along. Eero’s mesh Wi-Fi system uses multiple access points throughout a home in order to make sure that you’re never without a signal. It’s a pricier solution, but it resolves the problem with dead spots that’s unavoidable on traditional routers, especially if you’re trying to get a Wi-Fi signal in the basement or have thick shielding between floors. While the market is now full of similar products, Eero led the way, and it’s still offering efficient home mesh systems. The company was purchased by Amazon earlier this year for $97 million. —Barbara Krasnoff
47. Dexcom G5 (2015)
Medical devices are undoubtedly scary. But in 2015, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) began blurring the lines between medical device and consumer tech. Although CGMs have been around since the early 2000s, they took off in 2015 with the introduction of the Dexcom G5, which paired with a user-friendly mobile app. Today, users can track their blood sugar readings on their watches and even use Dexcom’s API to develop creative ways to use their personal health data. Want a Twitter bot to alert your friends if your blood sugar drops dangerously low? Go for it. Not only have CGMs saved diabetics’ fingertips from thousands of pricks, but they’ve also given everyone (ahem, Apple) a look into the future of what wearables could truly become. Move over, step trackers and heart-rate monitors. —Cory Zapatka
46. Fitbit Flex (2013)
Fitbit’s first wrist-worn product, the Fitbit Flex, didn’t look like much: the rubbery band didn’t have a screen, just an LED light display, and it didn’t do much other than count steps. But the inconspicuous design meant people actually wore it. Its accompanying app also signaled a new standard for wearables, making step-tracking social and a competition. The rise of smartwatches saw Fitbits slip in popularity, but the company made us eager and willing to strap new pieces of tech to our wrists. Now, those products are ubiquitous and central to the health care ambitions of major tech companies. —Nicole Wetsman
45. Peloton Bike (2014)
When a product becomes the X for Y (see: the Uber / Netflix / Warby Parker of mundane product / activity), you know it’s got the business model and brand recognition to be a household name. Peloton did that for the boutique workout experience, slapping live stream classes onto an indoor cycling bike so users didn’t have to travel outside their home to get the studio experience. The Peloton Bike soon developed a “cult-ish” following of fans who were dedicated to Peloton merch, instructor catchphrases, leaderboard names, and well, getting their exercise on. The next decade will test how boutique home exercise might finally find its way into more homes — at hopefully a more accessible price point. —Natt Garun
44. Xiaomi M365 scooter (2016)
You’ve probably heard of Bird and Lime, the two companies that helped kick off the global electric scooter movement in 2017. Less mentioned in the scooter discourse is Xiaomi, the Chinese company that mass produces the two-wheelers that helped fuel the phenomenon. While Xiaomi is known more for smartphones and fitness gear, the company’s M365 e-scooter arguably made the bigger impact this decade — without it, there would be no e-scooter boom, no debate over insufficient infrastructure in the US, no buzzwords like “micromobility.” And while most of the ride-sharing companies have abandoned M365 to make scooters that are more rugged and less prone to breakdowns, Xiaomi is using the momentum to attack the next challenge: autonomous, three-wheeled scooters. —Andrew J. Hawkins
43. TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2018)
TCL’s Roku TVs have completely blown up old assumptions about the kind of TV you can get for under $1,000. They offer top-notch 4K HDR picture quality and come loaded with Roku’s easy-to-use software. Are your viewing habits being tracked? Probably. But when you can spend $600 or $700 on a living room centerpiece that can stand toe-to-toe with much pricier sets from Sony or Samsung, some people are willing to accept that trade-off. —Chris Welch
42. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (2016)
Most decades, it would be hard to pick a single graphics card. But most decades don’t have the GeForce GTX 1070, a GPU that hit the sweet spot of price, performance, and power consumption so completely it didn’t just wow gamers — cryptocurrency miners started snapping them up by the truckload, too. The crypto gold rush also affected the more powerful GTX 1080 and several competing AMD cards, but it’s the GTX 1070 that’s consistently rated the best all-around GPU. And based on Steam’s hardware survey, PC gamers tend to agree: only the weaker GTX 1060, 1050 Ti, and 1050 have more market share. —Sean Hollister
41. MacBook Pro (2015)
