PhoneArena Awards 2014: Best Innovations

PhoneArena Awards 2014: Best Innovations
To make a smartphone isn't as difficult as it may seem. To make a smartphone that people would notice in a gigantic crowd of competing devices, however, is a truly challenging task. Some handsets are built to grab the buyer's attention with their design, features, or technical specifications. Others try to attract an audience with their low price tags. Both tactics work if they're executed right, as history has taught us.

Another way of making a smartphone stand out is through innovation – through thinking outside of the box with the goal of delivering a new, fresh user experience. And innovating is a challenge on its own, given technology's current state, which is why we think innovative ideas deserve to be honored. 

So, as you can surely tell by now, this post is all about the year's top innovations – about the ideas and solutions that boldly broke the status quo. And as far as the mobile industry is concerned, we witnessed a great deal of new concepts materialize – Apple's Continuity, BlackBerry's touch-sensitive keyboard, the advent of smartwatches and Android Wear, to name a few. But it is these three innovations that we decided to crown as best.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge and its curved display

A decade ago, phones with curved and bendable displays existed only in the realms of science fiction and conceptual design. Today, these concepts are very real indeed. 2014 brought us the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge and its wrap-around display – a unique feature proving that technology is still evolving at a steady pace. In addition to looking mighty cool, the curve can be used to display missed calls or texts without one having to wake up the whole screen, and while the phone is in use, the extra room can be filled with shortcuts, tools, or app notifications. 

Sure, some might say that the Note Edge's unique screen design is just a gimmick, something that Samsung is merely showing off with. But while there might be some truth to this statement, we see the phone's curved display as a playground for developers and users alike. It is a new use concept, a new idea that may pave the way for further uses of the extra space once feedback on the feature has accumulated. And that's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we wish we could see more of. 

Phase detection and laser-assisted auto-focus on smartphone cameras

There's more to a great camera than a number of megapixels, and smartphone makers are well aware of that. Speed and accuracy are also of importance – quick and correct auto-focusing may make the difference between a blurry image and a masterpiece. Thankfully, serious progress was made in the field this year. 

With the Galaxy S5, Samsung became the first smartphone maker to implement phase detection auto-focus in a handset's camera. Before that, the focusing technology was only found on professional cameras, not on smartphones or point-and-shoots. Later on, Apple followed suit by adding phase detection AF on its own iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones. That's what enables their extremely short auto-focusing times – down to as little as 0.3 of a second. 

LG, on the other hand, took a slightly different approach, although it has also been inspired by professional camera tech, apparently. LG's 2014 flagship, the G3, sports a unique laser-assisted focusing system. Infrared laser beams (which are invisible to the naked eye, by the way) constantly monitor the exact distance between the phone and the subject being photographed, enabling the camera to focus in as little as 0.276 of a second. Given ideal conditions, of course. What's also worth noting is that the LG G3 is very precise with its focusing, which minimizes the risk of ending up with a blurry photo of a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Rapid battery charging (VOOC)

A smartphone's battery is like a car's gas tank – the bigger its volume, the longer it takes to top it up. Oppo's VOOC technology, however, shakes things up quite a bit by enabling rapid charging for supported phones. The Oppo Find 7a, for example, can have its 2800mAh cell charged to 75% in about half an hour, which is pretty impressive. And a full charge takes a little over an hour. In comparison, flagships like the LG G3 and the Galaxy S5 need over 2 hours to charge completely. Oppo's clever VOOC charging tech relies on a very powerful, 4.5-amp wall charger, which provides more than two times the power than a standard smartphone charger does. What's more, the battery is protected from overheating or damage by intelligent circuitry built into the charger and the phone.

Story timeline



1. Busyboy unregistered

You only named 3? How about Sony and its noise cancellation built into the phone?

3. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Can you count? 1. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge and its curved display 2. Phase detection and laser-assisted auto-focus on smartphone cameras 3.Rapid battery charging (VOOC)

14. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Can you comprehend? His point was that a list mentioning only three innovations was a bit short.

16. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

No one ever uses "top four" when describing favorites - it's top three. Please take the time to understand something so basic.

29. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

You would be incorrect. Three is a popular number, but simple Google searches reveals favorites lists of many different lengths. You did try searching before you made that statement, no?

33. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

You're super mad for no reason. Please just quit while you're ahead.

4. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I thought the sharp aquos crystal would win an award for unique design and audio. Considering it has no top bezel or speaker, but uses the screen to send out the sound. Very unique indeed. In 2015 the Ara phone, when it arrives should win some award's.

6. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Yah that should have been on here.

15. seanwhat

Posts: 321; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

just because a feature is unique or different, doesn't mean it's innovative. the reviews of the phone gave it terrible ratings for in-call audio because of this feature. an award shouldn't be given for a step in the wrong direction (or a failed attempt at a step in the right direction, if you're a fan of the audio style).

25. Genza

Posts: 576; Member since: Mar 12, 2014

I don't agree with you because Sharp has been using that design in the past year. And the invisible speakers is actually Kyocera technology from 2012.

30. phichart

Posts: 335; Member since: May 03, 2014

lOL... What? Noise Cancellation?

41. dorianb

Posts: 617; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

You're trolling... right? Someone tell me he's trolling.

2. maherk

Posts: 6877; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Where is the iBend 6 Plus?

42. phichart

Posts: 335; Member since: May 03, 2014

you meant Apple Ibend SICK Plus?

5. walkman800

Posts: 113; Member since: Aug 26, 2014

praise the lord. As long as it is not iPhone

43. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

I don't think lord has something to do with this. But I +1 your post

7. Micah007

Posts: 266; Member since: Oct 09, 2014

Good to know the Rapid Charging tech doesn't damage the battery. Does this hold true for the Nexus 6 Turbo Charger?

8. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

What about Motorola's intuitive dynamic antenna that consumes a fraction of the power and produces better signal strength?

9. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

What about the BlackBerry Passport with the capacitive physical keyboard?

10. TimCook

Posts: 450; Member since: Oct 23, 2014

In my opinion the only true innovations of 2014 include the Apple Pay, Metal Api for enhanced ios graphics, the Swift programming language and of course the Apple Watch... And of course pople are responding well to those innovations and they can't get enough of the IPhones and IPads, the devices are selling like crack..

11. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Correct me if I'm wrong but I dont think the Apple Watch has been released yet.... And

21. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Well, he's Tim Cook, what did you expect?

12. Busyboy unregistered

Tell me another joke

13. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Well I got a riddle. Whats the difference between the iPad Air 3 and the iPad Air 2? Hint: Its not the specs

17. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Because the A8X chip is something to laugh about. k.

19. Lauticol

Posts: 404; Member since: Jun 25, 2011

Double the price!

24. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Well.. this is awkward. All got trolled actually. There is no iPad Air 3... just iPad Air 2.. What it should have been is the difference between teh iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Mini 3....

36. walnuttt

Posts: 153; Member since: Apr 11, 2014

where is the IP6 and IP6+ and its innovative bendgate feature? lol

39. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Give it a rest already. It's seriously getting annoying like the "revolutionary" word.

38. Neo_Huang

Posts: 1067; Member since: Dec 06, 2013

Apple Pay is a copy of Google Wallet and several other NFC money transaction services, and the Apple Watch is a joke of a copy that would have really disappointed Steve Jobs. Metal API maximizes the weak hardware, and no one has any idea what Swift is anyways.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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