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When you walk into a wireless carrier retail location, whether it's a third party store or a corporate spot, the one thing your'e likely to find --other than sales representatives (hopefully) ready to help you find a phone-- is display models. Some might be dummy models, which are just empty shells of the real deal, but hopefully most of them are functioning devices. This gives you the ability to play around with it for a bit, to see if you like it at face value. It's a quick rundown of what a phone's capable of, but is in no way comprehensive.

Every time I've gone into a retail location, I've played around with a floor model. I usually do this while I'm waiting to talk to a representative, so it passes the time when there's nothing to do. Sure, I could use my own phone, but I can do that at any time. Why not mess around with something else? See what the "competition" is like, if you will.

There's no doubt in my mind that display models play a big role in the selling of a phone. Sales reps use them all the time. I used them all the time when I was selling phones, too. It's one thing to talk about features in general, but a different thing entirely to actually show someone what you're talking about. I could say the HTC One's or iPhone 5's display is amazing to look at, but until you see it for yourself, that only holds so much weight.

That's why live, functioning demo versions of devices is so important, and why dummy models are so pointless.

There is a small problem with floor models, though. Especially the ones that are easily accessible to anyone and everyone who walks into the store. I've worked at retailers in both situations, where the store kept display models inside cases, so that they could be handed out when needed. Others, like many corporate locations that I see these days, where the phone is left out, on a stand next to a card detailing its features, with a demonstration video playing on the display, just waiting to be touched.

The issue is that many locations don't put much attention into their display models once they've been set up and turned on. I've heard of some locations not even turning their phones off during the night, while the store is closed. Instead, these devices just stay on, for days and days, if not weeks, while constantly being used, accessed with applications and whatever else. As you can imagine, this can cause all sorts of issues with a device over time.

It can certainly deprive anyone of getting a really clear image of how the phone functions with only one owner. Instead, we get a device that's effectively borrowed, misused in some cases, and never reset at any point. This can't be considered indicative of the device itself, in those specific cases, if you ask me.

Worse, is when important accessories are removed from a phone's display area. More often than not, when I go into a retailer and check out the Galaxy Note II, the S Pen is missing. To me, that's a huge disservice to the phone itself, considering the S Pen is, in my opinion, one of the major selling points for the device. If I had played with a Galaxy Note II without the S Pen, I wouldn't have ever purchased it. Just that simple.

It's a strange back-and-forth for display models, then. The fact that they are indeed essential in many cases for a sales representative to help sell someone a phone, because seeing is believing, is weighed down by the possibility that the experience can be maligned by constant usage in the days past.

But it isn't all bad, I guess. After all, a sales rep should be able to spot when a phone isn't acting like its normal self, right? Especially if they try to use a feature and it doesn't work as well as they know it should. And if an accessory is missing, like a Galaxy Note II's S Pen, then it shouldn't be too hard to find another, right? Especially just for a quick demonstration.

Which is why I want to know if you've ever hard an interesting experience with a floor model before. Not a dummy device, either, but a fully functioning handset on display. Have you ever walked up to an Android phone on display to see that an app has Force Closed? Have you ever walked up to an iPhone that just wouldn't turn on? Tell me how a sales rep has used a display model to sway you to buy a phone; or has it worked in the complete opposite way for you? Let me know!


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Comments & discussions  

50 Reactions to this post

"Do you make sure to use a demo model of a phone you want before you ultimately decide to buy it? "


