Instinct vs iPhone: A Few Thoughts on How To Read/Watch a Review

Noah Kravitz
 from  Oakland, CA
| Published: June 23, 2008

Things have been busy over in YouTube land lately, which is great.  And while I can't read all of the comments on every video, once in awhile I scan through to see what people wish I'd done differently or would do next time in a video (seriously, have you ever tried reading YouTube comments on a regular basis?).

Seems like comparison videos are popular, so I'll keep those coming.  Seems like Instinct and iPhone are popular, as well, and of course there's the requisite fanbody-dom and bashing of the other camp.  That's fine, but since I've made no bones about being an iPhone owner myself, I figured I'd say a word or two about how that relates to my reviews of other phones - and the whole Instinct vs iPhone thing in particular.

- I have no allegiance to any phone manufacturer or cellular service provider.  They send me phones to review and I send 'em back when I'm done.  They don't pay me.  Sure, the reviews are a form of advertising/PR for them - I work with PR people from all of the various companies, and they send reviewers the phones to help create buzz so readers will consider buying them.   But they don't pay me, and they don't threaten to cut off my supply of review phones if I pan their latest device.  And I honestly don't care if you buy this device or that one.  I just want you to visit the site and get something useful out of it.

- My personal cell phone?  I bought it and I pay for the monthly service on it.  Just like you. 

- Is getting to play with the latest phones for free a fun job?  Hell yeah.  Is getting paid to do it even better?  You bet.

- I've been comparing Instinct to iPhone because Sprint's doing it in their ads.  They set up the comparison so I'm following it.  Not all of the time, but some of the time.  Also, I mean, c'mon - the comparison's pretty obvious.  That being said, the whole "iPhone Killer" thing is sorta playing itself out.  Really, it's just given way to a new class of device: the touchscreen phone (as in big touchscreen, very few other buttons).  Hence the comparison involving the LG Vu, as well.

- When reading or watching a review, be it one of mine or anyone else's (on any subject/product), bear in mind that it's one person or publication's opinion.  Yeah, I'm the phone guy, and yeah I sorta maybe know what I'm talking about because I test and write/video about phones every day, and yes I absolutely try as hard as possible to be informed, objective, and thorough, but really it's still one person's opinion.  We're all subjective to some extent.  Can't be helped. 

- You obviously have every right in the world to disagree with me and otherwise think I'm an idiot.

- But no, I don't make stuff up or in any way try to BS you or get you to buy any particular phone or service.  If you read my review and buy that phone, great.  If you buy some other phone, great.  If you cancel your cell phone service, great.  Honestly, if I helped you make a good decision then I've done my job - whatever that decision turns out to be.

- I try to make it clear that I have my own preferences and they may well be different from yours.  Phones are very personal things.  We all have different sized hands and fingers, differently shaped ears, and varying levels of sensitivity to things like voice quality, screen brightness, and button action.  When I review I try to combine my objective voice ("The screen is small as compared to other smartphones") with my subjective voice ("Personally I didn't mind so many buttons in such a small layout, but you may well hate it").

- Phones have become complicated little mini-computers.  What you value in a phone is different than what someone else values.  Again, I try to balance a critical look at the facts ("The camera is average for a phone in terms of image quality") with a subjective view ("There's no flash, which is a drag if like me you like taking stupid pictures of your friends when you're out at dinner"). 

- You gotta try the thing for yourself.  Just because I love it doesn't mean you will.  Trust me.

- Feel free to ask me, "Which phone should I get?"  But when you do, it helps if you tell me what you're planning to use it for: Texting?  Web browsing?  Hands-free calling?

- Yes, my personal phone is an iPhone.  Yes, it's unlocked and running on T-Mobile.  Yes, I like it.  No, I don't think I'm an Apple Fanboy uncapable of doing an unbiased review.  iPhone's camera kind of sucks and the lack of MMS, stereo Bluetooth and voice dialing is really dumb.  See?  Not a totally biased fanboy.  I use my phone a lot for Email, Web, and listening to music.  For me, iPhone does a great job at those tasks.

- I'm a sucker for thin phones and for phones with great Web and music capabilities.  I like larger, thinner phones (iPhone) better than smaller, thicker phones (Nokia N95).  Does that mean that smaller, thicker phones aren't any good?  Of course not.  Does that mean that I'm telling you to only buy thin phones?  Of course not.  When I review, I try to tell you what I think, objectively and subjectively.  The LG Voyager is a very, very capable device.  It's also a chunky boat of a phone.  The Samsung UpStage (remember that one?) is a very, very thin device.  It also wasn't that great of a phone.

There you go.  A little insight into how I try to do things.  A work in progress, as always.  Enjoy, and definitely keep the constructive feedback coming.