Mobile phones: How we test mobile phones
Which? puts mobile phones to the test so we can tell you exactly what you need to know before you sign up to a long contract. We'll help you avoid phones that run out of power after only a few hours use or which sound crackly and distorted.
We put every phone through the same tests - a mixture of hands on assessments from independent experts and technical lab testing - so we can give you a verdict you can trust.
Read on to find out how we can answer key questions such as:
- What’s the battery life like?
- What's the phone like to use day-to-day?
- How good are the phone’s entertainment features?
- Should I buy it?
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What’s the battery life like?
Short battery life is one of the most common phone complaints. To ensure that our Best Buy phones won’t let you down we check how long the battery will last when making calls and how long it takes to charge. We also set every phone’s screen to a comparable brightness level and record battery life when surfing the web using the phone's 3G connection.
What's the phone like to use day-to-day?
We use ergonomic experts who assess how easy it is to make and receive calls, read and write text messages and add contacts. We rate the general handling, including the positioning of any buttons and the responsiveness of the touchscreen, and check how easy it is to customise the phone by adding shortcuts.
We look at how easy it is to navigate through web pages and measure the processor’s power to ensure it’ll be able to keep up when you’re multi-tasking.
How good are the phone’s entertainment features?
We take photos in different light conditions and at different distances to check the camera quality. We also look for useful camera features, such as autofocus and flash, and photograph moving objects to check for shutter delay.
We rate the quality of videos we’ve recorded on each phone, checking for accurate colours and smooth motion, and assess the picture when watching TV and film footage. And an expert assessor grades the supplied headphones by listening to recorded reference music from a range of genres, including Rachmaninov’s Symphony no.2 (which helps asses its ability to handle detailed material) and more bass heavy pop numbers.
Should I buy it?
We give every phone we test a Which? test score so you can see which are the best and worst, as well as exactly how each compares to other models. So what does it mean? Well, the phone score ignores price and is based on our detailed analysed results broken down into the following:
The total test score is based on the following weightings:
- 60% - overall phone use (16% battery, 16% ease of use, 8% call quality, 8% screen, 8% processor, 4% versatility)
- 15% - camera
- 15% - web browser
- 10% - media player