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Wednesday Poll: When Buying a Phone or Tablet Do You Need to Feel and Test Them in Person First?


Earlier this week, Andy Rubin shot down rumors that Google was planning to open its own retail stores. This was sad news, no doubt, as many of us love the idea that we could enter into a Nexus wonderland and test all of the new toys that Google has released to our world. But Rubin brought up an interesting point through his comments, saying that consumers do not need toย physicallyย touch products anymore in order to make a buying decision.

I personally, haven’t entered into a brick and mortar electronics store or carrier shop to rub up on a device in some time before deciding to buy it. I’m the type that reads through dozens of reviews online and then finds the best deal the internet has to offer before pressing the “Checkout” button. Many of you may be different, though, so feel free to sound off in the poll and in the comments below.

Are you the type that needs to see a phone or tablet and feel it in person before buying or can you make a decision by reading about it online or hearing a recommendation from a friend?

When buying a phone or tablet, do you need feel and test them in person first?

View Results

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  • socalrailroader

    If he’s hoping for a Genie to appear, he’s rubbing the wrong thing ๐Ÿ˜€

  • TylerChappell

    I prefer to get a solid look at the device in person, but I bought my Nexus 7 before ever touching one, and if there are good reviews that have an excellent array of photos for a device, I see no reason to NEED to see it in person. Going into a store and comparing devices of similar sizes generally gives you a good enough idea of what to expect.

  • Derek

    really close vote here

  • flosserelli

    That photo is strangely arousing.

  • sagisarius

    Wow, that’s amazingly close to a 50/50 split 2,508 to 2,506 (when I voted)… anyway, I’ve seen too many portable electronics that sound awesome, then I see them in person. I’ve learned my lesson, see it in person.

  • I go by reviews. If I would have had touched my Galaxy Nexus prior to buying it, sadly, I probably would have skipped it due to all the plastic.

  • NexusMan

    I voted Yes, but my answer is really a bit of yes and no. I will NOT buy a phone without using it in hand, however, I will and have bought NEXUS TABLETS without using them, provided I like what I see in the reviews and videos…ie, Nexus 7 & Nexus 10….but ONLY Nexus branded tablets.

  • BenBerstler

    just before I saw the draft which was of $5969, I didn’t believe that my friends brother was like they say trully bringing in money part-time on there computar.. there great aunt had bean doing this for only about nine months and at present repayed the depts on there condo and bought themselves a Lexus LS400. go tofdfdfg… http://www.youtube.com.qr.net/kaE2

  • I like to buy after trying it out in person. I’m surprised that the poll is evenly split 50/50.

  • Jon

    I usually buy without having to hold a device, but It bit me in the ass the other day. I purchased a Nexus 4. Amazingly fast phone, and is just really nice, but coming from a Galaxy Note, I just can’t get over the smaller size. The note has ruined me to smaller phones! I’m going to be sticking with phablet sizes from now on it looks like.

    • Same with me I went from Droid2 to Galaxy Nexus. I went back to get some information off my old phone and I could not believe how small it was. I can only imagine coming form a Note to something else smaller.

  • brando56894

    I love how this is split (almost) exactly in half, I can’t remember the last time that this has happened. Myself, I prefer to “rub up” on a device before I buy it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. When I got my OG Droid I didn’t play with it before I got it, I just read a bunch of reviews and saw the commercials for it. Before I got my Incredible I had played with my buddy’s Inc for a while so I knew that I liked it. Before I got the Rezound I read a lot about it and played with it in the VZW store then got it. When I got the GNex I played with it in the VZW store. But as for both tablets I’ve had (Asus TF101 and Nexus 7) I just went off of the reviews that I read.

  • Christopher Riner

    I wanted to vote yes hoping that Google is listening to what people want, but it sounds like they’re pretty set on not opening them yet. For the sake of an accurate poll tho, I went ahead and voted no because even tho I’ve never purchased a phone online, I’ve bought all of my tablets without ever seeing them or playing with them.
    When I first heard about the stores I was definitely excited, and honestly the first thing I thought about was how they were modeling Apple’s sales approach. I guess I can understand the fact that if they can avoid the headache of dealing with people who have bricked their devices, then why not.

  • There should be a third option. I don’t need to hold it, but I would like to.

  • JoshGroff

    The way I see it, reviews are one thing, but it’s nowhere near getting a feel for the devices yourself, and with multiple high end devices all with positive reviews, how would you decide which one to get without testing them yourself? Nothing shows you the flow of the UI like going through it yourself.

