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My experience today looking for WP and Microsoft Surfaces


New member
Sep 6, 2013
I had close to an hour spare in town today, so after hearing on this forum and other sites about the experience of buying Windows Phones or Microsoft Surfaces, I thought I'd go round the local stores and see what it's currently like. I hardly ever go in phone shops as I buy mine Sim Free and put my existing Sim card in it, but I know the majority of peole buy phones on contract and like to visit stores to see what's on offer and test the phones out etc.

Here in the UK, we have two major stores that sell phones, to a large section of people. These are Phones4U and Carphone Warehouse. The other stores I went into were carrier only stores such as EE and Vodafone. I was interested to see how they spoke about Windows Phone in general and what they had to offer. I'm only doing this thread to show people what it's like for the average joe shopping for a new phone in the UK and I'd love to hear how it differs in your part of the world, better or worse.

1) First stop was two Phones4U shops. The first chap I spoke to was actually quite knowledgeable, knew the Nokia range quite well and even spoke about the upcoming 1520. He liked Windows Phone in general and how fast WP8 is and how he feels it is getting better and better... nice to hear. Anyway, the phones they offered were good and bad really. They had the 1020 available and they had a working display model of it which was great to see. The Bad... it started at around ?51 a month on contract (expensive) and the next phone down in price wise was a 625 at ?21 a month. This is Bad, as there is seemingly no middle ground for people. If you want WP, you buy one of the most expensive phones in the whole shop, or get one of the cheaper phones. No 720, 820, 920 or 925 available Ughhh. The jump between the two just appears massive and the sales person even said so himself :(

2) Carphone Warehouse. I only went in one of these shops. The sales lady simply hadn't got a clue on Windows Phone, not worth me going into detail, but a nice woman, but really did not know much about the WP's on offer at all.
Here is a pic below I took of the stand which had the Nokia's on. No working models on display at all :(


As you can see the Nokia's have a lovely spot on third row underneath Blackberry's and Huawei's... not good.
The one good thing I can say about CPW is that they offered the 925 at a middle ground price and the 1020 was priced well by the looks of it. Just like Phones4U they offered the 520. They also still have the HTC 8S available. It's not in the picture, it was to the right of these phones, among the bazillion Android handsets on offer from HTC, Samsung, Huawei, LG etc.
The Bad part just like Phones4U was that there was no Nokia Display Stand (do these even exist?) and not a single working display unit of any of Nokia's handsets :( Even a basic small but clean looking Display Stand like this Apple one, which was directly to the left of the above picture with the Nokia phones, would do, but nothing.


Why do Nokia not have these?

3) Vodafone was next. This was better actually. On the display stand pictured below, at least they have a banner at the top with the 1020's beast of a camera being advertised. They also offered the 1020, 925, 625 and 520 on contract. Also the sales person pointed out that with the 1020, 925 and 625 you get free NetFlix bundled in for differing months (depending on which phone you choose), this was a nice thing to see. There were also some Asha phones available as well. No working display phones though, it would have been nice to see a 1020 working model next to this stand, it would have fitted in great with the advertisement of the 1020.


4) EE was not great. I believe they had the 1020 and 625 on contract (can't remember if they had the 520 or not). Just the same as the others there were no Display Stands for Nokia. Seemed to be obsessed with the iPhone at this store. They even had a large Apple Display Stand/Table in the middle of the store, lit up like a christmas tree, advertising and demoing the iPhones.

Onto the Microsoft Surfaces, I thought I'd check out PCWorld and John Lewis, THE two main places to buy the Microsoft Surface in the UK high street. Well... it was awful :(

The John Lewis I went into is very modern, has a huge glass walk through bridge into the store and 3 floors. Went up to the Tablets and Laptops and found the Surface RT which was on display. This is as good as it got.


Note it's the 'old' model. I know it's still being actively sold, but a few things worried me...
- No mention of the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 at all. (Even though they are currently in stock at John Lewis). The stand up advert on the table in the picture which says 'NEW' is actually for the 'old' model
- The Surface Pro display model was not even there and they didn't know when they would be replacing it :(
- I asked about when they would be showing the Surface 2 or Pro 2 on this table so people could see and test it and they said 'hopefully in the next few weeks', not exactly promising is it.

Again, Apple seems to have no problem here. They even have their own 'section' in the store, lit up and many devices to test and play with. Micrsoft have one RT model and a missing Pro model, with not a mention of the new products.

The only positive things were that they had a lot of Windows 8 laptops and convertibles on display that you could play with and the sales staff as usual in John Lewis were good, but as far as the Surface goes, well... it wasn't good.

PCWorld was no better, but I expected this anyway. Here was what I was looking at, at PCWorld:


Basically a Surface RT (again the 'old' model), not that I have anything against the original RT, but I was at least expecting some kind of display or working unit of the new models of Surface... nothing like that was to be seen.

They had a Surface RT unit, but no keyboard to test with it. No Pro unit to try. Again, no mention at all about the new Surface, absolutely nothing. I spoke to a member of staff about this. They even had stock of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in store, but not a mention that it even exists on the shelf!! He said they would like to get the new Surfaces on display, but he also said it's always a fight for floor space with tablets and laptops and that they haven't got any space for the new ones yet. They can display much older models of laptops, cheap as chips Android tablets and the latest iPads etc, but the new Surfaces... nope.

