How we test hardware at Pocket Tactics

We review lots of different devices here at Pocket Tactics. We've explain more about our process so you can be confident in our testing and buying advice.

How we test: An analogue Pocket is visible beside a pile of Game Boy games

Reviewing products is quite a complicated thing – especially in the fast-paced and spec-driven world of technology and mobile gaming. One product may cater perfectly to a small few, or cater well enough to a wider group. We have a strict process for all our reviews here at Pocket Tactics, and we want to share it with you so that you can trust and understand our buying advice.

We’ve developed our review process through years of experience. Our team of writers and regular reviewers test the best gaming phones, portable gaming consoles (like Nintendo Switch consoles), tablets, headphones, controllers, and many other accessories.

Here are our different testing methods for gaming hardware:

How we test - a white and black back of a phone, all angular, on a wooden surface.

How Pocket Tactics tests gaming phones

We have a simple way of reviewing phones at PT – we use them extensively in real life and test them with tonnes of the best mobile games to find out how they perform. As we’re a mobile gaming site, we’re interested in gameplay first, but we’ll also look at a phone’s general features and performance, too. Most of us want also a phone that can fit into our day-to-day life, so the look, speed, and specs of the device are very important to consider and compare against competitors.

There are several key elements we cover in a phone review, and these are performance, display, build quality, battery life, and cameras. That’s also in a sort of descending order; we care about performance first and foremost, while cameras matter less to hardcore mobile game players.

Depending on how much time we get with a mobile gaming phone, we make it our daily driver, try out all its features, and how it fits into our lives. We give honest feedback on that, and we’ll never recommend a phone if it has very clear flaws.

Our testing isn’t all based on our own experience, however. To keep things measurable and comparable across devices, we also use benchmarking software such as GeekBench and spec sheets to build a clearer picture.

We often work with manufacturers to get mobile phones in for review. This is on a loan basis and all phones are returned after or kept for future comparisons only. If we ever have less time than is ideal, we make this clear in the headline – for example, our Xiaomi 13 Pro review.

How we test: the Ayaneo 2, a handheld Windows PC designed for gaming, with a screen in the middle, buttons and a joystick on the right, d-pad and joystick on the left, and triggers on the back.

How Pocket Tactics tests handheld consoles

When reviewing the best portable gaming consoles, like the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, we focus on five key things again: performance, display, build quality, battery life, and games library. The latter is often a key aspect – if there aren’t any good games to play on a device, it becomes hard to recommend it.

We also look at another aspect, given the rise of handheld PCs: user experience. The Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch both have a pretty seamless UX compared to the smaller companies elsewhere jumping into the market.

With those things in mind, we test as many different games as we can for long play sessions. As we’re handheld-focused, we also take games on the go to see how they fare out and about with hindrances such as glare and worse internet to deal with.

Benchmarks are less useful when it comes to gaming handhelds – the Geekbench score of a Nintendo Switch is pretty meaningless – so we tend to ignore them. With the number of bespoke chipsets coming out, handhelds can be cleverly optimized for the library they use.

We also collaborate with manufacturers to get consoles for review, though this is on a loan basis and all consoles are returned after or kept for future comparison articles. We are never paid for reviews, and will never artificially inflate the score of a product. Our opinion is always independent.

How we test: the playdate is shown on a desk with a clock as the screensaver

How Pocket Tactics tests accessories

Reviewing tech accessories is a little different from gaming phones or portable consoles – you can’t really benchmark a Nintendo Switch headset, for example. So, accessory reviews can often be a little more subjective. Luckily, there are still clear facts to go on.

We combine these key facts – specs, prices, build quality, and ease of use – with a more personal angle of using the product in real life. In our EPOS H3PRO Hybrid review, for example, we make clear what the reviewer looks for in a gaming headset before starting the review.

While we can say one pair of headphones sounds better than another, it’s hard to always agree. (I swear by AirPod Pros yet any audiophile would scoff at them, for example).

Again, we’ll often work with manufacturers to get accessories for review, but this is on a loan basis and all samples are returned afterward or kept for future comparison articles only.

Overall, any review we create at Pocket Tactics aims to be insightful, comparable, and trustworthy. We test hundreds of gaming products so that you don’t have to, and we use our expert knowledge of the industry to help you sift through all the choices. We want you to learn about the things we spend time with, and to build a clear picture of what to expect from a product. That way, when it comes to making a buying decision, you can read our guides and know that you’re getting the right product for your needs.

See our testing in action with our Steam Deck review, Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review, and Nacon MG-X Pro iPhone review.