Android Central 2014 Readers' Choice Awards
Another year has come and gone. And that means it's time for the annual popularity contest.
We asked you fine folks to give us your picks for the best smartphone. The best tablet. The best smartwatch — a new category for us this year!
And these are the winners. Your winners. With more than 7,000 votes cast, you've picked the best of the best from a year that was full of some really good stuff.
So who made the list? What surprises are in store? Only one way to find out. Let's close out the year by announcing the 2014 Android Central Reader's Choice Awards.
The best Android smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Note 4
We combined the traditional "phone" category with the oversized "phablets" this year, and for good reason. The big-ass phones are just as mainstream now. And the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was your pick for the best of the bunch, thanks to its large, excellent display, great battery life and the little something extra that the S Pen brings to the tablet. Plus it's got one of the best cameras you can get in an Android smartphone today.
The best Android tablet: HTC Nexus 9
After not having new Nexus tablet for more than a year, it's not too surprising seeing the Nexus 9 win out here. That's in spite of some early software issues, of course, and less than ideal heat dissipation. But the first Android tablet to sport 64-bit software in conjunction with the 64-bit ready Android 5.0 Lollipop is certainly a big deal, and it's quickly become our go-to tablet here as well.
The biggest head-scratcher of 2014: Amazon Fire Phone
You won't get any argument from us on this pick. Amazon's long-awaited (but was it really?) smartphone — the Amazon Fire Phone — isn't actually a bad device, per se. It's got a simple but well-built design. And we're all for someone trying something new with the user interface. But there's just not much a need for a dedicated Amazon phone, just as there isn't one for a Facebook phone. And that it was an AT&T exclusive (just like Facebook's failed endeavors) certainly didn't help matters any.
The two other head-scratchers of 2014? The silly OnePlus One invite system, and the buggy release of Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Smartwatch of the year: Moto 360
Out of all the hardware picks you folks made this year, none was a clearer winner than the Moto 360, which brought in more than 54 percent of the vote. We haven't been shy about our love for it either, with the round design and excellent Horween leather.
Smartphone manufacturer of the year: Motorola
You might think that the best smartphone of the year would spawn from your favorite manufacturer, but that simply wasn't the case. Motorola takes your top OEM prize this year, and for good reason. The 2014 Moto X and new Moto G are two excellent phones, and the larger Nexus 6 later in the year only added to that prestige.
Tablet manufacturer of the year: Samsung
The roles reverse when it comes to tablets, however. Samsung brought a strong stable of tablets in 2014, featuring some of the best hardware and software the company could offer.
U.S. mobile operator of the year: T-Mobile
There's simply no U.S. wireless operator — and no CEO — as visible as T-Mobile and John Legere. That's thanks in part to the untraditional (but definitely appreciated) "Uncarrier" movement, which strives for simplicity and transparency in the way the company provides service. And at the same time T-Mobile has made great strides in building out its network, which had been languishing in recent years.
That, and T-Mobile just seemed to make this business fun in 2014.
Most underrated device of 2014: Chromecast
Amen. This $30 wonder was sold millions and changed the way we listen to music and watch movies and YouTube videos with our Android devices. If you have an Android device and don't have a Chromecast, you're doing it wrong.
Chromecast also won out in our "Google's best feature" category.
The OnePlus One came in second with 22 percent.
Apps and Games
Game of the year: Monument Valley
No complaints from us. It's a beautiful puzzler that's as challenging as it is fun, even if it is a bit short.
The can't-escape-it Clash of Clans came in second.
Best Twitter app: Twitter
Say what you want about the official Twitter app — and we could say plenty — but the simple fact is it works, it works well, and it's not subject to the same rules as third-party developers, so you know it's not going to get the rug pulled out from under it.
Talon and Fenix were the first third-party apps to hit our list, but about 30 percentage points below the official app.
Photo editor of the year: Snapseed
Snapseeed wins this category, followed closely by Google's own Photos app. Not surprising given that one pretty much begat the other, and both are quick and easy ways to edit photos on device.
Best travel app: Google Maps
How did we live — let alone travel — before this app? We don't know, and we don't want to find out.
Web browser of the year: Chrome and Chrome beta
Hardly a surprise, as they're the go-to browser for Android these days.
Best keyboard of the year: SwiftKey
There are so many keyboards out there these days, and a lot of them are really, really good. SwiftKey, however, ran away with your picks, garnering more than 44 percent of the vote. The stock Google keyboard was the next closest at 17 percent.
Best podcatcher app: Pocket Casts
This has long been a favorite from us here, and Pocket Casts ran away with 39 percent of your votes as well.