How Do You Review A Phone?

When I tell people that part of my job entails reviewing cell phones, they’re usually fascinated, and later I’ll hear them mutter something like, ‘…coolest job ever….’ While I have to agree with them, I’ve been surprised to learn that getting a new phone to play with every other week or so is actually a bit more of a headache than I initially expected. It’s also given me a different kind of appreciation for my Nokia N95-3 as my ‘go-to’ phone, the one I can come back to and find things where I expect them to be.

In any case, over the past month or two, there have been a couple of instances where I’ve reviewed a phone for both and, which is interesting. What’s interesting about that is that the same guy, with the same phone, can review it as a FAIL on one site, and a WIN on the other, without lying on either.

How is that so? It largely depends on the individual sites, and the reviewing methods used. For instance, at, we review a phone as an island. I.e., the manufacturer says it does this, this, this, and that. How *well* does it do those, and what’s the overall experience like? Assuming this is the only phone on the market, how does it fare?

Conversely, at, it’s a much more conversational approach, and we often review phones in comparison to the current marketplace. Thus, the same phone, while hitting every item on the checklist dead-on, might fail in comparison to similar models, or might be completely priced out of its market.

I don’t really see anything wrong with this – the key factor on either site is honesty. If it sucks, say so, but say why, specifically. However, it does make my job a bit more difficult, and a bit more interesting. What do you think? Is there a ‘right’ way to review something? Should it be viewed as an island (i.e. how well does it do the things that it says it does), or should the competition and marketplace be taken into account, as well?

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

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