This year’s Mobile Industry Awards once again showcased the very best of our industry. From networks to high street retailers, the strength of the entries received reflects the high calibre of players across the board. Congratulations to our stellar lineup of finalists, and also to our much-deserved winners.
Best Consumer Network – EE
The term ‘standout’ was repeatedly used by our judges to describe EE, as it claimed Best Consumer Network for the third consecutive year. The network’s success in growing the brand and its customers left the judging panel unanimous in its decision. The judges said: ‘If you look at the combination of coverage and customer service, it all comes back to EE.’
Shortlist:EE, Three, O2, Vodafone
Best Business Network – O2
The brand’s range of new and flexible tariffs saw the network break EE’s winning streak in this category. The judges were impressed by O2’s range of services, while strong customer service credentials and innovation through the use of business apps saw the network edge out other competitors. O2 business director Ben Dowd said: ‘It’s brilliantly fitting that “Mobile Today” has awarded O2 the Best Business Network title.’
Best MVNO – Tesco Mobile
Tesco Mobile claimed the Best MVNO crown for the second year in a row after impressing the judging panel with its broad proposition. The O2-owned MVNO was praised for its consistently good customer service and record low churn rates in the face of consolidation.
Tesco Mobile CEO Anthony Vollmer expressed his delight at the win: ‘We feel great about our Best MVNO win at the Mobile Industry Awards,’ he said. ‘O2 is on the run’. It means a lot when you’re singled out, especially when you think about how many people play in this market and how many competitors there are.’
Shortlist:Anywhere SIM, BT Mobile,FreedomPop, iD, Tesco Mobile,LycaMobile, Virgin Media
Hottest New MVNO – BT Mobile
This year the category of Hottest New MVNO was introduced to recognise the number of new players that have entered the UK MVNO space over the past year. Despite facing stiff competition from Dixons Carphone’s iD, the inaugural crown was claimed by BT Mobile.
The mobile brand wowed the judging panel with its strong marketing campaigns and customer adds. Lynne Ormrod, general manager marketing, BT Mobile, said: ‘We’re very proud that BT Mobile has been recognised for its impact on the mobile market in the short time since its launch.’
Shortlist:Anywhere SIM, BT Mobile, FreedomPop, iD
Best Manufacturer – Samsung
The judges faced a tough decision, with both Apple and Samsung front-runners to win this award. Samsung took the crown after impressing the panel with its partner relationships. From listening to partners more, to taking an active stance in seeking constructive feedback in terms of what products or services to offer, the panel described it as a ‘change in culture from the top down’.
Conor Pierce, Samsung vice president, IT & Mobile, United Kingdom & Ireland, said: ‘I'm
delighted to have been recognised and incredibly proud of the team that's achieved this. We will continue to push limits through our research and development to bring the best technology to consumers.’
Shortlist:Apple, HTC, Huawe, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony
Hottest New Phone for 2016 – Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
In a category of tough contenders, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge was the standout winner. Once again, innovation was a key driver behind the judges’ unanimous decision.
The judges also praised Samsung’s move to bring back key features that consumers had
asked for, also commenting that introducing virtual reality alongside the handset opened up new areas for both consumers and retailers to explore.
Shortlist:Apple iPhone SE, HTC 10, Huawei P9, LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Sony Xperia XA
Best VR Experience
This new category was introduced to reflect the growing popularity of the virtual market in mobile. The inaugural gong was scooped by the Samsung Gear VR, which the panel described as remarkably successful, praising its accessibility and range of content.
The judges commented: ‘This was the first time people saw VR as maybe something we can sell. It has got the industry thinking about what to do differently in stores and how to bring
new use cases. That is something the whole industry is desperate for.’
Shortlist: HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR
Phone of the Year – Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge last year redefined the market, making it the clear winner of Phone of the Year. The judges praised the device for its high level of design and innovation, stating ‘in a sea of very similar touch screen phones, this stood out’.
Conor Pierce, Samsung vice president, IT & Mobile. United Kingdom & Ireland said: ‘As an
industry leader in the mobile market, it was an honour to be presented with this prestigious award. This accolade is a testament to our continued dedication to deliver world-leading innovative technology.’
