PhoneArena Awards 2011: Best Innovation

PhoneArena Awards 2011: Best Innovation
It's time for our second post in the PhoneArena Awards 2011 series, where we acknowledge the best (or worse) products, technologies and achievements that have occurred during the year. Last time, we discussed the Technology Breakthroughs of 2011, and now, we'll be awarding the most significant innovations that have happened within the wireless industry this year.

First things first, let's explain our understanding of innovation. Of course, the term may be loosely used in a lot of situations (manufacturers of cell phones and tablet like to use it a lot, that's for sure), but we really wanted to have a more strict definition for it. For example, we don't really consider the jump from 1 GHz processors to 1.5 GHz processors "innovation". It's simply normal evolution, and obviously, manufacturers didn't have too many obstacles in their way in order to make this progress. By "innovation", we mean a technology, which introduces something new, and never-before-seen to the audience. "Innovation" can also be an achievement, which marks the circumvention of a major technological hindrance. Interestingly, it turned out to be kind of difficult to point out three very significant innovations that we've seen in the industry during last year. But fear not - we found them! Let's see who'll win this prestigious award...


And the award goes to: Google Wallet

While very, very limited right now, Google Wallet is still a very important milestone for the proliferation of the NFC technology. It's actually the first real attempt at creating a standardized payment system based on near-field communications, and we sure hope that it'll succeed. And why not - what could be easier than just taking our phone out and placing it on top of a terminal for a second to make а purchase? Unfortunately, the service is still only available on the Nexus S 4G on Sprint, and works with Citi Mastercard, but there are plans to expand it with support for other cards like Visa and American Express. You think this is kind of limited? Well, it's actually the most complete approach to NFC to date, so we're having our fingers crossed that we'll see further development of the service soon!


First runner-up: Glasses-free 3D displays

Our first runner-up is glasses-free 3D (check our EVO 3D review and Thrill 4G review out for more details). As you can imagine, the limited application of this technology is largely the reason for us to position it as a runner-up in the Innovation category. While not as potentially important for our social well-being as Google Wallet, we can't hide the fact that phones with glasses-free 3D displays have been an unexpected and very innovative addition to the portfolios of some manufacturers. Yes, 3D has its drawbacks and will most probably remain a very niche technology, but it was a much-needed breath of fresh air in this relatively straightforward market.


Second runner-up: Motorola's Lapdocks and the Asus Padfone

Speaking of innovation, it's not everyday that a company decides to come up with a full product that's never-before-seen. Such was the case with Motorola's Lapdocks, the first of which introduced alongside of the Motorola ATRIX 4G. The ability to dock your phone into a laptop-like device, delivering a quasi-laptop experience was naturally seen as more of a gimmick by many, but it does look cool, and actually isn't that useless (though you can easily live without it).

On the other hand, the Asus Padfone demonstrates a similar concept, only this time, you phone docks into a tablet-dock, giving you a tablet-like experience. Just how cool (read: practical) it'll be however, remains to be seen, as the Padfone is expected to launch in early 2012.

So, what you guys think? Do you agree with us on the way we've ranked these three innovations, or you have a different opinion? If that's the case, we'd love to know it - just leave a comment below! This was our second award — Best Innovation — but be sure that many more are coming very soon, so stay tuned for the rest of PhoneArena Awards 2011!

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35 Comments

1. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Where is the Galaxy Nexus Review????? lol Sorry to be pushy but I want it NOW!!!!

2. tacohunter

Posts: 408; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

Now you're all happy there's nothing from apple in it. Just say yes. Be happy.

4. hepresearch unregistered

Oh, I am. It is so nice... you have no clue. =8-P

8. rendHELL

Posts: 304; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

he does not... XD

6. Leodrade

Posts: 87; Member since: Aug 26, 2011

Why would i be happy? It's an obligation for them to not put Apple, they didn't innovate at all this year, they just sold well

7. rendHELL

Posts: 304; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

agreed...

9. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

Very true, the "Retina Display" was an innovation or maybe it's just evolution like how the article states processor bumps from 1Ghz to 1.5Ghz isn't innovative.

23. megalord

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 25, 2011

Retina display was made and developed by LG, not apple. If retina display is regarded as innovative, the award goes to LG, not apple.

11. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

I'm not a big fan of Apple Ithink they are overprice and don't offer the best hardware but I am surprised not to see any mention of SIRI I actually think it's a great innovative product that will change smartphones in the future I think we will see more programs like this integrated into other OSs hopefully google will create one and I'm sure MS will also

24. megalord

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 25, 2011

Android already has voice recognition quite a while back. Siri was made by an app developer, not apple. Apple simply bought them over. Talk about innovation, its the siri people that deserves it, not apple. And the dragon voice recognition software was implemented long time before siri and google had something up their sleeves. And it has got voice adaptation. Say goodbye to accent issues.

