Technology can make people's lives better and spark joy, which is the reason why T3 exists – we want to continuously show people the best technology and explain why it is so good.
And right here we celebrate some of the best technology and products that have lit up the past year. From mobile phones to laptops, through to monitors, video streaming services and smartwatches, these are the products that deserve recognition for delivering on that core T3 message.
The shortlists for each of these tech categories have been incredibly competitive this year, with people spoiled for choice in terms of product offering, and truth be told the T3 Awards 2021 judges had a really tough job in deciding on this year's big winners.
The judges did, though, and what follows are all the Tech award winners for this year.
Best Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
As is evidenced by just one look at T3's best phones guide, today there are quite simply an astonishing amount of quality, life-changing handsets on the market.
Smartphones today are, in many cases, full-on computing devices in their own right, and more and more people are finding themselves using their mobile as their primary computer.
After all, when you're holding a device loaded with a 5G modem, large and high resolution screen, a suite of powerful internal hardware, and a whole host of connectivity options for peripherals, there's very little you can't do.
Own a good mobile phone and your ability to be entertained, to take amazing photos, to work and study, and be creative among much more is taken to a whole new level.
And the T3 Awards 2021 judges thought the best example of this was embodied over the past year best by the superb Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
On review the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra got a maximum score of 5 stars on review, with T3's reviewer stating that the phone was "flagship in every way" and highlighting particularly its "stunning 6.8-inch 120Hz WQHD+ screen", "powerful flagship-grade hardware spec", "feature packed camera system", "S Pen Digital Stylus support", "large, long-lasting 5,000mAh battery" and 5G network compatibility.
We then concluded our review stating that "it is impossible not to recommend the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra" as it is "a hyper-premium handset that delivers across the board".
Simply put, this handset offers its owner the very best smartphone experience there is on the market today, and for that reason T3 is proud to announce that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the winner of the Best Phone award at the T3 Awards 2021.
The best phone shortlist
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Google Pixel 5
Huawei Mate 40 Pro
OnePlus 9 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Sony Xperia 1 II
Xiaomi Mi 11
Best Video Streaming Service: Disney Plus
The streaming service wars reached a new level of ferocity over the last year, with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus joined by newcomer Paramount Plus. The result is that there are now more video streaming services than ever before competing for people's money.
And, in uncertain times where many people and families are facing financial hardships, the ability for people to subscribe to multiple streaming services is being reduced, making it therefore critical that they get the right one for their tastes and needs.
We've seen this heightened competition and stakes play out in a deluge of new content from each streaming service, with hit shows and expanded content libraries offered up on a seemingly ever-increasing basis. The competition for subscribers is driving the online streaming service wars to new levels of quality.
The T3 Awards 2021 judges, though, thought one streaming service had offered its subscribers more of this value and quality than any other.
In T3's original Disney Plus review we said that the service delivered "out of this world content", and over the past year it not only has lived up to that but actually expanded its offering, too.
A raft of quality exclusive shows and movies such as The Mandalorian, Hamilton, Frozen 2, Raya and the Last Dragon, WandaVision, Cruella and Loki, among others, has been delivered, while its already ludicrous content library offering of Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic and The Simpsons has been bolstered dramatically by the acquisition of the entire Star catalogue of movies and TV shows.
Simply put, Disney Plus has delivered phenomenal value for money over the past year and offered content for a really wide demographic, too. It's original programming has also been taken to an entire new level, too, with WandaVision especially becoming a water-cooler mega hit.
So, for all those reasons and more besides, T3 is very pleased to announce that Disney Plus has won the Best Video Streaming Service award in the T3 Awards 2021. Congratulations to Disney for building such a great product.
The best video streaming service shortlist
Amazon Prime Video
Best Value Phone: OnePlus Nord
If there was one category of product where T3 has seen most movement over the past year it is the value phone market. That's because while the premium smartphone market definitely still exists, increasingly people are picking up phones that retail in the mid or budget price ranges, as simply put those handsets are delivering 90 per cent plus of the performance and features of the premium market but for significantly less money.
Advanced features like 5G modems, biometric security and powerful camera systems are no longer the preserve of the premium smartphones, and that is making more people than ever really question whether they need to spend big to get a premium-tier device. Just take a look at T3's best cheap phones guide to see this.
And this market shift has been a great thing for phone users, as it has meant that more brands have been really fleshing out their non-premium phone ranges, a fact that has seen the T3 Awards 2021 shortlist for Best Value Phone expand out to a whopping 10 devices. The competition in this sector really has been that fierce, and it has made the judges' job this year incredibly difficult in deciding upon an overall winner.
A winner has been picked, though, and that is the OnePlus Nord.
Accruing a maximum 5-star score on review, the OnePlus Nord was praised by T3's reviewer for the fact that "it scores very highly in all the key areas – camera, performance, battery life, design, screen, software experience" and then dubbed "our favourite phone right now if you want to maximise the bang you get for your buck."
And, well, combined those two things make a very compelling case for a best value phone recommendation.