  • Richard Yarrell

    I have never tested or tried out any device i have ever brought. I do my own private research and review watching months before actual launches. I have brought most of my devices on day one launches of those products. Htc Evo 4g June 4th 2010, Htc Evo 3d June 24th 2011, Galaxy Nexus December 15th 2011, Galaxy S3 June 24th 2012. I like to buy launched devices on day one they arrive to my carrier.

  • NexusPhan69

    This poll is working for me about as well as purchasing a Nexus 4 on launch day worked on Google Play. Anyone else unable to vote or view results?

  • timacx

    What are the odds on this? [Screenshot on the poll results]

  • I can’t be the only one that finds it pretty crazy that the votes are at exactly 50-50 being only 5 votes in difference (when I’m looking at it).

  • Brett R

    I wanted to say I wouldn’t buy one until I felt it. But I purchased my high-end Dell Precision M4500 without seeing it and reading a multitude of reviews. And that was much more expensive than phones I’d look at.

  • paul_cus

    Difficult to get any time with unlocked phones in a store.

  • CapnShiner

    I’m actually a little surprised that the poll is currently almost dead even: 1773/1770

    • Christopher Riner

      Still dead even at around 2700 votes. Maybe Google should reconsider their strategy.

  • dylan84

    It’s been a long time since I’ve gone and tested out a device before buying it. It was when I got my OG Droid back in the day.

    • sagisarius

      Thousands of votes later, still is.

  • oh my gawd it’s almost exactly even! currently 1644 yes, 1640 no

  • Davros
  • Lol this gif is crazy

  • DanWazz

    Every phone I’ve ever bought I knew I was going to buy before I held it in person, but I like having the opportunity to hold it first. My Nexus 7 I just bought online immediately, because there were no places that carried them in person.

  • I’d really like to play with the device first before buying it. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the case…

  • Dorian Brooks

    I’ll admit I go into stores to physically hold the device. I wanted to see the DNA & Note II for screen size, how much bezel, & button layout. Drooled over both & cried inside cause I couldn’t get both.

  • Niall Fox

    before I got my Note 2 I went as far making a cardboard cutout of the exact size to see if I can deal with the size…

  • NorCalGuy

    isnt this why DL does hands on videos and walk throughs complete with reviews?

    • JoshGroff

      Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to get a feel for the device before buying it. A review doesn’t exactly tell you how a device will feel in your hands. Weight and size being the two main things, plus you get a better look at the screen in person.

  • Tyler

    Last two phones where only one good option where this time around I’m not sure Verizon will have a clear winner like the Galaxy Nexus or even a nexus to buy at all on Verizon which means i need to figure out which phone will have the best dev community and specs.

    • JoshGroff

      Specs are usually pretty close between flagships, and Samsung usually has the largest dev community. Would be nice to see what Motorola and Google have to offer this year though.

  • pd240

    This depends. With an average sized device I probably would not. But when I got the note 2 I had to get some hands on time. Although it took a little more then a week before I got used to the siz.

  • youdoneyo69

    I bought my Galaxy Nexus from Swappa and had never held one.

  • r0lct

    Bought almost all my phones sight unseen, definitely the last 4. Especially now with the plethora of leaks I know everything about the phone before I pull the trigger.

  • Ricardo Pena

    I voted yes, I need to look and feel the phone before I can decide. I would have gotten an LG or Samsung if I didn’t get to play with them first. Also it’s surprising that Google would not go for a store front, psychologists agree that once a person gets to physically feel a device or item, they feel some ownership. It’s why dealerships recommend a test drive, I assume Google would sell more Nexus devices this way.

  • Manthas

    I voted no, but it’s honestly not a cut and dry answer; I purchased the Nexus 10 site unseen because I had a good idea of what a 10″ tablet would look and generally feel like. I waited until I could check out the Galaxy Nexus in stores, though, because I was concerned that a device with such a different form factor from my previous phone might not fit properly in my hand.

  • NotTheTodd

    Yes because A) it’s gotta be comfortable to use and B) I want to see if I can live with whatever crap skin the manufacturer put on it until the wonderful folks in the developer community root it

  • Tim242

    Kellex, the way you are touching that phone looks so dirty…

  • I voted yes because I’d rather see it in person but would’ve bought a nexus 10 without seeing it first. Holding my note 2 first was necessary though, but I think I was already sold on it.

