If you love gadgets, and know your Galaxy S5 from your iPhone 5cs from your Xperia Z2s, then you should think about being a phone tester. We chatted to Helen McKerrow, the head of Devices and Customer Experience – because it’s not just phones, but tablets too – at O2 Telefónica, and found out that she once accidentally dunked a phone in water for three hours.

Here’s some other stuff we learned about the world of device testing….

It’s a really cool job

“The manufacturers – like Samsung, for example – give us the handsets a couple of months before they come out so that we can formally test them, and also give them to lucky people in other parts of the business so they can try them out and let us know what they think,” explains Helen. Formal testing involves making sure the internet works, making sure texting works, testing all the apps like O2 Priority Moments, fitting the accessories on in case they’re the wrong size and fiddling with the charger. Basically, playing around with the phone and flagging up any issues. “The best bit is seeing cool stuff way before anyone else, but also the feeling when a device leaves testing – there’s usually a huge difference, and it’s nice to know you’ve had an influence,” she adds.

You need to have good powers of persuasion

People skills are pretty crucial in this line of work, considering you have to sometimes convince people that there’s something needing to be fixed with a particular device. “The hardest part of the job is when you think there’s a problem, and the manufacturers doesn’t,” says Helen. “There’s a lot of getting independent opinions and also gathering quantitative analysis so you can prove, for example, that a call fails one in every three or it takes ten minutes to load a browser.”

You get to throw phones at the wall

Well, sort of. Alright, it’s not a part of the testing in any way – but you do get to drop them and dunk them in water if the situation demands it. “We do water testing if the phone is supposed to be water resistant, but I have actually put phones in water before and forgotten about them. The phone was supposed to submerge in a metre of water for one hour and, while it was less than a metre, it was there for three hours…” Helen recalls, laughing. Amazingly, the phone still managed to work. “Drop testing isn’t strictly a part of formal testing, but it invariably happens!”

They like having young people on their team

The age range within the devices team varies massively – and they love taking on new talent (good news). “We’ve had quite a few apprenticeships, and work experiencers and interns coming in. If you’re interested in joining the team, it’s a good idea to keep up to date with what’s going on by reading the review sites and magazines.” She advises. They also like taking on people who’ve worked in O2 stores (we offer these roles when they come up, so keep an eye on the Opportunities section!); they’re in the best position to know what the customer wants out of a phone, considering they spend all day hearing about it, so make great testers.

The industry isn’t exactly about to disappear

If one thing’s for certain, this is an industry you want to get involved in – phones and tablets are about to get way cooler. “The future is hard to tell, as different people seem to be doing different things, but the wearables market is going to become more significant,” predicts Helen. “It’s a really fast-moving business!” Now you may be testing phones and tablets, but in a few years you’ll be testing all sorts of mad stuff way before anyone else gets to see it. Which is pretty cool.

Want to do the job?

Yeah you do. If testing out cool gadgets sounds like your ideal job – then keep an eye on the O2 Careers site for vacancies, get a job in one of the retail stores or check out Talentum, as they place people on work experience placements, internships, grad schemes and more in loads of different departments.

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