Android Central Awards

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages. It's time to announce the winners of the 2011 Android Central Readers Choice Awards.

These are the awards in which you, the reader, picked the winners. They're not necessarily our favorites (as you've already seen). But with thousands of you voting over the course of a couple weeks, we now know your favorites. 

It's been a hell of a year, to say the least. With what felt like dozens of smartphones and tablets announced at CES in January 2011, to more a month later at Mobile World Congress, and more still at CTIA in March -- plus new releases weekly, plus a lot of stuff that doesn't even deserve mention -- we've seen dozens and dozens of new devices. And more apps than we can count.

This isn't scientific. This is a snapshot at what ends 2011 as your favorite Android devices and apps. You voted 'em in, you reap the whirlwind, folks. Enjoy, and let the flaming begin!

Smartphone of the Year

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

No surprise here, right? The Galaxy Nexus was your pick undoubtedly because it's the first Android smartphone with Ice Cream Sandwich, and it was released late in the year, and it's the first Nexus phone on Verizon in the United States. But it's also a hell of a phone thanks to that 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD display and dual-core processor.

It's not a perfect phone. The camera and speakerphone are disappointing. But its sexiness outweighs its imperfections.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy S II

Again, not really a surprise, if only for the sheer numbers. The Galaxy S II was first released worldwide, and later in the United States on three of the four major carriers (Verizon got that Galaxy Nexus thing instead), plus several of the regionals.

Traditional 10-inch Android tablet of the year

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Thin, light, fast -- who didn't like the Galaxy Tab 10.1? It had a bit of a rocky start, undergoing a fairly drastic redesign between the time it was announced at Mobile World Congress in February and then reannounced at CTIA a month later. Crazy stuff. But it also stood head and shoulders above just about every other Android tablet.

Runner-up: ASUS Transformer Prime

And that one tablet that you folks believe can stand up to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes from ASUS. The Transformer Prime is the follow-up to the original Transformer, which came out not too long after the Galaxy Tab 10.1. But the Prime is a monster -- the first quad-core tablet to hit the market.

We'd imagine that if the Transformer Prime hadn't had some pretty serious inventory constraints, you folks would have voted it No. 1.

Sub-10-inch tablet or e-reader of the year

Winner: Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire

Again, no shocker that you all voted the Kindle Fire No. 1 here. It's not the sexiest hardware, nor is it the most powerful. But it's got full access to the Amazon Appstore and Video on Demand, and an Amazon Prime account makes things even more special. And the price is right at $200.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Oh, hi, Samsung. Welcome back. Take the Galaxy Tab 10.1, scale it down, and this is what you've got.

Most disappointing smartphone of the year

Loser: Motorola Droid Bionic

Motorola Droid Bionic

Makes sense to us. The Droid Bionic was unveiled at CES and the promptly fell off the face of the Earth. What the hell? And then it re-emerged months later, only it no longer was the same Droid Bionic we saw in Las Vegas. And when it finally launched in September, it did so with a host of bugs that are just now getting squashed.

Next biggest loser: HTC ThunderBolt

And then there's the ThunderBolt, another one announced at CES before disappearing for a couple months. Unofficial launch dates came and went, but it still managed to be released in the first quarter of the year. Battery life on LTE remains, well, not good. And a number of you (and us) have experienced pretty major cosmetic failures over the months.

Most disappointing tablet or other device

Loser: Motorola Xoom

Motorola Xoom

Somebody had to be first, we suppose. And the first Honeycomb tablet was a brick. Big and heavy. And it launched with a pretty huge gap -- it was a 4G LTE device that couldn't actually do 4G LTE -- that took a hardware (!??!?!) upgrade from Motorola, meaning you had to send in the tablet to get it. Ridiculous, and we can't blame you for voting it as most disappointing tablet.

Next biggest loser: Logitech Revue

If there's one Google initiative that's fallen far short of expectations, it's Google TV. And leading that mediocre charge is the Logitech Revue. It started way too pricey at $300 and has since dropped to $99. That makes the pain of having to wait on its anemic hardware much more tolerable. And while the Honeycomb revamp has made the UI more usable, Logitech itself has said it's getting the hell out of the Google TV business.

Game of the year

Winner: Angry Birds

Angry Birds

You can try, but you can't escape Angry Birds. And believe us, we've tried. And we're still trying.

Runner-up: Cut the Rope

Another great time-waster, but damned if it doesn't get a little ridiculously difficult.

