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Ting Mobile’s Sponsorship Spotlight: Jon Rettinger

Jon Rettinger talking on a video call on his laptop.

Simply put, Jon Rettinger is one of the most-watched tech creators on YouTube. 

His insightful commentary, beautifully produced videos and extensive knowledge have amassed him a whopping 1.5 million subscribers and over 500 million total video views. 

It’s safe to say, therefore, that we were absolutely thrilled when he said that he would take some time out of his busy schedule to talk tech with the Ting Mobile team.

We discussed his favorite pieces of tech, his predictions for the future of the industry and the sources of his extensive knowledge. But rather than give anything else away, why don’t we just dive right into the interview? 

Hey Jon, thanks for sitting down with us today. If you had to summarize what you do for somebody who may not know, what would you tell them?

I am a nerd who gets to talk about many nerdy things throughout the day [on YouTube].

I’m primarily focused on the world of electronics. So I talk about gadgets, cell phones, laptops, sometimes cars and everything in between. 

Do you have a favorite video that you’ve produced? 

Yeah! I’d always wanted to make an alternate history. So we did that with Apple, looking at what would happen at different points in Apple’s history if they went bankrupt. We imagined what the tech landscape would look like without them.

One of my personal favorite series of yours is the Rise series, where you look at some of the sort of untold stories of the tech world. When you were researching these, did anything jump out to you?

Yeah, we did the rise and fall of BlackBerry as one of the first ones. 

This was a company that was synonymous with technology and cutting-edge consumer electronics. Then fast-forward six years and they’re gone. So it’s a really interesting story to see how that all transpired. 

It was nostalgic! It hits you in the feels seeing what happened to BlackBerry. 

Were you a BlackBerry fan? Did you have any of their devices?

Yeah! BlackBerry Pearl and Pearl 2 were my favorites. 

On the topic of retro devices, is there any phone that you would love to see resurrected, as a 2020 edition? 

100%, The Sidekick. Really, 100 times out of 100 times, it would be The Sidekick.

Jon Rettinger says he'd love to see The Sidekick, pictured here, resurrected.
The Danger Hiptop (aka T-Mobile Sidekick)

It’s fascinating you say that because we asked a fairly similar question when I spoke to Brian Tong and he said the exact same thing.

Yeah? Brian knows what’s up. 

Coming back to your channel, you obviously review a ton of products. Is there one product that, if budget wasn’t a factor, you’d say people should definitely get? 

Yeah, if budget wasn’t a factor, it’d be the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.

It’s amazing to see the future of foldables, and essentially have an iPad-mini-sized tablet in your pocket.

There aren’t that many devices where I feel like I’m holding the future but this Fold is really one of those devices.

Foldables appear to be the next big development in terms of form factor. Do you see them being something that becomes more available for the everyday consumer? Do you see prices come down?

Yeah, I do. The problem with it right now, aside from some fragility issues, is price. It’s a $2000 phone, that is most definitely not for everybody. 

In order to get to a device that’s mainstream, you have to have these [expensive] iterations. Companies have to realize where they can cut corners and where they can drive component costs down.

So there have to be these high-cost devices before eventually, you can get to the one that’s available for everybody. 

So you’d say in five or 10 years time that foldables will be a much more widespread form factor?

I actually think that within three years we’ll see a $1,000 foldable. 

Do you see Apple moving into that space? Can you imagine an iFold?

Yeah, I do.

I spoke to a friend of mine, John Prosser, who’s made a reputation for leaking Apple news.

He said that Apple is working on a foldable, along the lines of Microsoft’s Duo where it’s two screens that fold. 

But I mean, you’re starting to see things like the LG Wing, which rotates and flips and has two very weirdly oriented screens. 

New formats are coming back again! It’s very fun to see.

The LG Wing, pictured here, rotates and flips.
LG Wing (Image Source:

Do you have any other predictions for the next three years, next five years, or beyond? 

So I think what’s holding a lot of these cool tech back is batteries.

The batteries can only get so big, you can only put so big of a pack in a phone without it being really thick. 

So as we start to see new battery technology make its way to phones, I think that’s going to be really huge for what manufacturers can do. 

You’ll start to see higher resolutions, higher refresh rates and the like. These are things that are already technologically possible now, but they’re a massive drain on batteries.

You’ll see new form factors that flip and fold as technology advances… I think the orientation of screens are going to change as well. 

And do you see the same big players dominating?

Yeah, I don’t see much of a change from Apple and Samsung dominating. But I do think there is room for other players to fill that kind of HTC vacuum or the vacuum where BlackBerry used to be. 

I think a lot of the Chinese players, OnePlus for example, are probably going to become dominant in the space. They’re innovating very quickly. 

I think whoever is the first to do new technology can sort of gain a major foothold. 

How do you rank your consideration of assets of a phone? Are you looking at the camera first? Are you looking at durability? Battery? 

For me, the most important factor of a phone is the display. Right? That’s how you’re interacting with everything. 

If it’s got a bad display, it’s hard to appreciate the good parts of the phone. I love screens on phones, and Samsung makes the best displays. In fact, they’re so good that they make most of their displays for Apple.

Second for me is the camera. How good can a camera be when using it for video, stills and in low light? 

Then I’d go to the battery as my third pick.

With the new iPhone SE and the Google Pixel 4a coming out around a similar price point, I was wondering if you saw this style of mid-range, but very-capable smartphone being the future of phones for your average person? 

Yeah, this is an amazing time for the mid-range phone. Both of those phones are so good. I mean, the iPhone SE has the same processor as the iPhone 11 Pro Max. And the Pixel 4a? We did a comparison of the pictures that it took versus flagships that cost two to three times as much, and it was hard to tell a difference. 

