The no touch screen – Adrian Weckler’s advice on buying top-of-the-range tech as Covid rules remain in place


Question I want to invest in a new smartphone and laptop. My old laptop and iPhone 6 are acting up and I thought I would not only buy new ones but spend big. Having read your columns, I decided I would buy an iPhone 12 Pro and a MacBook Pro. I called into two specialist stores. In one I was told they could not let me hold or test a phone due to Covid, while in the other I was told they don’t allow testing or holding for security reasons. Would you have any guidance on whether I can buy a phone and laptop with access to the phone prior to committing such a large amount of money? — Noeleen H

Answer
It’s a really good question: the answer falls into the category of being ‘a bit Irish’. The more you formally ask about testing or holding a phone or laptop, the more likely you’ll be told that you can’t, for (correct) Covid rules. But if you simply stroll into one of the less specialist stores — such as Currys or Harvey Norman — you’re more likely to be allowed walk over and simply open a laptop or feel the surface of a phone to physically compare it to the size of your hand.
I realise that this isn’t quite what you’re looking for, that you’re after more than simply a quick tactile experience or close-up view. Attentive service from an expert who will not only walk you through the device, but point out the pros and cons as you’re giving it a go, is great. But what these stores are telling you is correct and laudable for important health and safety reasons. So for that level of service, you may need to hold on another few months.
For what it’s worth, I do have one or two tips.
First, unless you really have a strong graphical reason, I’d strongly consider the cheaper MacBook Air instead of the MacBook Pro. The reason is that it’s actually as powerful (with the same core engine) and as long-lasting as the MacBook Pro, while costing a few hundred euro less. (But make sure it’s the new M1 model, not the old Intel model, which are slower and have nothing like the battery life of the new ones.)



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