TechRadar has been on the ground at IFA 2023 checking out all the coolest tech of the show this year, from a portable blender that actually makes sense to a waterproof and floating TV and a phone that's also a purse, sort of.
But what's the really good stuff – the practical gadgets and tech upgrades that will be available in the future, that you should be be keeping your eyes on?
That's where our Best of IFA 2023 awards come in! Chosen by our editors based on their hands-on experience with what we found at the show, these are our picks of the year. Some are products available imminently, while others are tech advancements you'll have to wait a little longer to see in production.
But all will either push their category to a new level, or they're an even better and smarter implementation of existing technology, designed to make your life easier or more enjoyable. So here are the 13 products that stood out to us from IFA 2023.
IFA 2023 Best Phone: Honor Magic V2
The thinnest folding phone in the world feels like a marvel in the hand – unfolded, it's astoundingly slim. Even folded it's only 1mm thicker than the Samsung S23 Ultra, and is actually lighter than the Samsung to boot. The bright HDR-ready screen really pops, and it's beautifully detailed, while a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset with 16GB of RAM keeps everything smooth in use.
In our hands-on Honor Magic V2 review, we were majorly impressed with the performance and specs, but it was that design that really gripped us. An issue with folding phones has been that they're bulkier and less pocketable than regular phones, but the Magic V2 is a huge leap forward in this area, and you feel it the second you pick it up.
Not many devices manage to make the whole rest of the field seem outdated the moment you hold them, but the Magic V2 is doing that to the best folding phones, making it a worthy IFA 2023 Awards winner.
IFA 2023 Best TV: TCL X955
TCL's new flagship TV hits a number of firsts, demonstrating mini-LED hitting a new level. Delivering a claimed 5,000 nits of brightness with 5,000 dimming zones for excellent contrast, it's a dazzling thing to see in person, and will be a fascinating challenger to the best TVs.
Once you get over the scale of 98-inch TVs anyway, the general brightness of it really leaps out. Colors are bolder than in other TVs nearby, but still realistic; white highlights are so much cleaner and crisper. The black tones look inky deep, with an impressive minimal level of blooming, as you'd hope from a TV that's pitching itself on greater control.
Based on our experience, it looks like the TV handles reflections better than a lot of models too, and since this could be the next big battle across TVs, that's a great thing to have as well. But it's just the icing on the cake – TCL's flagship wins its award for showing that mini-LED can still be pushed to new heights of performance.
IFA 2023 Best smart TV tech: TiVo OS
The new TiVo OS smart TV operating system may be a newcomer to the market, but it’s already shown us it can hold its weight against Google, Roku and other players in the space – and it really could become the best smart TV software out there. The smart layout that prioritizes recommendations looks great, but is nothing especially new. No, where TiVo really stands out is its voice search feature. Voice search is also nothing new, but TiVo takes things up a gear.
In our demo, we started by asking the service to “show me action movies” and were presented with an eclectic range of options. However, we didn’t quite find what we wanted, so we followed up by narrowing it down to “only from the ’90s” and “only those starring Sylvester Stallone”. This kind of voice search with contextual follow-up refinements isn’t available on other services, and looks like a great way to find something that best matches up with the tastes of everyone sitting around for film night.
We were also impressed that the search feature could find a film based on quotes like “show me the money” and “hasta la vista baby.” TiVo admitted it’s not perfect – start quoting your favorite obscure indie flick and it’ll be stumped – but we were pleasantly surprised by how successful it was with the movies we tried, to help you find the movie that's right on the tip of your tongue.
The smart TV world has been pretty settled in its groove for a while now, but TiVo OS is coming in with some great developments on what's gone before – in a world where it's hard to stand out, it made an instant impact, and that's worth one of our IFA 2023 awards.
IFA 2023 Best home theater innovation: Dolby Atmos FlexConnect
This is the year that wireless Dolby Atmos sound really takes off. We loved our demo of Play-Fi's new tech for wireless Dolby Atmos and DTS streaming, but it's Dolby's own tech that takes our award, for the way it rethinks the whole idea of how we arrange speakers for a great home theater experience.
Dolby Atmos FlexConnect enables you to connect any compatible speakers to any compatible TV wirelessly, and to put them anywhere in the room. They can be mismatched speakers, and they don't need to mirror each others' positioning. The system then calibrates itself, using sounds from the speakers to locate them physically in comparison to the TV, and also testing their range and capabilities. It then renders a new sound model for your setup, combining the TV with the speakers into one soundscape.
We got a test with the first prototype system, which is a TCL TV with some prototype TCL speakers, and the effect is amazing. With just two speaker placed in awkward places, we got height, width and even a sense of some sound coming from behind. Initially, the system will work with only two speakers (and potentially a subwoofer in addition), but it's capable of supporting six speakers.
