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#MobileLife: Please Stop Reading New Phone Reviews, It’s Misleading

Phone launches happen at the speed of thought these days. And there are more gadget sites than there are handset manufacturer brands.

And if you’re in the market for a new phone, all the best negotiating that confusing maze of choices.

Here’s some insider advice to help you a bit:

Stop reading those new phone reviews. Seriously. If you must, read it from a source who you trust is rigorous.

Why? Because phones aren’t the same a few months down the line.

I have a 7 month old Xolo Q800. It’s taken a couple of falls, and survived alright. I’ve changed the screen-guard since I bought it. The RAM – the primary reason for buying this one – has proven to be sufficient and I have not seen any lags, and just a couple of freeze/reboot issues. The camera’s colors and picture quality are less impressive than I initially imagined, though it does the job especially in daylight. The GPS lock is hit-and-miss. The battery is still going strong. WiFi still connects fairly quickly, though over the last week I’ve seen two instances where the phone thought the WiFi router was out of range when it was just 12 feet away! The biggest downside? No hint of an OS update from Xolo, though to be fair they’ve responded to requests on this very quickly each time.

Other colleagues and friends who have had various other phones have had similar experiences – sometimes the phone starts to lag just a little bit after a few months of experimenting with new apps and as the various apps collect a lot of data. Others live with their chargers as the battery performance degrades. Some discovered that the second SIM slot was pretty much useless for how they had imagined they might benefit from it. And for many, cracked screens are something they choose to live with and the phone’s inherent robustness matters a lot when that happens! A Lumia 920 at the NextBigWhat office is the worst case of screen damage I’ve seen, yet the phone works just fine! This is a phone that has been under the wheels of a vehicle not that long ago. Beat that!

But the Lumia showed up a lot of its user experience quirks over time. Texting isn’t the best experience on the phone – unless you remember to save a contact’s number as a “mobile” number you cannot send them an SMS! Nope, “home” doesn’t cut it for Microsoft. And the phone hangs not that infrequently – and there’s no option but to pull the batteries out and in back again to restart. But hey – remember you cannot pull the batteries out !!? 🙂 (Hack : press lower volume key + camera + start key at the same time and press for 10 seconds)Phone Review

And then there’s iOS7. Social media was full of major anticipation and then initial praise when this got rolled out. But then folks started discovering all was not well – one hears of a pained rant every now and then from a user who’s hit some issue or the other. It’s still a pretty good update – just not what it was cut out to be if you believed the initial euphoria.

The same is the case with a gazillion other reviews. Some positive ones get taken in by the shiny-ness, newness of a device, or a feature or two, and the negative ones go overboard hammering the lack of anything new (that most users might not really care about) in what’s positioned as a value for money offering.

And then, of course, there’s the whole issue of features that matter to reviewers and those that matter to you as the end user! Do you really give two hoots about how many cores the phone’s processor has as long as it runs just fine for what you do? Or how marginally the <latest jargon> screen is better than the <slightly older jargon> one?

You’ll probably keep the phone for a couple of years, or longer, if you’re like me. The phone’s long term performance, durability and ease of use will matter more – the initial impressions are unlikely to reveal the true character of the device, and honestly, that other one they launched a few months ago will do the job just fine. These days, there are some seriously great deals to be had on 3 month old used phones! A little patience goes a long way 🙂

Seriously, stop reading those just-launched-gadget-reviews. Check with friends who have bought and used these devices, and of course are known to give an honest opinion. And figure out your own needs before you get carried away by the words of a gadget enthusiast who cares about completely different things and has had the phone for a max of a couple of hours, and sometimes not even that!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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