Over the past week and a half, we asked our readers to vote for the best products and stories for the year 2016. It has certainly been an eventful one, so we were definitely curious as to what you had to say.
This year, our voting period was shorter than the last (sorry!), but the turnout was just as encouraging: despite the voting period being one week shorter than 2015, we received roughly the same number of votes as the last.
Without further ado, here are the results!
What is your choice for the best smartphone of 2016?
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (26.4%)
Samsung’s relentless improvement over the past few years means this award is well deserved. The Galaxy S7 edge is one of the most all-rounded smartphones released this year, combining fantastic industrial design with excellent performance, battery life, and one of the best smartphone cameras this year.
We expect more of the same this year, Samsung.
Runner Up: iPhone 7/7 Plus (22.2%)
2015’s runner up locks in second place once again, as the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus in particular proved evergreen in its popularity. Despite being released just a few months ago, the iPhone’s status as one of the best smartphones in the industry means consumers have plenty of trust for Apple – even if the design is rather bland by today’s standards.
With 2017 being the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, we’re sure that Apple has something special in store.
Which do you think is the best value for money smartphone of 2016?
Winner: OnePlus 3/3T (33.5%)
Initially, Xiaomi’s excellent Redmi Note 3 threatened to pull away from the competition, but the higher-end OnePlus 3 eventually came out somewhat comfortable winners here.
And there’s plenty of reasons to justify that. Despite the higher price point from previous OnePlus flagships, the premium-tier hardware and improvements in the software, design, and the camera departments meant the OnePlus 3 (and the newer 3T variant) isn’t just a value for money smartphone, it is also one of the best smartphones released this year.
Runner Up: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (28%)
Arguably the phone that helped ensure Xiaomi’s position as a value for money brand remains solid as ever. The Redmi Note 3’s hardware is unrivaled at its price point: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chip with 3GB of RAM for RM849? Fantastic for the price-conscious Malaysian consumer.
It helps too that the package as a whole was solid: everything from the display, camera, and battery life is what you’d come to expect from Xiaomi.
Which 2016 smartphone had the best rear camera?
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge (33.3%)
Quick to launch and even quicker to lock focus, the S7 edge proves that Apple was no longer the leader of the pack when it comes to smartphone photography. Not forgetting, too, that this was the first smartphone to buck the trend of increasing megapixel count; Samsung’s previous 16MP sensors on the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 were great, but the new 12MP f/1.7 sensors and Samsung’s optimisations elevate the Korean company to another level.
Runner Up: Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus (25.2%)
While the iPhone 7 has a good camera, we’re certain the focus of most votes was on the larger iPhone 7 Plus. With its unique dual-camera setup, the Plus model lets users take really good portrait photographs of people – besides offering true optical 2x zoom.
That said, the general feeling surrounding the iPhones this year has been rather underwhelming; perhaps Apple is saving its best for the 10th anniversary iPhone next year?
Which is the best smartwatch of 2016?
Winner: Samsung Gear S3 Classic/Frontier (54.6%)
It was a quiet year for wearables – smartwatches in particular were a huge surprise in just how few launches there were. We can actually only recall three, and the three automatically appear as this year’s nominees.
Of the three, Samsung’s classy Gear S3 series stand out. Now featuring two distinct designs (Classic and Frontier Editions), the Gear S3 carries the torch for Samsung after the success of the Gear S2, combining great looks with a full suite of features expected from a smartwatch.
Runner Up: Apple Watch Series 2 (31.3%)
After the significant makeover of WatchOS, Apple’s smartwatch is finally…smarter. There’s no doubting the stylish exterior and catalogue of watch bands to choose from, but Apple’s focus on the software and, in particular, the fitness capabilities, make the new Apple Watch an interesting choice for iPhone users.
Which is the best premium Ultrabook of 2016?
Winner: Dell XPS 13 Kaby Lake refresh (34.8%)
Dell’s XPS 13 is widely considered to be the best Ultrabook released in recent years, and your votes tally with that sentiment. Competition in this space is plentiful, but the Kaby Lake refresh – just a processor upgrade, really – ran out quite comfortable winners here.
The XPS 13 is gorgeous and is made with premium materials that keeps the weight down, making it an exceptional travel companion. Plus, a healthy suite of ports (hello, SD card reader!) make this our favourite Ultrabook as well.
Runner Up: Apple MacBook Pro 2016 (23.9%)
It was a long time coming, but Apple has finally updated its MacBook Pro. It split opinion in so many ways, but one cannot fault Apple and its exceptional industrial design: this laptop is handsome.
But, with its extremely limited I/O ports, Apple is distancing itself away from the core users of MacBook Pros: the creative professionals who rely on various other peripherals that have not yet embraced USB Type C as an industry standard.
Which 2016 gaming laptop offers the best value for money?
Winner: Asus ROG Strix GL502 (37.6%)
Besides the Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, Asus packs a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD paired with a 128GB SSD, all in a chassis that’s just 23.5mm thin.
Runner Up: Illegear Z5 2016 (34.1%)
Illegear’s name among gaming enthusiasts in Malaysia is well-known, and the Illegear Z5 is among the most popular models in the Illegear lineup. With its high-performance hardware packed into a package that’s noticeably more affordable than the competition, Illegear continues to be a favourite among the gaming community in Malaysia.
Which gaming peripheral brand released the best gaming products in 2016?
