Usability comes before features when I buy a phone, or any electronic device for that matter. How do you know if a phone is user-friendly? Well you could either read about it, or ask your friends about it - but the best option would always be to try it out for yourself. The thing is… how long are you seriously going to stand there mess around with a phone while in the shop?

TryPhone is an free service which lets you play around with a phone online till your heart’s content. Makers of this site have gone to great lengths to emulate different phone interfaces in Flash, with all phones having functioning buttons and default phone apps.

What I love most about it:

* It’s accurate: I have a Nokia N95 (I love the phone), and when I run the online version - it’s incredibly true to life. In fact, some of the phone applications work so well, it looks as if it’s fully functional!
* Pre-defined demos for quick evaluation: Rather than experimenting blindly, you can pick demos for common phone usage, like ’sending an SMS’ or ‘viewing a picture’, and it will walk you through the whole process.

Two things I didn’t fancy:

* Not enough phones: Currently TryPhone only has 14 phones (all high end models) for testing, which is not nearly enough for most people. The good news is that they are constantly expanding their library (albeit at a slow pace).
* Lack of proper text messaging emulation: To be fair - the number one interface issue for me would be how the text messaging works. Different models have different text input systems, and TryPhone does not support full emulation of text messaging, which is a blow.

Regardless of the minor shortfalls, this site will help you run through many of the intimate details about a phone so you’ll make a more informed decision before buying it.
What is the most important thing you look for when you buy a phone? Take our poll and let us know in the comments!

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Shashank Krishna
Bangalore, up, India
nothin much to say.........doin in IIIT allahabad loves bloggingn hacking.... :) and loooves blogging
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