A word on Youtube Tech reviews
Youtube is my go to place to research and compare a product before buying one. I saw tons of videos before making my purchases like Xbox, car, monitors and TV etc. I also find youtube very helpful to find out more about products that I already like or even own, to find out what hidden or less obvious features products may offer and how to do certain things that I may not necessarily know how to.
However, reviewers are not always objective, generally when it comes to technologies that run complex software, and particularly smartphones. The inherent biases, sponsored as well as paid reviews, and race for likes/subscribers really muddy the waters for an average consumer to make an informed choice.
Here’s why I think you shouldn’t really take their final opinion on any of the product reviews.
###They are nerds The top Youtubers reviewing the smartphones, aren’t really in any position to give a recommendation based on their own experiences. Their requirements and needs are entirely different from an average person. They are looking to squeeze every penny out of the investment in-terms of set of hardware features only. And at some point they just want everything available on market packed into one device at the cheapest price point possible.
They don’t work a 9-5 job like most people do. They are surrounded by gadgets all day, and are most likely using them all the time. They may or may not have a stock portfolio to maintain, crucial business emails to respond to, stay in touch with family and friends overseas or use creativity suite like you may. You may not need to concern yourself with amount of RAM or processing speed but only that it all functions smoothly. You may want a more seemless experience than thousands of customization that amount to no productivity; to the contrary, only waste of time. If you’re a nerd, then you’re looking for tons of customizations, features sets and hardware capabilities. And if you’re not, you maybe looking at more creative possibilities. Or you may be more of a privacy and security person. A lot of youtube reviewers quickly jump from one company and ecosystem to another because they have to review all of them. But you don’t have to and therefore don’t care about that.
The point is, what you need out of a smartphone could be entirely different from what they actually think should be there. Particulary considering that they are looking at every gadget available with a mix of features comparing one against a hundred others.
###They are not your average consumer
They are not your Average Consumer as they’d like you to believe
Sometimes, channels which are named
average consumer or likewise depict gadgets and lifestyles that are in complete opposition of an average consumer. Check any popular Youtube reviewer with over million subscribers. Look at their setups, studios and equipments. Do they look like an average Joe by any means?
For me this automatically, for the most part, discredits their recommendations.
###Inherent biases Of course, nobody can be objective in a complete sense. Everybody has their inherent bias towards a certain kind of experience. In all of the cases, you’d be certainly biased towards a certain kind of user experience. Some people like having back buttons because it seems familiar from the Nokia and Blackberry days while some want a more innovative solution to navigation than just buttons.
Youtube reviewers switch between plenty of Android devices throughout the year. So they are pretty much accustomed to Android and its ecosystem (if any exists as such). So they build habits that revolve around using Android OS patterns, building an inherent bias towards the OS. Switching to iOS, however, is once a year thing and is a completely different ball game. This requires complete modification of habits. This ultimately leads to a poorer experience for them & thus causes bad rap.
###Paid Reviews & Sponsored Content There are actually Youtube channels, where hosts are representative of and paid by companies to promote their brand. This isn’t always obvious unless host explicitly admits to it (they usually do it in comments/video description where its less visible than in video itself).
A lot of companies make an extra effort to send out their devices for free before release to these channels to garner good will and in return get positive reviews. Have you seen a video where sponsored devices or gadgets were given a bad rep? So if you’re reviewing a Google phone given to you for free by Google, of course you’re gonna be hesitant to say anything bad, because you want to keep the trend for future in order to get early access to devices.
###Target Audience & Divisive Opinion Internet, in general, is a place where divisiveness leads to higher engagement. A lot of youtubers have confessed to that including Tailosive Tech. The more controversial the video, higher is the user engagement and growth of the channel. If you look at the comments on most review channels, you’d see less of why people like what the like, but more of why people dislike (hate) what they dislike (hate).
This is why, you’d find reviews that contrast one with another.
###Remarking without Proper Usage I have seen so many reviews which are made up of initial impressions merely by looking at the images of the unreleased products only to find another review two weeks later about how the initial impressions were wrong. But for the most part, those who have formed their opinions looking at earlier reviews, won’t change the opinions afterwards unless they experience it themselves; which they won’t because of the already formed negative opinion.
Sometimes, I find reviews which are plainly incorrect because the youtuber simply didn’t do enough due diligence issuing an a correction later which no one really reads anyway. Take the example of iOS’s gesture based navigation on iPhone X. Everybody eventually came to love it, even those who were android users. However, if you look at any youtube review within first week of launch, almost every reviewer is complaining about it.
Notch is another example.
##Take away? Smartphones are about user experiences, not necessarily the set of features it can offer on a hardware level. A lot of such has to be tried and experienced before you can make a decision. Head to the nearest retailer instead, and try the devices yourself to see what really works for you best.