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Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 04:40 pm PT (07:40 pm ET)

Apple's iPhone 4 wins Best Mobile Device award at Mobile World Congress

Apple didn't attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but it took the event's top award for a mobile device.

The event, a major confab of the mobile industry, has been virtually ignored by Apple in much the same way as the more general Consumer Electronics Show held in January. Apple not only fails to show at both events, but also appears to leak news or hold press events of its own that tend to overshadow the announcements of competing firms.

Judges didn't hold that against the company however, calling iPhone 4 "Best Mobile Device," saying that it has a "great screen, sharp design, fantastic materials, and phenomenal ecosystem for app developers. In a tight race, the iPhone 4 built on the success of its predecessors to set the pace for smartphones."

A separate award for Device Manufacturer of the Year went to Taiwan's HTC, of which judges said, "this company has built its market presence from nowhere, with fresh branding and marketing and a strong portfolio of devices across many platforms. In particular, it has proven an exceptionally popular and enduring phone manufacturer. With great communication and good customer service, this is a well-deserved award."

Also cited was a "Highly Commended" note for the HTC Desire, which judges said "set the bar for Android phones across much of the world in 2010. Packed with great features, this is an enduring product that has performed consistently well."

App awards

Awards for "Best Mobile App" and "App of the Year on the Apple Platform" went to Rovio/Clickgamer/Chillingo for Angry Birds, with judges saying "this is the 50 million plus-selling app that catapulted the benchmark for mobile gaming higher than ever, it is innovative too in terms of in-application monetisation."

Other platforms were awarded a specific App of the Year award. For RIM BlackBerry, it was RIM's own BlackBerry Messenger, of which was said, "the benchmark for real-time, mobile instant messaging application that offers deep integration with the phone’s address book and media gallery."

Similarly, Google took the app award for the Android platform with Google Maps, with judges noting, "this has been one of the most frequently updated applications on the market, and the latest iteration has made it simply one of the best mobile apps out there today."

For Nokia's platform, Herocraft & InnerActive's Zum Zum was awarded, with the citation “boasting captivating game-play, attractive graphics and simple rules. Ranked the number one game in Ovi Store in 2010, generating over six million game plays per month at its height.”

Previous winners

Last year, the event awarded Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs "Mobile Personality of the Year," but gave the Best Mobile Device award to the HTC Hero, the first Android model to incorporate the company's Sense UI.

HTC subsequently released an update for the award winning Hero to Android 2.1, but indicated that it would not offer an upgrade to Android 2.2. A variety of carriers worldwide have refused to distribute the Android 2.1 update despite HTC making it available. In the US, Sprint announced a 2.2 update for the phone but then reneged, saying it would only offer the update to its HTC EVO users.

MWC awards 2011