The Joni Mitchell lyric “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” feels very apt when looking back on the 2015 MacBook Pro. At the time, it seemed like a fairly humdrum update to Apple’s flagship laptop. If you revisit our review, you’ll see that we were mainly excited by its new trackpad, while referring to the rest of its design as “unapologetically unchanged.” But in retrospect, we took its many comforts for granted: the reliable scissor-switch keyboard, as well as its expansive array of ports (including USB 3.0, an SD card reader, and HDMI), all of which would disappear the following year. There’s a reason this model has remained a go-to for pros despite being, in theory, five years out of date. —Jon Porter
40. Lenovo Yoga (2012)
Lenovo’s Yoga laptop was given a very apt name when it first appeared in 2012: its hinges were developed to let the display flip all the way back so it was flush with the back of the keyboard, allowing you to use the touchscreen as a tablet. While this first model had its issues — it was heavier than most tablets and there was some criticism of the keyboard — its innovative design led the way for many similar models, and on today’s Windows laptops, flipping designs and touchscreens are more the norm than the exception. —Barbara Krasnoff
39. Google Chromecast (2013)
Once upon a time, you needed a complex and often expensive setup in order to get video from your computer or phone to run on your TV. When the Chromecast came along in 2013, all that changed. The little hockey puck-shaped gadget was simple to set up and cost only $35. It plugged into the HDMI port of a TV set and helped make streaming video a normal part of many households. And while many TVs now come equipped with streaming services, the Chromecast is still an inexpensive and useful gadget for putting your videos on the big screen. —Barbara Krasnoff
38. Sony NEX-3 (2010)
While Sony bought out Minolta in 2006 to bolster its enthusiast camera business, it never mounted a serious challenge to Canon and Nikon’s duopoly in the DSLR arena. The 2010 release of the NEX-3 and NEX-5, however, was a serious statement of intent. These were sleek, futuristic mirrorless devices with a new lens mount and large APS-C sensors that delivered unprecedented image quality for cameras of their size. They were clearly aimed at people who wanted to upgrade from the declining point-and-shoot market, with oversimplified controls that could be maddening for experienced photographers. In many ways, they felt more like gadgets than traditional cameras, but there was no arguing with the results they produced. Sony is now an established player in pro photography with its full-frame A7 and A9 lines, and these NEX cameras laid the groundwork. —Sam Byford
37. UE Boom (2013)
This portable speaker was ubiquitous for a moment. The UE Boom became the go-to choice for streaming music at a party, a picnic, or just around the house — and for good reason. The speaker was easy to use, versatile, and had pretty good sound quality and volume. This cultural artifact also represents a simpler time: the pre-Alexa era. Before smart speakers, we feared our speakers less and demanded less from them. All we asked was that they were loud and easy to move around — and the Boom is still perfect for that. —Aliya Chaudhry
36. Kindle Paperwhite (2015)
Amazon’s Kindle was the first popular e-reader, but it was with the Paperwhite that Amazon truly nailed the Kindle formula. The Paperwhite came with a few key additions: an integrated light, and starting in 2015, a high-resolution display that made text look almost as crisp as paper and ink. With the upgrades, the Paperwhite finally achieved the promise that Amazon had been making with the Kindle for years: an e-reader that wasn’t just as good as a real book — in some ways, it was better. —Chaim Gartenberg
35. Apple iPhone X (2017)
The last time Apple deployed Steve Jobs’ famous “one more thing” line in a keynote was to introduce the iPhone X — and in retrospect, it was one of Apple’s most deserving products to get such a hallowed introduction. The iPhone X ushered in a new wave of smartphones with notches. Its swipe-based gestures were so good that Google basically copied them in Android 10. And Face ID remains the gold standard of face authentication, nearly two years after it was first introduced. Right before Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the iPhone X, he said it would set the “path for technology for the next decade,” and he might actually have been right. —Jay Peters
34. Pebble smartwatch (2013)
