Consumer Reports Shouldn't Review Cellphones Anymore

Consumer Reports' picks for top five smartphones confirms they're woefully out of touch. Four of the five are Windows Mobile phones from last year, and the sole BlackBerry is the worst RIM offers. Uhhhh, WTF?

Here's the list, provided by jkOnTheRun:

1. Samsung Blackjack II
2. T-Mobile Wing
3. Motorola Q9C
4. T-Mobile Shadow
5. Blackberry Pearl Flip

Ignoring for the moment that four out of the five are Windows Mobile phones, they didn't even pick new, actually good hardware. Not one of the phones, except for the Pearl Flip—which is actually the least capable phone in RIM's new batch of devices—is even from this year. Its top phone, the BlackJack II, doesn't even have Wi-Fi or a touchscreen, and is loaded with Samsung's BS proprietary ports, rather than industry standard ones. Beyond that, where the hell are the other good smartphones? If they wanna be dated, where's the BlackBerry Curve? They could shoehorn it in by reviewing one of the newer iterations with Wi-Fi. No Symbian?

Rob at BoingBoing Gadgets said a couple weeks ago (in response to me bitching about Consumer Reports, actually) that even as "a religious devotee of its general coverage," he finds "its gadget reviews are often ambivalent and unsatisfying, like an elderly grandmother trying to explain why she prefers sherry to port."

The heart of the matter—that Rob hints at—why Consumer Reports can tell you what vacuum cleaner or washing machine to buy with unrivaled authority, but apparently knows approximately dick about smartphones, is that they don't get software. And guess what? We've reached a tipping point where software is the most important part of a phone. Hardware is commoditized—read the spec sheet for any current smartphone, they've all got just about the same crap inside. It's all about software now, and it's going to go further in that direction. Why do you think everyone's pushing their own platform and app store, anyway?

My point is that Consumer Reports desperately needs to overhaul the way it reviews phones, before it doesn't just look out of touch and silly, but hopelessly so. [jkOnTheRun, ZDNet]