Researching new mobile phone models sounds easy, at least in theory. You pick one that looks nice, has decent specs and hopefully an affordable price tag attached.

In reality however, most of us have managed at one time to pick up a handset that proves to be impossible to use due to complicated or slow user interfaces, and irrelevant features for your needs.

Learn all about it

Tryphone aims to change all this - the newly launched website offers a 'try before you buy' service that lets you play around with the phone, read reviews and view demos before making your buying decision.

Tryphone intends to do two things: help you choose a phone that works well for you, and teach you all about it once you've made up your mind. It offers a range of interactive 'how to' guides, showing you exactly what button to press to do things such as change settings.

The free online service lets you test drive various mobile phones using fully functional virtual handsets. You can click through menus, submenus, navigation keys and applications just as you would when holding a physical handset. You can also compare phones against each other.

"By allowing users to test the user interfaces they are able to make a much more informed choice," Tryphone CEO Faraz Syed told this site.

Dummy handsets

"Dummy handsets in shops don't offer the same insight into how a phone operates," Syed said. "You won't get a real feel of what the user interface is like, and how long it takes to load applications."

You'll be able to see what applications and web browsers look like on handsets, and how long they take to load as well. For example, browsing around the Apple iPhone on the Tryphone website lets you click through to YouTube and see how long it takes to load a video. This gives an accurate feeling of how speedy the handset is to use in real life.

The service is still in beta and there's not a huge amount of phones yet, but around four new handsets are added to the Tryphone database every week so keep checking back.