No device captured the post-smartphone boom of the early 2010s quite like the Pebble smartwatch. A Kickstarter gadget wholly dependent on a world increasingly filling up with Bluetooth-equipped iPhone owners, the Pebble promised to deliver the wrist computer we so often saw in science fiction. And for a while, it did. The device was beloved by early adopters, even while the company’s operations were marred by production delays and the other harsh realities of manufacturing hardware. Pebble eventually fell victim to a more consolidated and powerful tech industry intent on owning the smartwatch space. By the time the Apple Watch arrived in 2015, Pebble was on its last legs. A year later, Fitbit acquired the company and, in 2018, it discontinued all support for the platform. Pour one out for the original. —Nick Statt
33. Philips Hue (2012)
The one smart home gadget that reliably worked this decade and actually made you feel a bit like you were living in the future was the Philips Hue smart light system. Purchase a hub and a couple of bulbs, and suddenly, you could set your lights to automatically turn on at sundown, flip off when you left the house, or change tones to match the sunlight as the day went on. The system has only gotten easier to use with time, with more and more lighting and control options that can hook into it. As the home gets smarter, this is what we want it to feel like. —Jacob Kastrenakes
32. Raspberry Pi (2012)
The Raspberry Pi is the little computer that could: a credit card-sized machine originally designed to get students interested in computing that accidentally spawned an empire.
At the beginning of the decade, creator Eben Upton was a director of studies at the UK’s University of Cambridge and disappointed at the falling number of computer science students. He devised the Pi as a way to encourage students’ curiosity: an accessible computer that was easy to play with in the classroom. With its small form factor and low price tag (around $35), the Pi also proved perfect for tinkerers. Upton initially thought he would sell between 1,000 and 10,000 units. Fast forward eight years, and more than 25 million have flown off the shelves, making the Pi the third bestselling home computer platform of all time after the Mac and PC.
Although these computers are best known for their DIY appeal, their simplicity and flexibility has seen them embraced by the commercial world, with roughly half of all units sold to industrial customers. So as well as powering retro game consoles and home automation hubs, Raspberry Pis around the world are also monitoring production lines and overseeing automation. In a decade of accessible computing, the Raspberry Pi has proved indispensable. —James Vincent
31. Amazon Fire TV Stick (2014)
If the 1960s ushered in color TV, and the early aughts brought the ability to skip through commercials, then the 2010s were defined by online streaming. Amazon’s Fire TV Stick helped make household streaming the norm when the first generation launched in 2014. People were able to stream YouTube, ESPN, Hulu, and a plethora of other video services from the internet directly onto their TV for just $39. As the decade comes to an end, with almost every major company pivoting to a streaming-first strategy, Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks have remained a constant for viewers looking for a cheap and easy way to stream their favorites. —Julia Alexander
30. LG 55-inch OLED TV (2012)
Home theater enthusiasts had been searching for a successor to Panasonic’s beloved plasma HDTVs. LG delivered and then some. There’s no better way to get deeper blacks, superior contrast, and an overall greater picture than with the company’s OLED lineup, which has grown more affordable in recent years. It all started in 2012 when LG sought to familiarize consumers with the benefits of OLED technology in its 55-inch set. Every pixel emits its own light, eliminating any need for a backlight. OLED TVs can be impossibly thin (even rollable), but their picture quality is exemplary, making them the pinnacle of living room entertainment. —Chris Welch
29. Tesla Model 3 (2017)
Tesla’s Roadster and its slightly more affordable Model S were just the opening moves for Elon Musk’s electric car company. The holy grail was a mass-market electric car that could go head-to-head with the most popular midrange sedans — and the Model 3 was supposed to be that car. Announced in 2016, it didn’t start rolling up to most buyers’ homes until early 2019, after years of what Musk would describe as “production hell.” The original promise of a $35,000 electric car had to be abandoned for models that are slightly more expensive in base form and much more so after add-ons like additional range and Autopilot. But it remains Tesla’s most affordable option and has continued to elevate demand and interest for electric cars across the board. —Nick Statt
28. Sony RX100 (2012)
The writing was on the wall for compact cameras at the turn of this decade. Phone cameras were improving rapidly, as were smaller mirrorless cameras. But Sony helped keep the category alive with the revolutionary RX100, a remarkable piece of engineering that crammed a one-inch sensor and a fast zoom lens into a truly pocketable body.