Check-in app of the year

Winner: Foursquare

Foursquare

The check-in app of choice, for sure. Question is, will Path overtake it in 2012?

Runner-up: Facebook

Your parents can even check in on Facebook now. Get used to it.

Social networking app of the year

Winner: Facebook

Facebook

Stalk your friends, stalk your family.

Runner-up: Google+

Google's fledgling social network is at the core of its entire strategy, and rightfully so. But you still have to figure out how to tell your friends and family to use it instead of Facebook. Or not.

Travel app of the year

Winner: Google Maps

Google Maps

Nobody does it better than Google Maps. Nobody.

Runner-up: Tripit

And for the frequent traveler, no app keeps track of your itinerary better than Tripit. 

Business app of the year

Winner: QuickOffice

Quickoffice

We're seeing QuickOffice installed on more and more devices -- especially tablets -- out of the box. Makes sense it ranked highest here.

Runner-up: Google Docs

But Google's close behind with its ever-improving mobile version of Google Docs.

Keyboard of the year

Winner: Swype

Swype

Choosing a keyboard is a pretty tough proposition. But Swype eked out the win this year. Wonder if it would have run away with the voting if it was more easily available/upgradable.

Runner-up: SwiftKey X

And in a close second was SwiftKey X, which touts a powerful prediction engine and can even learn your typing habits by tying into your Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts.

Twitter app of the year

Winner: Twitter for Android

Twitter for Android

Speaking of Twitter, Android's "official" Twitter account has improved by leaps and bounds, so much so that you voted it your top Twitter app for 2011.

Runner-up: TweetDeck

Another close race -- TweetDeck finished second, and there are plenty of other clients nipping at its heels.

Tablet app of the year

Winner: Google Currents

Google Currents

An honest to goodness upset! Google's magagzine-style news reader's in its infancy, but you folks were impressed enough to vote it into the top spot. (And in case you were wondering, Android Central is still among the top "Science and Technology" subscriptions.

Runner-up: Pulse

An old favorite, to be sure, and one of the original Honeycomb applications. Should be interesting to see if it can regain the top spot in 2012.

Hacking app of the year

Winner: ROM Manager

ROM Manager

Millions of ROM flashers can't be wrong. ROM Manager makes it simple.

Runner-up: Titanium Backup

And if you're going to flash ROMs, there's no better way to move your app data from one build to another.

Podcatcher of the year

Winner: Google Listen

Google Listen

Google's podcatcher basically is abandonware at this point, but it still works pretty well and ties into your Reader account. Now if only we could get them to maybe add the Greatest Android Podcast in the World into its index?

Runner-up: Doggcatcher

Another longtime podcast favorite, though a pricey $4.99.


There you have it: Some of the top Android apps and devices as voted by you, the readers. See you in 2012!

 

Reader comments

The 2011 Android Central Awards Readers-Choice Picks

60 Comments

I believe that DoggCatcher is spelled with two Gs, and I still don't see how it is in any way better than BeyondPod, but whatever.

if you get the presto plug in (bummer that it costs more) you can play back podcasts at 0.1 increments increased speed up to 1.5x. being able to Listen to podcasts 50% faster is awesome

Yea, This is some of the picks I would have made, however because of my bias of the droid series, I wouldnt have picked the Bionic for worst. I would have picked the X.

except the x came out july 15th 2010...so it wouldnt have qualified for this...the bionic was a HUGE letdown, as the article says, it was announced at CES 2011, and then disappeared and we were promised upgrades and changes to make it the best smartphone available...and then when it was finally released it was broken

Maybe you meant the Droid X2? That got my vote, it was so bad that most people don't even recall its existence... and there was some hype before its release, given that it was the first dual core phone on Verizon (and I believe still, to this day, the one and only Tegra 2 phone on Verizon).

That's just as well for Android, honestly. Tegra 2, as a whole, was a disappointment. I'm not saying there weren't/aren't any good Tegra 2 devices, but the SOC fell far short of what most people were expecting out of it (except for people who were familiar with the history of using nonstandard instruction sets to tweak performance on weak hardware).

X2 maybe, but I still have my X and it was great until it was crapping out lately (Probably because it knows I am using it to research my Nexus I will be buying tomorrow)

Most of these were my picks, however I still believe that CWM (Clock Work Mod) should have won the hacker app category... and I think most XDA devs\members would agree with me.