The potential of this system is huge – you can place speakers wherever is convenient or pleasing for you, not where is optimal for recreating sound, and the system will make it optimal. A huge change is coming to the world of home theater (and to the best soundbars) with the rise of this technology, and that's why it wins one of our awards.
IFA 2023 Best speaker innovation: Urbanista Malibu
At first glance, this is a relatively non-descript Bluetooth speaker. It's fairly chunky for a portable speaker, but will still go perfectly in a bag. It's well-built in materials that feel high quality, and has an ergonomic design with a lip at the top and bottom that not only keeps it sturdy, but make it easy to grip. That's all nice, but nothing special.
As we reported from the original Malibu announcement, though, it has one unique trick: the PowerFoyle solar panel on top. Partly explaining its size (more surface area means more power), this thing can generate its own power while it's out by the pool with you, massively extending its run time.
That makes it perfect for taking away on a camping holiday, naturally, but it's just useful to anyone to have a speaker that's less likely to have a low battery when you want to quickly grab it for some tunes. We all forget to charge these things that last a long time, so we love the convenience of the Malibu. It feels like a major improvement to the formula of the best Bluetooth speakers, and that's what we love to see from IFA.
Best headphones: Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2
The Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 were a much-anticipated update to a fantastic-sounding set of headphones, and based on our early test with them on the show floor, they look set to continue that tradition, while also adding tons of smart features.
The sound they offer is complex, powerful, and dynamic, while still feeling expressive and detailed – and they managed all of this with the active noise cancelling on, trying to drown out the sound of hundreds of people crowded and loudly talking immediately around us. That's seriously impressive and suggests that Shure has something special on its hands here.
When you combine that with the advanced spatial audio, noise-cancelling options, and premium-but-understated design, we're definitely looking at a challenger to become the best noise-cancelling headphones for audiophiles. That's absolutely worth one of our awards.
IFA 2023 Best mobile computing: Lenovo Legion Go
The Lenovo Legion Go looks at first like another PC-based gaming device in the same vein as the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Ally – and it kind of is. But unlike those devices, Lenovo does what Nintendid, and has made the controllers of this device detachable and with smart extra control options.
The best of these is the FPS mode, which enables you to use them like a mouse and keyboard setup, if you prefer that to a more console-style controller system – but in its simplest version, it means you can prop the screen up on its kickstand, and play with the controllers detached, without the weight of screen and batteries.
We loved all this in our Lenovo Legion Go hands-on, and with so many PC companies releasing products like this, it makes the Legion Go stand proudly out from the crowd with features designed with the broad world of PC gaming in mind. It's what Lenovo needs if they're going to pull people over from the best gaming laptops.
Its specs are perfectly respectable, though we'll have to keep our full judgment until we can spend real time with it, but it's immediately clear that Lenovo is interested in the whole experience, not just the components, and that's what earns it this award.
Best PC: MSI MEG Trident X2
In its bid to take on the best gaming PCs, MSI has packed this with powerful specs including an Intel Core i9 13900KF processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics – but those aren't what drew us to it. It's the touchscreen on the front.
This little panel is known as the "Human Machine Interface", but it's not as biologically invasive as that sounds. It's an LCD touchscreen, and you can use it for a bunch of obvious and less-obvious functions. It can launch software for you, putting your favorite games just a tap away before you've even finished sitting down, for example. It can be used to control your music library, so you can skip or change the volume of tracks playing in the background while you play. It can help optimize performance, control monitor settings for MSI displays, and it even has a countdown timer, for those who need a bit of discipline.
There's not a lot of room to fundamentally change gaming PCs at this point, but we can certainly make them work better for us, and it's this idea that wins the MSI MEG Trident X2 our award.
IFA 2023 Best smartwatch: Withings ScanWatch 2
In a show with a lot of smartwatches, Withings especially turned up in force with a pair of feature-stuffed, elegant-looking new hybrid watches, the ScanWatch 2 and the ScanWatch Light. I love the concept of hybrid watches in the first place – I won’t stop shouting about my beloved Garmin Instinct Crossover – but where the Crossover is a tank, the ScanWatch is an Aston Martin, a classic-looking dress watch with sleek, silver lines and a small embedded, customizable OLED screen.
The ScanWatch 2 features a US Food and Drug Administration-approved atrial fibrillation history feature, a crucial boon that allows it to be used in medical settings in the US. TempTech 24/7 skin temperature sensors ensure your basal body temp is being estimated and calculated all-day, every day, hopefully using temperature changes to help predict oncoming illnesses.