  • Ibrick

    Purchased my last 4 devices without getting my hands on them first. Well to clarify, the first time I got my hands on them was when I went to the store to purchase them so it was never really part of the buying decision.


    If I’m spending 300 plus dollars on a purchase of course I want to see it. Reading reviews and talking to others is just part of the buying process. Ten dollar HDMI cables off of Amazon is a different story.

  • Kyle Riley

    I voted no since i bought my GS3 without playing with it, BUT that doesn’t mean I would have liked to but I figured all the good reviews were good enough.

  • Brian Walker

    The Nexus 4 is the first time I have bought a phone without seeing it in person yet. Otherwise, I have always gotten my hands on it first.

  • KleenDroid

    If it is a Nexus I will buy it if the specs are there. Trying it won’t help because most of the phones in a Verizon store run like crap. If it’s a Nexus it won’t be stock long anyway.

    It is also hard to go by what others say because there are many who complain about everything. For instance if I listened to everyone complain about the Gnex I wouldn’t get it. But I would have missed out on the best phone I’ve ever owned.

    If you get a phone with a huge developer community the odds are in your favor.

    But if you don’t root or ROM I guess you could just flip a coin and go with something that looks nice with good specs.

  • Thomas

    Peter North here, Kellen nice form ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Depends on what I am buying

  • Tony Allen

    I have done it both ways.. bought my Bionic sight unseen, and untouched.

    Played with the Note II a lot at the store before I purchased one.

    • Bionic was horrible tho

      • Tony Allen

        That’s a matter of opinion. Rock solid hardware, very decent battery life, acceptable performance considering it shared it’s internals with the GNex. Much better radio than the GNex. I wanted a hackable phone though and at the time development was stale and I wanted something new, so I got the Gnex and loved it for about a year, broke down and got a Note II in January and loving it too.

  • Flyinion

    Yep, still want to look, and it has to be a working device, not the “mock” devices like at many kiosks, costco, etc. I also read all the stuff online first before decided to even go test it. Guess I hate buyer’s remorse and try to do everything possible to mitigate it.

  • Usmaan Bajwa

    I dont think I’ve ever gone in a store to see my phone/tablet before buying

  • Shane Redman

    My GF almost bought a iFone 5 when upgrading her OG Droid. Took her to the store so she could see it, feel it, play with it….She’s now the proud owner of a RAZR M and couldn’t be happier. Then when my mom played with hers, she went out and got one. Her first smart phone. There’s nothing but upside to have everyday consumers play with tech first.

  • RoadsterHD1

    Hey… Take it easy…..

  • itsgonnalast

    The Google stores would have been convenient, but I totally understand why they don’t want to go down that road.

    The stores would have ended up being tech support nightmares for Google, as anyone with an Android device came in looking for help.

    I don’t think these customers would take no for an answer.

    • michael arazan

      Man, people know what metal, plastic, aluminum, glass , etc etc feels like, and read the spec sheet to know the dimensions of the phone, all you really need is a good YT video displaying the actions and options of the device to know if you’ll want it after that.

      • JoshGroff

        Reading the dimensions of the Note II and holding one in hand are two entirely different things. Also, no YT video can prepare you for the DNA’s screen. Reviews alone are not enough, especially not when all of them are positive for one to decide without testing the device. Think about it, it’s either a $600+ dollar purchase or a 2 year commitment, you should want to get the device that feels best to you, not based solely on reviews.

  • Eric Franca

    I will buy expensive products without getting them in hand first, but I won’t pull the trigger nearly as fast. Nor will I be as happy about it while I wait to read reviews.

  • Matthew Merrick

    @ poll – i LIKE to, but hands-on videos are usually enough, unless there’s sometime i’m unsure about (such as the Tablet Z’s uber-thinness). I bought my Note 2 sight unseen because i knew from the software videos that i had to have it.

    @ GIF – *can’t stop staring*

  • New_Guy

    I usually will go to a Best Buy or the Verizon store (now the T-Mobile store) and give it a spin before I turn around and buy it online.

    Thank you, Amazon…

    • KOBALT

      My local Best Buy only has dummy phones. Nothing that actually functions live. All fake screens.

      • JoshGroff

        Same, good thing the T-Mobile and Verizon store are both closer. Ended up getting my phone at Best Buy though since I had 200 in gift cards.

