Our phone review policy

We want our phone reviews to be useful to you. We want them to tell you all the things you might need to know if you’re going to spend your time and money on a handset, especially given that you might well be stuck with it for 12, 18 or even 24 months.

For that reason, we review phones as if they were our own. We put our personal SIM cards in, install all the apps we use (and even transfer our WhatsApp messages across, which is a right faff) and use them day in, day out for as long as the PRs will let us get away with (sometimes weeks, sometimes months). This means we can give you a full and clear picture of what it’s like to use a particular handset – especially since we all know that some phones seem great in the first week and then develop some, er, ‘quirks’ that make you want to smash them against a wall.

Case in point: my OnePlus One.

When I bought it, I felt like this:

Then it developed some issues, and I felt like this:

A few weeks later, we were here:

Aaand then finally this happened:

If I’d reviewed that phone the week I got it, it would have been a very different story. Now, we can’t always hang on to phones for months on end, but we do promise to use them full-time for as long as we can, and give you our honest opinions. (Related note: we don’t keep the phones. We are not sitting on golden thrones made of iPhones).

Hands-on reviews

These are a little different. They show our first impressions after spending a few minutes, hours or days with a phone. For instance, we might do a hands-on after trying a phone at the launch event, but obviously can’t tell you nearly as much about it as if we’d been using it properly for a month.

Often, we’ll follow up a hands-on review with a full review when we’ve had some proper time with the phone.

Thanks, Reddit

Here’s some feedback we recently got from Reddit on a full review:

This review is invalid because the reviewer has the Facebook app installed.

Maybe we underestimated the Facebook exodus, but we’re pretty sure MOST people have the Facebook app installed. And they use it, too. What’s the point of telling you “this phone has fabulous stamina” if that’s only the case when you don’t use the apps you’re going to use?

If most reviewers praise something and one goes against the grain calling the thing a disaster, it’s probably click-bait.

The phone in question was by a huge manufacturer. Giving them a negative review does not do us any favours. We have to send it to the lovely PR person who was kind enough to lend us a review model, and they have to show it to their none-too-impressed client. We have had phone manufacturers refuse to give us further review units after a particularly bad writeup. It does not help us to write critical reviews, believe it or not.

If we write that a phone is rubbish, we do it because it’s rubbish. Not because we want to be controversial.

As for disagreeing with other reviewers, that does happen. Maybe they use their phones differently to us. Maybe they had ten phones on the go that week and just didn’t encounter one of the issues we came across. Or maybe we’re just different people with different opinions. How about that?

“I don’t believe her about X”

We’re not here to lie to you or try to get traffic at the expense of giving our opinions. We’re actually trying to be a helpful resource for our readers, believe it or not, because we’ve all felt the pain of spending untolds amounts of cash on a phone we actively hated.

“She is… probably single and frustrated” (yes, someone actually said this)

OMG HOW DID YOU KNOW

Seriously though…

Our tech reviews are supposed to give you an idea of how the phone would work for you, a normal user, not a jaded tech expert who’s used every phone under the sun and tries the same limited set of steps on every handset before declaring a verdict.

We don’t think normal users run benchmark tests on their phones, or compare the number of brightness units on the screen to a phone that came out last year, or avoid installing apps that they use every day. So we don’t do that either. If you want to read reviews that do, there are lots of ’em out there, and there’s no reason why you can’t consider both. We’re trying to do something a little different here, and we hope you find it useful.

Love you, Reddit.

All gifs via Giphy.