Lots of workout features, a massive 30-day battery life (of course, there’s no big battery-sucking screen to worry about), and a reasonable price tag to boot. It’s our choice for the best smartwatch of the show.
IFA 2023 Best workout headphones: Jabra Elite 8 Active
The Jabra Elite 8 Active get our vote for the sort of earbuds we’d like to wear on our next big run or weight-training gym session, thanks to a bevy of features including wind-neutralizing HearThrough technology, active noise cancellation, Dolby Atmos spatial sound and a "Shakeproof" liquid-silicon grip for a secure fit. Including Dolby Atmos on a workout headphone means you’ll get (and I got when I tried them) fantastic sound quality, which we shouldn't have to sacrifice for a workout-orientated product. And we haven’t even gotten to the gimmick yet.
The Jabra Elite 8 Active are said to the "the world’s toughest earbuds," a big claim Jabra’s using to beat out the best workout headphones such as Beats Fit Pro. Despite their size – they weigh only 5g per bud – they are IP6X dustproof and completely waterproof, which we tested by dunking them into a glass of water. They’ve passed nine US military-grade durability tests, a marketing ploy we only normally see on rugged trail watches. These earbuds may be pocket-sized, but they’re rough-and-ready, a little like a GI Joe action figure.
They’re quite heavily advertised towards runners, and certain features such as wind reduction have been included with joggers in mind, so if you prefer to keep your ears open with the best bone conduction headphones on a run, these won’t be for you. But with 32 hours of listening time, the jump in audio quality and the security of having an earbud able to take anything you can throw at it, we think these are among the most exciting gadgets for fitness fans in the show.
IFA 2023 Best wellness innovation: Renpho Eyeris Smart
Massage technology was an oddly over-represented niche category this year. Vibrating chairs, wraparound neck-soothing devices and contenders vying for best massage gun were all over the Digital Health hall and beyond. Maybe they knew we all needed a break. However, the biggest surprise came in the form of eye massagers; these VR goggle-looking devices use a combination of hot and cool air and physical pressure to moisten your eyes and relax the muscles around your brow and cheekbones.
The first one we tried felt like our eyes were being attacked. Then we tried the Renpho Eyeris range, and we saw the dramatic difference engineering could make here. The cushioned interior featuring heat pads expanded and contracted in slow pulses around the eyes. it blocked out all vision and sound played in our ears thanks to in-built Bluetooth speakers, so it was like a portable sensory deprivation tank. We could feel ourselves relaxing almost immediately. We could definitely go for a lie-down wearing one of these on a 30-minute timer, and not just because that's always how you feel after a few days at IFA.
The Renpho Eyeris Smart connects to your phone, allowing you to set the program, customize your massage routine, stream podcasts or music, and toggle the heat and vibration settings to ensure you’ve got a setting that works for you. It’s got up to 240 minutes of battery life, depending on setting, so it’s not going to die on you halfway through. After our initial experiences with the category, the Renpho took 30 seconds to turn us from skeptics into complete converts, and that's absolutely worth one of our awards.
IFA 2023 Best small appliance: Shark Detect Pro
SharkNinja had a slew of big announcements at IFA this year, including a new portable blender that's already inspiring us to research new smoothie recipes, but chief among these announcements was Shark's latest cordless vacuum, the Shark Detect Pro.
This incredibly lightweight and powerful vacuum is impressive enough as-is, but our favorite feature is the included charging dock, which automatically empties the vacuum cylinder when you're done cleaning. That's already pretty noteworthy, but better yet, this bagless dock can hold debris for 45 days, compressing the contents as its filled.
Over the course of a year, that means you'll only need to empty the base 6-8 times, depending on how much you vacuum your home. The base also features Shark's beloved Odor Neutralizing Cartridges, which need replacing twice a year, so you don't need to worry about older debris stinking out your home.
It's a great convenience bonus that makes things simpler without you needing to change your behavior, and that's the kind of thing we love to see from new appliances.
IFA 2023 Best smart home innovation: SwitchBot S10
The promise of the best robot vacuums – especially those with mops built in, too – is that they can just take of everything, and you can leave your feet up (so the robot can go under it, of course). But that's not quite the reality – the mop part, in particular, needs filling and emptying, or there won't be a lot of actual cleaning.
The SwitchBot 10 solves this. It has two docks: one that can empty the vacuum side of it, and another that is actually plumbed into your water system, and can drain away the waste while filling with fresh water, ready for its next mop.
And there will even be a humidifier dock as a third option – basically, the robot can act as a water carrier, taking it from the refill dock over to the humidifier dock, and ensuring you always have a steady flow of moisture for your air. We were seriously impressed with the innovation here after seeing it in person at the show, and though we won't know how well it works until we can test it in real life, the level of advancement here is well worth one of our awards.