Well, CWM doesn't really fit into the "App" category. It's a custom recovery, and a great one at that, but it's not an App like ROM Manager or TB.

The Droid bionic a huge fail it should have never been.......the bionic should have been the droidx2 but now its sent to the island of misfit phones destined to be forgotten .......

The Xoom itself was not very disappointing at all, and it is stupid that it would be listed as the most disappointing tablet.

It was the *VERIZON* Xoom that disappointed and caused most of the negativity, because of the cell modem disaster. The WiFi Xoom was just fine- it performs exactly the same as the other Tegra 2 tablets, is well built, has great battery life, nice display, reasonable dimensions, and once the competition started, the price was nearly the same as other 10" Tegra 2 tablets with the same amount of storage.

The only issue with the non-Verizon Xoom was the SD card, and that was because Honeycomb was not ready to deal with it. The Xoom is a essentially a Nexus tablet (and also the first real Android tablet) so it was Google's fault, and it would be the same with other tablets except those vendors eventually hacked on their own proprietary code to deal with it. By the time there was any reasonable competition, the Xoom was updated to handle the SD card (although still in only read mode).

Given the track record of Samsung, I would feel FAR safer with a Xoom than a Samsung tablet....

The sad part is, Google still doesn't get the use of SD cards on Honeycomb and who knows if they fixed it in ICS. Honeycomb 3.2 locks external storage devices as "read only" so only media applications can write to them. Don't even dream of editing and saving an Office document or updating a ZIP archive with more files, unless you store everything in Internal Storage. They really want to keep tablets being nothing more than Internet toys!

I, too, am very curious how ICS tablets will handle the card slots (and USB ports, if there are any). Also curious about the frustrating lack of USB Mass Storage Mode in Honeycomb... I have a feeling that will be missing in ICS, too.

That app mounts the card for use on a PC. It doesn't help with writing to the card on the tablet itself, which is the main problem of Honeycomb.

Easy fix, root device, install ROM and problem solved. I run tiamat rom and can read/write to my sdcard without problem (sdcard being mounted to /external1)

i agree, I own xoom wifi and love it to death. The Verizon is the failure so the post should be reworded to say failed was the Verizon xoom not the wifi xoom. I chose the xoom over Samsung due to feel, xoom felt more rugged and galaxy tab felt cheap.

I love my Xoom and I still think it is the second best tablet on the market behind only the Prime. I mean yes it did launch with promised features, but we still got them didnt we? I wold much rather of been promised for 4G and get it late than not get it at all like the iPad2 or iphone4 and 4s. No other tablet on the market is speced much better than the Xoom still and the Xoom will get ICS much sooner than any of the other tablets plus it has no skin. That horrible touchwiz skin is going to come back and bite a bunch of 10.1 and 8.9 owners in the ass big time. Samsung is always way late and with this Galaxy S and Tab stuff going on dont expect it to get anything past ICS as Samsung will be onto their next thing. It absolutely amazes me that Samsung continues to get fans and keep fans I mean their hardware is great, but software just kills it for me. I own the Galaxy Nexus and I couldn't be happier with it, but that is because of ICS as I will not buy a TouchWiz or Blur product ever again and I am starting to feel the same about Sense after the atrocity known as the Thunderbolt. That deserved the spot it got and arguably the worst spot on the list. For me I'm happy with the Xoom and I bought it for the pure Google experience the biggest let down of the Xoom came from Google not open sourcing Honeycomb as I am sure a bunch of folks picked up the Xoom with the promise of it being a Google Nexus type device. I think that they will make up for it and we will get a great release of ICS months before the competition.

Nice job readers. I was a bit surprised to see the Droid Razr as the smartphone of the year from the editors. No doubt it's a nice phone (my friend has one and he loves it), but I agree that Samsung notched the top two spots for Android smart phones this year.

Once the Xoom gets ICS, I hope it feels like a whole new tablet performance-wise. And I still use Listen. Man I hope Google would keep updating it, but it looks like that's wishful thinking.

From a performance perspective, the Xoom feels exactly like any other Tegra 2 tablet. Since ICS does have a lot of things that address performance, it will probably work out well for tablet owners.

I've messed with a very early build of ICS on my Galaxy Tab 10.1. I can tell you now that ICS runs much more fluidly than Honeycomb. It was about as smooth as an iOS device, even in its pre-alpha state.

You would not be unwise to get excited.