Retailing for under half the price of most premium phones and, if you compare it to some top-spec hyper-premium handsets a third of the price, the OnePlus Nord really does deliver 95 per cent of the experience of those handsets but for a very much not bank balance breaking fee.
It's got a large 90Hz refresh rate 6.44-inch, 1080 x 2400 pixel AMOLED display, a powerful quad-lens rear camera system, good processor, plenty of RAM and, yes, even a 5G modem, too. Throw in a good battery, clean design and slick OxygenOS software suite, and you've got yourself a simply superb smartphone for the money asked.
So, for all those reasons and many more, too, the winner of the Best Value Phone award at the T3 Awards 2021 is the OnePlus Nord.
The best value phone shortlist
Apple iPhone SE (2020)
Google Pixel 4a 5G
Poco F2 Pro
Realme 8 Pro
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite
Best Laptop: LG Gram 17 (2021)
Over the past year the worldwide pandemic has changed how people work all away around the world, and the truth is that many have found themselves travelling much less than usual and working from home more. Flexibility has very much been at the forefront of many worker's needs and, with life slowly returning to normal, having a reliable portable computer to call on is about to be more important than ever before.
Many laptop brands realise this, as well as the fact that how and when people work is becoming more fluid than ever before, and that has led to some really interesting and game-changing laptops released over the past year. You only have to peruse T3's guides to the best laptops, best lightweight laptops, and best 2-in-1 laptops to see that.
The large nine-strong T3 Awards 2021 shortlist for our Best Laptop award is also testament to that, as well as the high quality of competition there is right now in the market. And that meant the judges had a really tough time in picking out a winner this year.
In the end, though, the T3 Awards 2021 judges selected the fantastic LG Gram 17 (2021) as the best laptop you could buy today.
The LG Gram 17 (2021) got a maximum score of 5 stars on review, with T3's reviewer stating that "this ultrathin laptop is perfect for working on the go, even for resource-hungry computing tasks", and praising how the system was "light as a feather" despite coming with a large screen, rapid internal hardware, excellent full-size keyboard and impressive battery life.
T3's reviewer then concluded that the LG Gram 17 (2021) "is leading the pack when it comes to lightweight laptops".
The T3 Awards 2021 judges thought this package sounded unbeatable in terms of both productivity and working flexibility, and for those reasons and more besides, they dubbed the LG Gram 17 (2021) as the best laptop on the market today.
The best laptop shortlist
Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
Asus VivoBook S15
Asus ZenBook Duo 14
Dell XPS 13 (9310)
HP Spectre X360 (2021)
Lenovo Yoga Slim 7
LG Gram 17 (2021)
Razer Book 13
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G
Best Gaming Laptop: Gigabyte Aorus 15G
The best gaming laptops make it easy to enter virtual in-game worlds no matter where the gamer might be, and do so without them having to compromise gaming fidelity or quality.
After all, what's the point in a gaming laptop if it offers sub-standard gaming performance, with things like under-powered components, poor screens, deafeningly loud cooling systems and woeful battery life making them a chore to use rather than a joy.
Obviously, price paid factors into how powerful a gaming laptop is, but that doesn't mean more affordable gaming laptops need be compromised like this, with well-chosen, complementary components and features, as well as smart design choices, leading to great gaming portables.
And that is what we've seen in the T3 Awards 2021 Best Gaming Laptop award shortlist, top gaming laptops offered at a variety of price points that each deliver the gaming goods. These are systems that look good, run games very well, and don't demand too many unwanted compromises.
Only one gaming laptop could be crowned king of all gaming laptops this year, though, and after much deliberation the T3 judges decided that the Gigabyte Aorus 15G was worthy of winning the Best Gaming Laptop award this year.
And, well, with the laptop that T3 reviewed rocking an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU on board (you can spec from an RTX 3060 through to a RTX 3080), as well as a 15.6-inch 240Hz FHD screen (a 17-inch screen is also available), a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM and 512GB, it's easy to see why.
The Aorus 15G also comes with Gigabyte's own Windforce Infinity cooling system, which after using and noting that "the fans stayed at a very respectable low volume throughout", T3's reviewer stated that "Gigabyte has got the cooling system just right".
T3 was specifically impressed with the 240Hz refresh rate FHD screen, too, stating that "we've got a fine-looking display here – details are sharp, colours are vibrant, and that high refresh rate helps to eliminate any kind of ghosting or blur. From playing games to watching movies, it's a panel that impresses, with very thin bezels around the top and sides of the screen, and a display hinge that feels robust and solid in use."
Overall, then, the Gigabyte Aorus 15G is really powerful gaming laptop that, aside from a pretty average battery life, delivers top gaming quality across the board. Simply put, it makes playing today's most graphically demanding games a piece of cake, and for that reason above all others, T3 is happy to confirm that the Best Gaming Laptop award at the T3 Awards 2021 goes to the Gigabyte Aorus 15G.