It offered far better image quality than any of its competitors, and was the first compact camera many serious photographers considered using since the film era. Sony has released new versions almost every year since, and the line has grown increasingly popular as a high-quality, nearly all-in-one package for vloggers, too. But the original 2012 model has yet to be discontinued — because it’s still great. —Sam Byford
27. Apple iPhone 6 Plus (2014)
The iPhone 6 Plus was Apple’s response to years of Android phones getting bigger and bigger — finally, iPhone users could have a big screen, too. The 6 Plus came with longer battery life and was practically made for watching YouTube videos. But its bigger size came with some unexpected downsides: the phone was comically oversized for some pockets, which would lead to the infamous #bendgate. The 6 Plus also elevated our collective cultural fear of dropping your phone onto your face while texting in bed. The screen was bigger, but so were the stakes. —Dami Lee
26. Frayed Lightning cable (2012)
The Lightning cable is probably the first singular cable to be widely and repeatedly used, every single day, often rolled up and hastily stuffed in our bags. That wear and tear has led to the ubiquitous and annoying problem of carting around a cable you rely on that perpetually looks like it’s on the brink of falling apart. Is it dangerous? Who knows? At least it’s still charging for now. —Dani Deahl
25. USB-C (2015)
The white whale of cable standards finally became a reality over the last decade: a single universal port that can handle power, internet, data, and display all in one. The actual adoption has been a little rocky, though, with competing specifications and shoddy hardware. But things have slowly and steadily gotten better: nowadays, you can just plug in a USB-C cable, and it’ll generally do all the things you expect it to do. There’s still plenty more that needs to happen before USB-C will reach its full potential, but it gets closer every day. And when the ecosystem does work, it’s a truly magical experience. —Chaim Gartenberg
24. PopSockets (2014)
We can’t stop accessorizing our smartphones. The 2000s brought us bejeweled cases for our Sidekicks and phone charms for our RAZRs, but the 2010s expanded on that trend, with a great deal of help from the PopSocket company. PopsSockets first hit the market in 2014 to solve a problem that we all suddenly had: our phones got too big to hold. The sparkly and colorful pop-up accessories stick to the back of your phone and offer a way to personalize your most-handled device while also making it a bit more usable. They’ve grown so popular that the company has started selling PopSocket wallets, lip glosses, and this incredibly cursed AirPods holder. —Makena Kelly
23. DJI Phantom (2013)
Despite DJI launching a palm-sized drone just last month and drones at large getting smaller by the hour, the drone that’s remained ingrained in my mind is the original DJI Phantom. It’s the drone that pushed lawmakers into shaping UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) laws, and the silhouette you see on “No Drones” signs. Heck, if you look for clip art online, most of it is that exact shape. It took a few iterations for DJI to nail the formula, however — the first two didn’t include a camera, and the first one didn’t even have a gimbal. But since the Phantom 3, there’s been little competition for the iconic drone maker. —Vjeran Pavic
22. Ring Video Doorbell (2014)
The Ring Doorbell started life inauspiciously as a failed Shark Tank product before becoming the default name in video doorbells, which let you see who is at your door from anywhere in the world. Now owned by Amazon, Ring has also ushered in an uncomfortable suburban surveillance state, powered by a private company’s products that are purchased by homeowners. Ring’s partnerships with police departments across the country allow it to provide them with easy access to video feeds from installed devices under the guise of reducing crime. But many critics say the crime-fighting effects of the Ring Doorbell are dubious at best. —Dan Seifert
21. Bose QuietComfort 35 (2016)
The Bose QuietComfort 35 quickly became the de facto choice for noise-canceling headphones. At $350, they were pricey, and they weren’t the most fashionable. But they won everyone over with incredible comfort that allowed for hours of wear, crisp audio quality, and superb noise cancellation that was, according to The Verge’s Chris Welch, like “you hit the mute button on everything.” It’s no wonder the QC 35 became a favorite among frequent flyers, something we noticed firsthand when they popped up in almost every artist shoot we did for The Verge’s What’s In Your Bag? series. —Dani Deahl
20. Juul (2015)
Juul’s sharp, slender form burst onto the e-cigarette scene in 2015. In a sea of bulkier, more complicated products, the USB-shaped device with easily replaceable pods was a nearly instant hit. Its flavors hit the right note: mint and fruit-flavored liquid still packed a high nicotine kick that rivaled combustible cigarettes.
