Innovation, a term that’s hard to define and even harder to accomplish. More so in the world of smartphones, where most often than not, the innovative feature(s) might even fail to garner any consumer attention (looking at you, Amazon Fire Phone and the likes). But year 2017 was different. We might not have seen an innovation that blows our minds, but we did see some interesting and useful features on some devices. In fact, one of the most innovative phones of 2017 was available for free (effectively). We’re referring to the JioPhone, which offered features such as support for voice recognition (and recently got the Google Assistant too). Which were the other devices matching this criterion, and more importantly, which one did it the best? Let’s find out in the91mobiles Awardfor the most innovative phone of the year. First, here are the members of the jury panel that voted to adjudge the winners, followed by the list of nominees, and finally, the winners themselves.

91mobiles Awards 2017 - Jury members


Google Pixel 2 / 2 XL


We know. We know. The Pixel 2 XL (review) was mired in controversy from the issue of the colour shift in its display to crackling noises while recording videos, and even shipping without any OSfor some. But that doesn’t take away the fact that the second-gen Pixel was a bold step in Google’s vision of an AI-first world. With its machine learning prowess, the pair was able to offer depth-of-field effects even with a single camera at the back. In fact, the siblings had this capability with the front camera too. Google Assistant became more powerful on these devices, and they also became visual search engines with the Lens feature, letting you point their cameras to any object or monument to get more details. Last but not the least, the duo could identify songs playing nearby without needing internet connectivity or any action from the user.

Samsung Galaxy Note8


Just the fact that Samsung was able to stand back on its feet after the Note7 battery debacle in 2016 is a reason enough to be enamoured by the Galaxy Note8 (review). But that’s not all, as the phone continues to be the most loaded offering with support for a stylus, referred to as the S Pen. And the S Pen has become even more useful with enhanced Screen-off memo capability, ability to translate entire paragraphs from one language to another, live messages, and creating GIFs from videos, among other things. It’s also the worlds first (and Samsung’s too) phone with dual optically-stabilised primary cameras, offering optical zoom and bokeh effects. And all that packed in a futuristic design with an immersive Infinity Display on its fascia the Note8 truly lives up to its promise of meaningful innovation.

Apple iPhone X


Marking the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone, the iPhone X (pronounced 10) is packed to the gills with features. It’s the first phone from the Cupertino giant with an all-screen front, except for that notch which has its fair share of haters. But that aside, the smartphone does pave way for the smartphones of the future. It ditches the home button and Touch ID in favour of Face ID, which authenticates using your face by utilising the TrueDepth Camera system.The feature works even in dark environments,and can track the changes in ones facial features over time. The setup also enables the device to offer a portrait mode as well as portrait lighting for selfies. And who can forget Animojis? The animated characters are part of the biggest trends of 2017 with Animoji Karaoke, as the iPhone X (review) can emulate your facial expressions and record them as a cute video with a song playing alongside.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2


Even though the original Xiaomi Mi Mix never made its way to our shores, its successor, the Mi Mix 2 (review) did and were glad about it. Not only did it take the idea of minimal bezels a step further with its impressive screen-to-body ratio, it also came with flagship-level hardware. One of the very few phones clad in ceramic with a metallic frame, the uniformity of its fascia is only broken at the bottom which sports the 5-megapixel selfie camera.

And the winners are…

Runner’s up: Samsung Galaxy Note8

Winner: Apple iPhone X

As Deepak Dhingra says, “the iPhone X is packed to the gills with innovation, and defines how future iPhones will shape up… in turn, setting the bar for most premium smartphones we’ll see in the coming year.