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Facebook user most of the Demo models are just fake phones, so nope
Jerimiah Reece Absolutely.
Jamille Browne Unless its a Nexus of COURSE
David Moreno Yup, and Best Buy Mobile is the best place to demo and buy!! No restocking fees if you do return either so there's no downside!
Shawn Gerhardt The demo units are incredibly important in my purchase decision. I need to make sure I like the UI especially on android devices. I run CPU tests, restart the device a few times, play games & video, and load web pages. With the abuse that those phones take it gives a good idea of how the phone will hold up.
Edward Gonse It's difficult sometimes to make a choice of which phone to buy when 9 out of 10 times the demo phones in the store just have that cheap paper photograph of the home screen on their displays. However, because of phonedog and Aaron Baker and, the once great reviewer, Noah Kravitz, I made great decisions in past phone purchases. Thanks phonedog.
Danny Wulzen Not really but I do ask friends with that device if I can mess around with it and ask them what they think. Considering they aren't trying to sell it to me I trust that more
Steve Hirjak Try to for feel, since it's in my hand all of the time, I want a nice feel.
Charlie Ebner Yep. At the very least, I'll watch a few videos on YouTube, including PhoneDogs videos.
Jaasiel Torres Ofcousre you have to.
Chris Graham Live demos are way more important. The mock devices are pointless.
Matthew Swanson Absolutely VITAL. I will not buy a phone at a store that does not have working display models on the floor.
Chudney Mason Tell Best Buy to turn on their damn models then...
BG Michael LG THE BEST IN DISPLAY. TRUE TO LIFE COLOR & NEUTRAL BRIGHTNESS http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=40q3rwSexC4
BG Michael LG THE BEST IN DISPLAY. TRUE TO LIFE COLOR & NEUTRAL BRIGHTNESS http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=40q3rwSexC4
BG Michael LG THE BEST IN DISPLAY. TRUE TO LIFE COLOR & NEUTRAL BRIGHTNESS http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=40q3rwSexC4
Ilija Jovanovic @Miguel Richiez exactly :D
Anthony Bailey And that's why I need a working demo. I owned the original Note and upgraded to the Note II. I have seven homescreens and zero lag. Big difference between the two devices. Having a working model could be the difference between a purchase or deal breaker for a lot of people. There's probably a lot people who passed on the Note II, because they couldn't play with a working demo, and they didn't want to go through the process of setting up service even with a 14-day return policy.
Stephen Victor I actually went to Tiger Direct to see if they had a working HTC One on display, which they didn't. In fact, all models were dummy models. LAME. No matter; got mine today and it was love at first hold.
Adil Moten I think that's the main reason they only keep a few live demo phones. That and the hassle of maintaining 50+ demo phones in working condition at all times. X_X
Adil Moten Fair enough, if you're doing an upgrade it's a bit easier than a new activation. What I was trying to get at with the better feel comment was that after you get things set up the way you like (home screen, widgets, apps, accounts, ect) you see how much the phone can handle. Like on my Note I keep it to 3 home screens because anything more takes too much memory and lags after a few hours on. I learned that over time. =)
Adil Moten Then it feels like slipping into a glove as soon you pull it out of the box. =)
Adil Moten I spent about a week doing nothing but reading reviews and watching videos about the OG Note before I got it. (Pretty much went through everything related to it on PhoneDog lol) And then I played with it for maybe, 15 mins before I bought it? Totally happy though because of my research. And worst case, 14 (30 when I got it) days to exchange it. =)
Anthony Bailey The problem with that is, often times (if not all the time) you are responsible for paying for the service you use in those 14-days. I don't need an hour playing with a phone, to tell if I may like it or not. I just want to be able to gauge how well the display is, look at the phones' UI, test the speediness and responsiveness of the device, and perhaps go through an application or two. I can do that in under five minutes.
Brodie Thomas I study everything out to narrow down my choices but make my final decision in person with the phone in hand.
Dwayne Cook Not that important to me. I do my research well before I buy a phone so i'm good. When I go in the store I know what i'm getting.
Adil Moten My comment is no excuse for not having a working demo, especially in the carrier stores, but I SUPPOSE that's why they have a 14 day exchange period. In reality I feel that the 14 day period allows you to get a better feel of the device instead of a few mins to an hour of playing around with a phone loads of other people have played/messed with.
Gordon Christie Yes holding a phone you got your eye on after watching reviews and videos is important
Donald Hixson These days you hardly can because people are stupid enough to actually steal them, or attempt to, so they just have dummy models that don't actually work.
Miguel Richiez I'm a techie, which means that by the time I get to the store i have done all the research and studied the model of whatever it is that I'm buying enough time to almost feel like I'm sick of it.
Adil Moten I did most of my hardcore research for my Note on PhoneDog, glad to see I'm not the only one! XD
Adil Moten I'll keep it short since I could go on and on about the importance about working demos (I posted a little on my comment in the article.) They are crazy important, especially for new devices, because explaining a new technology and letting someone experience it are 2 diff things. But then again, I guess that's why carriers allow a 14 day exchange period.
Anthony Bailey No, not if I do enough research on the phone to begin with. Add to that, most places don't provide demo phones, which should be illegal. It's really hard for me to find a Best Buy in my area, that has working demos of popular phones. AFAIK, most STILL do not have a working demo model of my Galaxy Note II. I've been to a T-Mobile Store, a Sprint Store, Radio Shack, and Target Mobile... NONE have working demo models. If I'm going to pay anywhere from $299 - $800 for a high-end smartphone, there needs to be a legal requirement that working demo models be available, so I can make sure I'm making the best and most informed purchase decision. There's no excuse otherwise.
Derek Wheeler exactly! if they aren't working it's pointless!
Nick Petrizzio The Samsung Super AMOLED phones often have burned in screens too
Cal Turner Gotta see how it feels and how it works. Demo fake phones can't do that.
Damon Michener Given the rarity of expandable storage and removable batteries in today's smartphones, I actually decided on the Galaxy S3 pretty much through specs alone.
Aaron Cantu I usually watch enough videos about them before i consider buying one... the people like John4lakers and soldier knows best basically tell you everything you need to know before you go out and buy a new phone. But that's just my opinion
Danny Medina nah i have my mind set by the time i get to best buy
Jason Vargas Not if its a Galaxy phone
Myron Black yeah iu agree with brent i want to see a working demo not a dummy phone
Brent Legendre A WORKING DEMO
Dave Yaeck For me, I'm pretty much set before I get to the store. I have set my sites on a new piece, do my homework (including the incredible videos at PHONEDOG) and not waste anyone's time at the store. But what I will do if I want to have fun with the Verizon Wireless store is I'll go to their store, waste about an hours worth of time there and then tell them I'm getting it at Best Buy. LOL
Sky Baun Neeeeed a demo
Grant Chapman yes, at best buy... Then I purchase it from amazon. :)
Johnny Torres Half of them don't work or they are dummy phones....
Jesse Ling YEP!If you dont and it turns out you dont like the phone you have nobody to blame but yourself and if i cant try a demo version i look up reviews online at the very least.




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