How to Write an Unbiased Review

In case you might have missed it, Apple decided to eat humble pie and build a phone with all the features they said no one would want.  It’s called the iPhone 6 Plus, though it honestly might be better suited if it were named “iPhone meToo”.  So, let’s get into the latest round of PR for a new Apple device, shall we?

iPhone 6 Plus Review: The First Truly Well-Designed Big Smartphone – Tech Crunch by Darrell Etherington

iOS 8 Review: Refinements And Relaxed Limitations Add Up For A Better Experience – Tech Crunch by Darrell Etherington

iPhone 6 Review: Meet The New Best Smartphone – Tech Crunch by Darrell Etherington

“But Zuke, those aren’t from Apple’s Public Relations!  That’s from Tech Crunch; a respected source of tech news and reviews.”

Well, no.  These three articles are a cross between opinion and a sales pitch.  Or, in less flattering terms, it’s link bait trying to pass itself off as tech journalism.  And it has got to stop.


What is Link Bait?

Link bait (or click bait) is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “content designed to attract attention and encourage those viewing it to create hyperlinks to the site, with the aim of improving the site’s position on the list of results returned by a search engine.”

That sounds pretty tame, especially when you consider that every website (including ours) is trying to get more people to notice them and share their links.  The issue with it is, however, when you start using it to try and inflame people from a position of authority. Or, in this case, when you’re trying to pretend you’re an actual hardware reviewer.  Yes, #troubleburn.


Compare to Competitors

Everyone has some sort of bias.  We can’t help it.  It’s part of our human nature to like one person over another, one brand before another brand, and one kind of device instead of it’s competition.  In order to keep your bias in perspective when writing a review, make sure to compare your subject to its competitors.  For example:

It manages to make the 5 and 5s feel downright chunky, in fact, which is incredible.

. . . is not unbiased.  In fact, comparing the new version to an old version is only advisable when the older version is somehow better or when you specifically state that you are reviewing the two version for people who might be thinking of upgrading.  Take, for instance, this review by Joshua Vergara over at Android Authority writing about how the LG G3 compares to the G2.

If you have the extra money and want a top-notch display, the G3 may be your best bet, but the LG G2 is no loser here. The G2’s 5.2-inch 1080p IPS display produces quality imaging with no compromises. The colors are very natural and the image is clear.

The iPhone example in this scenario isn’t a comparison; it’s an ad saying that even if you already have an iPhone, yours is old and clunky.  Better get that new one!


Be Honest with Yourself

Nothing is perfect.  It’s such a simple statement that you don’t even think about it.  But let’s be honest; nothing is perfect.  Even if your subject is perfect for you, it will not be for everyone.  So saying that the ONLY con to owning an iPhone 6 is:


  • Rounded edges could mean the phone’s a little less easy to grip

I’m not even making that up.  THAT’S THE ONLY CON!  A feature that most people are looking forward to is listed as a con, and then it’s explained that if you do consider it a con, it’s really your fault.

I haven’t even seen an iPhone 6, let alone had one to review.  Most people haven’t.  And I’m a bit of a Windows Phone fan, so there’s that against me.  But let me try for a moment, to list some cons with the iPhone 6.

  • 720p display on a 4.7″ screen falls behind competitors, and even other Apple screens
  • Camera bulge on back will likely take abuse when phone is set down
  • 64 bit processor is not yet fully realized by software and OS, may not be for some time
  • iOS design is dated (or classic, depending on your standpoint)
  • Aluminum back will mar in much the same way as the original iPhone did
  • Battery life is not as good as previous models
  • NFC use is limited to only payment systems (for now)

There, that was 5 without me even picking one up.  Think I’m just being mean to the iPhone?  Here are some others.

LG G3 (my current phone)

  • QHD screen might be nice on paper, but underutilized in practice
  • CPU struggles to balance performance, heat, and battery life
  • LTE radio occasionally lags when switching between wifi and LTE
  • LG’s interface slows down the system
  • Plastic back will wear out if taken off too often

Nokia 930 (my dream phone)

  • Hard corners are the first to show damage in day to day use
  • Change of screen technology means no more Glance display
  • No expandable storage
  • Very limited availability in the U.S.
  • Windows Phone still lagging behind Android in update cycle

In Conclusion

Is this a bit of a rant?  You bet.  Am I being nit-picky?  Not at all.  So often we see “reviews” or “studies” pushed into our face that completely fail to be honest about all things.  In many cases it’s a bit more blatant (an environmental study commissioned by an oil company), but sometimes it’s not.  In the case of the tech journalism world, it’s sad to see that more and more, what used to be bastions of fair and informative reviews have turned into what amounts to little more than an infomercial.  And the worst thing from all of this is that people listen to the infomercials like the ones on Tech Cruch, and aren’t even aware of the really balanced ones (like on my personal favorite, AnandTech).  And frankly, that’s a disservice to everyone.



Executive Producer for Stolendroids Podcast. Also resident 'tech-head' and de-facto leader of the group.

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