Shortlist:Apple iPhone 6s, Google Nexus 6P, HTC One M9, LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, Sony Xperia Z5
Best Value Phone – Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
The category featured a range of handsets retailing at £350 or under but Sony came out top to scoop the title with its Sony Xperia M4 Aqua. The judges were impressed by the selling power of the device, coupled with strong specs and low price point.
UK head of Sony Mobile, Warren Saunders, said: ‘We are delighted that Sony has been recognised as a market leader within the category. The standards were incredibly high at this year's Mobile Industry Awards, so receiving the accolade was all the more significant.’
Shortlist:Alcatel Pixi 3 (4.5), Huawei P8 Lite, Honor 5X, Motorola Moto G 4G (3rd gen), Samsung Galaxy J5, Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Best Business Phone – Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
The judges were initially split in their decision on who should win this award, but Microsoft took home the top gong after impressing the panel with its multi-platform device.
The judges commented that Microsoft had started a shift of business users away from Apple: ‘People are moving away from Apple to Microsoft. The device has the advantage of having Office 360 built in, and from a business perspective it is quite strong – it’s a good productivity tool.’
Shortlist:Apple iPhone 6s Plus, Blackberry Priv, Google Nexus 6P, Huawei Mate S, Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, Motorola Moto X Force, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
Best Tablet – Apple iPad Pro
With cellular connectivity on tablets increasingly becoming the norm, the product category’s relevance to the UK continues. This year there was only one victor in this space – Apple’s iPad Pro ran away from the competition and wowed the judges with a host of additional features included in this most recent model.
Shortlist:Asus Zenpad 8.0, Apple iPad Pro, Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 10”, Microsoft Surface Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
Judges Choice One to Watch – Huawei
This new category was created on the insistence of our judging panel, who felt that there needed to be an accolade for the most exciting companies who were on the brink of success.
The judges felt that no one was more deserving of this accolade than Huawei. The judging panel were impressed by Huawei’s market appetite, commenting: ‘They’re not going to stick with being number three in the market. We’ve never seen anyone with the kind of ambition that Huawei has. They are the hungriest players in the market and are the ones to watch throughout the next year.’
Exceptional Achievement – Dixons Carphone
After a stellar year, Dixons Carphone took home the accolade that celebrates what has been the standout success story from the mobile industry in 2016.
The high street retailer’s performance over the past year has lit up the market, generating value for partners, increasing excitement at key events, and selling more of the most important products than anyone else. Across multiple platforms and with unbeatable customer numbers, the business has continued to achieve landmark commercial success amid an atmosphere of uncertainty.
Best Online Retailers – Mobiles.co.uk
With so many phones now sold on the internet, it is only right that Mobile introduces the Best Online Retailer category at this year’s awards. A broad range of products and innovative
marketing saw Mobiles.co.uk pip rival Ebuyer to the trophy. After demonstrating strong
commercial gains the judge’s decision was unanimous.
Best High Street Retailer – EE
EE clinched this award for the first time after judges were impressed by the network’s
breadth of product, with one commenting: ‘It has more products than any other retailer, which gives the customer a better experience.’ The panel agreed that the network successfully ‘showed off the best of what mobile can do’, using an omni channel approach to market.
Commenting on the win, CEO Marc Allera said: ‘Being awarded Best High Street Retailer is
recognition of the great strides we’ve made in this area, and I'm really proud that the hard work of our retail staff has been rewarded.’
Shortlist: Carphone Warehouse, EE, O2, Three, Vodafone
Best SIM-Free Retailer – John Lewis
John Lewis’ strides into mobile did not go unrecognised by our judging panel, which praised the brand’s principled approach and willingness to put the consumer first.
Suddy Bhardwaj, communication technology buyer John Lewis, commented on the win; 'It is an honour to be awarded the best SIM-free retailer from such an authoritative mobile organisation. We only started selling phones last year in July and and we’ve gone from zero sales to a major SIM-free retailer overnight.’
Shortlist:Argos, John Lewis, Tesco Phone Shop
Best Franchise – Avertec Group
Avertec Group stormed to success in this category after wowing the judges with strong financials and community presence. This category was a close call with Telenomics and the Avertec Group both putting in strong entries.