I still would have went with the Galaxy S II as the winner. It was the most dominant and most popular phone throughout the year. Definitely Samsung took over.

I agree with this list. The people have spoken.

I think the Check-in, Social Networking, and Twitter categories sbould be lumped into one "Social Networking" category. All those services are really social networks anyway. I mean, beyond Facebook and G+, how many more entries will there ever be?

I have to say, the readers got it mostly right!
How is it possible that the Editors FAILED on this one?

I love that Swype won best keyboard, it's definitely faster by leaps and bounds than any other keyboard, but I don't understand why you keep saying it's not available to everyone and not upgradable, I use swype exclusively on my HTC Thunderbolt with doesn't have swype just sign up for the swype beta program, and download the latest version, the newest version of swype beta even checks for updates automatically.

Also I'm still wondering what the cosmetic defects are with the thunderbolt, mine in in practically mint condition.
Though I admit if it wasn't for the dev community I'd have tossed this phone in a river long ago, thanks to the dev community it's now the best android phone I've owned, aside from battery life, but I can get through a day without issue now, but it still could be better.

Before the last update Swype was a HUGE pain to update I had to uninstall and reinstall it multiple times on the Mrs TB. I believe auto updating just came out with the last update (Thank God). The only cosmetic thing I saw was the over coat on the stand scratching off, who cares though, just scrapped it all of and it is fine. That phone is a tank and works well. Battery life is acceptable for the first LTE phone ever.

I agree with Hand_O_Death. Battery life is fine for me....the finish coming of the kickstand on my first Tbolt I considered due to my dropping it on the concrete and it scratching the finish and coming off from there. However, it's now coming off on my second Tbolt that didn't have the same fate....pretty piss poor quality there, but the rest of it is holding up fine for me.

Good to see Titanium get a mention. For me, it's hands down the most valuable app of them all. It does everything and it does everything well.

LOL @ "Enjoy, and let the flaming begin!"

There is less flaming here than in the Editor's pick thread. Everyone seems to be in a much higher state of agreement.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Kudos to Samsung!

The Bionic is FAR from being the worse device? It was only pushed off because of the Razr and the Galaxy Nexus. I own a Bionic and i am prefectly happy with it. It's rooted, its fast and I've never had a problem with it. These guys are a bunch of morons to say the HTC Thunderbolt was a runner up, that phones has a 4 hour battery life with terrible connection issues.

yeah, it was "pushed off"(assuming you mean disregared?) because those two phones are far superior to the piss poor job Motorola did on the Bionic. They were aiming for top specs in Feb/March, but it came out in Oct(?) and had 6-8 month old specs. It couldn't touch anything else on the market that came out around the same time as the Bionic. It deserves the biggest fail by both Verizon and Motorola. And yes, I feel sorry for anyone that was suckered into buying the Bionic and didn't have a chance to use any of the superior phones on Verizon.

I agree, the Bionic is a great device. The only reason people voted for it as the worst is because it was in the news everyday for months and fanboys don't like to hear about anything but their own OEMs. It may have been delayed, but it was delayed so they could make it better. I can think of plenty of other phones that had more problems and were bigger dissapointments like; the Droid Charge, X2,all those 3D phones, and of course the TB. If anything the Bionic is in the top 5 of smartphones this year!

It is not just your device that you have in your hands right now. It was the entire Bionic fiasco. I STILL to this day, have not upgraded because a year ago I decided to wait for CES 2011 and saw the Bionic and then decided to wait for it. then everything that happened between the rumors, delays, cancellations, and Moto and VZW saying NOTHING at all about it. after all the delays I personally decided to forgo the newest iteration of the Bionic and wait for the Prime (Now the Galaxy Nexus) which I will pick up tomorrow. The phone it self is not bad at all, but the whole thing was just horrible and disappointing.

I personally love my Thunderbolt. Battery life is just okay, but for the amount I used it, it usually gets me through the day. The only way I've gotten a 4 hour battery life out of it is letting Skype run in the background...that'll tank the battery quick.

Bionic was the most disappointing device? Really? Wait until the new car smell wears off the Nexus in a few months and take the poll again.

Regardless of what YOU think about the Bionic, I'm happy with mine. Regardless of what I think of you're phone, if you're happy with it, that's all that matters.

"you're phone"...?

I bought a Bionic when they came out. And from my experience with it, Verizon and Motorola should do jail time for that steaming pile of crap that was the Bionic. Six months later an update pretty much fixed it, and it became a fairly usable phone.