12. Martine

Posts: 102; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

I though this is all about Innovation. Does apple innovate?

14. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

It is kind of hard to get all excited over Siri.... Google Wallet, OTOH if it can get a wide footprint quickly could be HUGE. It is kind of odd that Apple chose to put their energies into Siri when they could have put effort into iWallet. Maybe they found that Google was too far along for them?

15. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

thats because Apple didnt have any innovations this year. they released the same phone with an underclocked dual core processor and voice commands. siri's canned wit is nice, but in the end its an evolved voice command system... that it bought another company to get. not innovation.. thats cash flow.. lol

21. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Google bought android and then had their engineers make a replica of iOS and inserted widgets.

22. denney

Posts: 98; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

Taco, explain to me how to remove an application icon from the iPhone homescreen without removing the application from the phone.

25. megalord

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 25, 2011

I beg to differ. Compare the android in 2005 and that of it today. Is it even comparable? and do get your facts right. Apple blatantly copied many of android and blackberry features, especially in iOS 5. Not the other way round. If android and blackberry is a replica of iOS, why do iOS have to copy features from the replica? If the replica is better than the original, is it still a replica?

3. LewsTherin006

Posts: 140; Member since: Nov 18, 2011

well the name of the article is Best Innovation, not Best way of taking something already made and marketing it better than anyone else. Apple would sweep that.

5. hepresearch unregistered

Google Wallet I agree with... the other two? Meh.........

10. som

Posts: 768; Member since: Nov 10, 2009

Apple did not invented or produced their own products so no Award for Apple crap.

13. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

I would agree with the google wallet one but the extremely, extremely limited application of it so far really would make it more of an innovation later. Stuff like the glasses free 3D is something that most or all users of the EVO 3D and Thrill 4G phones can use NOW. The google wallet/nfc thing is something most Nexus S users have not used and may not use until 2013 at the earliest.

17. sgogeta4

Posts: 394; Member since: Feb 02, 2011

It is currently being used, so just because it's not widely used yet, doesn't mean it isn't innovative now.

16. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I think the pad-phone concept could POTENTIALLY be a game changer if it catches on. As phones dig into dual and quad core set ups and ICS becomes the same on both phone and tablet.. it really negates the need for 2 devices (do you really need an iphone and an ipad?? its the same thing but bigger). If the "tablet" part of the concept was as simple as it should be (insert phone, magically makes screen bigger), then that is all most people would really need that have a high powered phone and want a tablet for media n such. T3 enabled phone with ICS + a "tablet" add on with a second battery inside it would be high up on my list of things to get. And if they make it "forward" compatible, you could upgrade your phone to a new one, and still use your tablet add-on.

18. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Siri is very innovative fandroids. Sorry to burst your bubble. Enjoy you're "victory" on PA while Apple wins everyday in real life.

19. Eingild

Posts: 203; Member since: Apr 19, 2011

Voice assistant is already available long before the first iPhone was announced. They just improved the experience with a more natural approach. But they didn't innovate. "Revolutionized" is a more appropriate term. You should know the difference.

20. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

revolutionized and innovated go hand in hand. Voice controls to artificial intelligence is a giant leap. So far Apple is alone on smartphones

31. hepresearch unregistered

Invention refers to the emergence of a new technology, usually in a pre-commercial setting. Innovation refers to the development of a new application of technology for commercial release, usually in a way that presents new opportunities for uses hitherto unseen. Evolution refers to the further development of an application of a technology over time, with new changes in features that enhance the original use of the related base technology. Early adopters often use evolving technology when it becomes commercially available. Revolution refers to the maximal evolution of a given technology, often in such a way that the technology becomes perfected and fairly universal or foundational to many daughter-technologies that may follow. While many consumers begin using technology during the latter stages of its evolution, general consumers often begin using a technology only after it has become revolutionary. Revolution is not the same as innovation. Siri is an evolutionary step. I have seen no sign of AI in Siri, anyway.

27. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

neither are an appropriate term. Evolution is. Siri is a nice step forward from android notifications in the way that it can understand more than 1 way to say a command.. that is evolution, not revolution.

33. Eingild

Posts: 203; Member since: Apr 19, 2011

Thanks for fixing that.

26. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

wins... by.. what? having a nearly stagnant market position while android climbs what 15% in the last year? iOS5 is buggier than anything android has put out in quite a while. While android is getting praised for its stability and security, iOS is having issue after issue. Maybe instead of repeating tired platitudes, you could actually read whats going on? That would be neat-o. I really dont understand your mentality. What exactly do you win? Who is having this contest?

29. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Taco, this is not the first time you've claimed that Siri is artificial intelligence. You're dead wrong. Siri is simply a series of preprogrammed answers to preprogrammed questions. It's designed to give the APPEARANCE of intelligence, but it's merely an illusion, like the Furby my little brother once received for Christmas.

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