I usually try and get this out before the end of the year but things happened such as last minute reviews and then of course hitting CES 2015 last week. But in any event, I felt like it’s still good to show you the best smartphones, tablets and apps we picked in the wonderful world of Android.
2014 continues another good year in the evolving world of Android where we got to see such features as Quick Charging implemented to get your phone back in good living shape within 15mins, the introduction of Google’s next OS which is Lollipop and also their next step into the wearables domain with Android Wear.
Every category here was voted with all the writers here at G Style and you would be surprised how neck and neck each section came down to the wire. These may not be your typical favorites but that goes to show you that everyone’s taste is different. So without further ado here is G Style’s 2nd Annual Android Awards.
Best Smartphone: LG G3
This actually came to a three way tie but eventually there was a winner declared and it was LG’s G3. It may not come too much a surprise as the LG G2 was runner up last year. The LG G3 has some of the best specs on the market with its 13MP Laser OIS camera, 3GB RAM and Snapdragon 801 chip. It’s real hard to not like this phone once you get in your hands. It has very light and slim build to it thanks to all the buttons on the back and images look crisp and clean on it thanks to its 2K display. LG made improvements to the OS so it runs even smoother then before and its battery will give you close to a day of usage.
Runner Up: OnePlus One
Also our Sleeper Hit of 2014 is a phone that’s hard not to like once used is the OnePlus One. It brings customization to your fingertips without the need of rooting and its price point is only $349.99. While there is still the invite system, sometimes they do occasionally open it up and you can always find ways of getting the device. At such a low price, you get a nice 13MP camera, dual stereo speakers, 1080p display and strong 3,000mAh battery. While their company may not get high marks, the OnePlus One definitely does.
Best Tablet – Nexus 9
Nexus always seems to produce a well-rounded tablet hence it winning this category for the 2nd time around. The Nexus 9 grows a couple of inches since last time but adds on a 8MP camera and also has HTC’s BoomSound front speakers for added entertainment. What’s most sweet about it is it’s the only tablet on the market running Android 5.0 aka Lollipop and helps it run as one of the most sufficient tablets out there.
Runner Up – Samsung Galaxy Tab S
If you are looking for the best tablet to grab from Samsung it would be the Galaxy Tab S. It’s one of the slimmest tablets out there, and has some impressive sounding dual speakers on each side. Its display is 2K which you don’t see too often on tablets and video, pictures, you name it look brilliant. It works great with Samsung’s SideSync feature and you can control your Samsung Galaxy device right on the screen with no hesitation.
Best Camera: Samsung Galaxy Note 4
It’s not hard to seeing Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 taking the crowd of best camera in 2014. Samsung put everything into this shooter and it shows. They put in a 16MP shooter that takes clean, clear pictures and also gives you various options to get that perfect vision. Its 4K video recording comes out looking awesome in playback and uploading and Samsung even did some work on the front camera. The “selfie” camera is 3.7MP and can even shoot up to 2K video. That’s not something we saw very often and Samsung easily wins this battle.
Runner Up: LG G3
Coming in 2nd this year is LG after winning the title last year. But it did go up against a formidable opponent with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4. The LG G3’s 13MP Laser OIS takes almost quicker shots than any smartphone on the market and its images come out nice and colorful. Video recording isn’t back on it either but clarity would have to go to the Note 4 for video shooting supremacy.
Sleeper Hit – OnePlus One
The OnePlus One was a device that was shown earlier in the year but with its feature set we weren’t sure would live up to its promise. Upon its limited (and mind you still) release if you could get your hands on one it turned out to being one of the best run android smartphones on the market. A nice design with a sandstone felt back, 13MP back and 5MP front cameras, dual audio speakers, you name it and it was built inside. With its custom OS, it could easily use themes, icons, etc. w/o use of a launcher. Now if they could just get the device out to people faster and without the invite hassle it could have maybe been the best of 2014.
Runner Up – Droid Turbo
Motorola was on a roll in 2014 with successor devices such as the Moto X (2014) and Nexus 6 while also giving Verizon its own exclusive device with the Droid Turbo. It came with two designs builds for the back and had some pretty strong hardware underneath. Snapdragon 801 chip, 3GB RAM, 20.7 shooter and a massive 3,900mAh battery. It had a bit of everything with Motorola’s light OS and nice Moto Voice features and with its great hardware it ran just about everything with ease. And while it’s only for Verizon you could always pop another sim into since it’s unlocked…
Best App – Google Play Music
This was pretty much a landslide in the votes and if you used Google Play Music you know why. The app has been around the past few years with Android but it didn’t start to hit its stride till it added All-Access. Where with the app before you could use it upload up to 20,000 tracks of your own (and still can), with All-Access you can have a monthly subscription to their huge catalog of music, plus still access all your own personal tracks. Even better with the integration of Songza we are seeing more curated playlists and if subscribed to All Access you get can also use their new YouTube Key feature. Google Play Music comes out as a 2X winner in this category.
