Malaria, together with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis are the four most deadly infectious diseases globally. Progress in eliminating malaria has saved millions of lives, but also creates new challenges in detecting the 'last parasite'. Effective and accurate detection of malaria infections, both in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are needed. In this review, the current progress in developing new diagnostic tools to fight malaria is presented. An ideal rapid test for malaria elimination is envisioned with examples to demonstrate how innovative technologies can assist the global defeat against this disease. Diagnostic gaps where technology can bring an impact to the elimination campaign for malaria are identified. Finally, how a combination of microfluidic-based technologies and smartphone-based read-outs could potentially represent the next generation of rapid diagnostic tests is discussed.