It soared to the top of the market, valued at nearly $15 billion in 2018. But with its popularity came problems. Juul was most popular with teens and young adults, and in 2018, the US surgeon general called youth vaping an epidemic, specifically mentioning Juul’s surge in his remarks.
In recent years, the company has said that teens were never its focus, claiming instead that its mission is “to provide the world’s one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.”
But in a 2015 Verge article about the new product, Ari Atkins, an R&D engineer working on Juul, said, “We don’t think a lot about addiction here because we’re not trying to design a cessation product at all,” adding that “anything about health is not on our mind.” Reporter Nitasha Tiku noted that as he was talking, Atkins’ colleagues “collectively winced.”
19. Panasonic Lumix GH4 (2014)
For years, YouTubers looking for an affordable 4K camera have turned to the GH4. Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds camera was never cheap, but it was one of the most affordable ways to shoot in the high-res format, it worked with an expansive lens lineup, and it shot some really nice-looking video, too. Even as Sony cameras have increased in popularity, the GH4 (and its successor, the GH5) remain hard to beat. —Jacob Kastrenakes
18. Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Dell’s XPS 13 began as an unabashed MacBook Air clone — albeit one in black, with luxurious expanses of soft-touch rubber and carbon fiber for a silky-smooth chassis. But in 2015, it left the MacBook Air in the dust and evolved to become one of the best Windows laptops ever made, with a striking edge-to-edge screen, Precision Touchpad, and seven to eight hours of real-world battery life back when those things were rare. Dell hasn’t changed the winning formula too much since then, except to finally put the awkwardly angled webcam back where it belongs in the top bezel and slowly migrate from full-size USB-A and HDMI ports to USB-C. In 2019, it’s still the Windows laptop to beat. —Sean Hollister
17. Nest Thermostat (2011)
The arrival of the Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011 was a revolution for the smart home. It proved that there was an appetite for beautiful industrial design and intuitive user experiences applied to lowly tasks like temperature control, even at a price of $250. Before co-founding Nest Labs with Matt Rogers, Tony Fadell had created the iPod and led the development of the first few iPhones. “Most thermostats are built by plumbing companies,” Fadell told The Verge at launch, “but you really need to understand how to build a phone to make them better.” Nest sparked a broader interest in home automation and, for better or worse, set the expectation for how smart home devices should look, function, and cost moving forward. Google would purchase Nest less than three years after its debut for $3.2 billion. —Thomas Ricker
16. Anker PowerCore 10,000 (2016)
As we’ve become more connected to our devices and the services running on them, keeping a portable battery pack in your bag has almost become a necessity to make it through the day. Anker led the charge in the mid-2010s with its portable batteries, and it was among the first to make good-looking battery packs that you wouldn’t blush being seen with. Since its introduction, the PowerCore 10,000 has been a staple: small, affordable, and with enough power for an extra few charges. Newer, faster options are out there, but the PowerCore 10,000 remains hard to beat. —Cameron Faulkner
15. Nintendo Switch (2017)
Nintendo consoles are always different. Usually, that means sacrificing power — so often the guiding principle for new video game hardware — in favor of a new gimmick. Sometimes that becomes a massive success, like the quirky dual-screened Nintendo DS. Other times you get a flop, like the Wii U and its clunky tablet controller. When it was first announced, it was hard to know which extreme fit the Switch. It seemed like a gimmick. Here was an underpowered tablet, with weird little controllers that snapped onto it, that could connect to your TV via a giant plastic dock. It didn’t have 4K graphics; it couldn’t even run Netflix.
