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What top of the range Android phone did my wife choose?

I’ve this following challenge to my wife: You’ve got to select an Android phone to buy and then use for a month.

The last time she used Android, she had a T-Mobile G1 running Android 1.6 (“Donut”, specs at GSM Arena). Remember that device?

t-mobile g1


“I loved that phone,” She said as she briefly reminisced. I think she really quite liked the fact you could pop out the physical keyboard. Since the G1, she’s been on iPhone exclusively. She is absolutely delighted with her iPhone and I’ve made sure to keep her on the very latest Apple hardware, upgrading more or less every September.

She does admit that she might be missing something and was rather impressed at the idea of widgets when I was doing my best to try and explain the key differences between iOS and Android.

I need to buy the latest devices especially for use during my consulting engagements when clients like to have ‘hands on’ of the latest devices. I need a few more for some upcoming full-day experiential events so I used that opportunity to see just how Hetty — my wife — reacts to the idea of choosing a new, Android phone.

The only research I’ve let her do is online. I’ve also insisted she make the decision in one sitting this evening.

The choices I gave her were:

  • Sony Xperia Z2
  • HTC One M8
  • Samsung Galaxy S5

I gave her the list by email in that order as I thought the Sony might need a bit of a push. I also highlighted the fact the Sony is completely waterproof. (She had been impressed at the original Z’s performance in the pool and at CenterParcs.)

“But I know nothing about Android phones,” was her first response.

“Great,” I replied, “This will be an interesting experiment won’t it?”

Her first response before sitting down at the computer (iMac…!) was to consider what all of her friends used. Her immediate social circle is roughly 70% iPhone, 25% Android and 5% “other” — apparently one of her friends is still rocking a BlackBerry and there was mention of one or two Windows Phones.

I asked her to use the internet for her primary research. It’s always stimulating to see how the various phone brands choose to present themselves online. If anything, ‘online’ is exceptionally fair. You don’t have any manufacturer’s incentives or store incentives getting in the way. There’s no spotty teenager trying to push a particular model so he can hit his Ibiza holiday target.

I also asked her to search directly for the model names I’d provided.

Now, this certainly isn’t scientific given she’s married to me — a total mobile geek with dozens of handsets arrayed around the office. However she’s had next to zero exposure to Android since v1.6 and therefore represents a good example of a premium customer migrating (albeit temporarily?) into the Android ecosystem.

Her first stop was the Sony Xperia website.

She clicked on the first available video and had a watch.

“So the Sony is all about the camera then?”

Unfortunately the first video Sony had chosen to present was focused around the camera capabilities of the Xperia Z2. My wife was looking for a good generic overview (I suspect, anyway) and came away less than impressed. I did prompt her to say, “Er, scroll down and… have a more detailed look.”

I suspect her mind was made up here. She does appreciate a good camera however I wonder if the webmaster at Sony has limited the sales potential of their website by ONLY focusing on the camera video. Or assuming that interested parties would do further research down the page. My wife didn’t. She was off to the next website to browse.

I felt rather sorry for Sony. I don’t think the Xperia did very well in presenting their capabilities to her. The camera-focused video didn’t tell her anything else about the phone’s capabilities.

Next, she hit the HTC website. Remember that I put an HTC G1 in her hand around October 2008… right? That is SIX years ago. She was — interestingly — already rather warm to HTC. She browsed the product page and watched a few videos, taking in all the features. Then she was off to various other websites to look at the video reviews of the M8. I silently observed her paying serious attention to a TrustedReviews video of the HTC.

Then — almost reluctantly — she hit the Samsung Galaxy S5 website. I also sent her the latest Samsung wallhuggers video which she really liked. She scrolled up and down on the S5 site and watched a few Samsung videos.

At this point I’m seriously surprised just how much video watching she’s doing. Obviously in this ‘test’ she decided that video was the best medium for getting information — beyond scanning (but definitely not carefully reading) the product pages.

“I don’t know they all look good”

That was her immediate summation after the S5 website window was closed.

She followed up with:

“I like the look of the HTC… Am I allowed to choose it on looks? It’s obviously not the best as it doesn’t have a removable battery…”

I felt that was a rather interesting point to make — I wonder if this was the impact of the Samsung video. I hoped I hadn’t thrown things by sending her that video.