      • New_Guy

        You know, I have noticed they started doing that. Mine still has live units but only a few. Thankfully they had a live Note 2 and I’m pretty convinced after giving it a spin that I’ll be ordering this online ;).

  • snowblind64

    Lol, looks like Kellex is trying to give his N4 an orgasm.

    • New_Guy

      Or trying to play DJ Hero on the wrong side of the phone

  • villian1998

    Kellex man, you gotta take it slow man!

  • Now, buying a phone depends more on constant updates, screen size, good camera; where it use to be “what feels good in hand”. That’s when you went to the store to feel the device. Now – I think I would go ahead and buy a phone online after reading reviews and comparing options. If there was one in the store, I would touch it. Also, the store option does offer a “get it now” guarantee, where as online, you have to wait a few days for the device.

  • Pedro

    You forgot to mention that you type “fadwors” before hitting the Checkout button ๐Ÿ™‚

    • WAldenIV

      It’s “fackwords”.

      • La2da

        It’s “fackwors.”

  • El_Big_CHRIS

    Keep the balance of the Force! I need to see it and feel it, specially when I’ gonna shell out >$600 to keep the unlimited data on VZW

  • It depends on the reputation of the company. I was totally comfortable with ordering my Nexus 4 at launch.

  • dannyWHITE

    I put my trust in Droid Life when it comes to reviews and I’ll purchase based off that. DL is the reason why i got the N4.

    • Justin Winker

      I agree, although I purchased the Nexus 4 at launch and didn’t have a review to base it on. I consider myself an early adopter and would happily be a guinea pig for a new device ๐Ÿ™‚

      • dannyWHITE

        I would have done the same had Google and/or LG allowed me to buy one. But I do own one now and thats fine with me!

  • jaybar

    In general yes, however in the case of something being merely for fun/not expensive I’ll go by online reviews and research, and don’t need to physically handle it (eg Nexus 7)

    • JoshGroff

      True, the N7 was one of 3 devices I bought without touching first. (The other 2 coincidentally being the Xoom LTE and Touchpad)

  • David Caccavo

    Voted yes but really depends. I’m more forgiving with something like a tablet (ordered a nexus 7 sight unseen last summer and absolutely love it) but with something like a phone I need to briefly hold it before buying. I loved the GNex but after having it for one day I realized that it was too big to be my daily driver.

  • Dat gif….

    • 4n1m4L

      Just because it can’t scream, doesn’t mean its not rape.

  • It really depends on the phone/tablet. With Nexus devices I don’t feel the need to. If it is running some sort of skin and I don’t plan on throwing CyanogenMod on it then I would like to actually try the product out.

  • Warwick

    Im a sucker for Moto’s phones. I buy them before even seeing them in person lol

  • Respen

    I just bought a Note II, so yes, I had to have that in hand (and in pocket) before buying it.

    • Thomas

      You stole my comment. ๐Ÿ™‚ When I bought my S3 no, but w/ the Note 2 yes.

  • Who is turned on by the Nexus rub down? ๐Ÿ˜›

    • *raises hand slowing looking for others to raise their hand…*

      • dsass600

        +1000 Sir.

      • Is that equivalent to the slow clap? If it is, *slowly raises hand.

        • JoshGroff

          *Sees other hands going up, raises hand*

    • dannyWHITE

      Looks a lil creepy but I likes

    • Thomas


    • Oaxican509

      I should of won that Nexus 4, I wouldn’t of not put it through that torture…

    • Brian Walker

      I opened the page, then left my desk for a minute. My boss walked by, and was concerned about what I was looking at. He knows I have an Android obsession, and thought it was taking a weird turn.

      • TheOiulkj

        Nice way to distract him from the fact that you’re reading DL instead of working.

    • Dillon Brown

      I love how you have a case on it. I’m glad DroidLife supports responsible phone love. wrap it be for you tap it everyone.

    • KOBALT

      It’s an LG. Turn off.

    • dylan84

      I definitely was.

    • CapnShiner

      You have issues, Kellen. I think you’ve been blogging too long. Go for a walk outside or something. lol

    • CapnShiner

      Did you at least buy it dinner first?

    • anywherehome

      exactly….you don’t need to test it where there is always the latest Android…….you can easily shift from PC at homes ๐Ÿ™‚
      but beware of limited iToys! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That was a little disturbing.

    • Christopher Riner

      The picture in the article went from creepy to just plain sick when I read this comment.