But none of that mattered. The Switch proved that convenience and flexibility are just as important as flashy visuals. The idea of taking a game with you wherever you went — on a plane, in bed, or in your living room — proved transformative. It helped that the tablet launched with the ideal showcase in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Being able to take a massive, open world like Hyrule anywhere sold millions on the Switch concept, and since then, Nintendo has followed that up with a string of hits, including Pokémon Sword and Shield, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Super Mario Odyssey. It still can’t play Netflix, but the Switch has proven itself to be much more than another Nintendo gimmick. —Andrew Webster
14. Shitbox Dell Chromebook
You know this Chromebook. It’s the old, cheapo, beat-up one that you throw off your bed at night or see on the desks at countless schools. Who makes it? What model is it? Who knows. But it’s everywhere, and this decade, it was one of the key ways people — especially students — got online and got work done. The hardware was never very good, but it did the basics. And that was all we needed. —Jacob Kastrenakes
13. Samsung Galaxy Note (2011)
Now that we live in an era where Apple’s smallest iPhone comes with a 5.8-inch screen, it’s hard to imagine that the Galaxy Note’s 5.3-inch screen was big enough to kick off the controversy around “phablets.” Yet, that’s exactly the term it ended up popularizing. Putting such a massive screen on a phone was a much bolder move back in 2011 when the iPhone still had a 3.5-inch screen and when massive bezels made large phones even bulkier. But Samsung was right to see a need for more screen real estate on our smartphones, and now, eight years later, it’s hard to imagine a time before that was the case. —Jon Porter
12. TV remote with Netflix button (2011)
Between 2010 and today, Netflix went from being a more convenient Blockbuster to one of the most popular streaming services in the world, producing some of the most talked-about movies and television shows. Netflix and TV makers wanted to ensure that their customers had easy access, and they came up with a simple but revolutionary decision: put a Netflix button on remotes. Netflix buttons are everywhere, and it’s helped make Netflix a centerpiece for family room TV sets instead of something people only pull up on their phones, iPads, and computers. Now, Netflix is available at the click of a button. —Julia Alexander
11. Apple iPad Air (2013)
The iPad Air was the one that got it right: with a thinner and lighter design, significantly slimmed-down bezels, and a fast and power-efficient processor, the Air struck an ideal balance of size, weight, and speed. It had an app ecosystem that was unparalleled in 2013, and software like Pages, Numbers, GarageBand, and iMovie came bundled with the Air to demonstrate its potential. The tablet had its limitations, but it marked the real start of the question that we’re still debating today: can the iPad replace your laptop? —Dami Lee
10. Google Pixel 2 (2017)
The Pixel may have opened a new era for Google phones after the Nexus line sputtered out, but the Pixel 2 was the one that defined where Google’s phones would go next — and it actually managed to push the industry along with it. The Pixel 2 premiered with AI-based “computational photography” that offered features like portrait mode and augmented reality support from a single lens.