And if you had to pick one of those two, which would you go for? 

I would probably opt for the SE, since I know it can be supported by Apple for probably longer. 

Ultimately though, it’s a coin toss for people as to which ecosystem you want to be in. 

Being a tech aficionado, you must be constantly trying to stay up to date with all the latest news. I was wondering, where do you turn to for that news, or does it present itself to you? 

Yeah, a lot of the manufacturers will sort of come to us with something new and be like, “Do you want to take a look at it?”

But there are still some manufacturers and companies that we don’t work with for whatever reason. And that’s really where I go to my colleagues.

You mentioned Brian Tong earlier, folks like him are doing amazing videos and that’s where I’ll go to get my information too. 

First and foremost, I love technology and the tech community. So I like to watch and see what people are reviewing and see the new products coming out. 

Is there anyone that you would particularly recommend our community check out?

Obviously, there’s a lot of amazing creators out there. 

I think most people know the really, really big ones out there, like Marques and Lew.

But when you want a quality review, it doesn’t always have to come from the big guys. A lot of smaller channels are doing really amazing things.

I love Rene Ritchie for Apple, I’ve known him for years. He’s an amazing human being. I think Michael Fisher for smartphone stuff is unmatched and second to none. Those are two guys that I go to for a lot of things.

I’m going to put you on the spot a little here. If you had to choose one person for our community to follow on Twitter for that tech news and reviews and all that good stuff. Who would that be? 

One person who is just a really good human being and has a high level of integrity in the content that he’s creating is Michael Fisher. You know, Mr.Mobile.

I think he does an amazing job. I’ve seen him do his work and I’ve seen how he tests devices. I know there’s an integrity that goes into what he says and he always has my respect for the work that he’s doing. 

Yeah, he’s definitely one of our favorites here too, we’ve written about him at least once. 

Is there a community among tech YouTubers where there’s idea-sharing or do you just see each other occasionally? 

No, we talk pretty regularly. We’ll talk about products and opinions, even before things come out, when we have products under embargo. 

We’ll bounce ideas off each other and see if maybe we have a bad unit, maybe our experience is unique, that sort of thing. 

Do you have an idea of what that community’s favorite phone of, say, the last two years would be? 

Back when we could travel and I’d see all my friends and colleagues at events, almost everybody was carrying two phones.

Usually one of them is an iPhone of some sort. But beyond that, the devices that I saw most often came from OnePlus.

And if you had to tell the average Ting Mobile customer, in one sentence, what phone they should buy and why, what would you say?

Phones are a very personal choice. But if you want to take one phone, that’s probably going to be good for most people, I think the easy recommendation is the current iPhone SE.

You’re going to get power, it’s going to run apps well and have a decent battery life.

Well, that’s great. Thank you very much! 

Absolutely! I do want to say though, as far as Ting Mobile goes, this is a relationship that I’ve been very excited to have with you guys. 

I know you didn’t bring this up, but my grandmother was on my cell phone bill for a very long time. She was on my family plan and I looked at it. 

She was on an unlimited plan and using less than one hundred megabytes of data [a month]. It made no sense to have her on a plan like that. So I switched her over to Ting Mobile and she’s been thrilled. She’s been so happy and it’s worked out really well. 

I did the same thing for my mother-in-law. So this isn’t just a service that I’m just paid to talk about. I’ve actually used it.

What I’ve actually liked about Ting Mobile is that Ting are very aware of who they are and where they are in the market. You guys have recently said,  “Times are tough. People are working from home. Why not switch for a few months?” 

You know, “Why pay for an unlimited plan while working from home? You’re not using any data.”

I’ve been very impressed with Ting Mobile’s level of self-awareness, the service they provide and how they have really worked hard to give the consumer something that I think was missing from the space. It’s been a fun experience.

Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say.

I finally wanted to ask about TechnoBuffalo. You founded that company, TechnoBuffalo, which you ran for nearly a decade. You’ve mentioned it in a couple of videos but I wanted to ask you here, what led you to sell TechnoBuffalo?

For those who don’t know, I started making videos about 10 years ago. This is back when YouTube, for lack of a better description, was with cat videos and guys getting hit in the business. 

I’ve always loved tech and so I just started making videos on YouTube just as a hobby, but it grew very quickly. So when I had around 10,000 subscribers, I reached out to all the major tech publications and said, “Hey, video is going to be big. Let me make video for you.”

Nobody got back to me.

That’s when I decided to start a website myself, with no developing background, no business experience, no editorial experience and no experience with running a website. I literally Googled how to write a business plan, filled it out, went to a venture capital fast pitch meeting… and got laughed at.

So I went back to school and got my MBA at night to learn how to run a business. That’s when I started the TechnoBuffalo website, and I ran it for the better part of ten years. 

But what I found, especially the last few years, was I had spent so much time and effort on the website side of things, that I wasn’t able to devote really much time to video. 

It was a hard realization, but I realized that I was doing so many things that I wasn’t doing anything well. So I really had to make a choice on what I wanted to do. 

So I made the choice to focus on my passion, video, and bet on myself that I could sort of bring my YouTube channel back to what it once was and beyond.

I feel like I already know the answer to this one, but are you happy with your decision? 

There’s not a day that goes by that I am not smiling about the fact that I don’t have to deal with websites. I’m working harder, but I’m working happier. 

That’s great to hear! Well, thanks very much for talking to us Jon, we really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us. 

Awesome. Thank you for having me. I’m always happy to sit, talk tech and geek out.