If there was one trend that characterised new technology releases in 2013, it is that we saw nothing new, at least not from the smartphone makers that we technophiles have grown to expect so much from. It was old wine in a new bottle all the way, with device updates being released with minor feature enhancements with no radical overhauls, either in terms of technology specs or in terms of the limits the gadgets pushed.

Historic acquisitions and mergers, however, compensated for the lukewarm technology renewal through 2013. Here is an overview of some of what we thought were the top developments in gadgets in 2013.

Smartphones inch along

The consensus in the tech world appears to be that the award for the biggest product misjudgement decision in 2013 goes to Apple for its yet unclear decision of making the iPhone 5C.

With no clear motivation or any directed product positioning, response to this plastic model of iPhone has, just within four months after the grand colourful release, reportedly led Apple to stop its production in one of the Foxconn factories. While the performance of iPhone 5C was almost same as the iPhone 5S, the only USP appeared to be its look that came in yellow, green, blue and pink. Speculations on how it will offer a relief on pricing proved misplaced as it was released at a price range that was well above that of mid-range smartphones. Overall, it appears the 5C was a rather futile exercise for the tech major from whom tech lovers have grown to expect nothing but the superlative.

Google had two new smartphone releases, both of which managed to offer diversity to those among tech users who wanted the stock Android experience: its first offering from the Motorola Mobility acquisition, MotoX, and the Nexus 5 manufactured by LG. The technical differences from their first smartphone offering, Nexus 4 are minute, which in the end translates only to more similar choices for regular users.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4, released in April, had uncalled for enhancements such as increased pixel density, more processing power, and twice the RAM compared to its predecessor Galaxy S3 (all within 12 months). Overall, it failed to create the same impact as the S3, which met with a lot more enthusiasm a year ago.

Without the differential changes between versions being substantial, new releases certainly didn’t allure users to dig deeper into their pockets for the upgrade.

Tablets are here to stay

Apple’s multiplexing of MacBook Air features into their fifth generation iPad turned out to be a good move. Released in November, the lighter and more powerful iPad Air has lost no time in gaining ground, and appears to be the favourite tablet offering of the year.

To position a product in the smaller 7 inch tablet segment, Apple has released the second version of iPad Mini, this version with retina display, with more than 50 per cent pixel density when compared to other tablets in the segment. Towards the end of the year, Samsung released two ads — both featuring their Galaxy Gear, the smart wristwatch companion to the Galaxy tablet and smartphones. Incidentally, both the ads have already made it to the meme boards for being the worst technology ads of 2013. The gear itself is a touchscreen wristwatch that connects to the smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. Think of Galaxy Gear as the extended notification bar of your smartphone or tablet: notification updates, access to Samsung’s personal assistant S voice to make calls and music player control are the prominent features. The future could hold more interesting applications to the smartwatches.

The second version of Google’s Nexus 7 with overall enhancements, and a simultaneous halving of the price on their 2012 version has made Nexus 7 a popular choice too.

Gaming consoles

More interesting developments stormed the gaming arena in the last quarter of 2013 with the release of Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.

Massive upgrades to the gaming experience by beefing up the electronics made picking up one of these consoles popular during the festive season.

Each console is projected to hit sales of 3 million before December 31.

Steam OS, a dedicated gaming operating system based on Debian GNU Linux operating system was released by the Valve project, which can in essence convert any high-end computer into a dedicated gaming console.

That comes as a respite to the many gamers who do not want to possess consoles.