But it was one key trick — taking a series of underexposed photos and using the data to create a far more detailed picture than a smartphone’s tiny camera would otherwise be capable of — that handed Google the undisputed title of smartphone camera champion for a while and gave other companies, including Apple, a road map for where to go next. Google pushed the boundaries of what smartphone cameras could do and paved the way for features like Night Sight and Super Res Zoom that, frankly, feel impossible to be without today. —Natt Garun
9. Sony PlayStation 4 (2013)
The PlayStation 4 easily beat out its competition in terms of power, price, and game offerings to become this decade’s leading console. Exclusive titles like The Last of Us, God of War, Uncharted 4, Persona 5, and Death Stranding made the console a must-own this generation, and Sony has continued to refine the hardware in the years since launch, with upgrades like the PS4 Pro to give the system even more staying power. Even as this console cycle winds down, the PlayStation 4 has managed to break records, with the PS4 becoming the second bestselling home console ever, coming in under the PS2. Heading into the new decade and next console generation, the PlayStation 4 has proven that Sony can deliver a stellar, affordable product without sacrificing quality. —Megan Farokhmanesh
8. Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (2014)
Microsoft’s tablets got off to a bumpy start with the Surface RT, but just a couple of years later, the Surface Pro 3 really got things right. “This is the tablet that can replace your laptop,” Microsoft’s Surface chief declared during the Pro 3 launch. Microsoft perfected the Surface Pro hardware here, thanks to the combination of a kickstand that freely adjusts, a larger 3:2 aspect ratio display, an incredibly thin form factor, and a reliable Type Cover keyboard. Microsoft has tweaked this formula ever since and inspired everyone to copy the Surface Pro. —Tom Warren
7. Apple Watch Series 3 (2017)
In 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook still had a lot to prove. He had brought the company to stratospheric profits, but he hadn’t personally overseen the launch of a new hit product — not since Steve Jobs died. The Apple Watch was meant to launch an entirely new category of gadgets, and Apple spared no expense for the launch: Bono, claims that the Digital Crown was as important as the mouse, and a custom-built building on a college campus.
It took three generations to make the Apple Watch that hit product. The Apple Watch Series 3, released in 2017, was the first to come close to living up to Apple’s original vision. A relentless focus on what actually worked (health tracking and elegant watchface information) and a deemphasis on what didn’t (third-party apps and sending weird thirsty rando emoji) turned into a winner. It may not have reached the heights Cook originally envisioned, but it’s better than everything else you could strap to your wrist. —Dieter Bohn
6. Apple AirPods (2016)
Apple introduced AirPods on the very same day that it killed the headphone jack with the iPhone 7. And in the years since, they’ve become an indispensable accessory for millions of people. Other companies like Bragi had already paved the way to truly wireless earbuds, but as it’s done so many times in the past, Apple took its time entering a new product category — and then nailed it.
Once people got over their very recognizable look and started using them, AirPods quickly became a sensation and were hard to buy for months. They came in an easily pocketable case that always kept them charged up. The process of pairing AirPods with an iPhone — just hold the flipped-open case near the phone — eliminated the traditional frustrations of Bluetooth. And they sounded perfectly fine, with balanced and clean sound reproduction.
Since the originals, Apple has followed up with models that add wireless charging and, most recently, noise cancellation (and an improved in-ear fit). Companies like Jabra, Sony, and others have produced worthy AirPods rivals over the last couple years, but for anyone with an iPhone, they’re still the default, must-have earbuds. —Chris Welch
5. Tesla Model S (2012)
Tesla’s Model S sedan certainly wasn’t the first electric car, but it seems like it was the first to really matter. The Model S helped transform Tesla from a struggling, niche automaker with only one car in its lineup to a global phenomenon that, while still struggling to turn a profit, has made an indelible mark on the auto industry and pop culture as a whole. For better or worse, it made Elon Musk a household name. And more importantly, the Model S made electric cars look cool — a bit of lightning in a bottle that Tesla’s competitors are themselves hoping to catch.
You can make the argument that the Model S has since been eclipsed by the more minimalist and affordable Model 3 in the category of “most important electric vehicle.” But the Model 3 wouldn’t exist without the Model S. According to Musk’s master plan, the luxury vehicle — the Model S starts at $75,000 — needed to be released first to fund the production of the more mass-market one. If indeed the Model 3 leads us to a future of more affordable, zero-emission vehicles, then it will be because the Model S made it possible. —Andrew J. Hawkins
4. Samsung Galaxy S6 (2015)
By 2015, Samsung had already established the fact that it could sell a lot of smartphones. But while the Galaxy line had grown to be very popular, Samsung’s success was often criticized as just being the result of aggressive marketing.
