Best Products of 2016: Mobile

This year, mobile tech's underdogs came out on top

Best products 2016 pixel

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Google Pixel phones

Google finally did it. After years of dabbling in devices with the Nexus line of products, Google got serious about making its own gadgets in 2016. The Pixel and Pixel XL debuted alongside a fully featured ecosystem of products, all of which are made by Google. The Daydream View virtual reality headset, Google Home, and the new Chromecast Ultra all compliment the Pixel phones. With this robust lineup, Google has laid the groundwork for an exciting new future as a hardware company on the same scale as Apple and Samsung.

Indeed, its Pixel phones rival the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 in terms of power, software, camera tech, and premium design. The Pixel can go toe-to-toe with the best smartphones ever made, because Google has overseen every aspect of these phones’ creation for the very first time. The hardware and software are perfectly tuned to make a cohesive, clear-headed product. The Pixel phones are the very best Android phones you can buy, period.

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And with this pair of products, all the things that once held Android back are no more. The weird user interfaces, slow software updates, and security concerns that plague every Android phone don’t apply here. Google’s Pixel phones run Pure Android, which is at its best with the latest version of Nougat and a full-featured artificially intelligent bot called Google Assistant. Google can also finally issue instant software updates and security patches to Pixel phones without going through any middle men.

Google also built 24/7 customer service right into the Pixel’s Settings menu, so you can chat or call a Google representative whenever you run into a problem with your phone. It’s a forward-thinking move that will make owning a phone and making the most of it easier than ever before.

The Pixel phones represent a big shift for the smartphone industry. Now that Google is going head-to-head with Apple on hardware and software, there’s no telling what could happen. We expect great things from Google’s new hardware division, and we can’t wait to see where the Pixel goes next.

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AMAZON KINDLE OASIS
Best Products of 2016 Mobile

Runner up
Amazon Kindle Oasis

Amazon rewrote the book on ebook readers with its exceptionally innovative Kindle Oasis. Its cutting-edge design, crystal-clear E Ink screen, and large library of reading material make it the ultimate ebook reader for book worms. The Oasis boasts two months of battery life and it comes with its own slick, leather battery cover. If you’re a Prime subscriber, you can access thousands of ebooks for free on your device or sign up for Kindle Unlimited for even more titles. With the Oasis, Amazon has finally made the ultimate ebook reader.

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POKEMON GO

Best Products of 2016 MobileRunner up
Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go led a social revolution in 2016. The pioneering game mobilized an entire generation of smartphone users around the world and made them wander about in hopes of catching rare Pokemon. It became a total social phenomenon around the entire world. The game has lasting implications for mobile games and the use of augmented reality in tech. Pokemon Go made AR relevant and fun for the first time, and it inspired millions to go forth and catch ’em all. We imagine many more mobile games will follow in Pokemon Go’s footsteps with cool AR features.

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Whew! Rough year. Fortunately, we got some amazing tech out of it. Digital Trends’ expert editors picked the most amazing gadgets in their respective categories, then convened as a panel to pick the one that towered above them all. Join us every day between now and Jan. 1 as we recap our favorites, and build up to the big Best of 2016 reveal!
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.
Smart Home

LaMetric teased Sky, an upcoming app-controlled mosaic light panel, at CES 2019

Smart home startup LaMetric put a light in the eyes of guests at this year's CES 2019 with a prototype of a coming product called LaMetric Sky which uses multi-colored LED panels to form app-controlled artwork.
Mobile

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Mobile

OpenTable points can now be used to whittle down cost of a hotel stay

Have some OpenTable Dining Points built up? Now those points can also be used to make your own hotel discounts. OpenTable is teaming up with Kayak to use points as discounts on participating hotels.
Mobile

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Deals

REI slashes prices on Suunto, Garmin, and Fitbit Versa smartwatches

Though fitness trackers and smartwatches can get pretty pricey, REI is offering some sweet discounts on top brands. Right now, you can get a new smartwatch from Fitbit, Suunto, and Garmin for up to 35 percent off its normal price.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.
Wearables

Check out the four cool Swatch watches you can use for mobile payments

Swatch has announced its Swatchpay technology is now available in Switzerland, enabling mobile payments from your Swatch watch. It works in a similar way to Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here's everything about it.
Mobile

How to jailbreak your iPhone on iOS 12: A beginner’s guide

The latest jailbreaking tools for iOS 12 make freeing your iOS device easier than ever. This guide will teach you how to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad, and explain what jailbreaking will do for you.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.