Winner: Razer (43.9%)
Winners for two years in a row now, it isn’t hard to see just how big the Razer brand is to the gaming world. Its move beyond just peripherals gives it an edge over the competition fighting for attention in an increasingly crowded market for gaming equipment.
That said, its core market remains in the peripherals – and we must say the company ended the year really strongly. The release of the Blackwidow X series of keyboards made gamers lust for them in a way that hasn’t been seen in years; the fact that Razer was again offering Cherry MX switches as options helped, too.
Runner Up: Logitech (38.4%)
The ever-dependable Logitech remains No. 2 for the second successive year. The company has been steadily expanding its Logitech G series to meet demand for more affordable but quality peripherals, culminating in the new Prodigy series.
It has also been pushing hard with its line of mechanical keyboards featuring its own Romer G switches (though the cheaper keyboards still use membrane ones), which Logitech claims is a better switch overall compared to Cherry MX. But with gamers still preferring the feel of the Cherry MX switch, Logitech has a challenge on its hands.
Which is the best telco of 2016?
Winner: U Mobile (29.2%)
As you’ll read later, it was almost a clean sweep for U Mobile in 2016, scooping all but one of the five telco awards on offer. The dark horse, it appears, has now taken the lead.
Crucially, U Mobile’s various efforts in 2016 helped propel it into the hearts and minds of Malaysians. Its innovative and competitive products also forced competitors’ hands into matching U Mobile’s offerings, such as the Hero P98 postpaid plan or the unique Video-Onz feature.
One thing is for certain, though: U Mobile is making things interesting in the telco space, and it means one thing: the ultimate winners will be us, the consumers.
Runner Up: Celcom (24.5%)
Another telco which has been steadily improving in recent times. Celcom has always had one of the widest cellular networks in the country, but its recent exercises in expanding its data network is bearing fruit.
It helps, too, that its new Celcom First postpaid plans are very competitive. Starting with the First Gold in February 2016 and later refreshed in October, Celcom’s efforts in 2016 is very commendable.
Which telco offered the best postpaid plan in 2016?
Winner: U Mobile (38.3%)
Arguably the most important product U Mobile released in 2016 was the Hero P98 postpaid plan. The first plan to hit the 30GB data quota mark, for a long time no other telco offered a similarly generous amount; and even when the rest caught up, they usually came in the form of “weekend data”.
There is a lot to like about the P98 plan too. Unlimited calls and unlimited video streaming with Video-Onz gives this plan excellent value for money. And, with the spectrum reallocation exercise (of which U Mobile received additional spectrum) due to be complete in the middle of this year, we may actually see better network coverage and performance from U Mobile very soon.
Runner Up: Celcom (27.8%)
Again, the Celcom First plans has something for every budget, but the killer move was made in October 2016 when the telco refreshed its plans to essentially double the quota for all its postpaid plans with the addition of weekend data.
While we find the weekend data phenomenon rather gimmicky, the introduction of AnydayGB – which combines both all-day and weekend data into one huge pool – for an additional RM10 a month makes the new Celcom First postpaid plans very competitive.
Which new prepaid plan was the best in 2016?
Winner: U Mobile POWER Prepaid (39.6%)
Most telcos already offer free basic internet on its prepaid offerings, but U Mobile went one step further with the POWER Prepaid pack: as long as your plan is active, you’ll get 1GB of high-speed internet every month, for life.
No other telco offers as attractive a benefit as this, and if you’re the type to make short calls each day, there’s 15 minutes of free calls to all U Mobile numbers, too.
Runner Up: Digi Prepaid LIVE (21.1%)
Where other prepaid plans focus on calls, texts, and high-speed data, Digi’s Prepaid LIVE is the only one which focuses on streaming services. Each week, there is a 1GB allocation for both video and music streaming which refreshes every week, giving subscribers a total of 8GB of data allocation solely for streaming music and videos.
Which telco had the best LTE network in Malaysia in 2016?
Winner: Maxis (54.1%)
For the second year running, Maxis takes home this award convincingly. It may not be everyone’s favourite telco, but Maxis has proven that its data network is arguably the best around with fast and stable connections in areas with LTE coverage.
It has responded comparatively slowly with its postpaid offerings, but the premium provider still actually has a competitive postpaid plan with the MaxisONE plan – if you tag a few of your friends and family along for supplementary lines.
Which local telco improved the most in 2016?
Winner: U Mobile (42.9%)
Despite sweeping home the “best telco” award, U Mobile also bagged the most improved telco award for the second successive year. That’s a strong indication of U Mobile’s progress in 2016, and with competitors wising up to its products and responding quickly, it will have to up its game in 2017 to maintain this encouraging momentum.
What is Your Choice for Story of the Year?
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 7. A fiery end to what should have been 2016’s best smartphone.
There couldn’t be any other, could it? The Galaxy Note 7 was a global spectacle, and a downright debacle for Samsung. The device was almost universally accepted as the best smartphone released in 2016, before it got too hot for its own good.
The company is expected to release the findings of its investigation sometime this month, where we certainly hope will close the chapter to one of the defining stories in the mobile industries in recent memory.
It also inadvertently upped the stakes for Samsung to create something even better this year – and from recent rumours it appears the Galaxy S8 might just live up to the intense scrutiny and expectations. Let’s find out.
Many thanks to those who voted in the 2016 edition of the Community Choice Awards! We’ll be selecting the winners later this week as we are a bit tied up with CES 2017, but check your inboxes this weekend as we’ will be contacting the winners via email!