How Phonerated Ranks The Best Phones

Wonder how we rank the best phones? Why are some phones with a higher review score ranked lower than models with less stars?

Here is how our complex best smartphone (and basic phone) ranking system works:

1. What is the PR rank?

PR rank (PR stands for PhoneRated... not to be confused with Google's PageRank score) is our own phone scoring system that looks at a variety of factors, not just the review score of a phone.

2. Why is the PR rank sometimes above 100%?

The PR rank is not a percentage, it is a score established in relation with other phones and smartphones in our database. A phone may have a review score of 90%, but a PR rank of 42 -- all it means is that our algorithm has established that, because of its launch date, pertinence and other factors, it deserves to be ranked lower than a phone with a PR rank of, say, 55.

3. How can a smartphone score a PR rank of 81 in one list and 86 in another list?

The PR rank also takes into account the relevance of each phone to each specific list. So, if Smartphone A scored an average rating of 4.8 stars and Smartphone B scored 4.7 stars and both phones are part of a Best Camera Smartphones list, Smartphone B may raise above Smartphone A despite its slightly lower rating if it sports a 13-megapixel main camera while Smartphone B only features 8 megapixels.

4. Why phones with a higher review score rank lower than phones with less stars?

One of the criteria we use is age. A phone launched one year ago might have deserved a cheering 4.5 stars at that time, but it cannot really compare to a phone introduced last week, which also garnered praise at a height of 4.5 stars, but with a set of much more up-to-date features. Consequently, part of our ranking algorithm gives slightly less importance to the score of older phones in the overall formula to guarantee a more useful list of the best phones.

5. What other criteria do you use?

Depending on time frames and specific markets, our ranking formula sorts the best smartphones and regular phones using (but not limited itself to) some of the following criteria:
1. The number of sources we found reviewing the smartphone or dumb phone.
2. The number of user reviews at popular review places and merchants.
3. Our phone profilers/writers' appreciation of each model.
4. The outcome of our computer-generated specs-based pros and cons reviews.
5. The specs and features on which each of our starred best phones outrank other models (on a purely technical way).
6. The specs themselves. For instance, our convenient best low-SAR phones list includes only phones whose SAR rating is under a specific range while our famous best flip phone list (featured in the Manchester Guardian) only retains vintage-style flip models (yes, they are still popular among some users).

6. Do you look at rankings on manufacturers' own sites?

As of 2015, no we don't. Though we tend to assume that manufacturers are responsible and honest in letting both positive and negative reviews make it to their list without interference, we prefer to rely on more independent reviewers and user review websites.

7. Don't you offer affiliate links to online stores? Can it affect your ranking?

No it does not. We may offer links to affiliate stores, such as Amazon.com, and we may also offer non-affiliated links to other stores.

We used to purportedly not mention prices to remain purely journalistic, but around 2010, we found out that our users did want to know the price... We then started featuring "check price" links and other price mentions through affiliate links (where stores may pay us a commission for including their link). However, we do not have to rely on affiliate sales for survival (the overwhelming bulk of our income comes from regular display advertising) and our mission is a journalistic one. As you browse our best phone lists, you will notice that we rank some phones at the top of a list even if they are not carried by an affiliate store we do business with. What drives us is computing the best phone results regardless of affiliate links, to help you solve your phone shopping issues quickly.

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