The best gaming laptop shortlist
Acer Predator Triton 500
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15
Dell G5 15 5500
Gigabyte Aorus 15G
HP Omen 15
MSI GE66 Raider
Best 4K Monitor: Philips Brilliance 329P1H
The past year has been great for the 4K monitor market as the technology has matured enough that most people, no matter their budget, can pick up a 4K resolution display – and specifically if you don't need to game on it.
Take one look at T3's best 4K monitors buying guide and you will see a wide range of monitors at prices that range from a couple of hundred dollars or pounds, all the way up to thousands. Now it is not so much the 4K resolution that dictates the price of a good ultra HD monitor but rather the features, form factor, and connectivity options on offer.
Which, of course, made it hard going for the T3 Awards 2021 judges when deciding what exactly would get the coveted Best 4K Monitor award this year. The shortlist included 4K monitors that ran the entire price and feature gamut, and truth be told they all offered great options for those who are looking to compute at an ultra HD resolution.
In the end, though, the T3 Awards 2021 judges opted for to crown the brilliant Philips Brilliance 329P1H panel as the best 4K monitor on the market.
This is a 4K monitor that delivers a number of headline features, including a 32-inch IPS 4K display with tiny bezels on three sides, a robust and sturdy stand, stylish chassis design, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4 and USB Type-C connectivity, an integrated pop-up 1080p webcam with Windows Hello support, as well as a number of display modes including Office, Movie, Game and EasyRead.
And that led T3's reviewer to state that "we were really impressed with this monitor and feel like it would be a good investment for any home workspace".
Because, in the end, this 4K monitor seemed to excel in terms of computing in an office or home office environment, and is very much geared towards those sorts of tasks, which right now is something that a lot of people will be looking for. With more people working from home than ever before, a 4K monitor that excels in these areas seems like a no-brainer.
So, for all those reasons and more besides, the winner of the T3 Awards 2021 Best 4K Monitor award goes to the Philips Brilliance 329P1H.
The best 4K monitor shortlist
Dell UltraSharp U4320Q
Philips Brilliance 329P1H
Samsung M70A Smart Monitor
Best 5G Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21
The best 5G phones used to be the preserve of the elite few, with the advanced technology only available at a very high price point. The availability of 5G networks was also a huge issue, with 5G coverage incredibly limited (think just certain areas of major cities) and that kind of made it easy for the vast majority of phone users to ignore 5G.
Now, though, 5G networks are increasingly commonplace and the price of 5G modems means that almost every new phone, even including budget phones (see the OnePlus Nord above as a great example of that) are coming with 5G connectivity built in. This is great for phone buyers, as it means that pretty much whatever they choose as an upgrade will be future-proofed with 5G, but not so much for the T3 Awards 2021 judges, who had an incredible job first narrowing down a shortlist for our Best 5G Phone award and then picking an overall winner.
A winner was chosen though with the fantastic new all-rounder from Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy S21, bagging the prestigious gong.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 currently sits top of T3's best 5G phones buying guide, with its 5G connectivity one of the main reasons why we recommend buying this handset. With the S21 in your pocket then you're covered in terms of tapping into the new era of 5G networks worldwide.
The judges thought the 5G connectivity was just the icing on top the cake though, with this phone's all-round hardware and software package, as well as affordable price point, called out as great supporting reasons to pick up this phone over others.
The Samsung Galaxy S21's combination of fantastic, buttery smooth 120Hz display and ridiculously fast Snapdragon 888 processor leads to a brilliant usage experience no matter what you're doing with the phone, from streaming movies to playing games, browsing the internet to engaging on social media, among many more things.
Simply put, the Samsung Galaxy S21 is a superb all-round phone, and one that also comes with 5G connectivity. It's a win-win situation, and one that sees it win the T3 Awards 2021 Best 5G Phone award.
The best 5G phone shortlist
Apple iPhone 12
Moto G 5G Plus
OnePlus Nord N10 5G
Oppo Find X3 Pro 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21
TCL 20 Pro 5G
Best Smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 6
It's the world's best smartwatches that we're focusing on now, and we're happy to announce that the Apple Watch Series 6 has beaten off the tough competition to be crowned this year's out-and-out winner.
There's no doubt Apple is king when it comes to smartwatches, when you first put on the Apple Watch Series 6, the changes from the previous (and also T3 Award-winning) version feel subtle, but impactful.
What it does do is give you a better overall package and experience which is what has kept it at the top of our list of the best smartwatches. The Series 6 adds a pulse oxygen sensor to its range of health systems, makes its always-on display 2.5 times brighter when in its dimmed mode, adjusts some other aspects (such as adding an always-running altimeter), steps up to the new S6 processor, and throws in all the new features of watchOS 7.
Put simply, the Apple Watch Series 6 impresses us greatly. The design is perfect, the screen is perfect, and the number of third-party apps and accessories is unrivalled.
Coming a very close second with a Highly Commended is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, which offers a similar set of health and fitness features, but is compatible with Android phones as well as iPhones.
The best smartwatch shortlist
Highly commended: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Apple Watch SE
Apple Watch Series 6
Garmin Venu 2
Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro
TAG Heuer Connected
- See all the T3 Awards 2021 winners