Tips for trying out in store phones
January 15, 2014 12:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for a new Android phone (currently wavering between LG G2, HTC One, Sony Experia Z1, Galaxy Note 3 with G2 the current favourite) and I will be back in my home country (Australia) for a week next week and want to try them out in store. What are your tips for testing phone sin stores to get an idea if you like them or not?

Where I am now has some of these phones available in store to test, but I generally find I play around a bit but don't really get a feel for them. My main concerns are battery life, how long will they stay responsive for, and extra features I can use day to day.

But reading reviews of some of them, especially the LG G2, has me worried. The forums seem to be full of happy owners no matter which phone I choose, the LG G2 in particular seems popular on XDA and also reddit.

I can't root due to work application requirements (I tried rootcloak, no luck!). Anyone have any in store testing tips, or alternatively a veiw on any of these one way or the other?

Moto X isn't available in Australia (except at exorbitant prices) and this week really is my one and only chance for another year to get a decent phone due to import prices on most phones where I live (and customs duties if I get them shipped here).
posted by Admira to Technology (3 answers total)
I tend to not like playing with phones in stores, because it's not really a fair trial (they're tied down, you can't really play with it), but if I had to do one this is what I'd do:

- Look, feel, weight: how does it feel in my hand? Could I stand using it for hours at a time? (if I don't like it, are there cases available that will make it better?)

- Screen: load up an image I'm familiar with and see what it looks like. I also like to do a side-by-side comparison of the same image on the phones I'm considering, but this isn't necessary unless the screen quality is important to you. Alternatively, take a picture (this will also serve as a camera test).

- Sound: plug in a pair of earbuds and play a song off YouTube. (If the shop is emptyish, also do this on speaker. Alternatively test the alarm.)

- All those manufacturers have their own 'flavour' of Android and you can't root it, so also navigate the UI and see how you like it, if it's easy to use, etc. If there's anything you especially want to customize, try doing that. If there's a feature you've read about and think is really neat, fiddle with it.

- Price: do I like it enough to pay $X for it?

Battery life and other technical specs are better researched online pre-instore-trial - those are fairly non-subjective. Look for battery mAh but that's not 100% indicative of battery life because the processor counts too.

... that said, my current phone (and the one which I think is the best) is the Nexus 5, which isn't available in store.
posted by Xany at 1:27 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

In-Store: There's really not much you can do to really get a sense of the phone in this environment. The store I went to provided units I could hold in my hand that weren't tethered to the wall, which I appreciated, and it definitely influenced my decision.

Among your options: I recently decided between the G2 and the One and ended up with the One primarily because I liked the way the One felt/looked in my hand much better.

Secondarily, by virtue of being on every major US carrier and tons of international ones, I knew there'd be great custom rom support. I know you say you can't root, but I wonder if you could get away with loading a custom recovery/rom but steering clear of the su binary. Unless the application is checking the recovery image, you might still be able to get away with this?

Regardless: HTC has done a great job keeping this phone up to date. You'll definitely get at least 4.4.2, and the stock sense rom is pretty inoffensive. I'm a complete flashaholic, but a settled on a very lightly modified and rooted version of the stock image.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:33 AM on January 15, 2014

I have the note 2 and it really is the coolest gadget I've ever owned. ..the pen is tons of fun (great for lots of games, also drawing) but what really gives me the most satisfaction is the big screen (no typos), super long battery life, and clever features like saying "shoot" to take a picture and a really handy fan - control widget for the internet browser (which, oddly enough wasn't on by default but is in the settings section under 'labs')
I've owned both LG and HTC phones and wasn't nearly as satisfied with the HTC being just unusable and horrible. Go with the note :)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2014

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