My general thoughts after this:
- Not a single Nokia display stand in sight in any store I visited. Surely Nokia/Microsoft could come up with something.
- Surprised to see how many display units Sony actually had. In nearly all the shops I visited, they had lovely Display Stands, with working phones to test and a TV above them. This actually drew me into looking at the Xperia Z1, which actually looks like a really nice phone.
- Samsung and Apple unsurprisingly had Display Stands in most shops
- Not a single sign of a 720, 820 or 920 in any store
- Hardly any stores had working Nokia phones to test, at least Phones4U had the 1020 to test which was nice, but that was it.
- The amount of Android handsets in each store was phenomenal. No wonder they have such high marketshare, they were everywhere! And because there are so many of them, there is a price to suit anybody's budget
- The Surface situation is quite frankly a joke. Do they not want to sell these devices?

Anyway I've gone on long enough now ;) much longer than expected. I think the only reason WP marketshare is relatively quite high in the UK compared to other countries is down to the 520 really. Three different stores were mentioning how well that phone sells (due to it's price and the features you get for your money).

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sorry it's a little long, but I thought it would be interesting to explain and show what it's like in the eyes of a potential buyer in the UK. Nokia and Microsoft both make such great products in my opinion, it's just a shame they can't really show them off to people. Whether this is the stores fault, or Microsoft/Nokia's fault, I don't really know, but it needs improvement. I understand it may be a much better experience in other stores in other cities in the UK, but people browsing just see what's on offer at their local stores in general. It would be great to hear how this differs in your country or area :smile:


New member
Jul 4, 2011
Even as WP and Win8 tablets gain marketshare, it is pretty plain to see they will never become a major player without improved packaging.

However, even what you saw is a huge improvement over what we had seen in the years prior to WP8/Win8 coming out. Overall, I do believe the arrow is pointing up. Problem is, this is still a long, hard climb.


New member
Sep 6, 2013
Nice investigative reporting.
Thanks, I didn't really intend to write that much, but sometimes I just waffle on a bit without realising :)
It was a bit of an eye opener, especially with the Surfaces. A major new product, but no model to play with on the shelves and not even a mention of it, even though the stores have stock of it. They'll sell fine to people who come in wanting one, but anyone browsing, they are hardly going to sell any if you don't even mention they exist.

Even as WP and Win8 tablets gain marketshare, it is pretty plain to see they will never become a major player without improved packaging.

However, even what you saw is a huge improvement over what we had seen in the years prior to WP8/Win8 coming out. Overall, I do believe the arrow is pointing up. Problem is, this is still a long, hard climb.
Yep I agree. I certainly have seen worse, and I do believe PCWorld (I take it they are similar to Best Buys in the US) have got better as time has gone on, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. I'll note that the PCWorld I went into was not a big store, the bigger stores may be a different picture, but still I'd like to see Microsoft Stores in the UK, whether they will ever do this though, I'm not sure. But at least people could just walk into them stores and test out the new products that are available (phones included).


New member
Dec 23, 2012
This mirrors the situation here in the Philippines.

I know I shouldn't be surprised by what you said, but I was surprised that there's no 720 on offer, and no news about the 2520 either.

Since there are so many Samsung displays everywhere...

...why don't they advertise Win8 there? After all, they have tablets, laptops and a phone.
(They could've taken down Nokia and HTC in one swoop. As a bonus, they're generally much higher interns of margins)


New member
Apr 3, 2013
You've basically described the UK situation rather well. I have to admit I've had good experiences in both Phones 4U and Car Phone Warehouse stores. EE was by far the biggest failure on Nokia's part.

As for advertising, I see it one of two ways. WP can be either grouped together into one display and use Microsoft as the main driver behind that or get each OEM to have a display. Personally I think they should go for the group display.

As for the mid-range phones they typically show up online but that doesn't help the average buyer.

With the Surface, I can only agree with you here. I went into the local PC World and had to search for it. It was off in a corner of the store looking like some discarded tablet that no one wanted. They did have a Surface 2 on display and Pro but you'd never guess. Both locked so you couldn't play with them and no keyboard. Tesco also sells the Surface but I've never seen it in store only online.

I've been really baffled by this poor showing of marketing here in the UK on the part of Microsoft. Considering the UK is one of their larger markets I would expect better. There's no reason why there shouldn't be a Surface display and Windows Phone display in stores. Not sure what the issues are but they should fix it ASAP.


New member
Sep 6, 2013
Thanks N_LaRUE, I thought it might be fairly similar elsewhere here in the UK.

There's no reason why there shouldn't be a Surface display and Windows Phone display in stores. Not sure what the issues are but they should fix it ASAP.
Yep. If Apple, Samsung and even Sony can bunch their devices together on nicely lit up display stands, I'm pretty sure Microsoft and Nokia could manage the same.


Moderator Team Leader
Sep 30, 2012
Very interesting read and mirrors my own experience here in the UK well. Where I live it's roughly the same but I was surprised to see some dedicated displays and working models in a few shops more recently for the 1020. The customer service and their knowledge of WP generally is exactly what you'd witnessed - either people genuinely like the platform and know about it even if they don't use it in their own personal phones (a bit rarer) or they don't have a clue what it is and try to put people off buying the unknown (more common.

Thanks for a great read!


New member
Dec 6, 2010
At least in the Best Buy near my work there's a dedicated Surface section/display and generally if I start poking around someone will stop by to ask if I need help. I took them up on it once just to hear what they had to say and it wasn't terrible. They only went into the difference between RT and Pro once I started asking about legacy software. It's rare that they have a pen to demo the Wacom feature. The guy was also strangely mentioning that "Best Buy" was an Apple product place even though they carried way more Wintel stock. I think it was mostly because the sales guy who happened to be talking to me said he was responsible for the Apple display. Lately I've noticed a really big Samsung push in BB with a professional store-in-a-store presentation.

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