Runner Up – WWE, Sunrise, Netflix
These are some other great apps you might want to check out and maybe heard of. Netflix is great for streaming and catching some great movies and even some of your favorite shows. WWE Network is a wrestling fan’s dream with a huge catalog of WWE’s original programming, PPVs and even WCW/ECW content as well. Plus you can watch their LIVE PPVs monthly via the app. Sunrise is a nice calendar app that takes away from the boring look of your stock ones and gives you additional features such as different themes and syncs up pretty swift too.
Best Design – HTC One M8
Metal is hard not to like on a smartphone and HTC continues to use this material on their HTC One line with the M8. Just like the M7, the smartphone is encased in mostly metal all over and provides an overall sexy and smooth look on the device. It also still has some of the best sounding speakers on ANY smartphone with its dual BoomSound speakers on the front. It’s hard to replicate that great sound on any device especially when most throw the speaker on the back. With HTC winning a 2nd time in a row I wouldn’t be surprised if a 3 peat is on their way next time around.
Runner Up – LG G3
Number two again goes to LG with the G3. Many people like before will shun the button placement on the back but you definitely get used to it upon using it. Also thanks to the different button location it makes the phone thinner and lighter than before. Even though it’s a 5.5” sized phone you might not even notice it.
Best Mini Me – Moto G
Made for those that don’t need the best but want a decent smartphone, the Moto G will fit right up their alley. It has a nice 5” display, 8MP and even stereo speaker. Better yet, it comes with Android 4.4.4 so you won’t feel behind and will even get further updates and support. What sweetens the pot is its $179.99 and works on various carriers.
Runner Up – Samsung Galaxy Alpha
At first glance the Alpha could be considered premium but it was created to go after that iPhone crowd that maybe wants to switch but doesn’t need all the fancy specs or larger displays. While its specs aren’t the greatest, it does have an excellent design build and runs pretty good.
Best Phablet – Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung pretty much has the phablet game down to a science and it’s hard to recreate their formula. While their phones have gotten bigger display wise, they have still managed to make the devices slimmer. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is 5.7”and packs heavy specs including an excellent camera all in one. It use of the stylus gets better with age and is more responsive than ever. The Galaxy Note line is so good you might have to actually consider it the flagship over the actual Galaxy S series. Sure the phones are bigger but they are worth everything put into them.
Runner Up – Nexus 6
Google’s next flagship may seriously continue the phablet name being used with its close to 6” body. It’s really as 5.96” but who’s to really argue the slight difference. The things we complained about with the Nexus 5 were fixed in the Nexus 6 with it having a better camera which shoots at 13MP and larger battery being 3,220mAh. It also one of the first to utilize Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 chip and also use Android’s 5.0 OS aka Lollipop. With dual stereo speakers, quick charging tech and brilliant display the Nexus is next up.
Best Display – Nexus 6
While the Note 4 does produce the brightest screen doesn’t mean it’s the clearest. The Nexus 6 is the largest with a 5.96” QHD display and produces 493ppi. While it doesn’t have as high pixels per inch as the G3 or even the Note 4, it seems to provide a better realistic look at imagery on its screen. Most won’t notice via the naked eye but comparing them side by side you may notice the difference.
Runner Up – LG G3
The LG G3 is smaller than the Nexus 6 and has a stunning display with its 538ppi. Nothing comes close to looking better at its size colors and image pop out on it screen with ease. If you can get a video of 2K content on this display please definitely do so.
Best Wearable – Moto 360
Most anticipated wearable of 2014 comes from the world of Motorola with the Moto 360. It’s a wristwatch that takes full advantage of its circular design covering just every inch of the screen. Its display is gorgeous and even though it has that little black chin on the bottom you will forget all about it after a while. It has wireless QI charging, water resistant and battery will get you through a good part of the day. It has a sexy build that just screams geek and once on your wrist it won’t come off.
Runner Up – LG Watch R
With a more traditional timepiece look is the Watch R from LG. Like the Moto 360 it has a circular watch face but also adds an actual circular time design. It feels much more premium then its predecessor and can actually blend in more of being a regular watch then getting that unwanted attention of being a tech geek tool.
This year I expect to see the continuing trend of wearables as we saw a ton of at CES last week as well as the integration of Android getting more tuned with your smart home living environments. Of course the trend of making better smartphones will continue with the likelihood of more adoption of quick charging and less of wiring charging. Id like to see both but if having to pick would choose quick charging.
Anything you look forward to this year in the world of Android? What choices would you have picked for the categories above?