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The most innovative tech we reviewed in 2021

2021 wasn't short of tech that took to creative paths to solve real-world problems. These are the breakthrough gadgets that set the stage for years to come.
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Written by June Wan, Tech Editor on
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Innovation, when done correctly, is a phenomenon significant enough to propel industries by the product. In the world of consumer tech, it is what paces the development and adaptation of companies, sets the product trends for years to come, and allows consumers -- like you and I -- to experience the future, today.

But, when creating something new, only a few companies manage to strike the perfect balance of creativity, accessibility, and viability to solve the problems we face. With decades of experience covering the tech industry, the ZDNet team of subject-matter experts and analysts have spent the past year evaluating consumer products -- hardware and software -- to determine which ones achieve this balance of innovation. From folding displays that can seep underwater to sustainable smartphones, these are the tech products that we believe will pave the way for our technological future.


Best innovations in hardware

Through significant refinement and risk-taking, these gadgets give us a glimpse of the future and beyond.

Best innovations in software

Computing power that breathes effortlessly with its hardware -- that's what makes these picks the best.

Did your pick for best innovative tech of 2021 make the list? Comment down below and let us know. If you haven't already, also check out ZDNet's best tech products reviewed in 2021.

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