Smartphone Shopping with a Normob

Normob Statue at WIND Mobile

Over the weekend I was asked to provide moral support to a friend’s wife who was buying her first Canadian smartphone. She’s originally from the States and currently has an iPhone locked to Verizon; she wants to keep that for occasional use across the border, and needs unlimited calling to the USA from here.

Plot twist: she’s very much a normob (normal mobile user) — not so much the type you’d find here on the forums but more the everyday user immortalized by WIND in that statue you see above.

With smartphones the most personal of personal computers, I tried my best not to steer her towards any one device, and offered my two cents only when asked. Her, her husband and I spent close to an hour in a local WIND store, and I found it fascinating to see how she eventually zeroed in on the device she ended up buying.

It was going to be running Android, so that narrowed the field a bit, at least…

Nexus 5

This was the obvious starting point, and the device recommended by the store staff. Our shopper had previously indicated that she wanted “that LG on the website”; imagine my surprise when I found out this wasn’t the LG she meant.


This was the LG she meant…

I had the staff crack open a box and fire up a demo unit so that LG’s custom take on Android could be compared to the stock ROM on my Nexus 5. The employee asked our shopper what drew her to this particular device; she said it was mostly the big screen, and added that she was open to other options.

Huawei Ascend Mate

Can’t get much bigger than this…!

Of course I had to let the normob know that this phablet was a surprise hit with my boss, plus it was easily the best deal in the shop — $0 with a tab on the $50 plan she was getting.

But I could tell she was iffy on a brand she’d never heard of so really, her ultimate choice made perfect sense.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

I had pointed out the Note 3 when we first arrived in the store, but it was only after trying out the Huawei that she made a beeline for it.

I don’t think it’s the Note’s 4K video capability or USB 3.0 connector that  drew our shopper to it; in another suprise twist she revealed that she was also thinking of getting an iPad mini, and that a large phone like this would kill two birds with one stone.

I think, though, that what ultimately drew her to Samsung was the brand recognition; it helped that her husband already had a Galaxy S4, also from WIND.


I would imagine that most forum members would have a much better idea of what they wanted going in to a carrier’s shop, having done their research via blogs and, well… this forum. I’d certainly never go blind into a situation like this, but such people clearly exist.

Hopefully the moral support helped. I definitely got something out of the experience; to see the world of shiny gadgets through the eyes of a normob is a rare thing for us phone geeks. And honestly, the only frustrating part of the evening for me was her not fawning over her new toy at dinner afterwards. 😉