Shortlist:Avertec Group, Comms Plus, Fonehouse Belfast, Telenomics
Best Retail Distributor – Tech Data Mobile
A stellar list of partners and positive financial performance won this category for Tech Data Mobile. The judges were impressed by a number of innovative ideas demonstrated by the distributor, as well as developing its presence in the market. Commenting on the win, Tech Data Mobile CEO Matt Child said: ‘This is just the beginning for us. It’s a fantastic ‘seal of approval’ from the industry, and gets us the relevance and recognition that we set out to gain a year or so ago.’
Shortlist: Exertis, Tech Data Mobile
Best Retail Field Manufacturer – Samsung
There was no doubt in the judges’ minds that Samsung was a runaway winner. Field marketing teams are a vital link between supplier and store staff, and Samsung’s passion for the product was praised by the judges. The panel also noted the manufacturer's commitment to visiting stores time and again to see that all the needs of the staff were met.
Shortlist: Doro, Samsung, Sony
B2B Best Unified Comms Dealer – Excalibur
An ecstatic Excalibur beat competitors in this category to take home its first Mobile Industry
Award. Its commitment to customer service convinced the judging panel to make a unanimous decision in a particularly competitive category. Excalibur CEO James Phipps said: ‘For the size of our industry there are actually very few awards available, so it is important the industry comes together to celebrate the successes of the last year. To be recognised by a major industry organisation is a great feeling for the whole team.’
Shortlist: Active Digital, Activ, Aerial, Excalibur, Uplands, Vivio, Voice Mobile
Best Support Service – Supercover
In one of the most diverse categories, Supercover took home the crown, impressing the judges with how it added value to partners and provided on-going support. John Fannon, Supercover Insurance director of sales, said: ‘The Mobile Industry Awards evening was fantastic and we are incredibly proud to have walked away with the first ever ‘Best Support Service’ title. Over the past 18 months we have worked hard to make our mark in the mobile telecoms sector, and to have gained recognition for the service we offer is brilliant.’
Shortlist: Redeem, Supercover, Wick Hill, X-Mobility
Best B2B Distributor – Tech Data Mobile
Tech Data Mobile made it a night of double celebrations by adding the Best B2B Distributor trophy to its collection. The distributor managed to impress the judges with its stellar roster of manufacturers, using it to increase its reseller base substantially. The panel commented on Tech Data Mobile’s ability to support a diverse blend of customers, using a complete suite of services, which put it ahead of the competition.
Shortlist: Exertis, Plan.com, Tech Data Mobile, Wick Hill
Person of the Year - Sebastian James
Dixons Carphone CEO Sebastian James took home the coveted Person of the Year Award for a record-breaking second year in a row, after topping the Mobile Power 50. The high street retailer has gone through an extraordinary transformation over the past two years with James at the helm, launching its 3-in-1store initiative and consistently achieving strong financial growth.
James previously topped the Mobile Power 50 for overseeing the merger between Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse, however it was his continued drive to grow the combined brand that saw him take the 2016 crown. The judges were impressed by his role in bringing innovation to Dixons Carphone, from introducing manufacturer experience zones to providing customers with a simple switching service. Not only has he successfully led at the boardroom level, James has continued to engage with staff from all levels of the company.
Reacting his win, James emphasised how attached he had become to the brand, dedicating
his Person of the Year award to Dixons Carphone staff. ‘This is really an unexpected honour for which I am most grateful,’ he said.
‘We have had a very busy year at a time when our industry in the UK is going through a
period of unprecedented change. In the couple of years since I have been involved in the mobile sector I have not only become very attached to the business but am also more and more in admiration of the people who make it happen.
‘To do so requires skill, technical understanding, commercial acumen and flexibility to a
degree that I think is not seen in any other industry, and I am very proud to be working with so many people at Dixons Carphone who have that rare collection of skills. Once again, my sincere thanks for this award, which entirely belongs to the men and women who make up
Setting forth his plans for the next year, the Dixons Carphone chief said that adapting to the constant change in the industry would be an on-going challenge. ‘This industry is going through an incredible amount of change,’ he said, ‘and we saw this year lots of mergers that did not happen and some that did. We will see a lot more of that, so we are going to have to be really nimble and ready for anything that the market throws at us.’