The Galaxy S6 changed that: it was the first Galaxy phone people actually wanted to buy, not just because it was the only phone that wasn’t an iPhone at the carrier store. With a sleek glass-and-metal finish, vibrant OLED screen, and two designs — one with a curved screen — the Galaxy S6 said goodbye to Samsung’s cheap plastic finishes and ugly aesthetics and showed that the company could make phones that are just as desirable as Apple’s.
The S6 design was so successful it carried through Samsung’s product line for the rest of the decade. You can even see its DNA in 2019’s Galaxy S10 and Note 10. While the Galaxy S8 became Samsung’s most popular phone of the decade, it was the Galaxy S6 that really changed the perception of the company and showed Samsung was a design force to reckon with. —Dan Seifert
3. Apple MacBook Air (2013)
This wasn’t the first MacBook Air or even a design refresh, but the 2013 MacBook Air represented the ideal thin laptop: perfection of the form.
Apple unveiled the MacBook Air redesign that would define the modern laptop in 2010. The 13.3-inch model included two USB ports, a MagSafe connector, an SD card slot, and, of course, no CD drive, an omission that would soon become standard across the industry.
But it was three years later that Apple finally had all the right pieces: namely, a processor that could properly balance performance and battery life. The 2013 model lasted around 13 hours on a single charge, more than enough to keep you working all day in a coffee shop.
We didn’t realize how good we had it in 2013: this was before Apple’s terrible butterfly keyboards and the questionable disappearance of just about every single port. And as high-res displays became the norm, battery life this good wouldn’t be coming back.
The MacBook Air was iconic, and the 2013 version was the epitome of the product. —Ashley Carman
2. Amazon Echo (2014)
Science fiction movies have had computers that answered back for decades — think the voice of Star Trek’s Enterprise — but it wasn’t until Amazon came out with the Echo smart speaker that digital assistants came into our homes. Amazon’s Alexa assistant informed you of the weather, answered questions, told stories to your kids, and became the punchline for hundreds of jokes. And eventually, as its abilities increased, it was able to turn on your lights, start your car, arm your alarm system, and help you sleep.
Five years later, Alexa is now ubiquitous. The puck-shaped Echo Dot, which went on sale in 2016 for half the price of the original Echo, helped bring the assistant into more corners of the home, and more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices have now been sold. Alexa and the Echo are not without their rivals, including Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri, and there have been some controversies along the way, many dealing with privacy issues. But despite these road bumps, Alexa is quickly becoming as much a part of our lives as the TV set and telephone. —Barbara Krasnoff
1. Apple iPhone 4 (2010)
We spent hours arguing about every product on this list and where they ranked, but the top spot was never really in dispute: the iPhone 4 is the most beautiful smartphone ever made, it arrived in a swirl of controversies that shaped the entire tech and media landscape, and it remains the basic template for phones to this day.
The iPhone 4 was the first phone to be built as an ultra-precise glass-and-metal sandwich, a design legacy still visible in every flagship phone today. The iPhone 4 had the first Retina Display. It had the first selfie camera on an iPhone, and the 5-megapixel camera on the back set a photo quality standard that took years for the competition to match. The operating system gained the ability to run background tasks and was officially named “iOS” for the first time. The A4 chip inside was the first Apple-designed processor in a phone, which kicked off the company’s decade-long run of processor dominance.
It was the first iPhone on Verizon, which was news so big at the time that Apple held an entirely separate event to announce it.
But it wasn’t perfect: the external antenna system could be made to drop a signal by gripping the phone tightly, leading Steve Jobs to first tell people to “just avoid holding it in that way” and then convene the “Antennagate” press conference to demonstrate that other phones had the same problem, offer everyone a case, and basically charm his way out of the issue. It worked, creating a new template for crisis management.
And of course, a prototype iPhone 4 was left behind in a bar and sold to Gizmodo, which leaked everything about it, causing Steve Jobs to send the cops to raid editor Jason Chen’s house and ultimately sue the site for extortion. This did not work, and now everything leaks anyway.
It’s been a wild decade of gadgets and technology, but mostly, it’s been the decade of the smartphone. And there has never been a phone that changed both technology and culture around it like the iPhone 4. Someone ought to make another one. —Nilay Patel