I normally don’t talk about drama at length beyond a comment or a reaction on social media. However, all the commentary surrounding the “gray-market smartphones” and “tech reviewer” talk makes me want to put my two cents in and not just keep it on social media.
Buying Gray Market Smartphones
In case you’re not aware, gray market smartphones are not officially available in the country they are bought. Sellers buy phones from outside the country and bring them in. The legality of this is weird at best, and a warranty is most certainly out of the question unless the store you bought it from would process it for you.
I wanted to talk about this topic first since my stance on this is pretty straightforward: BUY PHONES FROM AUTHORIZED RETAILERS. There’s a reason why I outright dismiss phones that are not officially available in the Philippines. (I’m looking at you, Google Pixel.) Aftersales support and local warranty matter to me a lot. If something goes wrong with the phone I (or someone I know) use, there’s a great chance that official service centers in the Philippines recognize the warranty of said phone if I bought it in the Philippines.
If you’re a tech enthusiast or someone savvy enough to know the risks, then by all means! I won’t stop you from buying gray market phones! Just make sure you truly know what you’re getting yourself into.
The Tech Reviewer Dilemma
Before I begin, let me put a disclaimer.
Disclaimer: I don’t know if I can help myself from taking any sides here. I have met people in the tech media who were involved here. We’ll see.
The past few years have seen a shift in what a tech reviewer is. From detailed write-ups to a more concise long-form video to a “short-form recommendation”. As someone who has seen this shift in real-time, it’s always interesting when ideologies clash. Some of the comments on the Facebook post from GIZGUIDEPH shown below about buying gray-market phones made me see some of the different sides of how people review tech today.
What Is A Tech Reviewer Anyway?
Questions like these popped into my head as the shift impacted me as a tech reviewer:
Can I do a full review in a TikTok video?
What is a tech review in 2024?
Should a tech reviewer do more than just write?
Do people even know or care about what a review is?
Can a tech reviewer satisfy both the consumers and the brands?
I always believe that a tech review is a juggling act. Not only do you have to be honest with your thoughts about the products you review, but also do it without sounding like a giant fanboy or a giant hater.
The Changing Landscape
I understand that doing tech videos is a whole different ballgame and sometimes being edgy and controversial can get you more views. But I think there’s a way where you can be funny and be yourself but still be mindful of how you give praise and criticism.
Yes, the marketing can sometimes get over the top and we see so many “influencers”/KOLs recommend gadgets these days. Despite all of the changes we’re seeing, I believe that tech reviews are as important as ever.
Whether it’s a 10-minute video or a 1000-word written article, tech reviewers do their best to determine whether a product is good or not based on what is presented to us. We can take a list of specs and marketing points, process what they all mean to the consumer, and evaluate all of them.
Do we make mistakes? Sure. But the beauty of tech reviews is that there are A LOT OF THEM. Whenever there are people who are unsure of a product, I tell them to check multiple reviews. I have come to realize in this journey that I CANNOT REVIEW ALL OF THE NEWEST GADGETS. That also rings true with other reviewers. (This is less of a problem if you have a team behind you.)
What Do I Have To Offer?
When I ask myself what I can offer in this space: it’s being honest and open-minded with my thoughts on the stuff I review.
My inspirations for starting Utterly Techie were the various tech sites I read well before I thought of being a tech reviewer. Sites like The Verge, Android Authority, YugaTech, GIZGUIDE, and JamOnline.ph were some of my go-to’s.
Despite those inspirations, I have my biases. I think that I love the Apple ecosystem and many of its advantages despite the disadvantages it has. That may color my experience, but that doesn’t mean I will hate every other product that’s not named Apple. I honestly enjoyed a lot of the tech I reviewed for almost 8 years. (Fast charging comes to mind; useful in a pinch.)
I just hope we still have tech reviewers today and in the years to come. I’d hate to see the day when we’re all just gonna watch hype videos and only mention the positives.