Then it was back to TrustedReviews:

“On TrustedReviews it says the Samsung S5 body gets a bit hot…”

I responded trying to bring a bit of balance, pointing out that her iPhone 5S can also get a bit hot too.

A bit more browsing… and then the first summary from her arrived:

“For some reason I just don’t like the Samsung… I think that’s because I think it’s cheap. It’s just the brand. I’m sure they’re great…”

Not good for Samsung. I think that was her excluding Samsung from the running. I wonder if the wide array of Samsung models has led her to that view.

After another 5 minutes of browsing, I asked her if she’d made a decision.

She nodded. I asked her for a quotable sentence and here it is:

“I’m choosing the HTC One M8 because it gets the highest rating on TrustedReviews (9/10) and it looks as smart as the iPhone does — which is one of the reasons I like the iPhone. They do all look like they’re very good phones and I guess you have to choose one based on something. I do like the idea of a waterproof phone. But it’s the HTC for me.. in Silver.”

And there, dear reader, we have it. HTC wins.

I should point out that as far as I’m aware, she’s never used TrustedReviews before and, again I’m reaching here, but I reckon she’s never come across them before. But their reviews and videos were compelling enough to make an impression.

Or another point of view…. she was already seriously warm for the HTC brand based on her previous experience. I don’t think she’s ever owned a Samsung or a Sony mobile phone in the past.

There we go.

So, less than scientific, but interesting all the same. I wonder how she’d have fared if I’d asked her to phone Vodafone or Three to buy a top Android phone?

Once the phone arrives I’m going to swap her to it properly — sim and all — to see what she thinks of the experience. I think she’ll hate it for the first few days and then I wonder if she’ll grow to like the HTC?

We shall see.

Since she selected the HTC I’m also going to get her the fancy dot-matrix cover as I think that’s a must, right? 😉


  1. I think she will consider it far too large, be an interesting experiment. Hopefully, it won’t end in divorce 🙂

  2. I think you’re right Kev… I think she will think it’s far too huge. But for how long? If I insist she uses it for a week, let’s say, do you reckon she might ‘convert’?

    Not that I’m trying to get her to convert. It’s just an interesting experiment as she is a great example of an Apple customer who has no reason whatsoever to bother changing. The only reason she’s even looking at the HTC is because I’ve asked her and she’s willing to play along.

    We shall see. Ordered with Expansys…

  3. Interesting experiment.
    As a Windows Phone fan its easy to see why my preferred platform is struggling:
    Hetty is pleased with her iPhone and most of her friends use one. The next biggest group in her peers is Android owners who are no doubt equally pleased and equally entrenched in that ecosystem.
    Without your request to partake in this experiment, why else should Hetty consider any other platform?
    I’m guessing Hetty is not a power user so any OS/ecosystem would fulfil her needs and there was no mention of specific app requirements.
    It would be easy to dismiss Hetty’s attraction to the iPhone’s aesthetics but that would be missing the point: iPhone is arguably the nicest looking and feeling hardware available and that is a big reason to buy (or keep buying) iPhone.
    The fact that Hetty felt attracted to the HTC because it echoed her iPhone experience underlines this and illustrates why Apple are so defensive of their patents and copyrights – especially again Samsung.
    If I’m reading it correctly Hetty (although choosing under duress) is opting for something that feels close to her existing experience from a manufacturer she knows and trusts.
    Now we have effective feature parity across the three OS’s (for the majority of regular users, anyway) what WOULD encourage someone to break free of their peer group and switch ecosystems?

  4. Steve you make a series of excellent points with a great summary. It’s a significant challenge for the other ecosystems — and interestingly I wonder how Amazon’s Fire Phone would fair if it was thrown into the evaluation?

    It’s a difficult, difficult time for the platforms.

  5. Again, whilst I can see some attraction of the Fire Phone amongst Amazon customers I don’t think it yet offers enough to win buyers over from other premium devices.

    I think Fire Phone is something of a flag-waving exercise for Amazon.

    I am sure they will follow it up with a budget device that also offers faster, more integrated and more convenient access to Amazon services – that should sell in bigger numbers

  6. I really like this idea. Hope your wife enjoys the One. I have the One M7. Battery life gets me thru a full day, Can end the day with 10/20% and I certainly know how to get some good usage from it! I do think more people should buy a Sony as well as HTC, as they produce some amazing products. Samsung while can perform well, do look cheap, so I agree on the point.

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