But for six months, the cellular data was, for the most part, worthless, and the battery life was around 4 hours (not talk time, but standby). They had no good reason to release the piece of crap, and they came pretty close to losing a customer that had been with them since 1994.

My battery was usually dead by lunch time if it wasn't on a charger, and the data connection kept dropping every 5 minutes. Sometimes airplane mode and back would fix it. Sometimes it needed a reboot. Sometimes I needed to pull the battery.

So if YOU are happy with your Bionic, you must have gotten it after they solved the cellular data problem. Because before the solution to that, the thing was a laughable piece of garbage.

If class action suits didn't usually pay about $12, I'd wish someone should sue Verizon for it.

I don't know why no one talks about it, but the wi-fi only XOOM Family Edition tablet from Best Buy is just amazing, and way cheaper than the standard one. I'm well-versed in Android, hacking, ROMs, etc, and I bought one for my wife to use with our daughter and when I was setting it up for her I was floored. It flies, the interface is smooth, tons of storage, and hell, I even set up Vulkano player (home unit w/Lava Flow app I think it's called) on it for her and it streams content from our DVR, while allowing remote viewing of our massive U-Verse channel array without issue. We skype all the time, she does our finances in Quick Office, streams radio, watches movies, plays games online - everything. It's replaced her laptop entirely. It's light as a feather, has SD card included, and even has a dedicated kids mode stuffed with awesome learning programs. Best of all, it was a steal - The Android bargain of the year IMHO. I cannot believe it went completely under the radar.

Some people just love bashing the Xoom, even though it is a wonderful tablet. Few that bash it even owned it. Others put all the Xooms in the same category as the VERIZON Xoom, which is not even fair. Oh well.

The Xoom Family edition is the same speed, memory, chipset, same screen size (although different pixel layout), and almost the same dimensions as the Xoom WiFi. It just has half the storage, a lower resolution front camera, a smaller camera flash, and is tapered a bit differently with a slightly different housing and button location.

Ha! I own three of the devices on this list and two of them are under the "worst" category. Still, I'm happy with my Verizon Xoom purchased on Cyber Monday for $200 and my $99 Revue. Sure they have their issues, but price isn't one of them.

The main reason the bionic was so disappointing ....was all the hype....but if it works for u then its a great phone .....alot of people don't like the droidx2 but I love it, I don't need 4g or an front facing camera. Its plenty of fast for me fits perfect in my pockets ...I love it......

Bravo to Samsung capturing 1st and 2nd for smartphone of the year. The Bionic the worst? Agreed! A few friends of mine picked up Bionics a month or so after it came out, the first day they were bragging, then a few days later they weren't all that happy.
I picked up a SII and their jaws hit the floor after playing with it for an hour. I messed with their Bionics and nearly threw them away myself.

That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Threw them away? Really. Look, I'm a Bionic owner and I'd have to agree that it wins the most disappointing phone of the year. It is. However, that's got everything to do with the hype and nothing to do with the device. It's a fantastic phone with excellent specs. There are only three Verizon 4G devices out since and I wouldn't trade my Bionic for any of them. The RAZR might be thin, but it's too wide and that's a lousy trade off for thickness. I really liked the look, feel and functionality of the Rezound, but the lack of an HDMI out is a deal breaker for me. The same is true for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It's a beautiful device and I'd love to have it, but I need that HDMI out. It's a true deal breaker.

The Bionic did not live up to it's hype, although it wasn't a let down either. I love my phone. I've had no trouble with it, not one bit. I've actually had 2 brand new Bionics (first was stolen after the second week) and both have been completely trouble free. Like all devices, it ain't perfect, but it's wonderful and it's a shame that it didn't release when it should have.

I still wonder why the samsung galaxy note wasn't listed, in my opinion is faster than the galaxy nexus, and faster than the gs2, even at gingerbread, the hardware is better so when it gets ICS it will be even faster.

Like others have commented, I will have to disagree with editors about the Xoom. I have looked at the other tablets and yes the Galaxy Tab and Asus tablet are thin and light, but beyond that, they have the same processor and software.

I have the 3G/Wifi (now 4G) version and love it. I use it mostly on a WIFI connection. When I do use the 4G connection, I get better speeds than my internet connection at work/home. If it gets ICS ahead of everyone else, then why is it disappointing? Other tablets, the stock android system is modified by respective manufacturer. It will take them that much longer to release ICS.